There was a time when serving drinks during dinner was a piece of cake. The starter with fish was provided with a glass of white wine, the stew for the main course was served with a glass (or a bottle) of red wine. Nothing is easier. Replacing the two types of wine with an alcohol-free variant therefore seems the easiest solution to provide your Christmas dinner with an alcohol-free alternative, but unfortunately it is not that simple.
We must be very honest and say that serving non-alcoholic wine is a bit of a risk. The taste difference between alcohol-free and alcoholic wine is quite large. When you serve your sober guests a glass of alcoholic wine at your party, it is possible that they will be a bit disappointed. We ourselves notice that we will not easily grab a bottle of non-alcoholic wine to drink at ease in the evening or to drink during dinner. If you really want to, you can of course serve non-alcoholic wine to accompany your plates, but it might be advisable to check with your non-alcoholic guests beforehand if they like it or not. But if not wine, what should you drink during dinner?
Our tip? Combine your food with a beer.
According to us, the best solution is simply to serve a beer with the starter and the main course, because you can find an abundance of alcohol-free beers nowadays. We would therefore recommend to serve some nice non-alcoholic beers to match your delicious meals. In 2020 it is actually cool and trendy to serve beer with your menu, so that is a nice bonus. When you add beer to the menu you will have to do a bit of beer pairing though. Everyone knows that white wine goes with fish and red wine with meat, but what about (non-alcoholic) beer? Without going into too much detail, we will try to get you started.
Non-alcoholic beer with fish
The fact that fish is usually served with white wine is because the slightly sour and fresh taste that typifies most white wines fits very well with most fish dishes. So it goes without saying that you have to look for a fresh beer to combine with your fish dish.
With white fish
If you want to serve a fish dish with white fish, you can do little wrong by pouring out a wheat beer or a Pale Ale. Many wheat beers are now also available in an alcohol-free version and you can easily find some good alcohol-free Pale Ales. A lot of German Wheat beers have an AF alternative and can be found in supermarkets or at www.drydrinker.com or www.wisebartender.co.uk. When you want your evening to be that little bit more special, you can also look for a Wheat beer with a distinctly fresh touch such as, for example, Mikkeller Drinkin ‘The Sun or Energibajer, Maisel & Friends alkoholfrei, or Lowlander wit. A good not AF Pale Ale will also do the trick. If you look for a good, not so well known beer, we think you will definitely score with your sober company.
Some Examples and where to find them:
German wheat beers (Schneider Weisse, Paulaner, Erdinger Alkoholfrei, Franziskaner AF wheat beer…)
- Most of these taste really good and match perfect with fish.
- Can be found at www.drydrinker.com and www.wisebartender.co.uk or in some supermarkets.
Mikkeller Drinkin’ The Sun (Read our review)
- Very good, fresh beer that can bring the sun in the room
- Can be found at www.wisebartender.co.uk
Mikkeler Energibajer (Read our review)
- Fresh, fruity with a touch of citrus
- You can buy it from www.wisebartender.co.uk
Mikkeller Hallo Ich Bin
- Another alcohol-free wheat beer from Mikkeller
- Shop for it at www.wisebartender.co.uk
Lowlander wit Alcohol-free wheat beer
- Wheat beer with lots of taste. Especially citrus. Very special and tasty
- You can find it on www.drydrinker.com
Lucky Saint (Read our review)
Big drop Pale Ale
- Very tasty dry hopped Pale Ale
- Find it at www.wisebartender.co.uk
This is only a small selection of beers we tasted or tested and know they pair well with your fish dish. There are lots more, but if you want to be sure that the beer is ok, we suggest you taste one before serving it at your party. No risk involved in the tasting, you can’t get drunk.
With fatter fish
For somewhat fatter fish or fish dishes that are served with a more savory sauce, you can opt for an alcohol-free IPA such as Vandestreek Playground, Riegele Liberis or a Brewdog Nanny State. You can also serve these beers with white fish or scampi, but keep in mind that the taste of these beers will dominate a little more.
Vandestreek Playground IPA (read our review)
- We think this is still one of the best alcohol-free beers around.
- You can buy it on www.wisebartender.co.uk or www.drydrinker.com
Brewdog Nanny State (Read our review)
- Very tasteful Dutch beer
- Buy it on www.wisebartender.co.uk
Here also, there are lots of other alternatives. You might be able to find some AF IPA’s at your supermarket, or search for others on the sites we mentioned. Again, it is wis to taste before serving them to your guests.
Non-alcoholic beer with meat dishes
With meat dishes you can actually say: “the darker the meat, the darker the beer”. This means that a heavier, darker beer will fit better with a savory meat dish such as a stew or a piece of red meat.
If you serve chicken, turkey or veal, you can possibly give a lager. These AF beers are relatively easy to find and there are lots of them. You can also combine a wheat beer from the lists above with a lighter meat dish.
Do you serve a stew or a good piece of red meat, you better combine that with a darker beer. We would suggest a Rok Soba Zero Fear that can be found at www.wisebartender.co.uk because we like the philosophy behind the beer. But you can find lots of stouts, porters or other dark AF beers in your supermarket ot local shop. If not, you can find a lot of them on www.wisebartender.co.uk or www.drydrinker.com
We liked the dark beer from Big Drop and Mikkeller, but since we haven’t tasted them all it’s possible there are others that are also very good.
You can find all our beer reviews here
If you want to keep the party completely vegetarian or vegan, you can perfectly combine your dishes with non-alcoholic beers. Here you have to decide a little bit which drink fits which dish. If you opt to serve beer with your vegetarian dishes, it is best to take into account that a white beer, a lager or a blond beer are best suited for the slightly lighter dishes. If there are slightly heavier dishes on the menu, such as wild mushrooms or hearty meat substitutes, then you better look for a darker beer. The golden rule is that with a dish with pronounced flavors, it is best to serve a beer with a pronounced taste.