Mmmmmmm.... beeeer...
September 2, 2010 9:10 AM   Subscribe

What would be a good, moderately-priced beer to serve with buffalo wings?

In my quest to save money by not spending $80 a week eating out, I'm planning a nice casual dinner at home consisting of wings (deep-fried and served with the classic hot sauce & butter topping), celery with ranch dressing, and some kind of home-baked bread. I'd like to serve a nice beer along with it, but I'm not sure what would taste best. Can you recommend something not too expensive & easy to find? I have access to a Whole Foods Market, a Trader Joe's, a decently-stocked liquor store and of course the supermarket. Brand name suggestions would be appreciated, as I get overwhelmed at having to look at dozens of labels to determine what is what.

Bonus question: what are some of your other favorite food/beer pairings (as this cooking thing may become a weekly event?) I'm thinking things like steak, gourmet burgers, fish tacos, etc.

Thanks much!
posted by Serene Empress Dork to Food & Drink (36 answers total) 7 users marked this as a favorite
Blue Moon!
posted by two lights above the sea at 9:11 AM on September 2, 2010 [2 favorites]

Cheap lager goes with wings. Grain belt, PBR, etc.
posted by cosmicbandito at 9:14 AM on September 2, 2010 [2 favorites]

Yuengling. My vote for most taste combined with lowest cost, and goes great with wings.
posted by 3FLryan at 9:18 AM on September 2, 2010 [7 favorites]


If you want something more upscale, I'd go for Sierra Nevada pale ale, or their torpedo ipa.

Fish tacos are fantastic, as long as the fish isn't fried (I'm not a huge fan of fried fish tacos). I'd go with a mexican beer there- coronal or negro modelo.

Once things start to cool down for you, there's always chili with a darker beer- an amber or porter.
posted by TheBones at 9:18 AM on September 2, 2010 [1 favorite]

Belgian beers go nicely with either gourmet burgers or moules et frites. Really, the frites are the main thing :)
posted by Madamina at 9:20 AM on September 2, 2010

Thirding PBR. Fat Tire would be pretty good with some wings, too. Man, it's lunch time.
posted by littlerobothead at 9:20 AM on September 2, 2010 [1 favorite]

Blue Moon's great but the flavor is too strong to pair here. I think you'd be best going with a basic American light beer. Yuengling, Rollling Rock or Sam Adams would be my pick.
posted by 2bucksplus at 9:21 AM on September 2, 2010 [1 favorite]

Yuengling Lager is good for cheaper.

Sam Adams Cherry Wheat (or any of their seasonals I suppose) is good for a bit more money.
posted by volatilebit at 9:21 AM on September 2, 2010 [1 favorite]

What's available really depends on where you are, and thus what's distributed in your area. A Pale Ale from your local brewpub is almost always a good choice. If you like bitter, get an IPA.
posted by notsnot at 9:22 AM on September 2, 2010 [2 favorites]

Came in to say Yuengling, too--PBR is too weak to stand up to wings. As an alternative, though, you can make PBR shandies. Half a can of PBR in a pint glass, with the rest of the glass filled with OJ (I love using the peach mango OJ from Whole Foods). It's really crisp and refreshing.

Yuengling is a really good lager, and it is quite economical (at least on the East Coast).
posted by Admiral Haddock at 9:22 AM on September 2, 2010 [1 favorite]

I would put a classic American lager with wings, just like everyone else.

Lately I've been liking hard cider paired with smoky flavors, like barbecue sauce or chipotle, so you might consider that for future reference.
posted by padraigin at 9:24 AM on September 2, 2010

You know what, Trader Joe's Mission St. Pale Ale would do well against some buffalo wings. Really, any American Pale Ale would be nice: Sierra Nevada is most available. I like hoppier beers with spicy food--okay, I like hoppier beers with everything, really--the bitter hops and the heat build on one another. You might even try (your local) Goose Island IPA; it's a pretty decent IPA, and not hyper-aggressive like some.

(And Yuengling isn't a bad amber lager, but I don't think you can get it in Chicago... can you?)
posted by uncleozzy at 9:25 AM on September 2, 2010

I came in here to say Yuengling, too. "You may find a better beer, you may find a cheaper beer, but you'll never find a better, cheaper beer."
posted by Faint of Butt at 9:27 AM on September 2, 2010 [2 favorites]

Mexican lagers and pilsners -- Corona, Pacifico, Dos Equis (green bottle), Tecate, Sol, Bohemia.

Goddamn, I love spicy food with Mexican beer...
posted by Cool Papa Bell at 9:36 AM on September 2, 2010

$10 12-pack of anything not-too-tasty.

Admiral Haddock: "PBR shandies. Half a can of PBR in a pint glass, with the rest of the glass filled with OJ"

OJ in a shandy? Yer killing me!
posted by rhizome at 9:42 AM on September 2, 2010 [1 favorite]

since you're in Chicago, Leinenkugel's won't be too hard to find. their 'Original' is pretty good, and not to strong-flavored.
posted by ArgentCorvid at 9:48 AM on September 2, 2010

rhizome: OJ in a shandy? Yer killing me!

I am killing you... with delight! Seriously, that peach mango whatever stuff from Whole Foods + PBR = crazy delicious.
posted by Admiral Haddock at 9:53 AM on September 2, 2010 [1 favorite]

It depends all on the sauce. If this is a Buffalo sauce that is just mildly hot most ales would work. Pick an amber ale, American pale ale, or cream ale if it's more on the mild buffalo side. IPA's, stouts and porters go great with a hotter or more intense sauce.

In a lot of cases, the more intense the food taste is the more intense you want the beer.

I think something like Blue Moon (hefeweizen) go better with desserts or anything that you'd put a lot of citrus flavor on. Maybe some light lemon\lime fish?

Here is a list of the top (IMO) beers in the categories I mentioned above which are widely available.
Amer Ale - Fat Tire, New Belgium Brewing Co. (Colorado)
American Pale Ale - Sierra Nevada Pale Ale - Sierra Nevada Brewing Co. (California)
Cream Ale - Not sure of a widely available one...
IPA - Sierra Nevada IPA for a more traditional, Stone IPA (California) or Dogfish Head 60 minute IPA (Delaware) for a more flavorful.
Stouts - Rouge Chocolate Stout (Oregon), Sierra Nevada Stout, Old Dominion Oak Barrel Stout (Not sure if you'll be able to find, based out of Delaware and easy to get around me in MD)
Porters - Old Engine Oil, Stone Smoked Porter, Sierra Nevada Porter, Anchor Porter (California)

I'm not a big fan of most of the big brewed lagers with food since it's not a real pairing. They have almost no taste. It's a nice cool drink to have on occasion but PBR, Bud, Natty, Landshark, Red Stripe and High Life just don't have the flavor to support a sauce.
The American Amber Lagers like your Yuenglings and Killians have a bit more complexity and maltiness but I still think any wings really over power them. So, is it a nice drink? Yes. Does it really offer anything to the palate? Not to many.

If you can try every single brew by Flying Dog, Rouge, and New Belgium Brewing DO IT. They are great American breweries that span just about every style. I'm a huge fan of the Belgium Tripel style (think Chimay Tripel) and they both do a great American take on that.

I've gone to 4 hour long beer and wing pairing sessions at breweries trying all different beers with all different sauces and it was a huge eye opener as far as pairings go.
posted by zephyr_words at 9:54 AM on September 2, 2010 [2 favorites]

Mentally scanning the selections at my local Trader Joe's & Whole Foods, I'll agree with Sierra Nevada Pale Ale.

You want a beer that is fairly robust & tasty, but will clear the greasy palate when necessary. Conversely, you do not want a beer that leaves too much of an aftertaste, so stay away from IPAs. I think the general wheaty-sweetness (not actually sweet, but beer-sweet) of Sierra Nevada will perfectly complement home-made buffalo wings.

If you want to venture to a slightly more expensive beer, try a pack of Stone Pale Ale (not the IPA). It is a slightly more robust beer, but not necessarily for the dollar (or two, actually) spent.
posted by jabberjaw at 10:02 AM on September 2, 2010

If Yuengling isn't available in your area I would go with a nice German lager over cheapo American adjunct lagers like PBR. Warsteiner is my current favorite.
posted by furiousxgeorge at 10:05 AM on September 2, 2010

Beer and mussels! Steam the mussels in beer, with some onion and herbs. Serve with crusty bread and/or fries. They really aren't that expensive, just be sure to look up how to clean them.
posted by teragram at 10:08 AM on September 2, 2010

Response by poster: So many great answers! I marked Greg Nog as "best answer" as I think that is the one I am going to try. I remember liking wheatbeer the last time I tried it and I'm pretty sure my husband likes it as well.

All the answers have been much appreciated and very informative. You've given me a lot of new ideas for beers to try. But by all means, keep the answers coming! I love food & drink threads.
posted by Serene Empress Dork at 10:25 AM on September 2, 2010

I get the impression that after 3 beers, it no longer matters what you then drink.
posted by Postroad at 10:26 AM on September 2, 2010

Mmm. Sierra Nevada Kellerweiss. They may not have the Sierra Nevada Kellerweiss, but if you want to stick with a wheat beer or other hefeweizen, keep in mind that they are not all made equal. I'm not a fan of Pyramid, for instance (I don't think the texture goes well with the flavor), and I might go with Anchor Steam's hefeweizen, if they have it, or Trader Joe's hefeweizen.

Or, be adventurous and try a local wheat beer that you've never heard of, and let us know how it turned out.
posted by jabberjaw at 10:39 AM on September 2, 2010

Blue Moon
posted by WizKid at 11:15 AM on September 2, 2010

The Kellerweiss is a good choice.
posted by furiousxgeorge at 11:31 AM on September 2, 2010

We actually just tasted a bunch of Summer beers a few weeks ago, and threw the Kellerweis in there for the heck of it. Totally bad-ass beer, head-and-shoulders above any other American hefe I've had.

Also, Blue Moon makes me sad.
posted by uncleozzy at 11:36 AM on September 2, 2010

Mothership Wit from New Belgium - both whole foods and TJ carry their beers. IIRC Whole Foods has a special on cases of Fat Tire in cans right now, which would go well too. As jbabberjaw says there are lots of variables with wheat beers so it will be an adventure if you go that route.
posted by cftarnas at 11:36 AM on September 2, 2010

Seems like most answers tend towards what folks like to drink instead of what would go with the wings. And if you're doing this to save money . . .

The beer selection at Trader Joe's is quite good and usually economical. Their Mission brand is a good middle-of-the-road beer that will fit the bill quite nicely. Next step is what kind of beer you like and what flavor you like. The pale ale, as others suggested, would probably do best for you.

I'd go with a good IPA. My wife would drink heffeweizen (and yes, I have Sierra Nevada's in the fridge now - both IPAs and heffe). That's because that's what we drink and what we like with our spicy food. My night to cook so . . . no wings but still something spicy.

Oh, and I'd only use PBR to wash dishes (or my dog's ears).
posted by Man with Lantern at 12:15 PM on September 2, 2010

What had you been drinking when you used to go out for buffalo wings? Drink that at home.
posted by CathyG at 12:18 PM on September 2, 2010 [1 favorite]

If you're going to get PBR, and you're drinking it as a beer and not as some sort of fashion statement, try to get it in bottles. For some reason it seems to pick up a metallic / aluminum flavor very easily. Or maybe it is allowed to sit around in the cans too long, or something. I'm not really sure, only that it tastes *far* better out of a bottle than out of a can. Night and day, really, and I think a lot of people who used to write off PBR as a "shitty" beer only ever had it out of cans.

(I think this is true of a lot of other unpretentious 'cheap beers' as well; some of them are quite decent on draft or out of a bottle, but as they're typically consumed out of cans pick up a reputation for being rotgut.)
posted by Kadin2048 at 12:57 PM on September 2, 2010

Nthing PBR. So much flavor for so little money! And it's a classic simple beer to go with classic simple food. I refuse to even compare it to Bud, Miller, Busch, etc because they're not even in the same class. Though I'm going to respectfully disagree with Kadin2048 - for some reason I prefer PBR in cans or a keg instead of bottles. That's probably not a compliment to the beer, but hey - De gustibus non something something.

Otherwise, I agree with picking any reasonably priced Pale Ale (or IPA if you really love hops), especially from a local brewer. It would be a great pairing with wings.
posted by Tehhund at 1:13 PM on September 2, 2010

(For what it's worth, we did a double-blind shitty beer tasting a few weeks ago, and everybody was surprised at PBR's poor finish. The winner by a country mile? Schaefer. It's the one beer to have if you're having more than one.)
posted by uncleozzy at 1:21 PM on September 2, 2010

You Yuengling people! Out here in MN, we can't get it :( Relish what you have!
posted by gregglind at 1:45 PM on September 2, 2010

In Buffalo, where they invented the damn things, the default beer with wings is probably Labatt Blue.

I'd rather have Yuengling myself.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 6:33 PM on September 2, 2010

I'm from Buffalo originally. Genny Cream Ale would be your drink. Preferably on tap, in a frosted glass mug. Or Rolling Rock.

But really, something like Yuengling would be fine.

In Toronto, where I live now, I'd more easily pick up a pilsner like Steam Whistle or a lager like Stella Artois or something like that (or if I was feeling spendy, Mill St. Organic).
posted by peagood at 8:20 PM on September 2, 2010

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