Local Beer and Seafood Pairings

Mark DeWolf

Thanks to the craft beer movement, beer has found a place on to the dinner table at our province’s best restaurants, but it has also long been a part our home entertaining occasions. When friends come over for a barbecue or lobster boil, many of us set out a bucket of beer on the deck or have a few brews ready in the fridge. Whether you are at a fine dining restaurant or entertaining at home, local beer is always a great match to seafood. Here are a few of our favourite pairings.

Oysters — Stout

Ireland’s culinary contributions to the world are rooted in homey, comforting cuisine, including dishes such as Irish Stew, Boxty and just about anything made with a potato. If you ask a beer lover, their most important culinary gift is the pairing of dry stout and oysters. When in Ireland, enjoy their oysters with a pint of Guinness – but here in Nova Scotiatry your favourite Eel Lake or Sober Islands matched with a local stout such as Rare Bird Full Steam Stout from Guysborough County.

MusselsWheat Ale

Credit Belgians for teaching us the best liquid to steam your mussels with is beer. Belgians often use a local Wit (a type of Wheat Ale, seasoned with orange peel, coriander and other spices) to steam and serve with mussels. Here in Nova Scotia, you can still use a fragrant wheat ale. Some brewers make it in the Wit style, while others, such as Propeller, produce a Bavarian style with its own fragrant aroma and flavours. Both will work well to steam and serve with mussels.

Steamed LobsterLager

Steamed lobster is our province’s signature dish. But what’s the classic pairing? Historically, just about any cold beer would do, but with so many great artisanal brews now available, consider serving a lively and crisp, locally produced lager such as Spindrift Coastal Lager or Propeller Pilsener. If you like your lobster drenched in butter, like I do, then opt for a little more flavour and an ale with a bit of hop structure to it, like a local Pale Ale.

Fish and Chips — Pale Ale

Fish and Chips are as English as the Queen and Buckingham Palace. Should we be surprised that the best pairings are English-style ales? The hop character of the beer acts a cleansing contrast to the oiliness of the fish. Just about every local brewery makes a Pale Ale, so the options are numerous.

We asked two local brewery representatives for their favourite beer and seafood combinations.

“Lori, my wife, would eat lobster every day if she could. When I want to impress her (or say sorry), I bring her a lobster roll — not flowers. Her favourite is a grilled and buttered bun with piled high fresh Nova Scotia lobster meat and topped with a splash of freshly squeezed lemon juice. It is always paired with one of our favourite beers – the Garrison Tall Ship. The Tall Ship is a refreshing ale with a subtle malt backbone and it is a no-brainer when it comes to seafood.” Daniel Girard, Brewmaster, Garrison Brewing

“One dish that I particularly enjoy is the Blackened Haddock Fish Tacos topped with pico de gallo, and a spicy remoulade at Your Father’s Moustache paired with our Nine Locks IPA. The citrusy hop flavours add a touch of sweetness to the meal and accentuates the Cajun spices without being overwhelming.” Shaun O’Hearn, Nine Locks Brewing Company


We cross culinary traditions by matching a local brew with Ramen, a Japanese dish consisting of wheat noodles served in an aromatic broth.

Occasions Recommends

  • Rare Bird Full Steam Stout, 660 ml $6.97
  • Propeller Hefeweizen, 500 ml $3.98
  • Spindrift Coastal Lager, 473 ml $3.60
  • Garrison Tall Ship, 6 x 341 ml $13.49
  • Nine Locks IPA, 4 x 473 ml $15.99
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