The festive season is upon us and that means it’s time to cook all the holiday classics. This year, switch out your usual tipple of choice and pair your favourite dishes with a selection of tasty, complex beers. Here are a couple of my top festive pairing picks.
Hoegaarden and devilled eggs
I’m a sucker for a devilled egg, and the festive season just wouldn’t be as jolly without a mountain of them. We all have our favourite slant and whether it’s herby, spicy, bacony, or all three, one thing is for certain – a Hoegaarden is the perfect pairing. It’s a Belgian witbier and although it’s been around since 1445, it’s relatively new to South Africa. It’s brewed with wheat, orange peel and coriander, and it’s light and spritzy on the palate. It’s sweet yet tart and dry, perfect for cutting through the rich, mouth-coating effect of egg. For added bonus pairing points, try mixing a little coriander powder into your devilish filling.
Duvel Golden Ale and roast turkey or chicken
Duvel is one of those beers that makes any moment feel like a special occasion. It’s boozy and complex without being overpowering, making it the perfect pairing for a gorgeously golden roast turkey or chicken. It has enough punch to stand up to herbs and citrus, while being smooth enough not to overpower the flavour of the meat. It has a malt sweetness to complement the crispy skin and soft fruity esters, and hop bitterness to round out the pairing. It’s a classic Belgian beer for a couple of festive season roast classics.
Mad Giant Jozi Carjacker and glazed gammon
Anyone who knows me knows that there are few things I love more in this world than gammon. It’s the ultimate holiday meat and for good reason. It’s a sweet and sticky caramelised pork bomb with just enough smoke and salt in each juicy mouthful to balance out the sugary shell. For this pairing, I’ve gone with a New England IPA that has similar traits – it’s intensely juicy with a massive tropical fruit profile tempered with a lingering, cutting hop bitterness. No matter your choice of glaze, the beer will pick up on the fruity notes and slice through the porky layers of richness. This will be my go-to pairing come gammon time.
Lakeside and Impi Collab Black IPA with beef prime rib roast
For my money, a beef prime rib roast is the king of all beef roasts. It’s full of fat, marbling, juicy meat, and as long as you cook it perfectly, it needs little more than salt and pepper. To stand up to the behemoth of beef, we’re taking the best from both sides of beer, with a style that strides the line between charry roasted malt and snappy hop bite. Black IPA burst briefly onto the scene a few years ago and then unfortunately disappeared. Luckily this collab is reviving the style and it’s as good as I remember. It’s halfway between a stout and an IPA and the dark side complements the charry roast edges, while the hops cleanse the palate between beefy bites.
Darling Brew Bloodmoon and braai
Bloodmoon is a new collab beer from Darling Brew and Beer Country. It’s a Kalahari pale ale brewed with prickly pear and tsamma melon seeds, and it was crafted with braais in mind. It has a chunky malt backbone, bringing sweetness to complement the caramelised flavours of marinade and charred meat. It also has a hefty hop bill, with plenty of citrus flavours to cut through the grease, and the fruit additions give it a refreshing tropical twist. If you’re planning a festive braai then give Bloodmoon a try.
Jack Black’s Mega Ale and Christmas pudding
Dessert and beer is a magical combination when it works, but it takes a little flavour finessing. You need a beer that punches at the same weight as the dessert and in the case of a dense fruit and brandy-laden Christmas pud, you need a heavyweight. As the name would suggest, Jack Black’s new Mega Ale is more than up to the task. It’s an imperial IPA that’s sitting at 8% ABV and 72 IBUs, which is on the high end of the bitter scale. It’s brewed with a mountain of malt and hops to make it thick, sweet, bitter and packed with stone fruit flavours. It will enhance the decadent flavours of the pudding while tempering the sweetness with each sip.