Whenever summer rolls around, we New Englanders start thinking seafood — especially lobster rolls! Fresh Maine lobster tastes great any time of year, but when it gets warm, it’s fun to fire up the grill or break out the brioche rolls. We know you love it, because our lobster roll kits start moving like hotcakes. And when you’re holding that sweet roll packed with buttery lobster goodness, there’s nothing like chasing it down with a cold craft beer.
“Beer with lobster?” you may ask. To which we say, “Absolutely!” In fact, many of us have been enjoying this combination for years. If it’s a new idea to you, we have two things to say. One, we don’t believe in being snobby about this stuff. If you want a beer, why not have a beer? Second, just try it. Get a beer in one hand and a lobster roll in the other, and you’ll have a hard time worrying about anything else.
Lobster has a smooth, rich, slightly sweet flavor that is enhanced by the fats in butter or mayonnaise and the sweetness of the brioche. The fact is, not every beer will work equally well with it. Never fear: We put together this guide to picking the perfect beer pairing for lobster rolls.
The Art of Food and Beer Pairing
If you’re familiar with the “rules” about pairing red wines with red meat and white wines with white, then you know there are theories out there about how best to pair alcohol with food. Our favorite theory? Drink what you like. It’s summer! It’s time to keep cool and have fun outside with your friends. Who wants to fuss about whether you’re “doing it right”?
Food and beer pairing can be a lot of fun. You only need to have an adventurous attitude and maybe a sense of humor for the times things go awry. With our guide to beer pairings for lobster, you can increase the chances of maximizing your summer party enjoyment.
There are three main principles to food and beer pairing: complementary, contrasting, and cutting, sometimes called cleansing.
This is the easiest, most intuitive technique. You simply try to match the flavors or find flavors that are similar. If your food is sweet, pick a sweet beer. If your food is hearty, a hearty beer. Spicy foods pair well with India pale ales and saisons, for instance, because those beers have the strength and savory spiciness to match.
Complementary Beer Pairings for Lobster Rolls
In general, expect light- to medium-bodied, balanced beers to taste great next to your lobster rolls. We’re talking about beers that have enough flavor and heft to hold their own with your roll but still aren’t so intense that they will dominate or overpower it—hop bombs are probably not a good choice. Lighter beers that are well-balanced or mild can make great complements, too.
Some of our go-to’s include:
These can be big and flavorful, but we find them still delicate enough to slide right in next to your lobster. Picture a classical dance instructor who can kick back with friends and toast the long summer nights.
Blonde ales are easy drinkers that usually don’t feature intense or big flavors. Pick any blonde ale you like and it will be a refreshing sip after a bite of lobster roll.
Cream ales are light in color and can be mild in flavor, though they are often also effervescent and can feature citrus notes. Their smoothness feels right alongside mayonnaise or melted butter.
A great helles has a balance and roundness that suits lobster. These can sometimes be very light, but the more flavorful ones will still be subtle enough to let your lobster shine.
When you start getting into pale ales, you’re getting into more body and flavor, and that’s a ton of fun. The body holds up against the brioche while the more prominent hop flavors adorn the delicate lobster meat.
If you’ve ever had sweet and sour sauce, peanut butter and jelly, or chocolate covered peanuts, you know how contrasting flavors work. Sweet and sour, sweet and salty, sweet and spicy, bittersweet (sweet goes well with a lot).
One form of contrast is weightiness of the food. Rich foods can be contrasted with light beers, and light foods can be contrasted with heavy beers. A famous example of this is pairing porter and oysters.
Contrasting Beer Pairings for Lobster Rolls
The good news is a lot of beer contrasts with lobster. The bad news is that the contrast won’t always work for you. But, hey, it’s summer, and you’ve got lobster and beer. There’s no need to get upset.
Have some fun with contrasting pairings by thinking of things that are very different. If a lobster roll is rich, delicate, buttery, and sweet, try beers that are light, full, acidic, or spicy. For instance:
These smooth, refreshing beers fill your mouth with banana, clove, and bread dough flavors. They make exciting contrasts because they’re so very different from lobster that it feels like taking your tastebuds to a different universe.
Saisons can vary wildly, but most will have peppery and yeasty flavors that, if you like that kind of thing, you’ll enjoy as the Jerry Lewis to lobster’s Dean Martin (google it).
Bear with us, here. A sour that makes your mouth pucker may not be a great fit for lobster, but the acidity of a sour can make it a great contrasting pairing—think of squeezing lemon on lobster. Pick something you know has some kick but won’t tear up your tongue.
Witbiers are light, bright beers that, traditionally, feature orange peel and coriander. It’s the citrus and spice, in particular, that make a delicious juxtaposition to the lobster.
Cutting or Cleansing
Some will call this a form of contrasting; you’re free to do as you please. A cutting pairing aims to balance out bold or strong flavors. Think of oily or creamy foods, for instance. Rather than piling on the flavor with a big beer, you might prefer a crisp, lighter beer like a pilsner, which can “cut through” the richness.
Pairing an IPA with something spicy works this way, since the acidity of the hops can cut through the spice while the sweetness of the malt balances it by contrast.
Cutting or Cleansing Beer Pairings for Lobster Rolls
Any of your crisp or acidic beers will work for cutting the rich, full flavors of your lobster rolls.
Light lagers can be mild and sweet and complement your lobster roll, or they can have a little more graininess and some hop kick and work as satisfying cleansers.
Pilsners are light and refreshing but also a bit spicy. Paired with lobster rolls, it’s like going back and forth between the jacuzzi and the pool—warm and comforting, then bracing and cold.
Wheat tends to lighten up and smooth out a beer, making for a pleasant drinking experience that refreshes and cleanses.
New England Craft Beer Pairings
We’re a New England company, and we love the craft beer scene here. Did you know there are over 600 microbreweries in this region alone? While we can’t do justice to the whole scene, we wanted to showcase the wide variety of New England beers that make fantastic pairings with our lobster roll kits.
So, here’s our tour of New England craft brews that are fun to pair with lobster.
Complementary New England Beers
Cream ale, 4.8% abv
Good Measure Brewing, Northfield, VT
A beautifully light, crisp cream ale that hits the spot. Hints of grain and sweetcorn make for a subtle, smooth complement.
Pale ale, 5.2% abv
Geary Brewing Co., Portland, ME
You’ve got to give props to New England’s first craft brewery. They’re still pouring their flagship British-style pale ale—and it’s still a palate-pleaser. Heck, there’s even a lobster on the bottle.
Pale ale, 5.7% abv
Trillium Brewing, Canton, MA
Brewed to celebrate their new facility in Canton, there’s a lot going on in this beer without ever getting too noisy. It’s on the juicy side, but a crisp maltiness and soft mouthfeel balance it out.
Peeper American Ale
Pale ale, 5.5% abv
Maine Beer Company, Freeport, ME
This is a full-flavored pale layered with notes of lemon, berries, pine, and fresh-cut grass. It all blends together beautifully without ever becoming overpowering.
Wheat ale, 5.2% abv
Shovel Town Brewery., North Easton, MA
Brewed with lemon, orange blossom honey, and ginger. The perfect refreshing beer to pair with a hot buttered lobster roll.
Springdale Pearly White Ale
White ale, 4.5% abv
Springdale Beer Company, Framingham, MA
The Pearly White Ale is a perfect pair for lobster – incredibly refreshing and drinkable. It makes a dish as luxurious as lobster even better with its hints of orange and coriander, which are always a good match for seafood when you think of it. Who would say “no” to squeezing a lemon over lobster?
Contrasting New England Beers
Here’s to Feeling Good All the Time
Double IPA, 7.8% abv
Bissell Brothers Brewing, Portland, ME
A labor of hop love with a name inspired by Seinfeld’s “Sniffing Accountant” episode, this bigger beer features a fruit-forward but balanced hop profile against a light malt background made slightly spicy and nutty by the use of spelt. Pitted against the lobster roll, you’ll feel like you’re being fought over by two very eligible candidates.
Lighthaus Lemon Lime Gose
Gose, 4.8% abv
Newburyport Brewing, Newburyport, MA
This summer tasting room release has just a tinge of tart, making for easy drinking with an acidic kick that might be just what you want on a hot summer day.
Farmhouse ale, 5.3% abv
Tilted Barn Brewery, Exeter, RI
This is a crisp, effervescent beer. It tastes like a yeasty, spicy bread and can really accent your lobster roll.
Juicy golden ale, 5.4% abv
Long Trail Brewing Co., Bridgewater Corners, VT
This hazy, juicy take on a golden ale pairs the toasted flavors of the malt with fruit notes like pineapple, lemon, and pear. Great when it’s hot out, and counters the softness of the lobster.
Cutting and Cleansing New England Beers
India pale lager, 6.5% abv
Jack’s Abby, Framingham, MA
Many IPAs come across too strong and can overpower the full, round qualities of a lobster roll. This IPL does have a lot going on, but it finishes dry, scraping your palate clean so you can enjoy your next bite.
India pale lager, 4.7% abv
Bunker Brewing Co., Portland, ME
This session lager has a light feel but lots of flavor. It begins a little juicy and ends with a hop kick that will reset your tastebuds.
Light lager, 4.8% abv
Cisco Brewers, Nantucket, MA
A crisp, golden lager developed with and for the benefit of OCEARCH, a leading nonprofit dedicated to stewardship of the oceans. Cleanse your palate and support shark monitoring at the same time.
Y-Knot Light Lager
American light lager, 4.3% abv
Brewery Silvaticus, Amesbury, MA
The addition of rice to the pilsner malts makes this a light and breezy beer—they call it their “boat beer.” It’s super crushable, so you’ll probably be beyond your first by the time dinner is ready.
Risky Bets/Better for Grilled Lobster
Some beers are too big or heavy or complex for pairing with lobster rolls for best effect. We’d never tell you not to drink what you love, but here’s a thought: If you want to pair lobster with a bigger bear, consider going the grilled lobster tail route.
Grilled lobster tails have more intense flavors than steamed or butter poached lobster, and they pick up some of the smoke from the charcoal and get delicious bits of char on the edges. This makes them good candidates for going up against bigger beers.
Altbiers, Ambers, Doppelbocks, ESBs
This is the class of malt-forward beers. These can be sweet and thus might seem good complements to your roll, but often they are flavorful enough that they call for a heartier pairing such as grilled lobster.
Altbier, 6.0% abv
Kettlehead Brewing Co., Tilton, NH
This “old bier” still has something to say. The solid malt base sets the stage for robust German hops, yet it still finishes crisp and easy.
English-style best bitter, 4.6% abv
Fox Farm Brewery, Salem, CT
English bitters are an underappreciated style, and Welly deserves some respect. It’s bready yet light, with hop qualities ranging from lemon to pepper to herbs. The secret of bitters is that they’re not that bitter at all!
The rest of the country took a while to pick up on something we here in New England new a long time ago: upping the fruit juice flavors of a pale or IPA is delicious!
New England IPA, 7.0% abv
Kettlehead Brewing Co., Tilton, NH
Don’t worry, it only looks pulpy. The name conjures the big citrus juiciness of this IPA that will contrast sharply with charred lobster meat.
India pale ale, 7.0% abv
Proclamation Ale Company, Warwick, RI
Proclamation’s first IPA is still one of our favorites. Big hop aromas and lots of resiny goodness to coat your tongue.
Porters and stouts
Porter, 5.5% abv
Stoneface Brewing Co., Newington, NH
Porters are great with steamed clams or oysters or anything smoked or grilled. Stoneface’s American Porter hits you with chocolate, coffee, and roasted malts while still feeling creamy and smooth.
Imperial stout, 8.0% abv
Great Rhythm Brewing, Portsmouth, NH
Not normally what you’d choose on a summer’s afternoon, but in the interest of variety, we wanted to feature a bigger stout. Dolce is bold, sure, but so smooth that it slides in naturally alongside your grilled lobster.
Shandy, 5.4% abv
Ipswich Ale Brewery, Ipswich, MA
One of the most summery of summer beers, the shandy combines the refreshing citrus-sweet flavor of lemonade with the citrus, pine, and herbal hop flavors of a light beer. Ipswich’s Blueberry Shandy is a bright, sweet, and zesty crusher that’s like sipping dessert after every bite.
Bluepaw Wheat Ale
Wheat ale, 4.6% abv
Sea Dog Brewery, Camden, ME
It’s hard to get more Maine-y than lobster and blueberries! This fruited wheat ale has a nutty base and just a hint of blueberry. It’s super easy-drinking.
Pilsner, 4.5% abv
Deciduous Brewing Company, Newmarket, NH
Hydrating watermelon is in season and so is this light and refreshing unfiltered Pilsner with watermelon. Yum. 🍉 Also try try these juicy watermelon beers for summer sipping.
What are Your Favorite Lobster and Beer Pairings?
Just like with wine and food pairings, combining food and drinks is all about experimentation. We all like different things, so it’s up to us to find the perfect lobster and beer pairings — for our palates!
The good news is that finding your favorite lobster and beer pairings is tons of fun. This is one tasty task, one you want to share with friends and family. Put together some lobster and beer pairings, call some friends over and share your discoveries with your Lobster-loving community!
Pour yourself a nice brew and order some lobster tails, lobster rolls or chowder from lobsteranywhere.com, your source for premium Maine lobster.