Craft Beer: Our suggestions for what beers to pair with your Christmas dinner

We're relatively used to pairing wine with festive food but there's so much going on on the plate that beer can be tricky – though a Belgian dubbel is a great catch-all
Paul McConville

A SURE sign of Christmas in the craft beer world is wax-dipped bottles and special seasonal brews hitting the shelves. It's a time when a lot of brewers break away from their core range to flex their creative muscles.

But that old maxim that good beer is good beer at any time of the year is certainly true and with the amount of grub we take on board at Christmas, it can be a bit tricky knowing which beer to ‘hmmm' over in the off licence.

I've put together a few Christmas beer and food suggestions, which is by no means exhaustive but should help you get the most out of the festive fare.

If you are starting with a bit of smoked salmon, then a nice German hefeweizen or wheat beer like Franziskaner or, if you want to keep it Irish, O'Hara's Celtic wheat beer Curim, is worth a try. If you are having goats cheese based starters then a light IPA or sparkling pilsner should do the job. This might be the job for some Mourne Mist pilsner.

Moving on to the main and this can be tricky. Turkey is great paired with a nice amber ale such as Galway Bay's Bay Ale or Eight Degree's Sunburnt Ale. But there's a lot going on on your Christmas plate and once you factor in other meats and vegetables, you might find that a Belgian dubbel is a great catch-all beer for things like honey-glazed ham, sprouts, carrots and potatoes.

La Trappe Dubbel or Westmalle Dubbel would be perfect accompaniments to your Christmas dinner.

For afters, much like the food, it's a good idea to go for something a bit sweet. A nice milk stout will go well with a bit of pudding, cheesecake or tiramisu. If you can still get your hands on some, try Bullhouse's Quest for the Milky or if you want to dial down the strength a bit, White Sow from White Hag is a smooth and sweet stout.

If you are partial to a cheeseboard, and you're not totally stuffed, there are a whole host of beers which can complement cheeses. Some go with soft cheeses, some are better with smoked cheeses and blue cheeses are better with certain others.

But, if you're looking for a good all-rounder, try a nice barley wine with your cheeseboard. I've yet to pop it open yet, but Harmonic Convergence, a collaboration between Galway Bay and Boundary could just do the trick, but maybe share round this 500ml bottle of 12 per center. Barley wine can also be paired with dried fruit and nuts.

Above all, have a Happy Christmas and enjoy many more new and exciting beers in 2018.

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