Learn more about best beer for wings.
Chicken wings are an all-time favorite snack enjoyed by people across the world, known for their crispy and spicy taste. Pairing these delicious bites with the right beer can enhance the overall experience, making it an unforgettable combo. While there are many types of beers available, selecting the perfect one based on your preferences, as well as the type of wings being served, is crucial to elevate your wing-eating journey.
Several factors should be considered when choosing the ideal beer to accompany your wings. For instance, the level of spiciness, flavor profiles, and personal taste preferences. Some popular options for wing pairing include Gose, Blue Moon, and IPA, which have distinct qualities that complement the heat and richness of wings. The tartness of a Gose, like Westbrook Brewing’s Gose or Sixpoint Jammer, can counteract the spicy heat, while a Blue Moon offers the right balance of spice and refreshment to enhance the buffalo wing experience.
Additionally, crisp and clean lagers may prove to be a great match for the spiciness of hot wings, as their refreshing finish presents a welcome contrast to the heat. Exploring the world of beer and chicken wing pairings offers an exciting gastronomical adventure, allowing you to discover new flavors and combinations for the ultimate snack experience.
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A Brief History of Wings and Beer Pairing
The tradition of pairing beer with wings can be traced back to the origin of buffalo wings themselves. When buffalo wings were first created in 1964 at the Anchor Bar in Buffalo, New York, they quickly gained popularity among locals who enjoyed the spicy, savory flavors along with their favorite drinks 1. Beer, being a popular choice in bars, was a natural fit to accompany the wings due to its refreshing and thirst-quenching properties.
The rise of sports bars and the widespread popularity of Buffalo Wild Wings further solidified the connection between wings and beer. Watching sports games while sharing a plate of wings and a cold beer has become an American pastime, with many establishments offering a wide range of wing flavors and beer choices to satisfy different tastes and preferences.
When it comes to choosing the best beer to pair with wings, there are several aspects to consider:
- Flavor profiles: The bold, spicy flavors of buffalo wings can be complemented or contrasted by the different taste elements found in various types of beer. For instance, the bitterness and citrus notes of American pale ales and IPAs can both complement and contrast the spicy heat of the wings, while the malty sweetness of darker beers can help temper the spice and add balance 2.
- Intensity: Matching the intensity of both the beer and wings is important for a harmonious pairing. Stronger, more flavorful wings might require a more robust beer, while lighter, delicate flavors can shine when paired with a lighter beer.
- Carbonation: The effervescence and cleansing properties of carbonation can also play a role in how well a beer pairs with wings. Higher carbonation levels can help to scrub the palate clean between bites, allowing the flavors of both the wings and beer to stand out more clearly.
In conclusion, the pairing of wings and beer has become an essential part of the wing-eating experience that has evolved over time. Understanding how the flavors and properties of different beers interact with the bold, spicy flavors of wings can greatly enhance the overall enjoyment of this classic American pairing.
Top Beer Styles for Wing Pairings
When it comes to enjoying chicken wings, selecting the right beer can make all the difference in your dining experience. Here are our top beer styles to pair with wings, and why they make an excellent match.
India Pale Ales (IPAs) are an excellent choice for wing pairings, especially for spicy or buffalo wings. Their hoppy bitterness and bold, citrusy flavors help to balance out the heat from the wings and enhance their robust taste. Some popular IPAs for wing pairings include:
- American IPAs
- Double or Imperial IPAs
- Session IPAs
Lagers offer a smooth and refreshing counterbalance to flavorful wings, making them a versatile choice for various wing flavors. The crisp, clean taste of a lager helps cleanse the palate between bites, allowing you to enjoy each wing without overwhelming your taste buds. Consider trying:
- American Lagers
- German-style Lagers
- Amber Lagers
Pilsners are another great option for wing pairings. These light, crisp beers are known for their delicate flavor and slight sweetness, which complements the heat and spices found in many wing sauces. Popular options include:
- Czech-style Pilsner
- German-style Pilsner
- American-style Pilsner
Pale ales provide a good balance of hoppy bitterness and malty sweetness, making them ideal for pairing with a wide range of wing flavors. They work particularly well with tangy sauces, as the beer’s mild fruitiness complements the acidity. Top choices include:
- American Pale Ale
- English Pale Ale
- Belgian Pale Ale
The fruity and spicy character of hefeweizens makes them a delicious companion for chicken wings. The beer’s notes of banana and clove work well with sweet and tangy sauces, offering an interesting contrast of flavors. Look out for:
- German-style Hefeweizen
- American-style Hefeweizen
Sour ales provide a tangy and refreshing contrast to the richness of chicken wings. They help cut through the heaviness of the dish, especially with fried wings or those with bold flavors. Some sour options to try:
- Fruited Sours
- Berliner Weisse
If you prefer dark beers, consider pairing your wings with a stout. The roasted malt flavors and creamy mouthfeel of stouts make them a good option for rich, smoky, or barbecue wings. Try these styles:
- Irish Dry Stout
- Oatmeal Stout
- Milk Stout
Also in the dark beer family, porters are characterized by their chocolaty and coffee notes. Their robust flavors work well with sweet and savory wing sauces, such as teriyaki or honey garlic. Consider trying:
- English Porter
- American Porter
Lastly, witbiers, with their light body, subtle citrus notes, and touch of spice, pair nicely with milder wing flavors, such as lemon pepper or garlic parmesan. The gentle flavors of a witbier won’t overpower your wings. Look for styles like:
- Belgian-style Witbier
- American-style Witbier
Understanding the Flavors
Hoppy beers, such as American style pale ales and IPAs, are known for their bold and bitter flavors. These beer styles are excellent options for pairing with spicy chicken wings, as their bracing bitterness and juicy, citrus hop flavors can both complement and contrast with the intense heat of the wings. Several popular hoppy beers perfect for pairing with buffalo wings include Sierra Nevada Pale Ale and Sam Adams Boston Lager.
Beer with citrus notes adds a refreshing and tangy edge to your wing experience. Beers like Belgian witbiers, which are brewed with spices like coriander and citrus peels such as orange peel, work exceptionally well with Asian flavors like teriyaki wings. The fruity and spicy notes in witbiers help to highlight the sweet and spicy flavors in teriyaki sauce, offering an invigorating flavor combination. Just Beer App recommends pairing teriyaki wings with Belgian witbiers for an enhanced tasting experience.
Malty beers add a richer, sweeter experience when paired with chicken wings. Beers with a good malt backbone, such as IPAs or Scotch ales, can help balance the intense flavors of buffalo wings by contributing a touch of sweetness that cuts through the heat. The caramel-like flavors present in malty beers also work well with the smoky and tangy flavors found in American BBQ-style wings.
Sour and Tart Flavors
Some beer drinkers may prefer sour or tart flavors when enjoying chicken wings. Sour and tart beers, such as Berliner Weisse or Gose, can add an interesting contrast when paired with chicken wings. Due to their acidity, they may be particularly enjoyable alongside more savory wings, such as those seasoned with garlic.
Floral notes in beers can add an extra layer of complexity to the wing and beer pairing. Some beer styles, particularly those that feature hop varieties with distinct floral characteristics, can provide a more nuanced experience when enjoyed with chicken wings. Beers with floral notes often create a pleasant contrast with the bold flavors of the wings, offering a lighter and more refreshing option for those who want to try something different.
Matching Beer and Wing Styles
In this section, we’ll explore the best beer pairings for different types of chicken wings, discussing each style of beer and their complementary flavors.
IPA for Buffalo Wings
IPA (India Pale Ale) is a perfect match for the bold, spicy flavors of Buffalo wings. The hops in IPAs provide a bitter and citrusy profile that cuts through the heat of the wings while still complementing their tangy sauce.
- American Pale Ale: Citrusy profile, pairs well with the tang of Buffalo sauce.
- West Coast IPA: High hop bitterness, balances the heat of the wings.
Lager for Saltiness
Lagers are great for pairing with salty wing flavors, as their smooth, crisp taste helps to cleanse the palate. Examples of lager pairings include:
- Helles Lager: Subtle sweetness balances the sharpness of vinegar-based wing sauces.
- American Lager: Light-bodied with a crisp finish, complements saltiness well.
Hefeweizen for Citrus Flavors
Hefeweizens, a type of wheat beer, are brewed with unique yeast strains that produce fruity, spicy, and citrus flavors. They pair especially well with wings that have a lemon, lime, or orange-infused sauce.
- Bavarian Hefeweizen: Subtle banana and clove flavors complement citrusy wing sauces.
- American Wheat Beer: Light, clean taste that complements fruity flavors in wings.
Pilsners for Crisp Finish
Clean, cold lagers and pilsners work particularly well with classic Buffalo wings. The following pilsners are known for their crisp finish:
- Pilsner Urquell: A classic Czech pilsner with a pronounced hop bitterness that balances the heat of the wings.
- German Pilsner: Subtle malt backbone and crisp finish, matches the spiciness of Buffalo wings.
Sour Ales for Unique Pairings
Sour ales offer a tangy, acidic profile that pairs brilliantly with various wing flavors, creating a unique and unforgettable taste experience. Some sour ale pairing ideas include:
- Fruited Sour Ale: Enhances sweet wing sauces with fruity flavors.
- Gose: Saltiness in the beer complements savory wing dishes.
Popular Beers for Pairing with Wings
In this section, we will discuss popular beers that make excellent pairings with various types of chicken wings. We will explore their flavors and why they complement the taste of wings so well.
Sierra Nevada Pale Ale
Sierra Nevada Pale Ale is an American beer known for its distinctive hoppy and citrusy flavor profile. The bold taste and moderate bitterness of this beer make an excellent pairing with spicy chicken wings, as it helps to cut through the heat and enhance the flavors of the dish. It also has a refreshing finish, preparing your palate for the next bite.
Founders Centennial IPA
Founders Centennial IPA is another American beer with a strong hop bitterness and citrus elements. The IPA’s aromatic qualities and complex flavors complement the richness of hot wings, while the beer’s refreshing taste helps to cleanse the palate between bites. Its higher alcohol content can also intensify the spiciness of the wings, creating a more intense flavor experience.
Miller Lite, Coors Light, and Bud Light
These classic American light lagers are known for their crisp, clean taste and mild flavors. These beers are great choices for pairing with chicken wings, as they offer just enough flavor to complement the dish without overpowering it. Additionally, their refreshing qualities can help to counteract spicy or heavy sauces, making them ideal for a wide range of wing flavors.
Guinness is a dark Irish stout with a rich, creamy texture and slightly bitter taste. Its smooth, velvety mouthfeel complements the crispiness of chicken wings, creating a balance of contrasting textures. Additionally, the roast and malt flavors found in Guinness can enhance the taste of wings with smoky or barbecue sauces.
Lambrusco and White Wine Pairings
While beer is often the go-to choice for pairing chicken wings, there are some alternatives for those who prefer wine. Lambrusco, a sparkling red wine from Italy, can be an interesting choice to pair with wings, as its light body and fruity flavors can help to enhance the spices and flavors in the dish. White wines, such as a crisp Sauvignon Blanc or a refreshing Riesling, can also make great pairings, as their acidity and fruity notes can cut through the richness of the wings and provide a pleasant contrast to the dish.
Expert Advice for Pairing Beers with Wings
When it comes to pairing beers with wings, both certified cicerones and beer educators can offer valuable insights. There are several key factors to consider when choosing the right beer to complement your choice of wing flavors.
Pay attention to how the beer’s taste can balance out the flavors of the wings. For example, spicy wings go well with an American pale ale or IPA, as their bitterness and citrusy hop flavors can help alleviate the heat from the wings source. On the other hand, for salt and pepper or mild wing varieties, consider a lighter, more delicate beer, like a lager or pilsner source.
Craft Beers vs. Classic Choices
While some may lean towards familiar beers like Heineken or Stella Artois, don’t hesitate to explore craft beer options. Local breweries often offer unique flavors that can highlight the tastes of your wings in new and exciting ways source.
Experimenting with Pairings
Experimentation is a vital aspect of discovering the best beer and wing pairings. According to beer educators, trying out different combinations can lead you to discover a perfect match. For instance, teriyaki wings pair well with Belgian witbiers, as their notes of coriander and citrus complement the sweet and spicy Asian flavors source.
In conclusion, certified cicerones and beer educators suggest considering the balance of flavors, exploring a variety of beer options, and being open to experimentation. These key points will help you identify which beers will make your wing night experience even better.
Choosing the Right Beer Based on Sauce Heat
When it comes to pairing beer with chicken wings, the heat level of the wing sauce plays an integral role in finding the perfect match. The Scoville scale is a useful tool for determining the heat level of your hot sauce. Knowing the Scoville rating of your wing sauce can help you choose a beer that complements the spice and doesn’t overwhelm your taste buds.
Mild to medium heat wings (around 1,500-15,000 Scoville units) pair well with lighter, crisp beers, such as American pale ales or pilsners. These beers offer a refreshing counterbalance to the spice without overpowering the flavors. A popular choice for a basic Buffalo-style wing with Frank’s Hot Sauce is a pilsner-style beer.
For hotter wing sauces (above 15,000 Scoville units), robust beers with strong flavors can stand up to the intense heat. India Pale Ales (IPAs) and hoppy American ales work well in these situations. Their bitterness and fruity notes can cut through the spiciness, creating a harmonious taste experience. For instance, Sierra Nevada Pale Ale and IPAs are excellent choices for hotter sauces.
Here’s a simple guide to help you choose the right beer based on wing sauce heat levels:
- Mild to Medium Heat (1,500-15,000 Scoville units):
- American Pale Ales
- Light Lagers
- Moderate to High Heat (above 15,000 Scoville units):
- India Pale Ales (IPAs)
- American Ales
- Stout beers (for smoky, spicy sauces)
Blue cheese dressing is a staple accompaniment for hot wings, and its creamy, tangy flavor can help soothe spice-induced sensations. Beers with a moderate bitterness and subtle fruity notes, such as a Hefeweizen or a Belgian Wit, can complement both the wing sauce and blue cheese flavors.
Remember that the goal is to create a balance between the flavors of the wings, hot sauce, and beer, allowing each component to shine without diminishing the others. Happy pairing!
Fun Beer and Wing Pairing Experiences
Going out for beer and wings is always an enjoyable and casual way to spend time with friends or family. Experimenting with different combinations of draft beers and wing flavors can make the experience even better. Keep reading for a few fun ideas for pairing draft beers and wings, with a focus on some less common styles like German Rauchbiers.
One great pairing to try is a hoppy American IPA with spicy Buffalo wings. The bitterness and citrusy flavors of the IPA will complement and contrast the heat of the wings, creating a perfect balance on your palate. You can also go for a classic Pilsner, which has a clean and crisp taste, perfect for cutting through the richness of the sauce. Some examples include Heineken or Stella Artois.
When you’ve got wings with a smoky BBQ sauce, try pairing them with a German Rauchbier. These unique beers are characterized by their smoky flavor from the use of malted barley that has been dried over an open flame. It will further enhance the smoky profile of the wings and provide an intriguing flavor combination.
For something a little different, consider trying dry-rubbed, salt and pepper wings with a lighter beer like a wheat ale. The wheat ale’s mild fruitiness and low bitterness will accentuate the simple, savory flavors of the wings without overpowering them.
Don’t forget to serve your wings with a side of blue cheese dip. The creamy, tangy flavor of the dip not only cools down the heat from spicier wings but also pairs excellently with a variety of beer styles.
Here’s a summary of the suggested pairings:
- Buffalo Wings: American IPA, Pilsner
- Smoky BBQ Wings: German Rauchbier
- Salt and Pepper Wings: Wheat Ale
Next time you’re out enjoying beer and wings, feel free to mix and match these pairing ideas, and even come up with your own combinations based on your personal taste preferences. Cheers!