Berry season is upon us here at last! This means: consistently warm weather is (hopefully) going to arrive soon, summer’s bounty is about to unfold, and the season for outdoor enjoyment of food and drink is here. I love so many summer fruits I can’t pick favorites, but some call to mind successful beer pairing options immediately, like strawberries, which I think go very well alongside an American-style wheat beer. That is to say, a wheat beer that doesn’t focus on a highly fruity, banana or bubblegum-like yeast note (like a Baviarian Hefeweizen might). Some breweries might call these American beers blondes to distinguish them from other maltier, less wheated pale ales. Here I am using a homebrewed wheat beer hopped with Hallertau Blanc, which have a light, fruity almost grapey or gooseberry-like flavor. Anything with a bright, floral or fruity hop character will be ideal–stay away from piney or earthier hops though.
Three Reasons This Pairing Works
1. Acidity and tartness. Strawberries (especially heirloom or local ones) have a fair amount of acidity along with their sweetness. Wheat malt brings a spicy element that borders on tartness in a beer. The combination of the berries’ acidity and the beer’s crispness make for a highly refreshing finish.
2. Fruity or mellow floral hops plus light yeast esthers are friends with well, fruit. This one should be easy!
3. American wheat beers with either have a pilsner or 2-row base malt, wheat, and usually not a lot else that’s apparent in flavor. This means the light malt flavor is at the forefront of your perception, which allows the ripe berry flavor to come through as very bright and fresh.