Add Your Favorite Beer To The Next Crab Boil For Extra Flavor

The seafood boil holds a particularly beloved position in the American culinary tradition. Brought to Louisiana by the Acadian French settlers, the flavorful boiling tradition would go on to spread to the Low Country area and all the way up to the Chesapeake Bay in Maryland. There, the crab boil reigns supreme as the seafood dish of choice, celebrating fresh blue crab, potatoes, sausage, and plenty of Old Bay seasoning. Another classic addition to the crab boils of the Chesapeake? A splash of bubbly beer. 

Unlike a plain water boil, a beer-punctuated brew will impart a special hoppy flavor to the crab boil. Specifically, the sugars and malt will help develop a nuanced flavor to your crab meat. As the boil is technically more of a steam, the beer will very lightly perfume the seafood meat. Of course, you need to choose the right beer for the job, as the delicate flavor of the crab can easily be overwhelmed by too intense of a brew. So, what beer will work best in your crab boil? 

Picking the best beer for the job

A good way to select a proper beer for your seafood boil is to consider what brews you like to drink with spicy steamed seafood. As the boil will inevitably contain plenty of high-heat spices like cayenne, you'll want a beer that works well with that. A nice golden Pilsner or lager has a bright and light flavor that won't compete with the spice levels. For your first-time crab boil, try to go with a light lager so that you can have the cleanest, lightest beer taste initially. 

For the more adventurous, consider adding in a beer that will enhance the other flavors in the boil, like a citrus-forward Saison or spicy wheat beer, which can highlight the lemon or orange present in the water. Its warm spices will also work well with those in the Old Bay seasoning used in the water. On the flip side, IPAs and pale ales can be a nice bitter counterpoint to the sweeter spices and citrus present as well. The only beers you might want to steer clear of are the bold, creamy stouts, which should be paired with equally strong flavors like chocolate and coffee. Still, with just one can of lager, you'll be able to take your crab boil to the next level.