When matched well, the right brew elevates and accentuates the flavors of many common seafood dishes. And that relationship is a two-way street.

By Markham Heid
Updated: January 05, 2018
Arielle Cifuentes

When foods with gills, fins, tentacles and shells are on the menu, most of us default to wine. And for good reason; a subtle white or light-bodied red is a stress-free choice that pairs well with a variety of seafood delicacies. Beer is a bit trickier, but the payoff can be greater. When matched well, the right brew elevates and accentuates the flavors of many common seafood dishes. And that relationship is a two-way street. A style of beer you’ve never enjoyed on its own may prove a delicious revelation when married with the perfect aquatic mate. Here, some seafood-adept chefs offer a handful of their favorite combinations.

Oysters and Stout

Surprised? At first blush, the delicate flavor of oysters might seem a poor match for dark, rich stout. But give this combo a try, and you’ll see how the roasty, malty notes of the stout work wonders with the briny oysters, says Jenn Grosskruger, executive chef at Philadelphia’s Ocean Prime. One to try: Shuck It Oyster Stout by Great Lakes Brewing. Grosskruger says the beer’s salty finish is a perfect pairing for oysters.

Fried Calamari and European-Style Pilsner

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“The light-bodied crisp profile of pilsner adds acidity that cuts through the richness of the fried batter,” says Lou Rossi, executive chef at Castle Hill Inn in Newport, Rhode Island. One to try: Sixpoint Brewery’s The Crisp provides an American-craft take on the classic European style.  

Grilled Octopus and Session IPA

Arielle Cifuentes

While higher-alcohol IPAs can be too bitter for seafood, a low-ABV session IPA provides just the right amount of bite and hoppy acidity without overpowering the flame-blackened goodness of the octopus. One to try: Samuel Adams Session IPA. “This beer’s bright citrus-hop aroma gives way to flavorful notes of grapefruit and pine, with slight herbal and lemon notes,” Grosskruger says.

Scallops and American IPA