Football season is swinging into high gear (hallelujah), and while we're prepping for our tailgates, we're also prepping for our watch parties at home. And that, obviously, includes two of the greatest things to have happened to mankind: pizza and beer.
Obviously, we'll take any excuse to drink a craft beer while watching the game, but pairing craft beers and pizza is trickier than you might think. You're not just pairing one ingredient or one flavor with a beer, you're pairing a whole slew of them: acidic, sweet tomato sauce, creamy cheese, spicy basil, and, if you're doing it right, plenty of oil and grease. What's a hungry, beer-loving guy or gal to do? More often than not, we pick a regular old light beer because in our heads, it balances out the heaviness of the pizza. But much like any other beer and food pairing, a craft beer can only enhance your pizza experience. (Yes, it's an experience.)
There are some general guidelines to pairing craft beer with pizza to keep in mind. Lighter, non-hoppy beers go well with lighter ingredients, like a pale ale and a margherita pizza, or a mild cheese pizza with a mild wheat ale. Tomato sauces balance out an amber ale or more generously hopped beer, thanks to the addition of caramel malts that add a touch of sweetness. And a spicy or salty pizza demands a sweeter, higher-ABV brew that can cut the spicy — think IPAs, barleywines, and even stouts to cleanse the palate. But ultimately, the best part of pairing pizza with craft beer? Trying all the combinations yourself.
We tried New York City's new craft beer and pizza pairing menu at Lower East Side staple Goodfella's, to see what worked and what didn't. We were surprised by just how much a great beer would complement the pizzas. If anything, you'll find plenty of pizza and beer inspiration for your NFL watch parties (as if you needed more reason to drink beer and eat pizza, right?). Click here to find Goodfella's owner Karol Kwiatkowski's craft beer and pizza pairing suggestions, with our notes.