Beer Pairing 101 – 3 Easy Tips To Get You Started


When other travelers ask me about Belgium, I emphasize that Belgium is a diverse nation with many regional differences in food, dialects, and attitudes.

Or, I talk about beer.

I realize that this goes against my travel mantra of not promoting stereotypes but really, the beer here is so fabulous that I absolutely have to write about it.

The wide range of flavors, brands, brewing processes and ingredients is one of the main reasons why Belgian beers are so popular.

When I first arrived in Belgium a year ago, I barely explored the culture of beer here. Mostly because the information available in Belgium is incredibly vast. Personally, I think the best way to really gain knowledge on this topic is to try different beers for yourself and develop your personal taste.

It’s good for any traveler to have some knowledge of the local food and drink anywhere they visit. It’s a sure fire of gaining insight into the culture and connect with the locals, who will appreciate that you have taken an interest in their native dishes, which they make with pride.

What better way to connect with new friends than over an authentic dinner where wine and beer flows plentifully into every glass and mug?

Belgium is full of beer brewers, experts, enthusiasts, and partakers. In this region of Europe, beer brewing can be dated back as far as two millennia and it’s trickled its way into almost every aspect of Belgian society — making this a beer lover’s paradise. And given Belgium’s long history of beer brewing, the region offers many specialty beers which can only be found here.

The general rule for food and beer pairing is to keep sweet with sweet and tart with tart. Of course, there is a lot of playing around you can do by trying a contrast, but those guidelines are a good way to help you get started.

Here are three types of beers you’ll find in Belgium (along with just about anywhere else in the world) and some quick n’ easy ways to pair them with your meal for a delicious combination.

1. Blonde beers

Blonde brews compliment dishes with a lot of spice and heat. Think Indian, Chinese, Thai, Japanese, and spicy BBQ — anything where you can imagine scrambling for a cold drink after a few bites. You’re going to want a light, refreshing beverage with some carbonation to soothe those taste buds. Blonde beers also compliment cheeses that are nutty, tangy, sharp, or pungent like Gorgonzola or Feta.

2. Amber Ales

Amber Ales go hand in hand with pork, poultry, and salads. They’re a great pairing with a weekend lunch of something like hamburgers, sausages, sandwiches, and soup or stew. Pizza and Mexican cuisine are also a safe bet here. The best cheese to pair and Amber Ales with would have peppery or sharp flavors like a Pepper Jack or a nice, sharp Cheddar.

3. Dark beers

Dark beers are a great pairing for beef, smoked meat, and smoky BBQ dishes. You can also try one paired with a fruit and chocolate dessert or a dark chocolate cake smothered in raspberries and you’ll discover a match made in heaven. As for cheeses, these darker brews bring out the earthy and buttery flavors in cheeses such as Brie, Camembert, Gouda, Havarti, and Swiss.

If you’re in Belgium and looking for some expert level guidance into the world of Belgium beers, these famous establishments can’t be missed!

And, as always, please drink safely and responsibly!

What are some of your favorite regional beers from your travels?


About Author

Meredith was bit by travel bug in 2009 and has been on the move since then. Her adventures started in Finland where she visited a Sami reindeer farm in Lapland, dogsled and ran in the forests of Finland, and then backpacked around western Europe. Later, she moved to Kenya for a Communications internship. She took advantage of her good fortune and went on safari in the Maasai Mara as well as explored beach paradise on a motorcycle. No matter where she goes, she never forgets about her home in Canada and greatly enjoys road trips across the Rocky Mountains and along coast of British Columbia. She is currently living in Canada working as a freelance writer and a communications specialist. You can follow her adventures and discoveries on curiousmeredith or get your tweet on with her @MeredithBratlan


  1. Thanks Ellen! I’ve been focusing more on the big world of wine lately, but I still enjoy a good beer with a meal every so often. Hope my tips will be useful for you!

  2. Great tips, I don’t drink much beer at home but make it a point to try the food and drinks that different places are famous for while travelling. if you ever make it to the South East US in spring, any ice cold beer will go perfectly with a pot of boiled crawfish.

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