Best Beer with Pizza: Pairing Guide

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Finding the best beer with pizza can make your meal truly exceptional. However, with countless options, discovering that perfect pairing is tricky. 

This guide outlines ideal matches between six beer styles and popular pizza types to unlock next-level flavour combinations, distilled from enthusiast experiences and an analysis of complementary taste profiles for your next pizza night.

best beer with pizza

Table of Contents

Light Beers with Classic Margherita

The classic Margherita pizza, with its simple ingredients of tomato sauce, mozzarella cheese, and fresh basil, calls for an equally straightforward yet refreshing beer. When it comes to the perfect pint to pair with a traditional Margherita pizza, you can’t go wrong with an easy-drinking lager or pilsner.

Crisp, Clean Lagers

A light-bodied lager offers a crisp, clean taste that pairs brilliantly with a Margherita pizza. The mild maltiness and moderate bitterness of a lager cut through the richness of the melted mozzarella without overpowering the bright acidity of the tomato sauce and vibrant basil flavours. Opt for a subtle, golden lager like Stella Artois or Peroni Nastro Azzurro. The biscuity malt backbone and herbal, floral hops provide the ideal counterpoint to a classic Margherita pie. With each sip washing the palate clean, a lager enables you to appreciate every nuanced flavour.

Refreshing Czech and German Pilsners

For a touch more hoppy bitterness, try pairing your Margherita pizza with a Czech or German-style pilsner. Pilsners offer a pleasantly bitter and floral flavour with a crisp, dry finish that pairs brilliantly with both the rich dairy and acidic tomato elements of a Margherita pizza. The effervescent carbonation scrubs the palate clean, allowing the herbal components of the hops and basil flavours to shine through. From the spicy aroma of the Saaz hops to the cracker-like maltiness, an easy drinking pils cuts through the richness but doesn’t overshadow.

Ales with Pepperoni Pizza

Pepperoni pizza demands a pint with just as much robust, savoury flavour. This spicy, salty pizza calls for a properly hopped-up brew that can stand up to the richness of the pepperoni without masking the subtle herbaceous notes of the tomato sauce and dough. From English pale ales to Irish red ales, the caramelised malt backbone of many ales offers the ideal counterpoint.

Pale Ales Complement the Spice

There’s a reason why pale ales remain the quintessential British beer style. With their biscuity malt base and a liberal dose of aromatic hops, English pale ales balance the spicy kick from pepperoni slices beautifully. Opt for pale ales like Timothy Taylor’s Boltmaker or St Austell’s Proper Job. The moderate hop bitterness scrubs the palate whilst the bready, caramelised malts temper the rich fattiness of the cured meat. More restrained English hops like Fuggles and Goldings allow the delicate oregano and basil notes to shine through.

Irish Reds Tone Down the Saltiness

Can’t handle too much spice? Irish red ales offer a slightly sweeter yet still appropriately robust choice. The subtle toffee flavours balance salty meats whilst the drying finish prepares your palate for the next bite. Pour a pint of Irish craft favourite Galway Hooker or a can of Ireland’s iconic Beamish Red Ale. The gentle roasted notes echo the charred crust whilst the residual malty sweetness offsets even the greasiest pepperoni.

So if you fancy a pepperoni pizza, Northern British pale ales or Irish red ales make the perfect pairing. Their caramelised malt backbones and restrained hoppiness balance the rich, spicy pepperoni without overpowering the other subtle flavours of your pizza.

Dark Beers with Meat Lover’s Pizza

When it comes to a meaty pizza piled high with sausage, pepperoni, bacon and other savoury meats, you need a properly robust beer that can stand up to those intense umami flavours. Forget your light lagers and pilsners – to complement a meat lover’s pizza, go for a dark beer like a stout or porter.

Hearty Stouts Stand Up to Meat

A rich, dark stout has the guts to take on a meaty pizza. Opt for an Irish stout like Murphy’s or Beamish for subtle roasted coffee notes that echo the charred crust. The creamy mouthfeel and cocoa-like malt flavours also balance the grease and saltiness of pepperoni and bacon. An oatmeal stout like Samuel Smith’s offers an almost silky texture, while the gentle oat flavours temper the spice of spicy sausage. With their warming alcohol body, stouts won’t wilt under the weight of meaty toppings.

Robust Porters Pair with Bolder Meats

Prefer more burnt caramel or chocolate flavours with your meaty feast? Then a robust porter makes a brilliant choice. The black malt used in porters produces rich coffee and bittersweet chocolate notes to match intensely savoury meats like spiced beef and charred chicken. The dark berry fruitiness also works well with the acidity of barbeque sauce drizzles. Opt for UK porter classics like Fuller’s London Porter or Titanic Plum Porter for a fruit-tinged sweetness that provides balance. Porter gives as good as it gets!

So if you’re a diehard carnivore who wants a properly substantial beer to go with your meaty pizza, reach for a complex, full-bodied stout or porter to complement those rich umami flavours. Their roasted malt characters and warming booziness are equal to the task.

Wheat Beers with Vegetarian Pizza

When it comes to vegetarian pizzas loaded with fresh vegetables, herbs, and cheese, you need a properly crisp, refreshing beer. Skip the hearty porters and stouts – vegetarian pizzas demand light wheat beers that won’t overpower the vibrant medley of flavours.

Fruity Hefeweizens Complement Fresh Toppings

For vegetarian pies with sunny Mediterranean vegetables like artichokes, peppers, and courgettes, a fruit-forward German hefeweizen makes the ideal pairing. The signature banana and clove flavours integrate beautifully with roasted veggies, while the effervescent carbonation and tart finish cut through the richness of ooey-gooey cheese. Top choices include Weihenstephaner, Paulaner, and Franziskaner. The contrasting flavours brilliantly complement one another.

Citrusy Belgian Wits Align with Herby Pies

Alternatively, pair your vegetarian pizza with a zesty, citrusy Belgian witbier. The orange and coriander notes align spectacularly with vibrant, herby veggies like spinach, rocket, and sundried tomatoes. The light, doughy wheat flavours won’t compete with delicate toppings either. Witbiers like Hoegaarden and Leffe Blonde offer a splendid convergence of flavours for the ultimate veggie pizza and beer pairing.

In summary, when enjoying meat-free pizzas topped with medleys of colourful vegetables and herbs, keep it light and opt for perky, palate-cleansing wheat beers. Their fruity and citrusy flavours integrate beautifully without overpowering all those fabulous veggies and melty cheese.

Sour Beers with Exotic Toppings

If you fancy yourself an adventurous eater, why not take your exotic pizza and beer pairing to the next level with tart, flavorful sour beers? When your pizza is loaded with unique toppings like jerk chicken, curried butternut squash, or Korean bulgogi beef, you need a beer that’s just as audacious.

Playful Fruit Sours Bring Out Sweetness

Start by trying a fruited American sour beer like a cherry or raspberry Berliner Weisse. The playful sweet-tart fruit notes sing with the vibrancy of sweet pineapple, mango or caramelised onion strewn across your crust. The bright acidity also lifts and enhances subtly spicy Korean and Caribbean flavours. Plus, the effervescence cleanses the palate allowing you to dive back in for more of that innovative fusion.

Smoky Gose Aligns with Savory Meatiness

Alternatively, tickle your taste buds by pairing an oak-smoked goes with loaded meat pizzas featuring jerkies, chorizos and spicy sausage. The salty, umami flavours of charred meat team splendidly with the lactic tartness and subtle smoke. There’s also an intriguing flavour synergy with unexpected veggie toppings like roasted cauliflower or chargrilled broccoli which turn wonderfully bitter when charred. Take your palate on a flavour rollercoaster by mixing and matching adventurous meats, veggies and sour beers!

IPA with Spicy Pizza

When your pizza comes loaded with spicy pepperoni, jalapeños, or other fiery toppings, you need a beer that can stand up to the heat. This is where the hoppy bitterness of an India Pale Ale (IPA) shines. The bold, citrusy hops create an ideal counterpoint to spice that lifts and balances rather than masks the tantalising heat.

English IPAs Temper Chili Flake Fury

English IPAs like Meantime London IPA offer restrained bitterness paired with biscuity malt that integrates spectacularly with spice. The crisp hoppy bite scrubs the palate while the subtle caramelised backbone prevents the hops from clashing with the chilli. This allows you to fully appreciate the heat rather than blasting your tastebuds into oblivion.

Hazy NEIPA Aligns with Fermented Heat

Fancy a spicy pizza with funky fermented flavours? The juicy, tropical fruit explosion of a New England IPA creates magic. Pair a NEIPA like Verdant Pulp or Wylam Jabberwocky with pizzas topped with spicy nduja sausage or pepperoni laced with chilli paste. The lush melon and mango hop flavours bring out the fruitiness of the fermented chilli perfectly.

West Coast IPAs Take on Scotch Bonnet Fire

If you want to turn up the heat, ramp it up with the piney bitterness of a West Coast IPA. The intense hoppy bite scrubs your palate after incendiary bites of pizza loaded with Scotch bonnet peppers and habanero sauce. Just don’t blame us for the tears or the sweat! beers like Lagunita’s IPA or Firestone Walker Union Jack can handle the heat.

So if you fancy a spicy slice, turn to the bitterness of IPA to balance the blaze rather than extinguish it completely. With judicious hopping, the heat and hops intertwine spectacularly.

Pairing Tips and Tricks

When embarking on the quest for the perfect beer and pizza pairing, it helps to keep some general principles in mind. The key lies in harmonising flavours, balancing intensities, and complementing textures between that first thirst-quenching sip and delicious cheesy bite.

Match Strengths

  • You want to avoid lighter lagers, pilsners and pale ales with loaded pizzas bursting with intense meats, cheeses and veggies as they’ll get bulldozed. Similarly, assertive stouts and porters would overwhelm simpler pies.
  • Instead, match weight for weight – let malty red ales take on spicy pepperoni whilst dunkel lagers dance with meat feasts.
  • Where contrasts work, make sure they balance.

Consider Bitterness

  • Hoppy IPAs help cut through oily, fatty ingredients like pepperoni and sausage. This allows other herbs and spices like oregano and chilli flakes to shine rather than getting muddled.
  • But leftfield sours also work wonders here too, slicing through richness with their tartness. It’s about complementary intensities.

Think Texture

  • Crisp, fizzy beers like blonde ales scrub the palate allowing you to refresh with each bite without flavours blending together into a mushy mess.
  • Velvety stouts echo gooey cheese for a sublime mouthfeel.
  • Wheaty flavours unite splendidly with thin, delicate sourdough crusts.

So consider physical feel alongside taste when matchmaking.

In summary, successful beer and pizza pairings rely on finding harmony. Like any relationship, it’s about balance, shared values and compatibility on multiple levels. Keep these principles in mind, experiment with different combos and you’ll be rewarded with tastebud perfection!

A Guide to DIY Experiments

Don’t just take our word for it – try it yourself! Hosting a pizza and beer tasting lets you discover new perfect pairings.

Step 1: Curate Your Pizza Selection

First, lay out a range of pizzas with different toppings – maybe a classic Margherita, meaty pepperoni, veggie deluxe etc. Vary textures too – thin crust, stuffed crust, sourdough etc. Have some pre-made or get creative and prepare your own!

Step 2: Gather A Beer Selection

Next, grab a variety of beers across styles – lagers, IPAs, stouts, sours and wheat beers ideally. Raid your home stash or take a trip to B&M, M&S or the local offie if needs be.

Step 3: Taste and Discover!

Finally, begin tasting different pizza/beer combos making notes on what works and assessing across appearance, aroma, texture and taste. Adjust, substitute and repeat until tastebud magic happens! Have fun and see what wacky matches your craft.

Wrap Up

When matching beer and pizza, it’s all about harmonizing the flavours, intensities and textures in each sip and bite. Pair light with light and bold with bold. Harness contrasting tastes that complement – hoppy IPAs cut fat, tart sours lift sweetness. Consider the mouthfeel too – crisp lagers versus silky stouts. With the foundations of pairing principles, a world of flavour discovery awaits. Raid your local offie, get experimental, and strike tastebud gold through funky fusion!

FAQs

What kind of beer is good with pizza?

A good beer pairing for pizza would be a light and easy-drinking lager or pale ale that compliments but doesn’t overpower the flavours of the pizza. Varieties like pilsner, blonde ale, hefeweizen or American pale ale work well.

Are beer and pizza a good combo?

Yes, the heavier, breadier flavours and textures of pizza pair wonderfully with light, crisp beers like lagers, wheat beers, and pale ales. The hoppy bitterness also helps cut through the oil and salt.

What do most people drink with pizza?

Many people commonly drink soda, juices or lighter beers such as pale lagers or wheat beers with pizza. The crisp, refreshing quality helps offset the heavier dough, cheese, sauce and meats.

Are IPAs good with pizza?

While some prefer the assertive hoppy bitterness of IPAs with pizza, the intense flavors and high alcohol content tend to clash instead of complement. More balanced pale ales are often a better fit.

By Tickety Brew

Ivor Ardghal : Brewer and Writer at Tickety Brew