Beer isn’t necessarily the first thing that you think of when you’re considering food pairing – you’d instinctively go for a fine wine, or perhaps even a cocktail. But did you know that alcohol can numb the taste receptors in the mouth? When we’re talking alcohol free drinks, what they’re missing in booze can really add to the taste sensation, as it helps complex flavour profiles come through which pair beautifully with food; so we’re here to tell you why alcohol-free beer and food might just be the pairing you never knew you needed. And with Valentine’s Day right around the corner, we’ve put together a delicious menu with pairing for a cosy night in. We know that the standard takeaway and a lager might not quite cut it for a special night, so if you’re after something a little extra than your usual night in, you’ve come to the right place. Treat yourself, your partner, your housemate or your whole family over a beer. We’ve dropped in options for meat-lovers, vegetarians, and vegans alike, so everyone can be included.
Starter - Fig & goat’s cheese with a honey dressing, paired with Bavarian Helles Lager

The classic approach when considering pairings is to look for something that either complements your food, or cuts through it – for example, the way that bitterness in a drink can cut through the sweetness in food. For the starter, we’re kicking off the menu with a complementary pairing in the form of baked fig and goats’ cheese with a honey dressing, matched with our Bavarian Helles Lager. The Hallertau hops in the lager give a delicious nectar finish to this beer which suits the honey dressing perfectly, whilst the sweetness of the dish brings out the hop bitterness in the beer.

You could serve this starter on a bed of rocket, adding a peppery bitterness to the overall flavour, or a babyleaf salad. For a vegan alternative, we recommend figs with cashew cream cheese like the one in this delicious recipe from Ceri Jones, a brilliant London based chef. The honey mentioned in this recipe could be easily omitted or swapped with a dash of maple syrup.
Main Course - Grilled steak and dauphinoise potatoes (or vegan burger) paired with Organic Pale Ale

Moving on to the main course, we’re opting for a ‘cut-through’ approach to pairing and suggesting our Organic Pale Ale with your favourite cut of steak, grilled and served with dauphinoise potatoes. The malts which give this pale ale its characteristic toffee notes pair beautifully with the meat, while the gentle bitterness of the hops add a pleasant and enjoyable contrast which cuts perfectly through the creaminess of the potatoes.

Serve with green beans on the side, cooked but still retaining a crunchy bite to counteract the textures of the rest of the dish.

For the veggies or vegans amongst you, serve steak-cut salted chips with a vegan aioli and this delicious grilled portobello burger that we spotted on the Peta website. The spicy flavours complement this hoppy beer perfectly, giving you a refreshing bitterness with each sip without exacerbating the heat.

Dessert - Tiramisù with Dark & Rich Stout

For dessert, we’d pair with a slightly more indulgent beer – our Dark & Rich Stout. While a traditional alcoholic stout can be so heavy it feels like a meal in its own right, our alcohol-free version is much lighter, opening up a world of pairing options. The dark malts we use in the beer bring out rich flavours of chocolate and coffee, with notes of vanilla, pairing perfectly with an indulgent tiramisù. Now while you might want to skip the boozy marsala wine or dark rum in the traditional Italian mamma’s recipe if you’re going alcohol free (sorry mamma), there’s a host of brilliant rum alternatives available, as well as simply adding a flavouring of your choice which doesn’t contain alcohol. Otherwise, just load up on the coffee! Here’s a traditional recipe with options for removing the alcohol.

We spotted lots of excellent vegan recipes for tiramisù, but our favourite was this from Vegan on Board which is low-fuss, easy to follow and thoughtfully considered to emulate the texture and flavours of a classic tiramisù. The dessert tiramisù takes its name from the Italian for ‘pick me up’, and we’re sure that you’re going to want to pick up this delicious pairing menu over and over again.

Are you going to give our pairing menu a go? Let us know in the comments!

Or head right to our online shop to pick up your mixed case to set off your pairing evening.

Further Reading