The Christmas decorations are starting to wilt, the turkey carcass is finally in the bin, and you’re ready for one last hurrah before returning to normality: it’s New Year’s Eve.
Even if you’ve sworn you can’t eat any more festive food, there’s always room for New Year’s Eve nibbles. I love canapes with a passion, these miniature, condensed versions of my favourite foods. I am the vol-au-vent queen and I would have a plateful of them for my last meal on earth.
So this is our guide to which beers to drink with the most popular end-of-the-year party food.
Pork canapes, such as Scotch eggs, pigs in blankets, pork pies and pork belly bites are fantastic with traditional pale and blonde ales. The malty sweetness of these beers balanced with assertively dry hops quench the saltiness of the meat. My top recommendations are the ubiquitous Timothy Taylor’s Landlord (I truly believe this beer was invented to go with pork pie), Butcombe Gold Bitter and Castle Rock Harvest Pale.
Oily fish canapes, liked smoked salmon blinis and sushi, love a delicately flavoured, effervescent beer with citrus notes to cut through the fat. Try these with a Belgian Wit Bier such as Vedett Extra White, or a sharp, crisp lager: Asahi Super Dry is perfect. The zestiness of Thwaite’s Wainwright pairs perfectly with mini cod goujons. Try Magic Rock Salty Kiss with scallops, the beer really brings out the brininess of fish.
Oriental inspired appetizers – spring rolls, chicken satay, wontons and coriander prawns – will find no better match than Oakham Citra with its pungent grapefruit, lychee and gooseberry flavours or Adnam’s Ghost Ship which has stunning lemon and lime aromas.
Indian influenced spicy bites – think onion bhajis, samosas, pakora and tandoori chicken – work surprisingly well with dark, roasty beers like stouts and milds. The chocolatey sweetness of the beer acts as a foil to the intense heat of the spice and top of the leader board for me is Hook Norton Double Stout, closely followed by Moorhouse’s Black Cat Mild. (These beers also work well with mini Yorkshire Puddings filled with rare roast beef and a dash of horseradish).
Cheesy morsels lend themselves to most beers and you can’t go far wrong with any ale imbibed with mini mac’n’cheese, mozzarella bites and mature cheddar tartlets. My favourite style though is a big hefty Belgian dark ale, such as Chimay Blue or Kasteel Donker (which weighs in at a hefty 11% ABV). If you’re after a British beer, try and get your hands on JW Lees Harvest Ale, a very special barley wine style ale.
Finally, if you just want an amazing beer to toast the chimes in at midnight, pour yourself a glass of Worthington White Shield. This India Pale Ale has won the CAMRA Champion Bottled Beer of Britain contest more times than any other beer and deserves to be drunk on special occasions.