Wild Game and Beer Pairing

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Many of the fall hunting seasons around North America are just around the corner which has many hunters looking to the field with detailed plans and high hopes of a successful season. Some hunters chase elk in the Rockies while others paddle canoes across rice marshes, eyes up, looking for ducks and geese. It doesn’t matter what you hunt because the end result is often the same, a meal of whatever game meat you harvesting while out chasing dreams and filling tags. After a successful hunt, you will often find me reaching into the cooler and cracking a Coors Banquet Beer in celebration, but when the plate hits the dinner table I often look to a more specialized brew to pair with my wild game.

As you may have figured, the topic of this article is pair beer with your wild game. I want to say this first and foremost. This is a general guide and I understand that there are many, many, many types and flavors of beer out there in the world. I also understand that not every animal tastes the same. In the end, I recommend choosing a pairing that you like, but I encourage you to play around to find something you may discover to be a new favorite. I also recommend that you take three things into consideration when pairing beer and wild game.

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Considerations for Pairing Beer:

First, think of the animal, its diet, and origin. Each environment, lifespan, and food availability is going to play an affect on the animal. I will go into more detail below on recommend pairings based on species. Second, think about how you will prepare the meat. Are you going to cook it low and slow or high and quick? The preparation method unto itself will lend flavors that can be complemented with a variety of beers. Third, think about the other ingredients in your dish. You want to think about how those fruity, spicy, or smoky notes are going to affect your pairing. You also don’t want to choose a beer that will over power your meal. Let’s start from the top with pairing.

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Pairing Beer with Types of Wild Game:

I will give you a couple of recommendations on the light side and the darker side of the spectrum to help you gauge where your own tastes lay. It may be just me, but I like to enjoy lighter beers in the hot weather and darker beers in the colder times. I also like to think that light beers pair with grilling and darker choices go well with stewing, braising, and smoking. Just think about the cooking duration.

Alligator: IPA, Lager, Blonde Ale

Antelope: Hefeweizen, Pale Ale, Amber Ale

Bear: IPA, Red Ale, Brown Ale, Stout

Elk: Pale Ale, Brown Ale, Dark Lager

Dove/Quail: Pilsner, Blonde Ale, Pale Ale

Duck: IPA, Lambic, Brown Ale

Geese: Red Ale, Dubbel, Stout

Moose: IPA, Strong Ale, Dunkel

Pheasant: Cider, Pale Ale, Dubbel

Rabbit: Saison, Red Ale, Bock

Squirrel: Pilsner, IPA, Scotch Ale

Sheep/Mtn Goat: Brown Ale, Stout, Porter

Turkey: Wheat Beer, Lager, Oktoberfest

Venison: Pilsner, IPA, Belgian, Bock, Stout

Wild Pork: Hefeweizen, Lager, Porter

Whatever your beer fancy is to become, I am sure you will find the perfect match between your favorite wild game recipes and your favorite brews. Keep an eye out, we will be publishing a beer pairing guide for fish and another for wild game and wine. Until then, Cheers!

Justin Townsend

Justin is an avid hunter, angler, and chef whose passions for the outdoors lead him to create Harvesting Nature in 2011. He continues to hunt, fish, and cook all while sharing his experiences with others through film, on podcasts, in print, and with recipes. He also proudly serves in the United States Coast Guard in Key West, FL.

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