The Best Beers to Pair With Chicken Wings

This beer pairing may be a no-brainer since wings and beer go together like PB and J. But beers come in all shapes and flavors, so some will accentuate particular wings moreso than others. Read on to find out which beer is best with your favorite chicken wings.

Here's a list of the best beers to pair with chicken wings! It may be an easy pairing, but some beers accentuate flavors more than others! via CaretoPair.com

You may remember this post I did about a month ago on which wine to pair with wings...which is a difficult pairing because wine and wings are not best friends like beer and wings.

There I said it. Sorry, wine lovers. Beer wins this round. Can you imagine a night at the bar with your favorite basket of wings without a cold, delicious beer alongside it? (But not too cold, because icy cold beer has no flavor [wink wink].) Beer naturally works well with wings because the carbonation cools down the spicy flavors in whatever wing sauce you've got going on. If the wings are sweet, the malt in the beer will also complement that. Whether you want to accentuate the spiciness of the wings or calm it down is another story though. Depending on if you can handle the heat or not determines which beer you should have alongside.

Here's a list of the best beers to pair with chicken wings! It may be an easy pairing, but some beers accentuate flavors more than others! via CaretoPair.com

If You Like It Hot and Want It Hotter

...then go with a hoppy beer. Hops in beer actually accentuate the heat in foods, so the IPA you have next to your wings will actually make those wings taster hotter. So for people like me that can't handle the heat, IPAs are a no-no. But people like my husband? Bring on the heat! The hoppier your beer, the more it will accentuate the spiciness of the wings, so here's a list of beers to pick out going from medium to most-hoppy (with my suggestions in parenthesis):

  • Hoppy Lager (Anchor Lager, Sudwerk California Lager)
  • American Amber Ale (Speakeasy Prohibition Ale)
  • American Pale Ale (Victory Headwaters, Sierra Nevada)
  • India Pale Ale (Firestone Union Jack, Great Basin Icky IPA)
  • Double IPA (Harpoon Leviathon, Dogfish Head 90 Minute)

If You Eat Hot Wings But Want to Cool Down With Beer

...then go for a malt-focused ale or straightforward lager. If hops aren't at the forefront of the beer profile then surely the malt will be, and malt will ease the heat of those chicken wings so you can cool down. These are my favorite beers to pair with spicy wings because I like to get some spice but then cool down from the refreshing swig of beer. Basically, malt (the grains in beer) provide the sweetness in beer, which is balanced by the addition of hops. Beer that doesn't have a lot of hops in it will therefore be more malty, which will cool down the spice in hot chicken wings. This includes all of those mass-market American Lagers too, so don't worry about pairing one of them with your wings (I give you permission!). Here are some of my suggestions of beer to cool down your wings:

  • Oktoberfest/Marzen (Ayinger Oktoberfest-Marzen, Victory Festbier)
  • English Brown Ale (Newcastle, Sam Smith's)
  • Pilsner (North Coast Scrimshaw, Firestone Pivo)
  • Hefeweizen/Wheat Ale (New Belgium Snapshot, Weihenstephaner)
  • Kolsch
Here's a list of the best beers to pair with chicken wings! It may be an easy pairing, but some beers accentuate flavors more than others! via CaretoPair.com

If you Like Sweet or Tangy Wings

If spice just ain't-yo-thang, don't worry--beer will still keep you covered. Any of the above beers in the "cool you down" category will work just fine, but you also have some other options. Belgian ales in particular are going to be your friend with sweet wings, because almost all of them have some sort of fruity spiced component going on. Whether its the dark fruit flavors  like plum, raisin and dried cherry you get in a Belgian dubbel or the citrus, orangy, peppery character coming from a Belgian tripel, all these flavors will do well with your sweet wings. Here are just a few that will work great:

  • Belgian Dubbel (Chimay Red, Affligem)
  • Belgian Tripel (Westmalle, Unibroue La Fin du Monde)
  • Belgian Dark Strong (Chimay Grande Reserve, Rochefort 8)
  • Belgian Golden Strong (Duvel, North Coast Pranqster)
  • Saison (Saison Dupont, Ommegang Hennepin)
  • Sour Ales (Rodenbach Grand Cru, New Belgium La Folie)
The best list of beers to pair with chicken wings, whether you want them to heat things up or cool things down | CaretoPair.com

Isn't that a lot of beer to choose from?! Holy Moly beer and chicken wings like each other. Bottom line: enjoy the two together and don't think too hard about the pairing...most beers are going to naturally work. Just know that hoppy beers will accentuate the spice in your wings and malty beer will cool the spice down. Happy Pairing!

Thirsty for More? Try Out These Beer Pairings:

Caesar Salad + Helles Lager

What Beer to Pair with Fish and Chips

Beef Carbonnade + Belgian Dubbel

Jalapeno Poppers Paired with IPA

Game-day Hot-day Cold-day Whatever-Day, snacking on jalapeno poppers with a cold glass of IPA will make whatever time you're having a better one.

I made these jalapeno poppers on a whim last Sunday. Andrew and I had a fairly late brunch and it was nearing 4:00...so...I think we missed the mark for lunchtime. Thirty minutes later, we had successfully devoured all of the poppers, leaving no trace that I had ever even made them. The beer was gone pretty quick too.

The Pairing

I've always read that IPAs heighten the heat of spicy food, so I've stayed away from them as a pairing. With my Polish roots and Midwestern upbringing of eating meat and potatoes without any seasonings, I've had to really work at handling spicy dishes since venturing out of the meat-and-potato diet. However, as these poppers were coming out of the oven, an IPA just seemed so good with them. So I opened up my go-to, Great Basin Brewery's "Icky" IPA.

Me-oh-my what a pairing! IPAs do heighten the heat of spicy food, but in a good, refreshing way. The bitter hops in the beer react with the pepper-sweet heat from the jalapenos all while complementing the fattiness you get from the cheese. Its a great pairing. Just make sure you don't pick an IPA that has an overwhelming amount of hops/bitterness in it, like an Imperial IPA. If you get a beer that has way too much going on in it, it'll overpower the jalapeno popper and you won't be able to taste anything. So keep it a simple IPA, yo!

The Recipe

I think almost all variations of jalapeno poppers will work with IPAs (yes, even the bacon-wrapped ones everyone on pinterest seems to be going nuts for right now). I wanted to keep it simple, so I found this great recipe for a 3-cheese jalapeno popper topped with panko bread crumbs on Damn Delicious' Blog (I have made so many of her recipes...she's really got some good stuff on her site). I love the recipe I used because it was quick, easy, and a nice presentation. The only problem is I didn't double the recipe--we could have ate those poppers all day long!

Other Libations You Can Serve with Jalapeno Poppers

If IPA isn't your thing, don't worry, there are some other great beers (and wines!) that will quench your thirst. Here are some of my picks:

  • Traditional Pilsner--these have a good amount of hops that will react with the spice of the poppers like the IPA does, but won't give you as much bitterness. Also, some breweries are marketing "hoppy pilsners", like Firestone Walker's "Pivo Pils"...those would be great too.
  • Grapefruit Beer--the last beer fest I went to had like 10 grapefruit beers from different breweries; they seem to be all the rage right now. The fruitiness will complement the jalapeno very nicely
  • Sauvignon Blanc--the most refreshing wine in my opinion, most sauvignon blancs have flavors of jalapeno in them anyway. This is my go-to wine for all dishes with some decent spice to them. Go for a sauvignon blanc from Chile or New Zealand for this pairing.

Happy Pairing!

Carrot Cake and IPA: A Classic Beer Pairing

Who would have ever thought that an IPA goes perfectly with Carrot Cake? It's true, friends...this carrot cake beer pairing is a classic.

The first time I heard that carrot cake is a classic match with IPA, I was in disbelief. I get why chocolate pairs well with sweet stouts, I get why spicy foods go well with dry lagers...but why would you drink an IPA with carrot cake?!

Let's take a look at how this dessert tastes for two seconds. It may not be the first thing we think about, but carrot cake is incredibly sweet. There is a lot of natural sweetness from the carrots and raisins you may add to it, plus the whole thing is buried under a thick layer of sweet, tangy cream cheese frosting. Carrot cake is not like other cakes my friends. And can I throw in there that having vegetables in your dessert automatically makes it healthy??

The Pairing

So because carrot cake is so sweet and tangy, pairing it with another sweet beer or wine will just overwhelm your entire dessert experience. We definitely don't want to do that. So the key with pairing beer with this cake is balance. Imperial Pale Ales (IPAs) are snappy, bitter beers with lots of citrus or floral components coming from the addition of bright hops. When you pair that alongside a super sweet dish like carrot cake, the bitterness and sweetness of the two contrast one other, balancing the extremities of each. So if you aren't usually a fan of  hoppy beers, this pairing may change your mind since the cake will decrease the perception of bitterness in the IPA.

Recommended Beers to Pair with Carrot Cake

When you're picking a beer to pair with this cake, you want to choose an American IPA, not an English IPA. English IPAs are slightly less bitter and more malty than their American cousins. We want more hops and bitterness in the beer to contrast the cake's sweetness, so American styles are the best. If you like double or Imperial IPA (the hoppiest of all IPAs), that's an even better beer to match this meal. Here are a few of my favorites:

  • Anchor IPA
  • Speakeasy Double Daddy IPA
  • Great Basin "Icky" IPA
  • Dogfish Head 90 minute IPA (60 minute is not as hoppy as you want and 120 minute might be too sweet)
  • Firestone Walker Union Jack or Double Jack
  • The Alchemist Heady Topper
  • Harpoon IPA or Leviathan IPA

To make the same carrot cake that I did (so yummy!), head over to SallysBakingAddition.

Other dessert and beer pairings on Care to Pair:

Fudge Brownies paired with Sweet Stout

White Chocolate Cheesecake paired with Raspberry Lambic

Apple Donuts with Maple Glaze paired with Pumpkin Ale