When ringing in the New Year, we are celebrating the last 365 days, but even more so, looking forward to the year ahead. In hopes of making the upcoming year even better, eating certain foods for good luck on New Year’s Eve and New Year’s Day have become longstanding traditions in many parts of the world. We’re making your New Year’s a little more delicious by offering suggestions for craft beers to enjoy with some of the classic New Year’s foods.
Pork | Brown Ale
Pigs are eaten throughout Europe as a food that symbolizes progress since the animal rarely moves backwards. Pork as a meat with rich fat content, which some believe symbolizes wealth and prosperity.
Whether it’s chops or bacon, pork works well with sweet sauces and glazes, so the sweetness of a brown ale is a good match. On the other hand, many pork dishes, like smoked pulled pork, have bold flavors, so the brown ale’s malty, fully body is a good, hearty choice.
- Palo Santo Marron | Dogfish Head Craft Brewed Ales | Milton, DE
- Brown Ale | Black Market Brewing Company | Temecula, CA
- Bolton Brown | The Alchemist | Waterbury, VT
- Nut Brown Ale | Blackstone Restaurant & Brewery | Nashville, TN
- Rye Knot Brown Ale | Coast Brewing | Charleston, SC
Grapes | Amber Ale
This tradition isn’t just grapes, it’s 12 grapes to be exact—one for every strike of the clock at midnight and every month of the year. The Spanish custom also says if your eighth grape is extra sweet, you’ll have a good August in the new year.
Amber ales are similar to grapes, which can sometimes be a little bitter and sometimes be a little sweet. The balanced flavors from an amber ale, including a slight floral essence, bring out both sides of the grape.
- Atlantic Amber | New England Brewery | Woodbridge, CT
- Old Mission Amber Ale | Central Coast Brewing | San Luis Obispo, CA
- Misdemeanor Ale | Jailhouse Brewing Company | Hampton, GA
- Cross Fever Amber Ale | Epic Brewing Company | Salt Lake City, UT
Noodles | IPA
Throughout Asia, eating long noodles, like soba noodles, symbolizes an extended, happy life. The catch is to not break the noodles while you eat them, keeping them as long as possible.
Since many of the region’s noodle dishes are served with chili paste, garlic, ginger and other spicy notes, an IPA has the punch that can stand up to the heat. While the bittnerness of hops can often intensify hotness, the citrus flavors have the ability to be refreshing as well.
- Inlet India Pale Ale | 16 Mile Brewery | Georgetown, DE
- Anti-Hero IPA | Revolution Brewing | Chicago, IL
- 11th Hour IPA | Crow Peak Brewing Company | Spearfish, SD
Fish | Wheat
In Europe, eating silver-scaled fish is thought to bring wealth in the future year, as the scales resemble coins. Throughout Japan, fish are signs of fertility, a good harvest and prosperity.
To ensure the mild flavors are not overshadowed, fish requires a lighter beer. Since many seafood dishes are often prepared with lemon or other citrusy flavors, a crispy wheat beer is a good compliment.
- Gumballhead | Three Floyds Brewing | Munster, IN
- Agave Wheat | Breckenridge Brewery | Denver, CO
- 5 Lizard Latin-Style Witbier | 5 Rabbit Cerveceria | Bedford Park, IL
- Half Dome California Wheat | Tioga-Sequoia Brewing | Fresno, CA
- Weizen | Blue Mountain Barrel House and Organic Brewery | Arrington, VA
Cake | Coffee Stout
Round or ring shaped cakes are New Year’s Eve staples all over the world, as the shape represents completion of the entire year. In some countries, a coin is baked into the cake and whoever finds it is said to expect good fortune all year.
Dessert and coffee is a classic combo, and the robust coffee and toffee notes in these stouts break through even the sweetest of cakes.
- Coffee Stout | Bridge Brew Works | Fayetteville, WV
- Coffee Stout | Schlafly Beer | St. Louis, MO
- Java Coffee Stout | Southern Tier Brewing Company | Lakewood, NY
Pomegranate | Pale Ale
The vibrant red color of this fruit represents the human heart throughout the Mediterranean and Africa, where the fruit grows. Eating pomegranate is thought to bring a healthy year, especially fertility.
This antioxidant rich fruit can be quite bitter. A pale ale freshens your palate while still allowing the tart and sweet taste of the pomegranate to shine through.
- Pale Ale | (512) Brewing Company | Austin, TX
- Daisy Cutter Pale Ale | Half Acre Beer Company | Chicago, IL
- Moon Man | New Glarus Brewing Co. | New Glarus, WI
- Half Full Bright Ale | Half Full Brewery | Stamford, CT
Orange | Chocolate Stout
In Chinese, the words for orange and tangerine sound very similar to “wealth” and “luck.” The round shape of these fruits also symbolizes completion of the entire year.
A contrasting flavor combination that works well is chocolate and orange. A chocolate stout works with the citrusy orange to make a unique flavor profile.
- Chocolate Oak Aged Yeti Imperial Stout | Great Divide Brewing Co. | Denver, CO
- Chocolate Porter | Bayhawk Ales | Irvine, CA
- Gran Sport Porter | COOP Ale Works | Oklahoma City, OK
- Chocolate Stout | Brooklyn Brewery | Brooklyn, NY
Beans | Barleywine
Peas, lentils, black eyed peas and other beans are thought to resemble small coins which in many cultures are thought to represent money in the new year. Beans also plump as they cook, symbolizing growing wealth.
Beans often have a very hearty texture. The strong alcohol content of a barley wine has the ability to cut through the denseness and refresh your palate.
- Old Marley Barleywine | Thomas Hooker Brewing Company | Bloomfield, CT
- Old Numbskull | AleSmith Brewing Company | San Diego, CA
- Sucaba | Firestone Walker Brewing | Paso Robles, CA
- Wheelchair Barleywine | 7 Seas Brewing | Gig Harbor, WA
- Mother of all Storms | Pelican Pub & Brewery | Pacific City, OR
Kristen Kuchar is a writer and editor that is fortunate enough to cover her greatest interests: travel, food, and craft beer. The Chicago native recently returned from a twenty-one state culinary and beer road trip where her passion in both increased even more. She is also a member of the Pink Boots Society.
Last Updated: February 6, 2013