The Absolute Best Beers To Pair With Pizza

Bright beer, red ale and dark beer
Bright beer, red ale and dark beer - Static Media / Shutterstock / Getty

Eggs and bacon, cheese and wine, tomato and basil — beer and pizza. Some pairings never get old. Even the most industrial of commercial beers are an adequate pairing for most pies, but beer and pizza can be so much better than that. Beer is just as complex as wine. The countless flavors, aromas, and textures invite exploration, both at your local bar and by plane, train, and automobile.

The pale lagers of central Europe provide varying levels of crispness, while the ales, porters, and stouts of Great Britain and Ireland stimulate your palate with sweet, smoky, and full-bodied flavors and textures. Then there are the wheat beers of Germany and the tripels of Belgium, which are loaded with ripe flavors and topped with thick, creamy heads. The United States inherited these styles and many more, producing some of the world's finest breweries and beer styles, especially since the craft beer revolution of the late 20th century.

Our list was written with help from Anne Becerra, a certified Cicerone and beverage director at Treadwell Park, which operates two craft beer bars in Manhattan. We have also contacted numerous breweries, such as Hill Farmstead Brewery in Vermont and 3 Floyds Brewing in Indiana. With their expert help, we present to you the best beers to pair with pizza.

Read more: 30 Popular Frozen Pizzas, Ranked Worst To Best

Margherita Pizza And Saison

Marghertia pizza and Saison beer
Marghertia pizza and Saison beer - smspsy/Shutterstock, Brewery Dupont/YouTube

The saison beer style is a delectable accompaniment to the margherita's balanced flavors and crisp, fluffy bite. Saison originates in the Hainut province of Belgium and it is often referred to as "farmhouse ale." One of the best examples of the style is Saison Dupont, brewed since 1844 in the village of Tourpes, near the French border.

Famed beer writer Michael Jackson loved it so much, according to the Belgian Beer Specialist, that he persuaded importers to introduce the style to the U.S. in the mid-1980s. Feinberg told the site: "I wanted something different: a thirst-quenching, aromatic, very flavorful beer which could stand up to food well, but also not knock you over the head with too much alcohol. Saison Dupont was, and is, that beer."

Many other breweries have produced their takes on the style. Hill Farmstead Brewery has saisons named Clover, Samuel, and Ann.

Pepperoni And Czech Pilsner

Pepperoni pizza and Pilsner Urquell
Pepperoni pizza and Pilsner Urquell - Nikada/Getty Images, usaphoto/Shutterstock

The umami character of a pepperoni pizza calls for a quenching brew and one of the best examples of that is a Czech pilsner — the source of modern lager. Czech pilsners contain saaz hops, which imbue earthy, spicy notes that give Czech pilsners a darker color and maltier flavor than many of its German descendents.

We spoke with Anthony Sorice from Root and Branch, a brewery in Long Island, NY. "Pilsners are light, dry, and quenching, which compliments the salinity/savory character that pizza carries," Sorice tells us. "In the case of Czech-style pilsner, which is a tad hoppier and bitter, it helps balance the acidity of tomato sauce and cut through the fat brought forth by the cheese."

Where does one start with Czech pilsner? Pilsner Urquell is an easy-drinking 4.4% beer with malty, bitter notes that'll keep you quenched and balance the saline, savory flavors. Other popular examples include Reality Czeck by Moonlight Brewing Company, Pils by Heater Allen Brewing, Alexandr by Schilling Beer Co., and Scrag Mountain Pils by Lawson's Finest Liquids.

Meat Feast And Brown Ale

Meat feast pizza and Newcastle Brown Ale
Meat feast pizza and Newcastle Brown Ale - Bloomberg/Getty Images, Jacek Wojnarowski/Shutterstock

Brown ale is a good choice for bringing a slight sweetness to your palate to balance the salty intensity of a meat feast-style pizza. These are not saccharine flavors we're talking about but subtle notes of caramel, butterscotch, and roasted bitterness mixed with an effervescent texture. Brown ale brings a sweet, bitter blend that balances the heavy cheese of a thick, meat-fast pizza.

Samuel Smith's Nut Brown Ale is one of the best examples from Britain, where the style originated. You can expect a strong, syrupy aroma; a profile of nutty, chocolate notes; and a moderate mouthfeel that makes the ale very drinkable. Other varieties include the Indian Brown Ale by Dogfish Head Craft Brewery and the famous Newcastle Brown Ale.

Cicerone Anne Becerra recommends Maduro Brown Ale by Cigar City Brewing in Tampa, Florida. Becerra notes how the beer's "nutty, molasses-tinged flavors complement the character of the toppings, while its almost espresso-like bitterness helps to cut through the grease leaving your palate cleansed and refreshed." The Maduro is similar to the English style, but it distinguishes itself with a higher alcohol by volume (ABV) and added oats.

Chicago Deep Dish And Belgian Tripel

Chicago deep dish and Westmalle Tripel
Chicago deep dish and Westmalle Tripel - Pixel-Shot/Shutterstock, Westmalle Brewery

Golden in color and loaded with booze, flavor, and a long dry finish, the Belgian tripel is a powerful friend to perhaps the richest pie in the U.S., the Chicago deep dish. Tripels often fall between 8 to 12% alcohol by volume (ABV), so be careful with this one.

To start, consider a chalice of Westmalle Tripel, the so-called "mother of all tripels." The tripel style began at Westmalle Abbey near Antwerp in 1934. Since then, the recipe has been altered only once, in 1956. This 9.5% ABV golden brew is rich with fruity, spicy, and malty notes that will cut through the cheese, tomato, meat, and dough of the Windy City's beloved delicacy.

If you want to go a step further, then try Tripel Van De Garre by Brouwerij Van Steenberge. Again, you'd better steel yourself, because it is an 11% ABV beverage. That's a good thing, though, because it encourages you to savor the beer's remarkable complexity of flavor and texture.

Hawaiian And Wheat Beer

Hawaiian pizza and wheat beer
Hawaiian pizza and wheat beer - Monticelllo, Veselovaelena/Getty Images

Wheat beer is a cloudy style known for ripe notes of yeast, banana, and other fruit. The lively balance of sweet and savory flavors complements the Hawaiian pizza's ham and pineapple toppings while refreshing the palate with the beer's stimulating amber body.

Anne Becerra was fortunate enough to stumble upon an especially relevant pairing. "I know this is kind of cheating because it seems so obvious," Becerra tells us, "but I had a Maui Brewing mana wheat beer with a Hawaiian pizza once and it was an absolute dream." Becerra says that the beer is "brewed with Maui Gold pineapple that's juicy, incredibly refreshing, and is a pretty much literal beer extension of this style of pizza, which I absolutely love."Weihenstephaner Hefeweissbier is a failsafe recommendation. Another favorite is Hefe-weissbier by Paulaner, one of Munich's best-known breweries. You can also consider the excellent Gumballhead by 3 Floyds Brewing, a pale wheat beer noted for its light body and grassy, citrus notes. Like its German ancestors, Gumballhead is in the middle of the 5 to 6% ABV range, so it can be enjoyed quite liberally.

Mushroom And Biere De Garde

Mushroom pizza and Ch'ti beer
Mushroom pizza and Ch'ti beer - Lauri Patterson/Getty Images, Brasserie Castelain/YouTube

For mushroom pizza, cicerone Anne Becerra recommends biere de garde, a pale ale style from northern France. "This French style of beer is known for a host of flavors like fresh bread, red fruits, subtle caramel, and just the slightest hint of earthy 'funk,'" Becerra tells us. "Expect very little bitterness and a lovely effervescence that takes a classic mushroom pie to the next level."

Brasserie Duyck's Jenlain Ambrée and Brasserie Castelain's Ch'ti Blonde are two excellent French examples. American offerings include Two Brothers' Domaine du Page and Jolly Pumpkin's Oro De Calabaza. These beers are on the stronger side, ranging between 6 and 8% ABV. They have a cloudy, amber color, and carry a range of fruity notes along with hints of hop, malt, and yeast. The mouthfeel isn't light but it's not heavy, either, so they go down quite nicely. Overall, a well-rounded collection of a very well-rounded style.

Vegetarian And Double IPA

Vegetarian pizza and Pliny the Elder IPA
Vegetarian pizza and Pliny the Elder IPA - Boblin, Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

To pick up on the caramelized vegetables of a vegetarian pizza, Anne Becerra suggests a double IPA. "The malt character of an Imperial IPA picks up on those notes, the grassy, earthy hop flavors come through and really let the vegetables shine," Becerra says. "A lot of times the vegetables are roasted or cooked before going on or the pie is cooked on a very high heat, which gives a great caramelized flavor to the veggies."

There is a great wealth of choice in the double IPA market. Just one of many examples is Firestone Walker's Double Jack. Be careful, though, it's 9.5% ABV. Other strong double IPAs include Pliny the Elder by Russian River Brewing Company, Abrasive Ale by Surly Brewing Company, and Heady Topper by The Alchemist.

For a double IPA that's a bit session but still firmly imperial, consider Bright by the Tree House Brewing Company from Massachusetts. The 7.8% beverage is a hoppy, fruity experience that will embolden every bite of a vegetarian pizza.

Seafood And Helles

Seafood pizza and helles
Seafood pizza and helles - Lauripatterson, Pattanawadee/Getty Images

Seafood pizzas may be the most saline of them all, especially if anchovies are present. A soft, balanced helles will smooth out the intense salty flavor. German for "bright," helles is a pale lager that is crisp and refreshing like a pilsner but noticeably less bitter. This smooth, medium-bodied profile is just what you need to contrast strong flavors, such as those found topping a seafood pizza. "The salinity of a seafood pie works beautifully with a beer that has a little brightness and zip," Becerra tells us, "which is why Witbiers (Belgian-style wheat beers) are some of my favorites."

One of the best examples stateside is Marie by the Hill Farmstead Brewery in Vermont, founded by Shaun Hill. Bob Montgomery from the brewery tells us: "Marie's flavor profile and construction are guided by the great helles examples of Germany, which inspired Shaun's creation of the beer: soft, balanced, and approachable."

White And Pale Ale

White pizza and Sierra Nevada
White pizza and Sierra Nevada - Kaszojad, Debbismirnoff/Getty Images

The somewhat muted notes of a white pizza require a lively glass of beer, such as a medium or full-bodied American pale ale. Anne Becerra recommends Sierra Nevada Pale Ale, a familiar favorite. "It's hard to go wrong with the piney, citrusy flavors of Sierra Nevada Pale Ale," Becerra tells us. "The hops balance the creaminess of the cheese while making all the flavors pop. I kind of like to think of it working the same way citrus zest does — brightens and enhances without masking anything."

Dale's Pale Ale is another great example of the style, but if you encounter Zombie Dust by 3 Floyds Brewing Co., order it. This beer is a modern classic of the American style, that pairs a clean, light mouthfeel with hoppy bitterness and subtle, sweet undertones, which serve as a satisfying contrast to a white pizza's rich dairy texture and flavor.

Other examples in this busy field include Pseudo Sue by Toppling Goliath Brewing Company, Fort Point Pale Ale by Trillium Brewing Company, and Born Yesterday by Lagunitas Brewing Company, the well-known Petaluma, California brewery. All will boost your white pizza with a refreshing kick of hops, malt, and zesty, tropical flavors.

Barbecue Chicken And Smoked Beer

BBQ chicken pizza with smoked beer
BBQ chicken pizza with smoked beer - Lauripatterson/Getty Images, Jack Hawkins/Tasting Table

Smoked beer is a natural partner to a barbecue chicken pizza, especially Aecht Schlenkerla's Rauchbier from the Bavarian city of Bamberg. Schlenkerla brews several types of rauchbier (German for "smoked beer"), including smoked wheat beer and smoked bock beer, but Anne Becerra recommends the original smoked märzen.

Schlenkerla's Rauchbier Märzen's liquid jerky flavor will keep sweeter BBQ sauces in check, imbuing each bite with smoky notes like a pellet grill. "With rauchbiers," Becerra tells us, "the malts are smoked over fires -- often beechwood but not exclusively -- so that campfirey, smokey character hits right away, but then moves to the side to let the biscuity, caramel malt flavors shine."

Now, you may not like the first sip of a rauchbier; the flavor is unique and strong. But we suggest sticking with it, because it's a taste you acquire, especially when perfectly paired with certain foods, like a sweet and smoky slice of BBQ chicken pizza.

Calzone And Gose

Calzone and gose beer
Calzone and gose beer - PavelKant, Belal Asaad20/Shutterstock

Gose is a wheat beer from Goslar, a town and UNESCO world heritage site in the center of Germany. Pronounced "goes-uh," the beer is a top-fermenting brew known for its salty, sour, and slightly sweet notes, which brewers achieve by adding coriander and salt. These tangy qualities provide a refreshing contrast to a heavy, cheese-filled calzone.

When enjoying a calzone, Anne Becerra recommends washing it down with Westbrook Brewing Company's gose. "Westbrook Gose is insanely popular for good reason," Becerra says. "But for a unique take on the style, try Stillwater Gose Gone Wild, which takes inspiration from Westbrook and adds a hoppier, funkier, Brett-tinged complexity." Many other beer aficionados similarly consider the latter beer by Stillwater Artisanal Ales -- a brewery in Grand Mound, Washington -- to be among the best gose in the world.

Despite its popularity these days -- particularly stateside -- once upon a time, a gose would have been hard to come by even in Germany. The style had all but vanished into obscurity by the 1960s, and it wasn't until long after German reunification that two brewers, Tilo Jänichen and Andreas Schneider, brought the style back.

Dessert Pizza And Stout Or Porter

Dessert pizza and Guinness stout
Dessert pizza and Guinness stout - Mtreasure, Genekrebs/Getty Images

An espresso after dinner can mean a restless night for some people, so instead of decaf with your dessert pizza, consider a full-bodied stout -- like Guinness -- or a porter. What's the difference between stout and porter? Some beer enthusiasts can expound at length on the subject, but to quickly recap: Stout historically derives from porter and, though this isn't a consistent rule these days, it can be distinguished by its fuller body and higher alcohol content.

If it's chocolate indulgence you seek, then Samuel Smith's Organic Chocolate Stout is a superb choice. Anne Becerra recommends Maine Brewing's King Titus porter, which is known for notes of tobacco, toffee, and dark chocolate. Indeed, the cocoa flavors of both complex beers enhance the chocolate of the pie while balancing any richness with a satisfying roasty edge. "There's a reason we're typically offered something bitter along with dessert to round off a meal (coffee, digestif, etc.)," Becerra says. "And this combination is one of the best."

For the best espresso replacements, look into coffee stouts such as Onyx Coffee Stout by Ozark Beer Co. and Brewhouse Coffee Stout by Central Waters Brewing Co. These will give you the aroma and flavor of a creamy Americano without keeping you up for hours.

Read the original article on Tasting Table.