Finding fresh Alabama Gulf Seafood is easier than ever, thanks to the many restaurants, retailers and wholesalers that are committed to serving it. And with so many varieties coming straight from the Gulf, there’s plenty of seafood to choose from.
But knowing which beer to pair with your meal? Well, that’s not always plain to see.
Thankfully, Alabama’s commitment to independent craft beers has been off the charts in recent years. And because these passionate brewmasters are hard-working citizens and champions of all things locally sourced, pairing craft beer with Alabama Gulf Seafood just makes sense.
“Alabama Gulf Seafood is harvested by the type of folks that inspire the name of our brewery,” said Michael Sellers, co-founder of Birmingham’s Good People Brewing Company. “We both strive to put a quality product on the table that the state can be proud of, and we strive to produce world class beer that compliments Alabama’s world class seafood.”
Pairing craft beer with Alabama Gulf Seafood is about more than just local pride, though—it’s about taste.
“Craft beer in general lends itself to food pairings as much or more than wine does,” said Tripp Collins, director of operations for Gadsden’s Back Forty Beer Company, who began promoting the Alabama Gulf Seafood brand on their bottles earlier this year. “There are so many styles of beer, you can pair craft beer with seafood every day of the week. We just happen to make delicious beer that pairs well with the food Alabama Gulf Seafood provides.”
Next time you’re at a beer-friendly seafood restaurant, or you’re looking to add some extra flavor to a home-cooked meal of Alabama Gulf Seafood, here are some Back Forty and Good People beer pairings from Collins and Sellers:
Back Forty: “With a light, flaky fish, I would recommend our Fence Post Session Ale. It’s light in color, flavor and in alcohol. What that means is it will not overpower the flavor of fish, which is easy to do with seafood.”
Good People: “I like pairing our wit beers with flaky, white fish. The ester notes imparted by the Belgian yeast in these lighter, fruity notes blends well with softer components of light fish. As for a heartier fish, I like something that will stand up to the fat content of these fish. A Good People Pale Ale with its complex hop notes will stand well with a fish that leans on a deeper flavor profile.”
Back Forty: “Shrimp can be tricky. A lot of people like it fried, which can be done easily with a beer batter, but my favorite shrimp pairing occurred just recently. Leo Maurelli, executive chef at Central 129 in Montgomery, prepared poached Alabama Gulf Shrimp with cucumber, feta, and kalamata olive salad in an herb vinaigrette. We paired it with our Naked Pig Pale Ale.”
Good People: “Depending on how it’s prepared, we have several offerings that would pair well with shrimp. Fried Shrimp would pair well with our Pale Ale; the dank, piney nature of the Chinook Hop will cut the fat in a golden batter, and the grapefruit notes of the Cascade Hop will complement the white flesh of the shrimp. Even the level of carbonation plays a role as the level of CO2 in the beer complements the density of the shrimp.”
Back Forty: “Crab is sweet. I would prefer to accent the sweetness with this pairing. Truck Stop Honey Brown would be a perfect choice. With its mild sweetness and medium body, the sweetness from both would complement each other nicely and the beer would not overpower the crab.”
Good People: “If we are talking steamed crab, then the Bearded Lady Wheat Beer would be an outstanding accompaniment. This beer is a citrusy, refreshing wheat beer with just a touch of tart. Take the white meat of the crab with lemon juice and grab a round of beers and you are in business.”
Back Forty: “You would think that oysters would be tough to pair, but in fact it’s an easy one. Stouts and oysters go together very well. Salty notes from the oysters and sweetness from the stout is a perfect match. In this case, I would recommend Kudzu Porter. The sweetness from the caramel and chocolate notes work well with the saltiness of the oyster.”
Good People: “Oysters and stouts are a classic beer pairing, and the handful of stouts we produce are no exception. I’d like the Russian Imperial Stout (Fatso) with a dozen raw oysters swimming in the shell brine. The roasted aspects of the stout would cut through and balance out the brine, and the sweet chocolate notes would pair well with the oysters’ heartier meat.”
If you live outside of Alabama or you can’t track down any Back Forty or Good People brews, we recommend grabbing a Samuel Adams. Check out their Gulf Seafood and beer pairings, and if you’re using beer in the recipe, check out the seafood section of their Cooking With Sam page, featuring great recipes like Boston Lager Coconut Gulf Shrimp.
Nothing goes better with fresh Alabama Gulf Seafood than a good beer—except for the right beer. So crack open a cold one, whether it comes in bottles, cans or a hard shell, and please remember to drink responsibly.