Beer: It’s not just for barbecues anymore. 

Foodies need not turn to wine and cocktails when they want to enjoy a boozy meal with complementary drinks. Elyse Carlucci of Blue Point Brewing Company talked to us about how to best pair beer with different dishes and cuisines.

“Basically there’s a lot of different ways to pair beer,” explains Carlucci. “You can do more of a parallel pairing or a contrasting pairing, but for novices, the parallel pairings are more appropriate.”

Carlucci says that examples of parallel pairings are serving light beers like pilsners or wheat beers with lighter proteins like fish or sushi – basically, the heavier the food, the heavier the beer.

Carlucci does recommend contrast pairings for novices in one situation: “If you’re looking to cool down the heat in a really spicy dish, contrast it with wheat beers, like white styles or pilsners. That’s the only time where a contrast for novices might be a good thing.”

Carlucci tells us her favorite pairings with different foods.

Cooked fish, sushi and raw seafood: “Wheat beers pair really well with fish and sushi,” says Carlucci. “Goose Island 312 Wheat is a great gateway craft beer – the wheat style won’t overpower the subtle seafood flavors.”

Carlucci also suggests Blue Point Summer Ale for fish and sushi, and dry Irish nitro stouts like Guinness for oysters. “People shy away from darker beers sometimes because they assume they’ll be heavy, but those styles come in around 4 percent alcohol and go great with oysters and raw bar seafood,” she says.

Chicken or pork: “You can go with a more traditional lager style,” says Carlucci of medium-bodied proteins. “Stick with medium intensity beers that have more flavor, but not a lot of hops.” Carlucci suggests Blue Point Toasted Lager and Anchor Brewing Breckle’s Brown. She also says amber styles go well with chicken and pork.

Steak and burgers: “ Choose a beer that can stand up to the bolder flavors,” says Carlucci. “ You can find a really good IPA anywhere.” She suggests Blue Point Hoptical Illusion Ipa and Boulevard Tank 7 Farmhouse Saison.

Vegetarian: “ If you are eating a curry vegetarian dish, try the Blue Point Mosaic Session IPA or Firestone Walker Pivo Hoppy Pilsner,” says Carlucci. “Both have aromatic hops, but not the bitter taste you might expect from IPA styles.”

Desserts: Pairing beer with desserts all depends on what you’re serving. “If you like more fruity desserts, there are some really good fruit lambics out there and that’s a great style for someone who likes fruitier cocktails or has a sweeter palate,” says Carlucci. “There are a lot of great beers out there that have fruit undertones like the Blue Point Blueberry Ale or Abita Strawberry Harvest Lager.”

As for heavier desserts like chocolate treats, Carlucci suggests porter style beer. “They don’t necessarily have the bitter aftertaste some people come to expect with a darker beer,” explains Carlucci. She suggests Blue Point Oatmeal Stout or Founders Porter.