The Pilgrims stopped at Plymouth Rock because they simply didnât have enough of a beer supply to forge farther south. Okay, that might be more local folklore than fact, but thereâs no denying that New Englanders have always loved their beer. I wouldnât ask any native New Englander to choose between suds and seafood, and luckily they donât have to. Both are staples of any New England diet, and in fact they go together quite perfectly when you plan out your beer and food pairing.
In his book âThe American Craft Beer Cookbook,â John Holl writes: âI firmly believe that beer pairs better with food than wine.â He cites the diversity of beers worldwide and the many flavorful options in defense of his claim.Â Holl has visited more than 900 breweries and contributed beer-related content to The New York Times and The Wall Street Journal. He is the editor of All About Beer Magazine.
We scoured the region, from Boston to Maine, to find out how the professional beer crafters pair their beers with the local catch. Whether your roots are crusted with New England salt or youâre visiting for the first time, make sure the next time you enjoy the flavors of the region, you do it with a passion, purpose and understanding. The following ten fish and beer combinations are recommendations from as many beer enthusiasts as we could find. You donât even have to credit us when youâre impressing your friends.
THE CATCH: Shrimp (and grits). This bayou tradition makes for a great light meal to begin the day.
THE BEER: Harpoon Summer Beer
Shrimp and Grits Image via Flickr
THE BREWERY: Harpoon Beer Company, Boston, Mass
THE SEASON: Summer. On a warm day in New England, youâll feel like youâre in the bayou while savoring the flavors of this dish.
WEBSITE: Harpoon Summer Beer
THE CATCH: Oysters on the half shell, raw
THE BEER: Samuel Adams Cream Stout
THE SEASON: Fall. Thereâs a saying that oysters are always available in months ending in an âRâ. September through November is prime time to get out the shucking knife and savor a stout.
WEBSITE: Samual Adams Brewery
THE BEER: Samuel Adams Latitude 48 IPA. This beer can be used both as a complementary beverage along with the dish and a means of preparing them. Often mussels are cooked in wine, but the flavor of beer complements them just as nicely.
THE BREWERY: Samuel Adams Brewery
THE SEASON: Winter. The quality of freshly harvested mussels is best in the winter, according to Maineâs official website on mussel farming. The aroma of boiling mussels and beer will warm up even the coldest New England night.
Mussels Image via Flickr
THE BEER: Samuel Adams Boston Lager
THE BREWERY: Samual Adams, Boston
THE SEASON: Spring. When water temperatures warm up in May and June, squid move inshore, flooding the bays and harbors. This is the best time to catch and enjoy them.
Calamari Image via Flickr
THE BEER: Harpoon IPA
THE BREWERY: Harpoon Brewery, Boston
THE SEASON: Summer. A bowl of fresh littlenecks and IPA on tap at an outdoor clam shack is all you need for a perfect summer day.
THE CATCH: Lobster. In the earliest days of the regionâs history it was considered inhumane (and subsequently illegal) to feed prisoners more than one lobster per day for fear the âbugsâ were too appalling for even prisoners to eat several of them. Times have changed and the crustacean is a beloved staple of any New England diet.
THE BEER: Maine Beer Companyâs Mo Pale Ale
THE BREWERY: Maine Beer Company, Freeport, Maine
THE SEASON: Summer. Nothing says summer in New England like a dish of melted butter, a bib, the necessary utensils and a freshly steamed lobster.
WEBSITE: Maine Beer Company
THE BEER: Gritty McDuffâs Best Bitter
THE BREWERY: Gritty McDuffâs Brewing Company, Freeport, Maine
THE SEASON: Winter. Fish fries are popular all year round, but for Bostonâs Irish Catholics, theyâre a necessity during Lent.
THE BEER: Maine Beer Companyâs Peeper
THE BREWERY: Maine Beer Company, Freeport
THE SEASON: Summer. Striped bass are much like Floridian retirees that visit New Englandâs gorgeous shores. They come for the warmest months of the year, enjoy the sweet summer, and then head south when the snow flies. Enjoy the freshest fish before they turn tail for warmer waters.
THE BEER: Samual Adams Oktoberfest
THE BREWERY:Samuel Adams, Boston
THE SEASON: Autumn! The fall provides commercial tuna fishermen some of the best shots at these fish as they migrate from the Canadian coast all the way to South America. This is when both the tuna, and Samâs regional beer, will be the freshest.
Bluefin dish Image via Flickr
Octoberfest Image via Flickr
THE BEER: Harpoon UFO White
THE BREWERY: Harpoon Brewery, Boston
THE SEASON: Summer is the best time to rake fresh clams along New Englandâs tidal flats. Open the windows to allow the aroma of the steamers to escape into the neighborhood and youâll have friends on your back porch in no time.
Steamers Image via Flickr
Enough reading, New Englanders! Wipe the saliva off the keyboard, stock the fridge with a variety of cold beers, call some friends and get some seafood sizzling.
Want to cook up some yummy fish of your own? Check out our fish recipes on Game & Fish!