Where Takeout Meets Beer: Perfect Pairings for a Night In
Louisville is on the rise as a food destination. This little city is big on barbecue, and a whole lot more — Mexican, Thai, Indian and, of course, pizza!
But perhaps venturing out sounds like a daunting prospect. You've got the perfect parking space, or the rain just started pounding away at your rooftop, or you're just way too tired to venture out into the wild. And when the fatigue and/or pure laziness hits, forget about cooking! Especially after a long day at the office or when the cupboards' only contents are somehow creamed corn and an ancient packet of Top Ramen.
That's okay! Sometimes, you just want to cuddle up with a six pack, a good movie and some tasty grub. So, call your favorite restaurant delivery service in Louisville, Takeout Taxi, hunker down on the couch with Netflix and a few beers.
Oh, wait - you're suddenly totally stumped as to what beer goes with that large meat lover's pizza that's on the way. No worries! We've got a few tips and tricks to pairing takeout and beer. You'll be a pairing expert in no time.
Some General Beer Pointers
Beer no longer plays second fiddle to fine wines and fancy cocktails. As we’ve seen in a growing number of cities in the US, both big and small, beer is gaining traction in its own right, enjoying all the notes and nuances wine has had for centuries.
And yet, despite the cultural phenomenon, perhaps what makes it so appealing is that beer still represents that “kick back and relax” attitude we all crave after a long day of work — particularly when we’ve got food delivery on its way.
Just as much at home dining with a pair of sophisticated foodies as in the frat house or sports bar, beer has made it onto the menu as more than just an afterthought. Everyone from wine lovers to chefs and beverage experts are learning that beer has a lot of potential to pair with foods of all stripes, spices and flavors.
Take these quick tips and tricks to the beer fridge, and you’re guaranteed to have a tasty night:
- First things first — as a basic rule of thumb, do a bit of matching. Try paring lighter fare with lighter beers (lots of lager), and rich, hearty food with more substantial beers like stouts or porters.
- Bar food is considered bar food for a reason. The bubbles in beer cut through the fats and oils of drunken standbys like fries, mozzarella sticks and good old buffalo wings. Steer clear of flatter beers like stouts, and opt for something with more carbonation when eating greasier foods.
- Beers that fall on the more bitter end of the spectrum, like IPAs, have a similar effect to the acids in wine, again cutting through fats, oils and salt — yeah, healthy, right? This has a similar affect to adding a citrus component in a fish-centric dish.
- The two main categories of beer are ales and lager. Ales have more of a full-bodied, fruity flavor while lagers are crisp and somewhat delicate. If you’re a wine connoisseur, it might be a bit easier to think of beer in terms of body — either light, medium or heavy — and from there you can do a bit of matching.
- Don’t play it safe and match cuisine with its stereotypical regional counterpart. You know the drill: you order an Asahi with your sushi, wash down tacos with a considerable amount of Tecate, slurp up pad Thai noodles with Singha, and so on. The thing is, all of the aforementioned beverages are Pilsner-style beers. And Pilsner is from Europe, so throw those preconceived notions about beer and food out the window. Or, if you truly enjoy those conventions, then you just do you. Otherwise, consider the basic elements in both the food and the beverage.
- Again, we mentioned trying to steer clear of those regional hang-ups the restaurant industry has forced upon us, but there are also some budding foodies out there pursuing “matchy-matchy” flavors. A strategy about as interesting as its sartorial counterpart, the sweater set. The basic concept is that you pair a fruity aromatic beer with a dish that has those same elements. Logical, right?
- …And yet: contrasting flavors might actually be the key to F&B bliss. Like stouts and sweets, for example — similar to the delicious logic of sea-salted caramels, chocolate-covered pretzels and the like. Think of pairing a decadent beer with a fruity, lighter type of dish and enjoy the interesting play on flavors.
- If you’re going spicy for dinner, beers with a higher alcohol content will cut down on spice when you’re ready for a break.
Whew! Now that we’ve got that out of the way, let’s talk takeout.
Pizza is the king of all takeout! Though we can’t speak to the quality of the pie, pizza is a bit of a complex beast when it comes to picking the perfect pairings. Think of most pizzas as a set of components: the tomato sauce in all its sweet and acidic glory, rich and likely salty meats and, of course, cheese, cheese, cheese.
Pizza and beer are the perfect match for many reasons. This lazy meal generally demands a beverage that stands up to the acidity of the tomato sauce and cuts through greasy cheeses, while at the same time not taking over the entire palette. Stouts and porters are too heavy. Wheat beers might be a little too light or fruity.
Ales, pilsners and lagers are going to be your friends here. If you’re into all the additional toppings, like parmesan, garlic, hot pepper flakes and the herbal blends on the side, amber lagers and sour brown ales can really stand up to that onslaught of flavor.
Also, consider the toppings. There’s a bit of science involved in the pizza/beer relationships, proving that, like all good relationships, there’s a foundation built on work and understanding, and perhaps a dash of trial and error. In the end, it really comes down to whether you’re a meat lover or a basic cheese and sauce kind of person.
Meats like pepperoni and sausage contain copious amounts of sodium, which can be complemented by a hoppy IPA — a strong contender for all those bold fats and flavors. Plain old cheese, on the other hand, does best with a malty-type beer, complementing the natural nutty notes present in the aging process of both.
One more thing to consider: fast food delivery pizza isn’t exactly in the same food group as that delicate, reasonably sized Margherita pie from the artisanal parlor down the street. Apply the “bar food principal” to that Pizza Hut deep dish, and wash away that oil with a bubbly, bright ale. The higher-end stuff works great with an IPA.
We will, however need to get back to you on what beer was made for that strange cookie pizza you may have ordered for dessert.
Okay — “Chinese food” is kind of an all-encompassing term covering the cuisine belonging to a rather populous continent. Whether it’s spicy or savory, noodles or rice, here’s a few brews to complement your favorite Chinese takeout.
Note that a variety of beers will highlight different flavors in the dishes you choose.
- Lagers: For spicy dishes, choose a lager. A Czech-style pilsner, like Munich Dunkel, or an American-style dark lager, will all work well. These beers all feature rich malt that puts a damper on the heat while calling out the deeper flavors of sesame and soy.
Lagers tend to work well with shellfish or lighter seafood, much like a white wine, as well as with dishes that pack some major heat. Save these guys for that order of fried shrimp or something heavy on the Szechuan peppercorns — you’ll need to cool off!
- Amber Ale: Amber ales work great with a lot of Chinese food, as they work as a powerful antidote for that dried out soy sauce mouth. The malty sweetness provides some much-needed relief to sodium-laden noodles.
The notes of caramel and hints of nuts also play nicely with meatier dishes — so try an amber ale with a malty sweetness to offer a tasty contrast to the salty soy. Amber ales have nutty and caramel notes that play especially well with beef and pork dishes and dishes featuring sesame oil.
- Belgian Blond Ale: Belgian blonds are light, fruity and offer a delicate contrast to dishes that feature chicken or vegetables. Think chicken fried rice or something with mixed vegetables as the main event.
Forget the sake. Let the fish be your guide when selecting a beer and sushi combo. Wheaty Hefeweizen pairs well with both sushi and sashimi, while Belgian blond ale is complementary to the metallic notes found in yellowtail.
Again, look toward an amber ale or an IPA if you’ve ordered any deep-fried rolls, or anything that has the word “tempura” in the title. The usual suspects — Kirin, Sapporo and Asahi — all fall within that lager/pilsner realm, so you can look toward Germany for further recommendations on what goes best with your favorite lineup of rolls.
In any case, keep it simple. Anything too dominant will overpower all of the subtle flavors in the fish. Sushi tends to be about nuance, and you don’t exactly want to douse your tuna roll in a heavy-handed porter.
Another staple on the takeout scene. Again, when you go to a sit-down restaurant, the options aren’t usually classified in the realm of craft brews, but look no further than the obvious for the best option for an at-home drink ‘n’ dine experience.
In India, the general preference, as with the rest of the world, is the lager. But India Pale Ales are (shocking, we know!) very complementary to curries, naans and tandoori chicken. The bitter hops slice through all that hot, fragrant spice and offer a bit of relief to those of us who might be used to a milder range of flavors.
You’re probably inclined to grab a Tecate or, worse, those Bud Light Margarita beers (Seriously — what were they thinking?) to accompany that massive burrito you intend to wolf down in its entirety. But, if you care deeply about flavor, and we’re guessing you do, reconsider.
Again, a lager is a great place to start. Think German beers like Pilsners, which go great with your basic meat, bean and cheese burrito. Light lagers tend to go with everything (like we’ve already said), whether its chorizo, chicken or just bean and cheese. Meats like carne asada, on the other hand, do well with a darker lager, which add some nutty and caramel-esque elements to the spread.
Thai takeout runs the gamut of flavor experiences from the sweet or pungent fish oils and fermented goodies to the fragrant blends of ginger, coriander, cilantro and lemongrass. It’s salty, sour-savory and sweet all in the same bite. So: what beer works best with your green curry or pad Thai takeout?
Well, you can always play it safe with a simple pale lager, great for a low-maintenance hang. Or, you can venture out and look for a Gose, a German wheat ale made from coriander and salt. Another option is the Belgian-style Witbier, which is made with coriander and citrus peel, and plays nicely with the full spectrum of spice featured in Thai cuisine.
Fast food or delivery, burgers and beer are a classic combo — at least as American as apple pie, baseball or binge-watching. Burgers, fries and the related assortments of fast food sides are best when they team up with a fat-cutting ale, which offers a fresh break from the grease.
On the other hand, if you’re in the mood for something a bit more adventurous than the usual ale and “bar food” combo, try a German rauchbier — a smokey, barley-based beer. Rauchbier is great with other smoky flavors like bacon or barbecued meat, as well as the musty, earthen notes of mushrooms. The beer’s inherent smoke flavors play well against the similar flavors in the food, while its malty sweetness works well with savory, umami-type flavors.
Got Your Beer? Don't Forget the Takeout!
Don’t settle for that leftover party beer — or, even worse, a bad pairing. Stock up on IPAs if you happen to be prone to Indian food cravings or tend to have your local pizza place on speed dial. Or, feel free to throw all this advice out the window and kick back with whatever you have on hand.
Beer is kind of a subjective, personal preference type of thing. Some people are hardcore IPA fans, while others prefer the non-pretentious world of light, commercial beer. Whether you’re a beer connoisseur or an “anything goes” type of beer drinker, our takeout delivery service in Kentucky gets all kinds of food directly to your home, so you can kick back, slip into your pajamas and sip on your favorite brews — all without leaving the couch.