In contrast to pairing food and wine, there are not many rules to follow when it comes to finding snacks that pair well with beer. It’s also less daunting to experiment with beer and snacks because you can crack open several different types of non-alcoholic beer to see what works best — something you probably wouldn’t do with non-alcoholic wine.
Having said that, with non-alcoholic beer available in countless styles and flavours, the task of finding the best beer snacks to pair with your favourite brew could be a little overwhelming. To make it easy for you, I’m going to share my tips for finding the best beer snacks as well as some tried and tested combinations I have been enjoying.
Pair beer and snacks like a pro
The key thing to remember is it’s important the beer snacks and the non-alcoholic beer you’re pairing them with have a similar intensity. In other words, the flavour of the snack can’t be more intense than the flavour of the beer and vice versa.
On top of this, it’s worth taking some time to think about different elements in non-alcoholic beer such as bitterness, sweetness, spice, richness and carbonation. Look for pairings that contrast — for example, if you’re drinking a non-alcoholic beer that has strong bitter notes, try pairing it with something sweet.
I’ve had my fair share of non-alcoholic beers and snacks, so I’m delighted to share with you where my drinking and gastronomy adventures have landed me.
Pale Ale is a golden or amber-coloured beer brewed with pale malt that has been around since the start of the 18th century. These days, pale ale is one of the most popular styles of non-alcoholic beer and is made around the world. It’s considered an easy-drinking beer and has a robust, hoppy flavour.
Within the Pale Ale family, there are dozens of subcategories including IPA, XPA, Blonde, Amber Ale and English Bitter.
Pair Hawkesbury Prohibition Pale Ale with mild brie, crackers and fig jam. The tropical citrus notes in the non-alcoholic beer will enhance the flavour of the cheese, while the cheese will neutralise the hoppy bitterness in the non-alcoholic beer.
IPA (India Pale Ale) is an easy-drinking non-alcoholic beer with a bolder flavour than a pale ale. It tends to be a golden colour but can be as dark as copper, especially if it’s a hazy IPA. Typically, IPA non-alcoholic beer features fruity notes and bitterness. There are multiple types of IPA, including West Coast IPA, New England IPA and Sour IPA.
Despite being one of the most popular non-alcoholic beer styles, IPA was created by accident. British sailors en route to India loaded barrels of beer with hops, in the hope that the hops would help to preserve it on the long journey. Over time, the hops lost their fruity flavour and left the beer with more bitterness.
Pair Nort All Day IPA with a plate of vegetable pakoras (spiced Indian fritters). The complex character of the IPA will stand up to the strong flavour of the pakoras, while the citrus notes will cut through the intensity of the heat. The Nort non-alcoholic beer also makes for a great palate cleanser.
XPA (Extra Pale Ale) is another type of pale ale, but it has only been around for a decade. There isn’t really a consensus on what the X in XPA signifies, but generally speaking, it's either brewed with pale malts that produce an ‘extra pale’ looking ale, or they’re pale ales with an extra ingredient.
While there isn’t a standard definition, you can expect a non-alcoholic XPA to be light and refreshing with fruity notes such as citrus.
Pair Heaps Normal Quiet XPA with a margherita pizza. The XPA will act as a palate cleanser between bites so you can enjoy the saltiness of the cheese and dough, while the sweetness of the tomato sauce will accentuate the bitter notes in the non-alcoholic beer.
Lager is a type of beer that is brewed and conditioned at a lower temperature than other beer styles. The word lager comes from the German word for storage because traditionally, lager was stored in cool caves.
Non-alcoholic lager is well-balanced and crisp with a smooth and mellow profile. Lager also tends to be less bitter than ales with more carbonation.
Pair Beneficial Beer Co Stone Cold Lager with a bowl of salty hot chips. This simple pairing works every time with the touch of sweetness from the non-alcoholic beer's hoppy notes contrasting with the salt. The carbonisation of the lager will also cut through any grease, while the refreshing mouthfeel will keep the palate cleansed.
Stout is a dark, full-bodied beer with a rich and complex flavour that dates back to the late 17th century. Stout tends to have a distinct thick, creamy texture that is totally different from other types of beer.
Different non-alcoholic beer brands make different types of stout, so there is a range of different styles available. However, typically a stout will feature chocolate or coffee notes.
Pair Big Drop Galactic Milk Stout with a platter of fresh shellfish. The sharp bite of brine from the shellfish will make the toasty chocolate and honeycomb notes in the stout pop, and the subtle sweetness of the shellfish will lessen the bitter finish of the stout.
Wheat beer is the oldest type of beer and dates back thousands of years. As the name suggests, wheat beer is brewed with wheat instead of barley. It typically has a hazy look, with a malty aroma.
Wheat beer tends to be a well-balanced non-alcoholic beer with a full, creamy mouthfeel and a dry finish. Different types of wheat beer have different flavours, for example, wheat beer from Germany features banana and clove flavours, while American wheat beer has citrus and pine flavours.
Pair Erdinger Alcohol-Free Wheat Beer with a tray of freshly baked, soft pretzels. The toasted malt notes in the non-alcoholic beer will highlight the glossy, toasted crust of a soft pretzel and the carbonation of the beer will also help contrast the dry pretzel’s chewiness.
Find the best non-alcoholic beer
I hope these suggestions help you find some snacks that pair well with beer and inspire you to discover your own pairings. My final tip is to explore different styles of non-alcoholic beer because I know when you find one you like, it can be tempting to stick with it. But adding a few different non-alcoholic beers to your order can help you expand your palate and discover new flavours. To help, I’ve put together several mixed beer packs in easy, convenient bundles.
When you’re ready to get your non-alcoholic drinks and snacks on, you can buy non-alcoholic beer online at Sans Drinks, where I stock the biggest selection of non-alcoholic beer Australia wide. If you’re keen to hear about new products and special offers, please sign up to my newsletter and I’ll keep you in the loop. I’d love to hear how you go with your beer snacks, so please follow me on Instagram and tag me in your non-alcoholic beer posts. Cheers!