Want to know which sausage to eat with a spicy saison, or which lager goes best with your links? Look no further than this handy pairing guide.
Now that you’ve gone to all the effort to prepare your own sausages from scratch, you’ll want to give what to pair it with your due consideration. It’s not so much that there’s a wrong match per se for any particular sausage; it’s more that there are definitely some right ones that can make your sausages taste that much better. Plus, it’s fun to explore all the wonderful varieties of beer that are available everywhere these days. We tapped into the expertise of Jeff Alworth, author of The Beer Bible and The Secrets of Master Brewers, as well as his regular blog, Beervana. He also happens to reside in Portland, Oregon, where beer is always on tap for some spirited discussion.
“Because of its broad flavor spectrum, beer is a more versatile partner at the dinner table than wine — but that range also means pairing combinations threaten to spiral out of control. Fortunately, there are a few handy guidelines to help you find the perfect match,” says Jeff. When approaching a particular pairing, he advises to recognize that beer can either complement or contrast, and both have their advantages. “Light American wheat beers have a sweetness that draws out a similar sweet note in pork, but another classic is stout and seafood, where the acrid bitterness in the beer also helps frame and enliven oysters (the quintessential pairing). Acid and carbonation have a cutting quality that helps balance salt and fat. Also look to match intensities; if you’re working with a delicately spiced sausage, don’t overwhelm it with a gale-force IPA; similarly, don’t send a frail pilsner into battle with a searing andouille sausage.”
Some Style Pairing Guidelines
CLASSIC GERMAN AND POLISH. Oktoberfest/märzen beers have lovely warming tones, with soft herbal spicing, and harmonize perfectly with these kinds of sausages.
SAUSAGE SUGGESTIONS*: Bratwurst, Weisswurst, Kasekrainer, Liverwurst, Fresh or Smoked Kielbasa
ITALIAN. For fiery links, a rich bière de garde will stand up to the flames and draw out the meaty flavors underneath; for salty and earthy sausages, try a lightly herbal English cask ale.
SAUSAGE SUGGESTIONS*: Hot or Sweet Italian Sausage, Luganega, Cotechino, Salamette, Genoa Salami
FRENCH. The sweet-sour-tart ales made in Belgian Flanders are a superb match for earthy, bloody sausages, but for more delicate, lightly herbal sausages, try a spicy saison.
SAUSAGE SUGGESTIONS*: French Garlic Sausage, Boudin Noir, Boudin Blanc, Herbed Game Sausage, Herbes de Provence Chicken Sausage
MIDDLE EASTERN. The wheat beers of Bavaria, with their fruit-and-clove palate, are a great match for these rich, warming sausages.
SAUSAGE SUGGESTIONS*: Merguez, Loukanika
LATIN (SPANISH/MEXICAN/PORTUGUESE). The intense, salty, and fatty sausages of these countries require a flavor powerhouse. A gueuze lambic, with a spine of acidity and rich, earthy flavors, is an excellent choice.
SAUSAGE SUGGESTIONS*: Fresh Chorizo, Spanish–Style Chorizo, Linguiça
CAJUN. The German schwarzbier, a black lager, can do double duty here, offering a bit of roastiness to complement the sausage’s earthiness, along with a crisp, fire-dampening finish.
SAUSAGE SUGGESTIONS*: Andouille
ASIAN. No beer complements Asian spices better than the lightly spiced Belgian witbier; they were practically designed for each other.
SAUSAGE SUGGESTIONS*: Curry Sausage with Cilantro and Lime, Vietnamese Pork and Lemongrass Sausage, Ginger-Scallion Seafood Sausage
SEAFOOD. Dry Irish stouts help pull out fish’s sweeter notes, and the briny/salty flavors are surprisingly compatible with the dry roastiness of the beer.
SAUSAGE SUGGESTIONS*: Oyster Sausage; Mixed Seafood Sausage with Shrimp, Crabmeat, and Scallops; Clam Dogs; Chesapeake Bay Sausage
SWEET. Contrast is the way to go with sweet sausages, and a crisp, effervescent pilsner will make their rounder, heavier flavors pop while providing a palate-cleansing snap at the finish.
SAUSAGE SUGGESTIONS*: Turkey and Cranberry Sausage; Lamb, Ginger, and Dried Apricot Sausage; Pork and Apple Sausage; Maple Breakfast Sausage; Cider and Sage Breakfast Sausage