Beer deserves its place at the Chritmas dinner table
Before we start gobbling turkey, how about an aperitif? The beer needs to be dry, bubbly and blonde, Lagers and blonde and golden ales offer a range of flavours from herbal, pine and bready to spicy, citrus and tropical fruit.
For your festive fish and seafood you’re spoilt for choice. Wheat beers, Belgian witbiers particularly, are extremely adept at bringing out the best in fish. Often brewed with coriander and orange peel they’re spritzy, citrusy and perfectly complement any fish that’s enhanced with a squeeze of lemon, such as salmon. Lagers, like wheat beers, do a fine job of complementing delicate flavours and their effervescence will cut through any oily fish and cleanse the palate, leaving your mouth ready for the next bite.
If you have lobster ined up, well played. Again lagers and wheat beers are your friend here. The gentle hop bitterness and prickly carbonation of German pilsners refresh the mouth while the sour, spicy and creamy character of weissbiers will accompany your Christmas crustacean very well indeed. Talking of crustaceans, and it wouldn’t be Christmas without doing so, try prawns with a big Belgian beer such as Duvel. Brewed with Pilsner malts this intense, fruity, floral and sweet beer could be the best Christmas present prawns have ever received.
It’s turkey time, so which beer? Turkey’s soft, easy flavours make great partners for sweet milds, gentle bitters and lagers. Any beer with too much hop power (eg. IPAs) would be too big and blow the turkey apart. So keep it mellow and go for something with bittersweet balance. Saisons are also a very good option. Their herbal, spicy and tart notes complementing but not overwhelming the meat. The spiciness scores a direct hit with the stuffing while their sweetness will contrast the bitterness of brussel sprouts (my total fab) Finally along comes sparkly carbonation and a subtle peppery bitterness, which will cut through the fatty textures and sweep the palate clean. Well done saisons.
If goose is the family festive favourite a Trappist or Abbey beer has the necessary oomph to complement this more gamey bird. Often served with bigger flavoured accompaniments such as chestnuts and red cabbage all are handled and complemented beautifully by these fruity, full flavoured beers.
If duck is your choice it just has to be a glass of Kwak, a Belgian strong lager. View that one as your very own Christmas cracker joke pairing.
Dessert and cheese
Christmas day desserts can vary from house-to-house but the overwhelming favourite is Christmas pudding Frontier wood be perfect, Barley wines are also worth an outing. Not forgetting mince pies, where again the warm, complex, sweet and spicy qualities of strong lagers will complement these crumbly Christmas classics.