Stick a cork in it – wine is sooo last year. This autumn, say 'cheers' with a craft beer instead

So what is craft beer anyway? 

Produced on a small scale by independent brewers, craft beers are made using traditional methods and more natural ingredients. Still not convinced craft beer is for you? Read on: 

 

1. They taste AMAZING. Enthusiastic craft brewers lovingly spend years experimenting with ingredients and techniques to develop complex flavours.

2. It's not just for the pub. Widely available online and some supermarkets, craft beers are much easier to buy these days.

3. Made in Britain. Now we've caught up with the Americans, you can find craft beers made with regional hops, barley and malt.

4. There’s something for everyone. A light pilsner can be as fizzy and fresh as prosecco, while malty porters warm the cockles like a rich red. Each craft brewery makes its beer in its own way, so they're as varied in their tastes and looks as reds, whites and rosés. 

5. More bang for your buck. For the same price as a bottle of ordinary vino, you can enjoy a few artisan ales. Cheers! 

There's nothing queer about food and beer

Go to any posh restaurant and there'll be a sommelier there ready to match a wine to your dish. But what about beer? Niall Byrne from the Craft Beer Co, reveals what’s what when it comes to craft beer and fodder.

Porters for roasts

Porters are dark (almost black) beers with a distinctive roasted grain flavour and slight sweetness – the perfect match to your Sunday roast. Go for a full-bodied Hastings porter (4.5%), packed with chocolate, coffee and liquorice flavours to balance the boldness of roast beef.

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IPAs for curries

Full of hops and therefore quite bitter, Indian Pale Ales (IPAs) have floral or citrus aromas that lighten even the richest of curries. Ruination IPA (7.7%) with its blast of zesty flavours will refresh your palate even with a rich Massaman duck curry.

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Massaman duck curry

Photograph: Martin Poole

 

Whisky-aged beer for cheese

Whisky-aged beers are so called because they're aged in whisky barrels. As a result, these beers have rounded, oaky notes and bags of body. Pair Broken Dream (7.4%) with strong blue cheeses like Roquefort or Gorgonzola – its bitter, dry notes are reminiscent of oatmeal cookies, making it a great match.

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Pilsner for pizza

Originally brewed in Pilzen in the Czech Republic, Pilsner is a pale lager with light, crisp, sweeter flavours. The herby Jever Pilsener (4.9%) is just the thing to cut through the cheese on your quattro formaggi, whether you're out and about or eating pizza at home.

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Bitters for stews

Always found in country pubs, a good bitter should be smooth, clear and have a thick creamy head that lasts all the way down the glass. Vital Spark (4.4%) is rich and nutty but not too heavy so you'll still have room in your belly for a bowl of hearty beef chilli stew.

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Beef chilli stew

Photograph: Dan Jones

 

White beers for seafood

Weissbiers (pronounced 'vice-beers' and also known as Hefeweizen or wheat beers) are light and easy to drink, with very little aftertaste. Their soft and fizzy personality means they're best buddies with seafood, enhancing rather than overwhelming the delicate flavour of prawns, scallops and clams. Rothaus Hefeweizen (5.4%) has undertones of banana, cinnamon and cloves – try it with exotic coconut and black pepper prawns.

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Beer isn't just for the pub, you know ...

Throw a craft beer tasting party where you and your mates bring the most unusual beers you can find, or share the hippest of hops at a craft beer festival.

 

Beer is also great in baking: whether it's a dash of stout in bitter-sweet chocolate cake or a swig of weissbier in banana bread, these grown-up treats are brilliant on a blustery afternoon. Cheers!