As winter beckons, I draw comfort from deliciously saucy, slowly cooked foods (like these gorgeous recipes from Neven) paired with crisp and refreshing beers. In Ireland, we are spoiled for choice when it comes to craft beer, and when you’re cooking certain types of cuisine (like Indian, Thai or – yes – eastern European-inspired), a good-quality beer is often a better pairing option than the classic, go-to wine – even if you’re entertaining friends and family in your home.

\ Philip Doyle

Whitefield Jockey Hall Vienna Lager

Borscht is one of my favourite soups to eat in colder autumn and winter months. It has so much going on: tanginess from the red wine vinegar, the earthy sweetness of the beetroot, the richness of the beef stock. That’s a lot of flavour in one humble soup. As opposed to pairing it with a heavy beer, I enjoy drinking something light and refreshing with a soup like borscht.

For me, this is usually a lager – or, more specifically, a pilsner, which is a type of lager. What makes a pilsner a pilsner is the type of yeast used. They also tend to have more of a “hoppy” flavour.

One of my absolute favourite pilsner-style Irish craft beers is Bru Brewery’s Off the Hook. However, when I spoke with a Bru representative, they broke my heart; telling me it was discontinued (at least, for the moment). I am extra-sad because, previously, I could purchase Off the Hook at my local Lidl, and for many living in rural Ireland you know how difficult it can be to find good craft beer within your locality.

However, just down the road from our farm, you’ll find Whitefield Brewery in Templemore, Co Tipperary. A very close second to pilsner, for pairing with this borscht, is Whitefield’s Vienna Lager.

It’s more amber than pale, crisp and very refreshing. You’d be as happy drinking this on its own as you would pairing it with the bold flavours found in this borscht. Whitefield uses special Vienna malt in this recipe making it more complex in flavour than your average lager.

8 Degrees Full Irish Single Malt IPA

Neven’s pork goulash recipe also pairs really well with paler beers, but with its meaty texture, smoky paprika and tangy tomatoes, it needs a bit more “oomph” - and there is no beer more “oomphy” than 8 Degrees Full Irish.

This beer is made with Irish-grown barley which is malted locally to the Mitchelstown-based brewery in Co Cork.

This single-malt IPA achieves a good balance between bitter and sweet notes – and it cuts through the spice and richness of the goulash really well. IPA stands for India pale ale, and these beers are classically hop-forward in flavour.

Being slightly bitter is a common trait of many IPAs, but equally so is being “fruity” in flavour – this is especially so in recent years, as IPAs have surged in popularity among creative craft brewers.

The Full Irish hits a beautiful balance, with definite fruity notes (perfect to drink with a milder meat, like pork) and is also just a really fun beer to drink with friends over a meal.

\ Philip Doyle

O’Hara’s Irish Stout

When you’re having chocolate for dessert, there is no better pairing than a creamy Irish stout. O’Hara’s Irish Stout – which hails from Co Carlow and the Carlow Brewing Company – is one of my favourites. Living rurally, this is another craft Irish beer you can find fairly easily (at least where I am, in Tipperary). In the past, I’d purchase O’Hara’s stout in bottles, but they recently launched their nitro cans which have made for an even better at-home drinking experience.

There are a few reasons this stout is a great pairing for a chocolate dessert like a sacher torte. While creamy, this stout also features some tartness. For a classic chocolate cake you might not take any notice, but a sacher torte, which is lathered in apricot jam, has its own tartness.

The espresso-like features of this Irish stout is something which appeals to me (though not so much my coffee-hating husband), and coffee and chocolate go together beautifully.

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