Beer and pizza
The most iconic food and drink duo on the planet
Celebrated annually on October 9th, International Beer and Pizza Day pays homage to one of, if not the, most iconic food and drink duo on the planet. Now there is a national day for almost everything and we are the first to admit that they are often performative, trivial and downright silly. However, this one we simply can’t ignore, we love it with every fibre of our Beerwulf being.
It requires little imagination to see why these two go together so well. The salty savoury crust of the pizza is reminiscent of other popular bar snacks such as crisps, pretzels and breadsticks. Match that with tomato and cheese and you’ve got yourself a party. Ever wondered why you crave foods like pizza, chips and crisps over salad and soup when you’re sipping pints? Well when we eat salty foods, the mouth receptors that detect bitterness are curtailed. Salt in fact counterbalances bitterness, meaning beer can taste smoother, giving way to more complex flavours. This neutralising effect means you can appreciate other characteristics more. In short, salt makes beer taste better, so you should eat more pizza!
So what to eat on this special day? Below we have come up with a few suggestions of classic beer toppings and beers. Whatever your preference is, lager or IPA, draught or bottle, classic combos or interesting mixes, we've got you. Read on to find out the perfect pizza for every beer and why they work so well.
For salty foods, there is one catch all beer that will never let you down. The world’s most popular beer, lager. Lagers help to cleanse the palate and offer a crisp, refreshing experience. They also match well because salt and lager can sing without conflict; neither are too overpowering. Lager will let a margherita pizza sparkle, the salt from the cheese and sweetness from the sauce can shine through. Another option that will also be delicious with a lager is a veggie pizza, loaded with onions, peppers, courgettes, artichokes, and olives. Again, because of the typically lower IBU (bitterness), the flavours of the toppings can come through whilst also cutting through the cheese. ‘And for added Italian authenticity, try something like Birra Moretti. And if you wanted to make it an Italian themed evening, why not try our Biramisù recipe, it's Tiramisù made with beer!
IPA is great for beer and food pairing, it works well with a lot of foods, especially hard-hitting flavours. Brixton Low Voltage or Punk IPA for example will stand up to the salty goodness with the dominant tropical fruitiness. The classic bitter, spiky finish will balance the flavours. A West-Coast IPA like Lagunitas will be a very moreish match. Additionally, the beer will cleanse the palate from the finger-licking greasiness. So, consider IPA a pretty safe bet for a pizza with a thick and crispy crust and a lot of flavour. The big, hoppy flavours will also go nicely with a strong meaty pizza, like salami and blue cheese or Italian meatball pizza.
If you fancy a pale ale, then one pizza springs to mind instantly, the pepperoni pizza. The spicy notes of the pepperoni with malty flavours, especially those with a slight caramel sweetness will be fantastic. A malty pale ale like BrewDog Dead Pony Club will also bring out the tomato sauce without overshadowing the main event, the pepperoni. It is for similar reasons that a Napoli pizza (anchovies and capers) will do well with this style. A pale ale, especially one with citrusy notes, will refresh your palate after the strong, umami flavours of the fish. Five Points Pale is a good example, the tangerine and grapefruit will give the needed citrus freshness and the hops will balance those punchy flavours. For the record, we are not advocating pineapple on pizza, but if that floats your boat try it with a fruity beer, which will bring out the flavour even more. Beavertown Gamma Ray is juicy with fruity tones of mango and grapefruit. Dare we say this is a perfect tropical accompaniment to the sweet and salty flavours of a Hawaiian pizza. Aloha!
A beer with a citrus acidity will always go nicely with a seafood pizza. Prawns or squid are always good with fresh, light, citrus tones, that you typically find in a white beer. The wheat in white beer will produce a refreshing sourness and the spicy, bready, lightly sweet malt will add complexity. The high carbonation of a white beer is also a great match with cheese. This combined with the creaminess of a white beer makes for an idyllic pairing with a four-cheese pizza, cutting through the fattiness and ending on a light, spicy finish. A fresh goat's cheese pizza too with a lemony flavour will harmonise with the citrus and coriander notes in the beer.
The freshness of a German wheat beer is great for food pairings. A minimal acidity refreshes the palate before hints of banana and clove round off the drinking experience. A less obvious but superb choice would be enjoying this with a Florentine pizza, with egg, spinach and sometimes asparagus. The delicate flavour of these green vegetables will almost taste better with a wheat beer! Try it with And Union Wednesday Wheat or Edelweiss Hefetrüb.
Generally, you should try and match your beer with the intensity of your pizza. Pizzas that have a lot of toppings and bold flavours need a beer that will stand up to that and hold its own. You don’t have to save this combo for International Beer and Pizza Day either. Whether you’re chilling after a long day at work, sitting down to watch the game, or are sitting out on your balcony or patio, pizza is always a good idea. And now you know exactly what pizza to have with your favourite beer, go forth and explore your perfect match!
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