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Good fish deserves good beer! Beer and herring Try it!

New Dutch Herring is a cultural treasure. Connoisseurs look forward to the first catch every year, and from that day on it’s available all over the country. It’s something of a celebration - and where celebration goes, beer soon follows. Because no celebration is complete without the amber nectar. And good fish deserves good beer! But what kind of beer goes with herring?

Herring is a fatty, briny fish with an intense flavour. So you need to pair it with a beer that has a decent amount of flavour, but isn’t too complex. Carbonation, freshness, sweetness and body are important elements in a beer that is going to be served with herring.

Pilsner and Weizen

Pilsner is also a good choice of beer for your herring party. It’s fresh tasting and carbonated which makes it a good match for herring. If you have a choice between several pilsners, choose one that has a strong malty flavour rather than a bitter pilsner. A classic such as Budweiser Budvar Original is an excellent choice.

Weizen beers also go nicely with herring. This German beer style has a somewhat fuller and fruitier taste with a fresh flavour. The subtle sweetness in this beer is what makes it the perfect partner for herring. Dark-coloured Weizens often have subtle notes of caramel that mesh perfectly with the fish, of which Paulaner Dunkel is a brilliant example.

Pilsners and Weizens also have the advantage of being relatively low in alcohol content. So if you’re networking at a herring party, you can still partake in a beer. The weather during herring season is usually quite warm, so a refreshing glass of beer with a low alcohol content is a welcome indulgence.

Strong, blond beers

As we said before, herring can be paired with lots of different beer styles. Strong, blond beers are another great match. The strong body on these beers, which often have 7.5% alcohol or more, means they can hold their own against the greasiness of the herring. The pronounced flavours of the fish mingle beautifully with the beer. Try a Hapkin, Lamme Goedzak, Judas, or the Trappist Achel Blond. When one plus one equals three, you know you have a winning combination.

Herring dishes

Herring is a versatile fish that can be incorporated into many kinds of dishes. You then have the task of finding a beer to match the additional flavours that may intensify or minimise the flavour of the herring. It’s always a fun challenge to find the right beer for these types of dishes. There are lots of books on the market to teach you the tricks of the trade and provide inspiration on how to pair food with beer. There are a number of basic rules that can help get you on the right track.

Basic beer/food pairing rules

Always consider the intensity of the flavours. A meal with lots of powerful flavours should be combined with a beer that’s intense and challenging. A meal with sweet flavours goes perfectly with a sweet tasting beer. If you have lots of herbs in your meal, choose a beer with a strong hoppy flavour. A filling meal needs a beer with a higher alcohol content. These are some basic principles for creating matches made in heaven. It doesn’t need to be complicated; you can make it as simple as you like. Herring is a great fish to start experimenting with. Keep trying things out and you’ll soon see great results!