Why does beer go so well with pizza?

Pairing Beer with Pizza: Top Secrets to a Perfect Night In

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Pizza is probably one of the most popular guilty pleasures. In fact, 12% of Brits claim it to be their favourite takeaway. It certainly is one of mine. There’s nothing better than tucking into a cheesy, gooey pizza. Now, picture pairing a pizza with a beer that makes the whole pizza-eating experience better. I think they call that ‘heaven’. This guide will show you how to go about pairing beer with pizza regardless of your favourite pizza of choice, even that controversial Hawaiian one. 

Why Pair Beer with Pizza?

Now, don’t just take my word for it; beer. Beer and pizza make a classic pairing because science says so. 

Contrasting Flavours: As all seasoned beer drinkers know, beer is often bitter. This is usually from the hops, which can contrast wonderfully with the richness of the cheese and any fatty meats like pepperoni or sausage found on your pizza. This contrast can help cleanse the palate, making each bite of pizza as enjoyable as the first.

Carbonation: Another reason beer pairs perfectly with pizza is carbonation. Beer’s fizz is excellent at cutting through rich, dense textures, so it works well with pizza’s gooey cheese. The bubbles scrub the palate and can make heavy foods feel lighter.

Temperature and Texture: The coldness of the beer offers a refreshing counterbalance to the hot, often greasy nature of pizza. This temperature contrast, along with the liquid texture against the solid food, provides a satisfying contrast for the mouth.

Versatility in Pairings: There’s a beer for every type of pizza, from a light pilsner or lager that pairs well with a simple Margherita pizza to a hearty stout or porter that can stand up to the bold flavours of a meat feast pizza. But don’t worry, I will go through each pizza and its best beer before your pie goes cold!

Pairing beer with pizza: Why do Italians drink beer with pizza?
Grab Yourself a Slice!

Pairing Beer with Pizza: Matching Slices with Bevs

Now that you know the science, let’s check out the best beer with your pizza of choice. Be sure to stock up before you call Domino’s. 

Classic Margherita: Light Lagers and Pilsners

A classic Margherita, with its rich and gooey mozzarella topping and robust tomato sauce, pairs delightfully with light lagers and pilsners. These beers are excellent choices due to their crisp and refreshing nature, which can cut through the richness of the cheese and cleanse the palate between bites.

Light lagers, often known for their clean and subtle malt flavours, offer a mild hop bitterness that beautifully complements the sweetness of the tomato sauce. Their fizziness helps lift the oils from the cheese, making each bite as enjoyable as the first. Why not try Peroni Nastro Azzurro for the ultimate Italian experience? 

Pilsners, with a slightly more pronounced hop profile than most light lagers, provide a nice balance of bitterness that can highlight the herbal notes in the pizza’s seasoning, such as oregano and basil. Some pilsners’ slight sweetness and fuller body can also pair nicely with the pizza’s chewy crust. Victoria Brewing Company’s Prima Pils is an excellent choice. 

Pepperoni Pizza: Bitters and Hoppy IPAs

You might want to consider a beer that can complement the rich flavours and handle the heat for a pepperoni pizza with spicy slices of pepperoni and a rich cheese base. A bitter is an excellent choice for this.

Bitters are known for their balance between malt and hops. They provide a medium body with hints of caramel that can complement the pizza’s savoury aspects. The malty sweetness contrasts nicely with the spice of the pepperoni. At the same time, its moderate hop bitterness can cut through the fattiness of the meat and cheese, cleansing the palate. As a Londoner, I’m proud to suggest a London Pride

Alternatively, an IPA can also be a great pairing if you enjoy a bit more hop character. IPAs have a pronounced hop bitterness and citrusy, floral notes that can elevate the spiciness of the pepperoni rather than clashing with it. The hoppy profile works well to balance the oiliness of the pizza and intensify the flavours. Why not try a Goose IPA, a six-time medal winner, at the Great American Beer Festival? 

Veggie Pizza: Wheat beers and Belgian Ales

For those vegetarians out there or those simply trying to cut their meat intake, a Saison or a Belgian Witbier would be fantastic choices to pair with a veggie pizza. Veggie pizza typically features a medley of fresh vegetables and a lighter flavour profile, so you’d want a beer that complements the freshness and doesn’t overpower the delicate tastes of the toppings.

Saison is a farmhouse-style ale known for its peppery, citrusy notes and slight earthiness, which can enhance the natural flavours of vegetables. Saisons are typically dry and have a moderate alcohol content. It would be rude not to have a Saison Dupont, the most admired AND imitated Saison worldwide. 

Belgium Witbier is brewed with coriander and orange peel, offering a subtle spice and gentle citrus backdrop that works wonderfully with the lightness of vegetable toppings. The mild sweetness and smoothness of Witbiers can also help mellow out any bitterness from vegetables like bell peppers or arugula. A Belgium White with its floating orange slice in the glass would be a winner here. 

Meat Lovers Pizza: Stout and Porter

For a meaty pizza (my favourite), which is loaded with various types of meat like sausage, bacon, ham, and sometimes beef, a beer that can stand up to the intense, savoury flavours and cut through the richness is superior. A robust Porter or a Stout would be excellent choices for this type of pizza.

With its dark and roasty qualities, Porter offers chocolate and coffee flavours that can pair wonderfully with the smoky and savoury tastes of the meats. The richness of a Porter is not easily overwhelmed by the heavy toppings and can complement the overall hearty experience of a meat feast pizza. Pour yourself an Edmund Fitzgerald Porter to wash your meat down. 

On the other hand, Stouts bring roasted malt flavours that echo the charred edges of well-cooked meats. Its dry finish helps to cleanse the palate, reducing the greasiness from the meats and making each bite as satisfying as the first. You knew I would recommend a Guinness, didn’t you? Just don’t dip your pizza into the Guinness like this madman!

Seafood Pizza: Wheat Beers

A seafood pizza is not my usual choice, but I’ve heard people like it. They often feature toppings like shrimp, clams, and various fish, accompanied by a light sauce or simply seasoned with garlic and herbs. Therefore, choosing a beer that complements the delicate flavours of the seafood without overwhelming them is key. A good choice would be a Hefeweizen.

Hefeweizen is a German wheat beer. Its notes of banana and clove offer a light and fruity complement that pairs beautifully with seafood flavours. The classic Weihenstephaner Hefeweissbier is the recommended beer of choice. 

Hawaiian Pizza: American Pale Ale and German Beer

Finally, Hawaiian pizza—the contentious pizza of choice with a unique combination of pineapple and salty ham—is ideal. I personally like them, but I can understand why some shudder at the thought. A beer that can bridge these contrasting flavours while enhancing the overall taste experience is ideal for pairing with this bad boy. An American Pale Ale or a Kölsch would be great choices for this style of pizza.

American Pale Ale offers a slight citrus and pine note that complements the sweetness of the pineapple while standing up to the savoury depth of the ham. Why not try Sierra Nevada Brewing Company’s Pale Ale

Kölsch is light and crisp, with a slightly fruity and subdued hop character. Its clean and refreshing taste can complement the pineapple’s sweetness and the ham’s richness without overwhelming the subtle flavours. The rich golden California Kölsch is a top contender for Hawaiian pizza. 

Summary

When it comes to finding the best beer for pizza, it’s all about finding the right balance of flavours. You can go for a bitter hop that contrasts with sweet dough or a malty flavour that complements tangy sauce. Beer can make your slice of pizza taste even better, which is why it’s a popular choice all over the world. Next time you’re having pizza, try pairing it with a beer that complements your toppings. Who knows, you might discover your new favourite combo!

FAQs

What Beer Do Italians Drink With Pizza?

Italians often enjoy a light lager or pilsner with pizza, such as Peroni Nastro Azzurro or Birra Moretti. These beers are crisp and refreshing, complementing the rich flavours of classic Italian pizzas.

Is Pizza Better With Beer or Wine?

Pizza pairs well with both beer and wine. Beer’s carbonation cuts through rich cheese, while wine’s acidity complements the tomato sauce. Preference depends on personal taste and specific pizza toppings.


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