A rough guide to serving beer with your Christmas dinner

Beerista: While there’s no hard and fast rules to pairing food and beer, here are some tips to make the most of the best meal of the year

The easiest way to go about pairing beer with your Christmas dinner is to think about matching intensities. If you're going for a light starter, serve it with something light. Fionnabhair Irish Wit by White Hag is refreshing with orange and subtle spice flavour and will work with smoked salmon or melon.

A good quality craft lager – such as Larkins Helles or Boyne Brewhouse’s Vienna Lager – is also a nice way to begin proceedings and will pair with a starter salad and is good to have around for pre-feast drinks. A fruity session IPA such as Rascals Happy Days has a little more hop character but will also complement a light starter. Dial up the presentation for the day that’s in it and serve in a Champagne flute.

For the main event, you need a beer that has enough complexity and body to be able to stand up to – and interplay with – the huge array of flavours of Christmas dinner. "When in doubt, go Belgian," is the beer and food pairing advice of Randy Mosher, author of Tasting Beer.

A big, malty Belgian Dubbel – try Chimay or Westmalle – are delicious, complex beers and are perfect for Christmas dinner. Many Irish breweries have Belgian-style beers such as Boyne Brewery's Dubbel or Mescan's Tripel, which is a firm favourite of mine. Serve in a stemmed tulip glass or wine glass.


A slightly lighter option for dinner is Kinnegar's 5 per cent Rustbucket, a rye ale with hints of spices and malt. Rye River's Dec's Brown Ale will also work on the day – or with a turkey sandwich later on. For dessert go for the black stuff – and there are plenty on the shelves now, such as O'Hara's Lean Follain, Kinnegar's Flying Saucer, or Dot Brewing has many barrel-aged specials. If you want something with a little Christmas factor try White Hag's Yule Christmas Ale. For a cheese plate, a dry, Brut IPA works well or a Saison, with all its lovely earthy goodness, is a winner. @ITbeerista beerista@irishtimes.com