Matching beer and festive food is no easy task but for everything from Christmas pudding to a Boxing Day barbecue, we’ve got your back with some great recommendations this festive season.
Christmas morning is usually bubbles but that can start your day on the back foot if those bubbles go to your head. How about trying a different spin with a famous Lindemans Kriek (sold out) – a sweet, cherry-flavoured drop that’s only 3.5 per cent ABV but is full of flavour and retains that slightly tart effervescence that you want with a Champagne brekky.
Ham, that Christmas classic, is surprisingly hard to match with beer. It doesn’t want to be overwhelmed and its saltiness generally prefers a sweet or fruity accompaniment. A softly bitter hazy IPA would be ideal. These beers are more sweet than traditionally bitter and the hop character that brewers want to accentuate is tropical fruit which works well with ham. Behemoth Lid Ripper is the go.
A Christmas Turkey with all the trimmings is a real test for a beer – you want something rich, but maybe with a little spice to cope with the gravy and roasted spuds. With such a feast you also want a festive beer and there’s not many better on the market than Emerson’s JP. This Belgian style Tripel has the complexity and flavour profile to last right through to the last serve of rich stuffing.
If seafood — let’s talk prawns, lobster — is more your style for a modern Kiwi Christmas, those lush but delicate flavours can be smashed by a big beer so you want something delicate. The styles I’m thinking include grisette or saison. These are effervescent, fragrant and often have a light tang that balances the sweet the flesh of lobster and prawn. Try North End Brewing’s Botanicole for its lightly tangy, floral and refreshing qualities.
Christmas pudding is a tough one — here you can create a classic complementary flavour match with wonderfully rich, chocolately stout like Young’s Double Chocolate Stout. It’s rich enough that it won’t get overwhelmed by the sweet, dark fruits in the Christmas cake and will add complementary notes of its own.
Pavlova: wow this a tough one. Pavlova is so sweet and creamy you want something that cut through that ... but if you go too tart with a kettle soured beer for instance the contrast could be too extreme — the pav will make the beer seem more acidic. A daring match would be a big fruity double IPA. Epic Hop Zombie is a great example. It’s sweet enough to hold its own and the fruit character will work with the pavlova while but the bitterness will also cut the cream-sugar combo.
When it’s time for an old-fashion Boxing Day barbecue a lager is the order of the day – and once upon a time that would have been your classic Steinlager. But when it comes to the thirsty of standing over the grill try a Parrotdog Lager … it’s the modern interpretation of a classic Steinie, using the signature Green Bullet hop to thirst-quenching satisfaction.
Snags are the universal BBQ favourite and they love to match with a range of beers thanks to the perfect combination of fat, salt, rich meatiness and charred edges. They want a good three-dimensional beer and preferably something English. Try a Fuller’s London Pride, a smooth and complex beer that’s malty but with an earthy hop character.
Wings, drumsticks or the whole bird – the one warning with chook is that it can easily be overpowered by a big beer so look to pull back the flavour a bit with a classic subdued pale ale is the one: Urbanaut Brixton Pale Ale.
Fish: A white-fleshed fish like snapper or terakihi begs to be offset by a beer that starts to resemble wine – and there are plenty out there that accent bright acidity. Fork Brewcorp Tainted Love is tart, acidic with a bright fruit note from the passionfruit. For something a little bit different try gose – a salted, lightly spiced beer – such as Deep Creek Gose. With a heavier, oiler fish like salmon you can go two ways – stick with that light, cleansing lager – or up the ante to a fruitier-style pale ale like Bach Brewing Billfish APA.
A big juicy steak with lashings of salt and pepper and a crisp green salad plus a baked potato, what’s not to love … you don’t want anything crushing that delicate flavour combo but you also want something that has bit of complementary char and weight. Yeastie Boys Pot Kettle Black is perfect.
Sticky sweet ribs: Cut through the sweet, finger-licking mess with a zappy XPA – light on the body but heavy on the hops – this will scythe through the sweetness but has enough oomph to stand up to the flavours. Grab a Liberty Elixir.