What beer is best for English fish and chips?

Best Beer for Fish and Chips: 6 Ideal Pairings to the British Delight

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Fish and chips is truly my favourite takeout meal, and I’m not alone. According to a recent YouGov poll, 86% of Britons view this meal favourably, more than any other dish except roast chicken. Britons consume approximately 167 million portions of fish and chips from takeout restaurants each year. Now, I would say the best drink to have with the meal is a cold glass of Prosecco or your fizz of choice (as I like to pretend I’m fancy); however, this is not called FizzAffair.

So, if you’re looking to find the best beer for fish and chips, well, look no further because I have all the answers. I’ll even throw in a little about the history of this delightful seaside treat!

Why is Fish & Chips Quintessentially British?

Fish and chips is quintessentially British. You can take that as fact, as I am a British man. But if you must know more, it is due to its historical, cultural, and social significance within the UK. This popular dish has deep roots in Britain’s culinary tradition.

Historical Emergence

The origin of fish and chips can be traced back to the 19th century. Jewish immigrants from Spain and Portugal introduced fried fish into Britain, while chips (fried, sliced potatoes, not what you North Americans call crisps) came from Belgium or France. These two components were combined to form the fish and chips meal, with one of the first fish and chip shops opening in London in the 1860s.

Fish and chips quickly became a staple food for the working class due to its affordability, accessibility, and convenience. It was one of the few foods not rationed in Britain during World War II, further solidifying its role as a national dish. This availability helped to boost morale and became a symbol of stability and normalcy during tough times.

Social Tradition & Iconic Status

Eating fish and chips, whether wrapped in paper by the seaside or from a local chippy in the city, is a traditional experience shared across generations. I remember eating cod and chips with my grandparents when I was a wee skipper. Most Brits, I imagine, associate fish and chips with comfort and nostalgia.

Best beer for Fish and Chips
Classic fish and chips with some dinner time reading

Over time, fish and chips have become an icon of British food culture. It’s frequently featured in tourist experiences and is a must-try for anyone who visits the beautiful British beaches – just watch out for the seagulls!

The Best Beer for Fish and Chips

The UK is the birthplace of fish and chips, and it’s only fitting to pair it with a traditional British beer. Bitters and British ales are excellent choices to pair with fish and chips. Bitters offer a balanced profile with moderate hop bitterness and malt sweetness, enhancing the flavours of the fish without overwhelming it. Ales, pale or amber, also provide a smooth and satisfying pairing.

  • London Pride 4.1% (Fuller’s Griffin Brewery): London Pride, brewed since the 1950s, is unmistakably London’s beer. Its well-rounded flavour and rich history bind it to the city and its people.
  • Newcastle Brown Ale 4.7% (John Smith’s): The beer was introduced in 1927 in Newcastle upon Tyne, England, by Newcastle Breweries, which became Scottish & Newcastle in 1960.
  • Timothy Taylor’s Landlord 4.3% (Timothy Taylor’s Brewery): A classic pale ale with a complex citrus and hoppy aroma. A recent survey revealed that Landlord has the highest proportion of drinkers who call it their favourite ale.
  • Harvey’s Sussex Best Bitter 4% (Harvey’s Brewery)A superbly balanced bitter with a prominent hop character. This bitter blend of four local hops, water filtered through the Sussex Downs over 30 years, and Harvey’s unique 60-year-old yeast strain.
  • Black Sheep Ale 4.4% (Black Sheep): A full-flavoured premium ale that’s rich and fruity. Brewed using generous handfuls of choice Golding hops, it has a perfectly balanced bittersweet, malty taste with a long, dry and bitter finish.
  • Southwold Bitter 4.1% (Adnams)A beautiful copper-coloured late and dry beer with Fuggles for a distinctive, lingering hoppiness.
Best beer for fish and chips
Bitter: My Best Beer for Fish and Chips

Additional Beer Styles to Pair with Fish and Chips

Bitters and ales not your cup of tea? In that case, you may as well spit on the British flag and drink one of these beers instead!

Pairing with Lagers

Lagers are another excellent choice for pairing with fish and chips. Their fizziness and crisp taste help cut through the batter’s richness. The subtle flavours of a good lager won’t overpower the fish, making it a good match. Pilsners also often have a slight bitterness that can further improve the pairing.

Recommended Lagers

Pairing with Wheat Beers

Wheat beers, including Hefeweizens and Witbiers, bring a unique twist to the fish and chips pairing. These beers are typically light and fruity, with a creamy mouthfeel that complements the crispy batter and tender fish. The subtle sweetness and hints of spice in wheat beers can enhance the flavours of the fish, creating an unexpected but delightful combination.

Recommended Wheat Beers

Pairing with Stouts and Porters

For those who enjoy a bolder beer, stouts and porters offer a rich and robust pairing for fish and chips. These dark beers have deep flavours of coffee, chocolate, and roasted malt, which can create an interesting contrast with the light, flaky fish. While not a traditional choice, the complexity of a stout or porter can provide a unique and satisfying pairing experience.

Recommended Stouts and Porters


Fish and chips is a quintessential British dish with deep historical, cultural, and social roots. It originated in the 19th century when Jewish immigrants introduced fried fish, and the Belgians or French brought fried potatoes. Combined, these ingredients became the staple fish and chips, with the first shop opening in London in the 1860s. Your best bet to match the quintessentially British fish and chips is a bitter or another British ale. However, other beers like lagers, wheat beers, stouts, and porters also complement the dish, enhancing its flavours with their unique characteristics. What’s your go-to?


What kind of beer is used in the batter for the fish n chips?

The beer used in the batter for fish and chips is typically a pale ale or lager. These beers are chosen for their light flavour and carbonation, which helps create a crispy, airy texture in the batter. Some recipes also use bitters for a slightly different taste.

Do chip shops use beer batter?

Not all chip shops use beer batter. While some prefer the traditional beer batter for its light, crispy texture, others use a simple water-based batter. 

Why do the British eat fish and chips on Friday?

The British tradition of eating fish and chips on Friday stems from the Christian practice of abstaining from meat on Fridays. Fish was seen as an acceptable alternative, and over time, this led to the popular custom of enjoying fish and chips on this day, particularly among Roman Catholics.

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