You should match strength to strength (strong beers with strong foods, light beers with light foods), look for flavors that complement each other (a beer with citrus notes will be good with fish because fish and citrus complement each other), and find similarities (a nutty ale will go with a nutty cheese).
Another way to pair food and beer is to look towards classic beer-drinking regions, like Germany, and consider its cuisine. If you're interested in experimenting with beer and food pairings at home, I've got six easy foods to start with. To see what they are, keep reading.
- Sausages OK, so these will have to be heated up, but most sausages are precooked, so it's hardly any cooking! The sausage type should determine the type of beer you pair it with. Bratwurst goes well with light blonde ales and classic pilsners. A spicy cajun andouille will pair with an ale, while lagers will go with flavorful chicken apple sausages.
- Pretzels If serving soft pretzels with mustard, go with a dark lager, bock, or Vienna lager. For salty, crunchy pretzels that are flavored, stick with a pilsner. I love Snyder's honey mustard and onion pretzels with Stella.
- Oysters Raw oysters and dry stout are a traditional beer pairing.
- Cheese There are so many beer and cheese types that each one can have their own pairing! Ales go well with hard or aged cheeses like parmesan and romano. Bock-styles work with Swiss cheeses like gruyere, while pilsner pairs with mild jacks and white cheddars. Wheat beers go with salty feta and goat cheeses. India Pale Ales are nice with mild blue cheeses like gorgonzola or cambozola.
- Sushi Sushi goes wonderfully with hefeweizen or other American wheat ale.
- Nuts Peanuts with their shells on are served at bars across the world for a reason: they go great with beer! If offering a seasoned nut mix, consider the flavors of the nuts and match to the beer. Smoky nuts go with porters; ales are normally delicious with nuts, too.
Remember that any food and beverage pairing is subjective. You want the two to taste good together! What's your favorite combination of beer and food?