Best Beers for Ethnic Foods

Best Beers for Ethnic Foods

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  1.  One of my favorite things to call out in a Chinese restaurant while ordering is, “Tsingtao!”  (Pronounced, “Ching-dow”… I think; either that or I’ve been mispronouncing it for the past thirty years.)  Not because it’s the best beer in the world (it isn’t), but because it’s fun to say. When it comes to Chinese food, the beers of choice in America are Tsingtao and Sun Lick, which is actually from Taiwan—and before you say, “Same thing,” look around and be sure there are no Chinese or Taiwanese people around you, because you may start a fight with such a claim. While Sun Lick has a more hoppy, traditional German taste in my opinion, I actually prefer the tanginess of Tsingtao when served with Chinese foods, though I refuse to drink it with any other styles of food or alone, as it leaves an unpleasant aftertaste in my mouth.


     We have many more options when it comes to Japanese food. Because of the delicate flavors of most Japanese foods—especially sushi—you don’t want an overpowering beer. Fortunately, most of the top selling Japanese beers have a distinctively smooth Germanic flavor rich with hops and barley, even though the main ingredient in most is rice. (It may surprise some of you to know that this is true of most mass-produced American beers as well; the next time you have a Bud, read the label.) Suntory, Asahi, Kirin, Orion and Sapporo are the most widely recognized labels found in America. I’ve tried them all and enjoyed each, though my favorite to have alongside sushi has always been Sapporo; it’s smooth, rich yet not overwhelming flavor perfectly accentuates the subtle taste of fine raw fish.


     Mexican foods often boast bold flavors rich with spice, often seasoned with hot peppers and therefore you might think that it’s okay to have a strongly flavored beer to go along with it. Many people may believe this, but personally, I love the flavors of Mexican food so much I don’t want to drink anything that will compete with the taste. Two major distributors produce most if not all of Mexico’s most popular beers: Cuauhtémoc Moctezuma Brewery and Grupo Modelo. Choosing one that is superior is no easy task, as both make some excellent beers. When it comes to mealtime, I usually prefer one of the lighter-flavored beers, such as Corona, Sol or Carta Blanca.

    Ales have become all the rage in America, especially pale ales that have a more delicate flavor and therefore go well with many foods. My sisters and brothers will tell you that good ale can accompany any meal as well as a beer could, but I disagree. I enjoy ale with a snack, but with a meal, I will always choose either a pilsner or a lager.


     When it comes to virtually any Northern European foods, one might consider it blasphemous to drink anything other than German beer; and with a name like Wagner, I could probably be brought up on charges of sedition or treason in Germany for what I am about to say, but here it goes: my favorite beer to drink with Northern European foods (German, Dutch, Nordic, Polish and yes, even English, but who wants to eat British food; I mean… really?) is Peter’s Brand from the Netherlands. It has the smooth, rich but never overpowering flavor I crave that goes splendidly with anything slathered with mustard. Grolsch comes in at a close second place and has a similar flavor and body; plus it has that cool resealable bottle, as if any beer drinker is stupid enough to save part of a beer for the next day when it goes flat. Still, if you’re at a rowdy party, the Grolsch bottle can save you from unnecessary spills, provided you take advantage of the stopper.

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