Braai and beer season is in full swing and with all of the incredible craft beers on offer, there’s never been a better time to take your pairing experience to the next level.
Sure, lagers are great and they provide a clean, bitter counterpoint to most braaied chow but the beer family tree has so much more to offer. Let’s dive in and give you some tasty tips for your weekend braai.
Yellowtail is one of my favourite fish braais because it’s chunky, juicy and it holds up well to direct heat. This recipe bumps things up with a complex blend of spices and aromatics all held together in a rich, yoghurt marinade. My pairing pick for this dish is a Belgian-style witbier or wheat beer. It’s has a blend of barley and wheat and traditionally it’s brewed with coriander seed and orange peel. It’s the perfect blend of malt sweetness, fresh citrus and spicy, herbal flavours that will bounce off and create fireworks with the marinade.
Try: Darling Brew Bone Crusher
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Big mushrooms on the braai are the closest thing to meat that isn’t meat and this recipe amps them up with a classic combination of basil pesto and Parmesan. They’re packed full of umami goodness and fragrant basil and they need an equally beefy beer to stand up to the flavour profile. My pick for this dish is an American IPA with plenty of malt sweetness to complement the earthy mushroom, and boatloads of punchy, tropical fruity hop bitterness to lift the olive oil-laced basil. The bitterness and bubbles will also scrub the richness of the dish from your palate with each sip.
Try: Frontier Beer Karma Citra IPA
Peri-peri prawns are a South African braai favourite with their perfect mix of tasty char, sweet meat and fiery heat. For this pairing, I want something that is going to round the corners of the heat and pick up on the fruity flavours of the chilli. An American pale ale with its rich, sweet malt backbone and citrusy, resinous hops is just the brew for the job. It’s a pairing that you’re going to want more and more of so make sure you get more prawns than you think you’re going to need and plenty of beer to back them up.
Try: And Union Sunday Pale Ale
What better thing to pair with a carb-saving meal than a carb-loaded beer? I know, it’s almost too perfect but if you’re going to cheat then you might as well do it with a great brew. Even though this is a bunless boerie, there is a lot going on here. We’ve got creamy, sharp, fresh, rich and meaty flavours all delivered in a crunchy leaf of Romaine lettuce. For this pairing I want the crisp, clean and bitter flavour of a German pilsner to slice right through all the layers of flavour. The spicy, grassy hops will echo the fresh flavours while the bitterness refreshes your palate.
Try: Cape Brewing Company Pilsner
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When it comes to chicken, it’s a well-known scientific fact that the best chicken is braaied chicken. The crispy skin, succulent meat and kiss of smoke are the flavour trifecta. And when you hit it with a little rosemary, oregano and lemon juice… well, that’s just dirty talk. For our last pairing, I’m matching this kebab with one of my ultimate pairing beers, a hefty Belgian saison. With notes of grapefruit, orange, lemon, pepper, spice and a snappy dry finish, the saison will sing with the fresh herbs and lemon juice. Happy kebab making!
Try: Franschhoek Beer Co. La Saison