The Perfect Alcohol Pairing For Your Next Seafood Boil, According To An Expert

Seafood boil with beer
Seafood boil with beer - zarzamora/Shutterstock

Preparing and eating a seafood boil is inherently a communal act. Whether you're gathered together at the beach, overlooking the water, or sitting around a picnic table in a backyard, rarely are you alone while digging into the messy bag of crawfish, shrimps, and crab legs. The feast requires the perfect drink to pass around as you eat, and for one beverage expert, beer is the exact alcohol pairing your seafood boil needs.

For a flavor-packed seafood boil, getting a drink that's bold enough to match the taste, yet light enough to not distract from it, is key to perfecting the meal. Beer fulfills this role, and for Rob Krueger, beverage director at Smith & Mills, The Golden Swan, and Tiny & the Bar Upstairs, the pairing is practically a custom. "Bakes and boils at the beach is an American tradition," he says, "so you gotta go [with an] American-made lager or pilsner, or summer ale." For these, Krueger recommends the pilsner from Von Trapp Brewing, which is a citrus-forward, spicy lager, or Montauk Brewing Company's Summer Ale, a creamy, caramel-like malt.

Both lagers and pilsners are quite crisp, with high levels of carbonation that give way to a refreshing effect. While lagers are light and clean, blending with seafood's sweetness, pilsners are more bitter with floral nuances, making the flavors of a festive seafood boil stand out. Summer ales carry the same refreshing taste, although they can be on the fruity side, giving the meal an interesting twist.

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Pair Your Seafood Boil With A Corresponding Regional Beer

Seafood boil and beer
Seafood boil and beer - P Kyriakos/Shutterstock

A seafood boil works with any beer style for summer, but if you're looking for maximum flavor, pair it with a beer from the same region. For example, a summertime Cajun crab boil is filled with spicy andouille sausages and flavored with Cajun seasoning, a blend of cayenne pepper, paprika, garlic powder, onion powder, and black and white pepper. For a Cajun-inspired boil, an IPA from a Cajun brewing company is the ideal fit. Ghost in the Machine by Parish Brewing is extra hoppy and flavored with grapefruit and tropical fruits for a brew with a mellowed bitterness. The fruit-forward beer brings out the citrus fruits added to a seafood boil while slightly tempering the overall sweetness.

Seafood boils in Georgia and South Carolina tend to have the same rich flavor, although they're not quite as spicy. An IPA works well here too, but you can also spring for something sweet like the Peach Pale Ale from Palmetto Brewing — a fresh and fruity beer — or a crisp and woodsy German-style pilsner from Round Trip Brewing Company.

On the other end of the spectrum, New England seafood boils are briny, and simmered in herb-filled beer, broth, or white wine to allow the flavors to shine through. A citrusy, caramel-like Boston Lager from Samuel Adams brings depth while aligning with the New England-style clambake. Whichever way you go, you'll be taking Krueger's advice of pairing an American tradition with an American-made brew.

Read the original article on Tasting Table