As we are approaching Advent and Christmas, it’s time to look for tasty beers to pair with your festive meal. In Scandinavia, Christmas food usually means an abundance of rich, salty and fatty dishes. To complicate things further, we often have lavish cheese boards, puddings and sweets afterwards. What beer can possibly handle all of these flavours?

Don’t worry! A hot tip is to get a few different styles to enjoy with the wide variety of dishes on the table (not all at once though). As with the food, it’s a good idea to start light and easy and then work towards darker and more flavourful beers, to keep from overpowering your palette.

For pickled herring and smoked salmon, try a crisp Pilsner or a Weissbier. Then you can move on to Dark Lager, with a more roasted character and some sweetness to balance richer dishes such as ribs, meats and roasted veg. For dessert, or a beer to sip slowly by the open fire, why not choose something a bit stronger and more full-bodied like an Imperial Stout with flavours such as dried fruit, coffee and dark chocolate, or a warming, strong and sweet Barley Wine?

If you insist on going all-in with just one beer for the festive meal, aim for a trusty Belgian style. They are incredibly versatile. A complex Belgian Dubbel or Tripel can carry rich foods and will also match with cheeses and sweet puddings.

My favourite Belgian style that always seems to work somehow is Saison. There is something intriguing about the earthy, peppery spiciness in the yeast character, combined with the dry finish and carbonation, that pairs well with a lot of dishes. Otherwise, simply enjoy it on its own as a nice little Christmas treat.

Matching beer and food – a culinary experience

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