Great Beer and Sunday Roast Pairings
The Sunday roast is a tradition to be proud of and is quintessentially British. For far too long however, it hasn’t truly been done justice, with the accompanying beverages generally just a side thought. Of course, full bodied red wine with beef is always good, and a light zingy white wine goes great with chicken, but it’s all too easy to stick to what you know and not explore the alternatives.
Beer in the UK is another tradition well worth being proud of, with a huge variety of flavours and styles being produced across Britain. British craft beers are pushing the boundaries of these styles and exploring new flavour profiles. With such a broad variety of beers available in the UK, it makes sense that some of them will complement the humble Sunday roast perfectly.
Below, we look at some traditional British beer and roast pairings, as well as exploring some more modern twists. With online beer shops, it’s easy to buy beer online, and explore a veritable treasure trove of flavours.
A nice sirloin of beef, beautifully cooked with Yorkshire puddings, rich gravy, crispy roast potatoes, a dab of horseradish sauce and all the trimmings - does it get any better? Only with the addition of a fantastic beer to wash it all down! Typically, red wine is served with roast beef, but if you’re looking for a beer that works just as well, if not better, then it’s worth playing by similar rules.
Stout is an excellent choice; dark, rich and full bodied enough to stand up to the bold flavours of a roast beef lunch. The mild bitterness doesn’t intrude on the flavours from the food, and the roasty character rounds everything off. With a full, creamy texture, it’s an ideal beer to match an ideal meal.
Greasy and seasoned to perfect, a well-cooked roast chicken is a delight, and the base of a great many number of flavour profiles. From aromatic lemon roasted chicken, to a garlic and rosemary delight, roast chicken is versatile enough to suit a good range of traditional and modern artisan beers.
Something light and fairly delicate will allow the chicken to stand out, with lightly hoppy blonde ales being an old favourite. For the hop heads out there, a modern craft American style pale ale with a moderate bitterness may work wonders, though an IPA may be a bit overpowering. For something a bit lighter, try a Belgian Saison, with its light, tangy citrusy notes perfectly complimenting the white meat.
Crispy roast pork with crackling, oozing fat and complemented by apple sauce, roast potatoes and earthy root veg such as carrots and parsnips - what a treat! Cider is the natural companion to roast pork, and rightly so. The acidic apple flavours mingle perfectly with the fat from the pork and highlight the rich flavours from the meat.
For something a little different however, consider a well-made craft lager or pilsner. Clean and crisp, these fantastic styles can really cut through the fattiness of the pork, with bready malt notes rounding everything off. Alternatively, seek out a honey ale, preferably something dark with a strong honey taste. Honey and pork work together just as well as apple and pork, and this pairing can take your roast pork lunch in a whole new direction.
Lamb and mint sauce with peas and roast potatoes, simple, fresh and sublime. Ideally, you’ll want something dark and full bodied, with just a touch of sweetness to match up to the gamey flavours of the lamb. A traditional Irish red ale is a great choice, with its toffee notes and mild bitterness complimenting the flavour of the lamb, rather than overpowering it.
For lovers of mint sauce, a paler, more refreshing craft beer may be the order of the day. Try a dry hopped wheat beer. Black IPA also works well with roast lamb cooked in a darker gravy, standing up to the gamey flavours nicely, as does a Belgian style dubbel.
And for Dessert?
After a sumptuous roast lunch, you may struggle to find room for dessert! However, if you can fit it in there are some great pairings.
Stilton and barley wine is a classic combination. The powerful malt profile of the barley wine plays off the potent, salty tang of the fatty cheese. Seek out English style barley wines that don’t have a huge amount of hop bitterness in order to really enjoy this combination. Alternatively, imperial stouts or porters can also work well, but again, look for less bitter varieties.
Fruit crumbles and custard can work well with pale ales and wheat beers. The hoppy aroma of a pale ale complements the sweet tang of the fruit, and the easy-going malt profile of a wheat beer complimenting the sweet, toasty topping. For the best of both worlds, try an American style, dry hopped wheat beer.