When it comes to pairing tacos with craft beer, there are two major aspects of the dish that I take into consideration: first there’s the type of protein and how it’s cooked; then there’s the toppings, sauces and garnishes.
Now, some people might argue that the vessel in which the taco is served—hard corn shell, soft corn tortilla, flour tortilla, fried tortillas, etc.—also plays an important role in the overall pairing experience. This may be true, but my rule of thumb is to choose the shell you like best and focus on pairing your beer with the ingredients inside.
Here in central California, I have no less than ten authentic taquerias and taco trucks within a three-mile radius of my house (tough life, I know). But for those of you looking for a new recipe for your Cinco de Mayo festivities, here are two of my favorite super yummy, super easy and super quick taco recipes and the beers I like to wash them down with.
Tacos de Chorizo con Papas
Tacos with spiced Mexican sausage and potatoes—a great dish that I discovered at a nearby taqueria. Super easy to make at home!
- 8-10 oz. Mexican (or vegetarian) chorizo, casing removed
- Beer for deglazing
- 1 yellow onion, diced
- 1 lb red potatoes, skinned and diced
- 1 jalapeño, minced
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- Soft flour tortillas
- Chopped onion and cilantro garnish
Boil the potatoes for a few minutes until soft enough to stab, but still crunchy. Drain and set aside. Heat oil in a large skillet, add onions, garlic and jalapeños. Sautee until onions are translucent. Add potatoes and continue to sauté for 3-5 minutes, stirring frequently. Add chorizo, breaking up clumps as needed. Season with salt and pepper, cook for roughly five minutes and then deglaze the pan with a splash of the beer you are going to drink with the dish. Serve in soft flour tortillas and top with the traditional mix of freshly diced onion and cilantro.
Chorizo is almost always made with pork, and I’m a big fan of pairing pig products—especially roasted pork loin, ham and pulled pork—with amber ales and lagers.
Pork has a certain sweetness that works really nicely with the caramel malt sweetness of amber-hued beers. Pair a crisp amber lager with the recipe above or make a kicked up, extra spicy version of it and pair with an American amber ale!
Recommended Craft Beers
- Old Scratch Amber Lager | Flying Dog Brewery | Frederick, MD
- Lashes Hopbock Lager | Jack’s Abbey Brewing | Framingham, MA
- Cooney Island Lager | Shmaltz Brewing Co. | Clifton Park, NY
- Boont Amber Ale | Anderson Valley Brewing Co. | Boonville, CA
- Prohibition Ale | Speakeasy Ales & Lagers | San Francisco, CA
Baja-style Fish Tacos
Beer-battered fish lightly fried and topped with a zesty coleslaw and refreshing fruit salsa. This recipe is equally delicious with grilled fish.
Beer-Battered Mahi Mahi
- 1 lb Mahi Mahi (or tofu), cut into 1 inch strips
- Oil for frying
- Soft corn tortillas
- Beer batter: ¾ cup beer (pilsener or Belgian wit), ¾ cup flour, ¾ tsp salt
- 1 Tbsp lemon juice
- 1 tsp lemon zest
- ¼ cup mayo
- 1 cup shredded cabbage
- 1 cup fresh tomatoes, diced
- 1 cup pineapple, diced
- 1 cup red onion, diced
- 1 serrano chile pepper, minced
- 1 clove garlic, minced
- ¼ cup cilantro, roughly chopped
- Juice of 1 lime
Mix salsa ingredients together until blended, set aside. Mix lemon juice and zest with mayo, toss with cabbage until evenly covered, set aside. Stir batter ingredients together until smooth. Add fish pieces to beer batter and coat thoroughly. Heat canola oil in a tall pot over medium-high heat. Slowly add battered fish to oil and fry 3-6 minutes total. Remove from oil and drain on a paper towel. Sprinkle with sea salt. Assemble tacos fish first, followed by slaw and finally the fruit salsa.
This recipe can go several ways, which is what makes it so exciting. My top three choices include pilsner (a classic pairing for tacos), Belgian wit and American IPA.
Fruity, refreshing and slightly zesty, the Belgian wit is a good match for the sweet pineapple salsa and lemony flavors in the slaw.
American hops also love citrus flavors, spicy foods and anything fried—making the American IPA a solid choice. Any way you go, you can’t go wrong.
Recommended Craft Beers
- The Crisp (pilsener) | Sixpoint Brewery | Brooklyn, NY
- Pivo Hoppy Pils | Firestone Walker Brewing Co. | Paso Robles, CA
- Allagash White | Allagash Brewing Co. | Portland, ME
- Alaskan White | Alaskan Brewing Co. | Juneau, AK
- Sculpin IPA | Ballast Point Brewing Co. | San Diego, CA
- Head Hunter IPA | Fat Head’s Brewery & Saloon | North Olmsted, OH
What is your favorite beer and taco pairing? Share your favorites in the comment section below!