The combination of pizza and beer is right up there with other classics like peanut butter and jelly, bacon and eggs and cookies and milk – no matter how you enjoy the pairing, you really cannot go wrong. And now, in the midst of Lent – a time when Catholics abstain from eating meat on Fridays – the amount of pizza enjoyed across the United States seems to go up substantially. But choosing the perfect beer to compliment your pizza isn’t always an easy task, since there are countless options out there.
Of course, there are also several different kinds of pizza featured predominantly around the country. From New Haven to St. Louis, and various cities in-between, there’s more than one way to get this delicious cheese, sauce and dough concoction, no matter what your preference. So, we decided to take some of the country’s most well known pizza styles and pair them with some beer that might be found in that area. It has our mouths watering just thinking about it, to be perfectly honest.
Originating sometime in the early 1900s, this slightly different take on Neapolitan pizza offers a thin and crunchy crust, lots of mozzarella cheese and a light layer of red sauce. It’s usually larger in size and, because of that, is often folded when consumed. One potential option with this pizza would be Brooklyn Brewery’s Brooklyn Brown Ale, a Northern England-style brown ale that was originally brewed during the holidays but later became a staple to the brewery’s lineup. It features Ahtanum, Celeia and Willamette hops which provide a flavorful taste without being too filling – and, at 5.2 percent alcohol by volume, you can enjoy several of these beers, depending on how many slices you consume. Really, any amber will do when you get a slice from one of the dozen Ray’s Pizza that claim to be “the original.”
Pick: BROOKLYN BREWERY’S BROOKLYN BROWN ALE
Chicago-Style Deep Dish
The arch-nemesis to New York-Style, this deep dish pizza focuses on more – more sauce, more dough and a hell of a lot more cheese. But, as far as we’re concerned, both styles can coexist together. Started in the 1940s at Pizzeria Uno, this pizza was more like a cake or a traditional pie, with a very thick crust, mozzarella cheese on the bottom, sauce and toppings layered in the middle and more cheese on top. It’s by far the most filling pizza and has an even larger “stuffed version” for those looking to really expand their waistline. Given that it’s such so heavy, we’d probably recommend a beer on the lighter side here – so, try Goose Island’s Four Star Pils. Brewed in Chicago, this 5.1 percent alcohol by volume pilsner is brewed using Hallertau, Hersbrucker, Mt Hood and Opal hops for a crisp, light taste that finishes easily. It’s a very drinkable beer, which is perfect because with the amount of carbs you’re taking in, a pilsner might really be the only option your stomach can handle. Trust us and pick a pilsner for this delicious pizza mountain.
Pick: GOOSE ISLAND BEER CO.’S FOUR STAR PILS
Chicago-Style Thin Crust
Often taking a backseat to the deep dish, Chicago’s version of the thin crust shouldn’t be overlooked – and, quite frankly, it’s taken a back seat to its more filling counterpart for far too long. Also known as Quad City-style – for a group of five cities on the Iowa-Illinois border – it’s a crispier and crunchier crust with a layer of sauce and mozzarella cheese and it’s typically cut diagonally, making it easy to share with a group. The cracker-like crust goes perfectly with a dry-hopped India Pale Ale and one potential candidate would be Half Acre’s Daisy Cutter Pale Ale. Also brewed in the Windy City, Daisy Cutter features a blended pine and citrus taste but it’s quite dank – meaning it’s very bitter, with the qualities of a west coast IPA. It helped put the brewery on the map almost a decade ago and at 5.2 percent alcohol by volume, we dare you to have just one. Most run of the mill IPAs would be good if you cannot find Daisy Cutter, just make sure it has a bitter finish.
Pick: HALF ACRE BEER CO.’S DAISY CUTTER
Not exactly one of the most well known styles of pizza, Detroit’s version is square, much like the traditional Sicilian pizza, with a deep-dish style crust and sauce always served over the mozzarella cheese. The edges are typically caramelized crunchy edges, thanks to both the cheese and dough during the cooking process. Little Caesars has basically managed to mass-produce these for the entire country. Since it’s not quite as heavy as its Chicago big brother, the accompanying beer can be a little more substantial here, which is why one potential candidate would be Founders’ Dirty Bastard. This Scotch Style Ale, brewed in Michigan, features a dark ruby color and a complex finish, complete with a hint of smoke and a rich malty flavor – but, it’s potent at 8.5 percent alcohol by volume. Dirty Bastard is a treat and its flavor compliments the pizza nicely, however just be careful because it’ll fill you up almost as much as your square, carb-filled, friend. If you are unable to find this beer, trial and error with Scotch Ales is recommended, or a safer bet would be a slightly more flavorful brand of lager.
Pick: FOUNDERS BREWING CO.’S DIRTY BASTARD
Found primarily in the Philadelphia metropolitan area, especially the suburbs, this early 1900s creation is another style that flies under the radar, probably because there’s no cheese on it. That’s right, you read that correctly – no cheese. But this chewy, bread and sauce combination, which if often baked into a square, has a ton of flavor, which stems mainly from a sweet, rich tomato sauce. The best potential beer here would have to be Ma! The Meatloaf by Philadelphia-based Evil Genius Beer Company. A light pizza is perfect for this light Belgian-style white ale, which is preferred on any warm day, though it could be consumed throughout the year. It contains Hallertau and Saaz hops, is spiced with coriander and orange peel and contains mango in the fermenting process, making it a fruit-forward beer. And at 5.5 percent alcohol by volume, makes this one is an easy-drinker. Any light beer is great for this pizza – a Belgian, a Farmhouse, whatever your preference.
Pick: EVIL GENIUS BEER CO.’S MA! THE MEATLOAF
This is by far the most niche style on this list. Pretty much found only in the greater St. Louis area, it was popularized in the 1960s by Imo’s Pizza and is a different take on New York’s pizza style. It features a thin cracker crust, with no yeast, and is topped with Provel cheese, as opposed to the standard mozzarella found in most other pizzas on this list. Provel is a white processed cheese that is made by combining mozzarella, cheddar and provolone cheeses – it’s a St. Louis thing. And much like the Chicago thin crust, the best potential candidate her would be something chock full of hoppiness. 4 Hands’ War Hammer Imperial IPA might just be the best choice here. Brewed in St. Louis using Columbus, Tomahawk and Zeus hops, it certainly has an earthy note but not too much bitterness. Instead, malt and honey notes are the primary focus, which go well with the golden color and pineapple, mango and tangerine aromas. Have a bunch of slices with each beer here, because at 9 percent alcohol by volume, it’s potent. Any IPA that’s on the lighter side in terms of bitterness would work well, to be honest. Or, just get a Budweiser – and stick with the St. Louis theme.
Pick: 4 HANDS BREWING CO.’S WAR HAMMER IMPERIAL IPA
Believe it or not, Connecticut is kind of a hot spot for good, coal oven, pizza. Originated by Frank Pepe Pizzeria Napoletana in 1925, this style consists of a plain crust as well as oregano and sauce but, and here’s the big difference, no mozzarella cheese – instead, there’s a dose of grated romano cheese. The romano cheese, along with the oven for which it’s cooked, really brings out the flavor of both the sauce and the crust. New Haven-style is often referred to as a tomato pie but we’re not really all about that – it’s just kind of its own thing and, either way, it’s not easy to find outside of the northeast. So, what to drink with this one? Well, there’s a few options but something heavy might be your best bet. Back East Brewing Company’s Back East Porter is quite the hearty beer, with a thick brown head and a malty undertone. This Connecticut-based beer is often considered a winter warmer-style. It’s refreshing and can be enjoyed during almost any time of year, though we’d stick with the colder months. And it’s only 6 percent alcohol by volume, which is a bonus. Make sure it’s a solid porter for this pizza.
Pick: BACK EAST BREWING CO.’S BACK EAST PORTER