Salmon has become an increasingly popular dish in the last few years for its versatility, health benefits, and overall great taste. It would be a disservice, though, to not include a beer pairing list for this tasty fish.
So, what beers pair best with salmon?
The beers that pair best with salmon are brown ales, pale ales, blonde ales, and witbiers. These beers are mostly mild in taste and offer great versatility on their own, making them exceptional pairings for the many ways that you can prepare salmon.
Does salmon actually pair well with beer? What flavors pair best with salmon? Continue reading for answers to these questions and for specific examples of the types of beers to buy for your next salmon dinner.
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Salmon and beer – do they pair well together?
Salmon and beer pair well together. You can either drink the beer with your finished salmon, or you can use it to cook with. Whichever way, the two go together tremendously, and with so many ways to prepare the fish, it’s likely you’d enjoy a variety of beer styles with it.
Salmon’s versatility means great potential for beer pairings. Let’s get into the details.
Flavor profile of salmon
Salmon is a great introductory fish for people that haven’t tried seafood. For many seasoned eaters though, this dish can be cranked up a notch to be more fulfilling than the casual lemon pepper preparation.
The specific taste of salmon can vary depending on the fish’s source, preparation method, and freshness. The general flavor profile for salmon though, is very rich. It’s high in fat, giving it a pleasant smell and oily flavor and, since it’s a freshwater species, it doesn’t have that saltwater taste.
The flavor profile of salmon is a great foundation for the variety of ways that you can prepare it and for the myriad of beer styles that you can pair it with.
Common salmon preparations
Since salmon has a mild fish taste with a delicious richness and pleasant aromatics, there’s lots of ways to prepare it.
Some of the common preparations for salmon include grilled, pan-fried, beer battered, and baked. Some of the flavors that go best with these salmon preparations include lemon and herb, blackened salmon, and a simple salt and pepper seasoning.
All of this variety is perfect for added flavors and for beer.
What kind of flavors pair best with salmon?
The flavors that pair best with salmon are as varietal as the different ways you can prepare it.
The best flavors to pair with salmon are sweet, salty, sour, and pungent. Some specific additions include orange zest, soy sauce, lemon & lime, and garlic, respectively.
These open up plenty of options for an easy beer pairing.
The best beer styles to pair with salmon
Onto the meat and potatoes – well, rather, fish and chips – of the article. Salmon goes well with beer. It particularly goes well with select beer styles.
These types of beer go best with salmon:
- American pale ales
- American brown ales
- Blond ales
- German-style pilsners
- White beers or witbiers
- Session IPAs
American Pale Ales
The American pale ale is a generally light, hoppy beer. It’s more opaque in color and much softer on the palate compared to IPAs. They can vary widely in flavors and aromas – anywhere from citrusy, florally, earthy, and resiny.
American pale ales pair well with salmon because they don’t overpower the dish’s taste. Instead, the mildness of the beer pairs well and accentuates the fish’s many flavors, making the two a harmonious combination.
American Pale Ales that you can find at the store include Sierra Nevada Pale Ale, Oskar Blues Dale’s Pale Ale, and Lagunitas Little Sumpin’ Sumpin’.
American Brown Ales
Brown ales can also range in flavor, similar to pale ales. They offer complexity and easy drinking with a sweet malt flavor and medium IBU. They often carry a fruity taste to them behind the chocolatey and carmely malt presence.
American Brown Ales pair particularly well with smoked salmon. The sweetness of the beer’s malt can help cut some of the smoky flavor of the fish. A sip of an American brown ale after a bite of smoked salmon is like a balancing act on top of your tongue.
Some commercial styles of American brown ales include Cigar City Maduro, Founders Underground Mountain Brown, and Surly Bender.
The blonde ale retains low sweetness and malt flavor and aroma. Their taste is mild with medium hop characteristics and low IBU. They have a refreshing smell and a grainy and sometimes fruity taste.
Blonde Ale pairs well with pan fried salmon. The easily-prepared pan fried salmon duets distinctly well with this easy-drinking beer. Blonde ales let the salmon flavor shine, and vice versa, making the two a delicious pairing.
Some commercial blond ales include Kona Big Wave, Harpoon Sweet Spot, and Widmer Brothers Citra Blonde.
Saisons have a unique flavor and aroma that retains woody, floral, and spicy notes. These notes come from a low to medium malt presence and a low to medium hop presence. They’re highly carbonated and often taste fruity or citrusy.
Saisons pair well with a lemon-dressed grilled or fried salmon. The high carbonation and fruity esters present in Saisons bring out the pleasant citrus flavors in the dish.
Saisons for you to try with this dish include Saison Dupont, Ommegang Hennepin, and Great Divide Colette.
These beers have a light taste and aroma, with a golden-straw opaque body and a crisp finish. They have a mild hop profile and flavor strongly attached to the yeast strain present in the beer. They’re very easy drinking and can range in simple, yet delicious, bready flavors.
The versatility of German-style pilsners makes them a great partner for salmon. Blackened salmon with this beer lets the dish shine while still making a great contribution to flavor. German-style pilsners won’t overwhelm any preparation of salmon.
There are plenty of German-style pilsners to choose from. Here are a few that you can likely pick up at the store today: Victory Prima Pils, Firestone Walker Pivo Pils, Bitburger Premium Pils, and Warsteiner Premium Pilsner.
White Beers (Witbiers)
Witbiers have very low malt taste and aroma. They have an exceptionally low IBU range and have almost no hop presence in taste and smell. These beers are often brewed with fruits and herbs like orange peel and coriander, which is where most of the taste and smell comes from. The taste is also dependent on the yeast strain.
White or Witbiers are spicy, fruity, and herbal – another style that pairs well with grilled or smoked salmon. The citrusy and spicy notes of the beer cut the charred taste of the fish and make a delicious combination of intricate flavors.
Some commercial witbiers for you to try with your next salmon dish are Blue Moon Belgian White, Hoegaarden Belgian Witbier, and New Belgium Fat Tire Belgian White.
This beer style is more of an honorable mention regarding salmon and beer pairings. The subtlety and drinkability of session IPAs makes these beers a niche salmon pairing.
They have a medium to high hop presence in the flavor and aroma with very low malt presence. They retain an ABV of less than 5% and an IBU ranging from 10-35.
Though not for everybody, session IPAs can make a great pairing with a pan fried salmon. The types of hops used make a nice pairing for the richness of salmon and, depending on the ingredients used for your fish, accentuate its flavors nicely.
Session IPAs on the market for your next salmon dinner include Founders All Day IPA, Fatheads Sunshine Daydream, and Southern Tier Live Session.
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