Monday, February 8, 2010

Beer Pairings for Chinese New Year Dinner

We got some help from our friend Charlie @ Brew York City for some suggested beer pairings for the Chinese New Year Dinner. As a rule in pairings, do not drink full beers. We suggest that three people share a 12oz bottle, 4oz being a good serving size per course. They are below:

Fried Fish Bao
While the fried might connote 'heavy' or 'oily', the fish is fairly delicate because we use a light almost translucent batter. With the lightness of the fish and the crispy, oily texture of the batter (and the fact that this is the first course), I'd start with a wheat beer. There is enough pop to wheats that they won't be outgunned by the batter, but they're light and delicate enough accompany a flaky fish.

Beer-Braised Pork Dumplings
This dish sound really good, and fennel as well as sichuan peppercorns are a strong flavor so you'll need something with legs or else the beer will get lost. Since I suggested a wheat first and a light lager third, you don't want something too light here. A nice American IPA could work here. Sichuan peppercorn is "mala" and tingly so this would be perfect.

Fried Tofu Bricks
This dish has a garlic chili and cilantro dressing with a hint of sweetness. You might try a Pilsner or German Dortmunder. These are light, golden lagers, with crisp, grassy hops. They'll counteract the sweetness, pair well with the fried aspects, and may help bring out some of the earthier tones of the tofu and cilantro.

Taiwanese Fried Chicken &
Eddie's Taiwanese Sausage Fried Rice
NOTE: We decided after several tastings to serve these two courses together. Charlie had suggested a darker beer here because of the sausage but I'm calling an audible :). Taiwanese/Chinese sausage is sweet and savory. I would suggest Allagash White Ale or another good white ale like Hitachino. Our fried chicken has really subtle spices so it's not as heavy a fried chicken as many are used to. The white ales accent the chicken and sweet sausage, but won't overpower the egg/rice/white pepper/green onions in the dish.

Lion's Head Casserole
This dish is a bit milder than the others. The poulet rouge broth and clear noodles are intentionally light so that the focus is on the giant meatball. What might be nice here are any of a variety of Belgian beers, specifically any lighter examples of Saison, Tripel, or Golden/Pale styles. These should have a touch of sweetness maybe to lead the way into dessert, they'll have some yeast and subtle malt bodies to accompany the noodles and broth, and they'll have very distinct and even changing hop characters that will probably provide enough tang to accompany the meatballs without being too heavy.

Mantou Bread Pudding
I assume this is dessert. It's always a pretty good bet to serve a more serious beer as a bit of a digestif with dessert. It's tough sometimes to encourage people to drink such a hearty brew not only after a whole meal (with pairings) but also with dessert, but have just a small amount to sip, and it should be ok. Most US craft breweries are trying out barleywines as Americans love big styles of anything.

That's all for now, September Wines will also be sending in wine pairings later today and I'll be putting a sake list together!


  1. While I can vouch for Charlie's beer expertise {even though his dirtiest secret (and mine) is that Miller High Life is his favorite beer} I agree whole heartedly with your audible. Hitachino is a delicious brew that drinks easy but is masterfully complex. There is a hint of coriander in it that makes it so good.

  2. no Taiwan Beer???

  3. I love taiwan beer!!!!! but there isn't a distributor around here. i love the graphic on the taiwan beer can. the colors are like calpico haha. Hitachino is dope! I actually like Allagash better but the floral note in hitachino is really cool

  4. Taiwanese fried chicken is one of the most delicious foods I've tried...
    Fishing Trip Dubai