Greece may not be known for its brews, but beer pairs surprisingly well with the Mediterranean cuisine served in Greece. Juicy lemon, fragrant mint, tangy olives, creamy yogurt, pungent garlic and nutty olive oil are among the dominant flavors in Greek dishes. With the array of flavor profiles that you can develop with these fresh ingredients, many creative possibilities exist for delightful taste combinations when pairing your Greek fare with a variety of beers.
Pale ale, which is golden to amber in color, is often a bit fruity, with a hoppy, sort of woody taste. Pale ales are an ideal choice to serve with lamb dishes since the complexity of the beer complements the strong flavors of the meat. This full-bodied ale also works with spicy moussaka -- an eggplant and lamb dish -- as it can stand up to hearty flavors. The bitterness of the ale balances the heaviness of fried fish and seafood, so pair it with kroketes, a Greek fish cake, or breaded calamari.
Spanakotiropita, a classic Greek pie made of phyllo dough, spinach and cheese, pairs deliciously with lagers. The smooth, malty flavor complements the phyllo dough crust and highlights the creamy cheese. The light taste of lager also serves as an aperitif to awaken your appetite without filling you up too much. Pair lager with Greek appetizers such as roasted artichokes or keftedes, small ground pork meatballs, as it does not overwhelm delicate flavors.
Most popular American beers feature a smooth, dry body and a light, low-malt taste that complements, but does not compete with, the savory flavors in Greek food. Light lagers are a good choice if you're on a diet since they are usually lower in calories. Pair these lagers with a Greek meze plate that features hummus and pita bread, succulent Greek olives and light finger foods like fried shrimp. Serve this ale with light, healthy fish dishes such as baked sardines with lemon and oregano.
Deep, rich beers from Belgium pair well with heavier Greek fare. Their smooth taste is often deceiving; these beers are infamously high in alcohol content. The lighter body of the brew comes from the use of Belgian candy sugar. Serve a tripel with grilled lamb; the mild sweetness and creaminess of the brew offsets the smokiness of meat off the grill for a mouthwatering combination. Tripels also work with gyros as their flavors blend with a garlicky tzatziki sauce. The flavors in triples complement fresh herbs, so they are an especially good match to serve with pasta or seafood with fresh basil or oregano.
White beers with citrus notes pair well with a Greek salad. Serve this beer with feta since the light crispness of the brew balances the richness of the cheese. White beers also work well with egg dishes like Greek omelets and frittatas. Offer white beer when serving fruity desserts; the mild sweetness of the beer balances the tanginess of the fruit. Melitinias, sweet cheese mini tarts often served in Santorini, work well with the creaminess of white beers. Pair white beer with desserts that feature lemon and honey such as kataifi, a Greek pastry.
Porters are a robust, dark beer originating in England and brewed using roasted malted barley. The intense, complex flavors of this beer complement dessert. Baklava, a luscious Greek pastry comprising nuts, honey and cinnamon, pairs with a deep, dark porter with coffee and chocolate notes. Karythopita, a moist cake made with walnuts and cinnamon, also complements the heavier body of this beer.
Candi Canncel is a writer covering food and drinks, travel and lifestyle. Her work has appeared on Food and Wine Travel, Craft Gossip, Belltown Local and other publications. She also teaches cooking classes and hosts food/wine seminars.