This Is The Best Kind Of Beer To Pair With Sushi

Sushi is one of those Japanese dishes you need to try at least once, and it demonstrates the artistry and quality of the country's culinary traditions. As delicate, umami-rich morsels of the freshest, top-grade cuts of fish atop slightly tangy sticky rice wrapped in nori, sushi's light nature warrants an equally light and refreshing drink pairing. Fine dining sushi restaurants and omakases might refer you to a list of sakes for sipping and bubbly white wines, but beer is another great sushi pairing. We've consulted with Jeff Tyler, brewmaster and co-owner of Spice Trade Brewery and Kitchen in Colorado, to get some expert guidance on the best kind of beer to pair with sushi.

Tyler told Tasting Table that "light lagers go great with delicate fish like oysters, sushi or grilled fish." Lagers are mild and bubbly with subtle tasting notes that work well with the equally mild, almost buttery taste of sushi-grade fish. Furthermore, Tyler recommends adding "a squeeze of lemon or lime to your lager just like you'd squeeze some fresh citrus over your oysters or fish." If you've ever enjoyed an ice-cold Corona with a lime wedge alongside a fresh plate of ceviche, Tyler's recommendation is on point.

He gets even more specific with beer pairings by bringing up Japanese native citrus, stating that "sours or lagers brewed with yuzu are also an ideal pairing for sushi." Yuzu is important to Japanese cuisine, and is popular in both drinks and soy sauces. Yuzu beers may sound obscure, but many independent breweries around the U.S. and Japan offer them.

Types of lagers and light beers for sushi pairings

Brewmaster Tyler's opinion is well-founded as lagers are refreshing and mild with a satisfying carbonation that won't overpower or upstage sushi. However, lagers encompass a broad range of different types and tasting notes. The ideal lagers to pair with sushi should have tasting notes, mouthfeel, and finishes that highlight the oceanic umami tastes of fish and nori as well as the mild nuttiness of sushi rice.

Japan has plenty of famous and local beer brands that foot the bill, starting with Sapporo. Asahi Super Dry is another Japanese native beer with high carbonation, low maltiness, and a dry, palate-cleansing finish. A more obscure Japanese brand to try is Kizakura, a beer and sake brewery that produces a yuzu beer that pairs as well with sushi.

Tyler also mentions sours, which may be the best pairing of all because they are the closest in taste and dryness to white wine and sake. As the name implies, sour beers offer a distinct bite. They have a tangy profile with tasting notes of citrus and berry fruits and a dry, bubbly, refreshing finish. However, other types of beer like pilsners, hefeweizens, and pale ales all share the light, carbonated, and dry characteristics you should seek in a sushi pairing. Hefeweizens are even served with a lemon or orange slice, making the case for a worthy candidate to sip with your sushi meal.