Ladies and gents, it’s National Lager Day. No, I’m not pulling your chain, and yes, it’s a real thing. National Lager Day is a day to celebrate, and most importantly, drink what’s arguably the most important beer style in America. That’s right, the lager is among the most important beer styles in America. So today I’m here to tell you why, and tell you which lagers to be drink, and what to be eating with it. Because what’s better than beer and food pairings?

Let’s just cut to the chase. Lagers can often be overlooked. Especially where I live on the West Coast, where IPAs reign supreme. Yet lagers have a long history in America, dating back to the 19th century when Germans (the original lager drinkers) started to influence what was largely an ale-drinking country.

Beer and Food Pairings

Lager beer for National Lager Day

But because the hops of lagers are much more modest than beers like an IPA, for example, lagers by many people’s standards aren’t as flavorful, or are largely only reserved for hot days. However, today’s lagers are upping the ante, bringing new hops, crispness, and complex flavors that may surprise a lot of people. Bonus points that they pair really well with a variety of different foods. Winner, winner, beer dinner!

So today I’ve teamed up with Let’s Grab A Beer on National Lager Day to bring you five different lagers and which foods to pair those beers with.

Pair Cheese with Stella Artois

Stella Artois was my first foray into lager beers, and what got me obsessed with Belgian beers, which are among some of my favorites. When I was traveling around Belgium, I would often be served a bowl of cheese to nosh on while enjoying a beer. Brilliant! Why don’t more bars do this? I love beer, I love cheese, and so it’s a perfect food and beer pairing. With Stella Artois, you get a mild, light, balanced beer, making for a great pairing with any number of cheeses, though one of my favorites is Brie. However, any number of soft, semi-soft, and semi-hard cheese would pair well with Stella Artois. (Photo by Pittsburgh Craft Beers on Flickr.)

Beer and cheese pairings

Pair spring rolls with 10 Barrel Pub Beer

Continuing on with the theme of light, fresh beer paired with light, fresh food is 10 Barrel Pub Beer and spring rolls. 10 Barrel hails from one of my favorite craft beer towns, Bend, Oregon, and this beer, the Pub Beer, is exactly what you’d expect from a lager you order from a pub. It’s light- to medium-bodied, crisp, and balanced, and being so, a nice transition for someone wanting to try something between the token light lagers and a more flavorful craft lager. Generally speaking, traditional lagers pair nicely to flavors like cilantro, ginger, and garlic that you find in a lot of international dishes, and this is no exception. 10 Barrel’s Pub Beer nicely complements those ginger and cilantro flavors you’re likely to get from spring rolls, while standing up to the hints of spice.

10 Barrel Pub Beer

Pair steamed mussels with Zephyrus Pilsner

Spoiler alert: Pilsners are among my favorite new beers. And the Zephyrus Pilsner from Seattle’s Elysian Brewing Company is a good example of why that is, where you get the lightness of a traditional pilsner combined with a little more hop and flavor. With Eylsian’s roots in Seattle, one of my favorite seafood places in America, it only seemed appropriate to pair this with mussels. Really, you could pair it with a lot of different types of shellfish, including oysters, but I’m currently obsessed with mussels, plus you could add some of your pilsner to the mussels (with some garlic, which I mentioned above pairs nicely with lagers) while you’re cooking it to further bring out the flavor. Beer mussels anyone? (Photo by Lucas Richarz on Flickr.)

Mussels paired with lager beer

Pair BBQ pork with Blue Point Toasted Lager

NOW we get to the hearty stuff. Lagers are a great beer for pairing with grilled meats, and the flagship beer of Blue Point Brewing, the Toasted Lager, is a great example. The toasted lager is just that, characterized by toasted malts, which seems only appropriate for pairing with grilled meat. I particularly like the idea of pairing it with barbecue pork, and more specifically, barbecue brisket, where the lager just cuts through the fat of brisket. Many people even use a lager to braise their barbecue brisket. Also, there’s just something so American about pairing a lager with a summer barbecue. Am I right?

BBQ and IPA beer pairing Lake Tahoe

Pair fried fish tacos with Golden Road 329

Last but not least comes 329 Lager from one of my favorite Los Angeles breweries, Golden Road Brewing. It’s light, crisp, clean, and appropriately named for the 329 days of sun that L.A. gets per year. With fried fish tacos being such a staple in Southern California, it only felt appropriate to pair the Golden Road 329 lager with fried fish tacos. Fish tacos are often milder than your typical tacos, which the light lager only further complements. This food and beer pairing couldn’t be anymore Southern Californian if it tried.

Fish tacos with beer

What are your favorite beer and food pairings?