The Absolute Best Beer Pairing To Serve With Chili

As cooler seasons approach, it's time to start thinking about cozy, warm meals like soup, stews, and the Southwestern favorite, chili. You're going to, of course, need a beer to go with your standard chili con carne, whether it's laid over nachos or steaming in a single-handled crock surrounded by little bowls of toppings — but which beer is the best one to pair with chili? To find out, Tasting Table spoke to an expert: Jeff Tyler, the co-owner and head brewer at Spice Trade Brewery + Kitchen in Greenwood Village, Colorado. 

Tyler's general advice is to stick to porters, stouts, ambers, marzens, or bocks. Expanding on this, he says, "A classic beer pairing here would be something more rich in malt character — maybe a little roasty, but more on the toasted bread and caramel spectrum." As for what beer to avoid, he strongly advises against pairing chili with sour or fruity beers, saying "Those flavors are going to clash when you drink them with a rich and savory chili." While this should cover you when sampling something full of the rich flavors of ground chuck and cumin, Tyler gave us recommendations for a smoother white chicken chili as well. 

What beer to pair with beef chili and white chicken chili

If you're in the mood for a white chicken chili, Tyler suggests going a different route, with something like a light Belgian-style beer. Specifically, he recommends something like a Trippel or a Golden Strong. Tyler said, "This type of dish isn't going to have the dark and rich notes of browned meat so something lighter in malt profile would work well and the coriander would be a nice compliment to the blend of spices like cumin, black pepper, and cayenne that are typically in chilis."

If the chicken or beef chili you're tucking into hasn't quite got the kick you're after, you can always take him up on his final suggestion to pair the dish with a chili pepper beer. For anyone unfamiliar with chili pepper beer, it's basically what it sounds like — beer that has peppers, hot pepper juice, or pepper oils added to it to give a spicy punch to the flavor profile. Tyler said, "Chili beers can be a lot on their own, drinking a pint of spicy beer can be too much if you don't have something to eat along with it to give your palate and stomach a break." He added that, because chili is so customizable in how spicy it is, each person can choose how spicy of a food-beer pairing experience they want.