Hear that? That’s the sound of your taste buds hollering for the heavenly pairing of pizza and beer.
The cheesy, gooey, savory deliciousness that is a slice of pizza finds a great partner in malty, hoppy beer. With so many flavors and types for each though, you might find yourself facing choice paralysis. What type of beer goes best with which pizza style and toppings?
Take those taste buds to nirvana with this definitive guide to pizza and beer pairings so you keep your stomach and your mind satisfied.
Styles of Pizza
Pizza is one of those foods so iconic, it’s transcended into dozens of styles based on texture, taste, shape and ingredients. Plus, each style of pizza comes with its own cult following, as seen in today’s five most popular pizza varieties.
1. Neopolitan Pizza
Considered the OG of pizza, Neopolitan style hails from Naples, Italy, and its surrounding region. It was the first style of pizza introduced to America, launching the country into its pizza fanaticism and paving the way for the now $46 billion industry — and growing.
Neopolitan pizzas are characterized by their crisp, wheat flour crust charred in wood-fire ovens. This style of pizza keeps things simple in the topping department, with light red sauce and splotches of buffalo mozzarella strategically spaced to prevent over-saturating its cracker-like crust.
2. New York Style Pizza
New York Style pizza — like many things about New York City — is big, frank and irreverent yet seeped in cultural roots. These oversized slices share the most traits with their parent style, the Neopolitan pizza, including a notably thin crust and a light layer of tomato sauce beneath grated mozzarella and classic cured meats. However, New York Style slices differ in their size. Diners typically fold these huge triangular pieces in half before eating. Pass the napkins, please.
3. Chicago Deep Dish
Chicago deep-dish pizza puts a hearty Midwestern stamp on the beloved dish. Characterized by its thick layer of dough holding a generous amount of toppings, this type of pizza requires all ingredients to be layered within a deep metal pan then baked in the oven, not unlike a casserole.
Due to its ingredient density and long cooking time, deep-dish pizzas invert traditional pizza layers. Chunky tomato sauce actually sits atop a beautifully cooked Chicago deep-dish pizza, with meat, veggies and mozzarella tucked beneath. Some eateries — like our own — go the extra mile with stuffed Chicago deep-dish pizza, adding a second layer of crust over toppings before the finishing tomato sauce touch. Keeping toppings inside helps prevent all ingredients from burning, especially that delicate, oozing mozzarella cheese.
4. Chicago Thin Crust Pizza
The yin to deep dish’s yang, Chicago thin-crust pizza is thinner and crunchier than New York Style pizza but not quite as crisp as Neopolitan. This style’s defining characteristic is its shape. Chicago thin-crust pizzas are typically sliced into squares, if not rectangular strips, then topped with a spicier tomato sauce and generous amounts of meat toppings.
5. Detroit Style Pizza
Motor City couldn’t let the Windy City have all the pizza fun. Their take on pizza comes shaped as a square and is baked until the crust develops a texture and depth similar to deep dish, but with a crispy, caramelized rim. Detroit style pizza is also infamous for swapping traditional tomato sauce for the more done-up marinara, often spooned over the entire pizza.
Types of Beer
Like pizza, there is a core set of parent beer types that have, over time, spawned dozens upon dozens of beer varieties.
While beer snobs will ramble on about classifying beer according to its yeast type and fermentation process, we’re keeping things simple with the most widespread and recognizable beer types on tap today.
Lager is one of the most popular types of beer in the world. Traditionally, lagers are classified into three groups:
- Pale lager: Pale lagers are typically served cold, are highly carbonated and come with a light, refreshing and clear body. Flavor profiles veer clean, not hoppy, with notes of corn, grain and straw. These compositions make them appealing for the masses and a great pairing with a wide variety of foods, including pizza. Pale lagers are commonly marked as Pilsners or simply Pils.
- Amber lager: Amber lagers maintain the same low hoppiness of their pale lager cousins, yet take on a deeper and maltier taste. They mirror their German and Viennese roots and are often labeled as Märzen or Oktoberfest beers.
- Dark lager: True to their name, dark lagers are brown, sweet and malt-forward beers with a fair amount of carbonation. While they look like other dark, heavy beer types such as porters and stouts, they carry lower ABV and are fundamentally light to medium-bodied.
Ales are the second most common beer type in the world, and also one of its most diverse. They, too, come in three overall categories:
- Pale ale: Pale ales are medium-bodied, flavorful beers that perfectly straddle hop, malt and pine flavors. Their Goldilocks composition means they stand up to light and hearty pizza types alike, from veggie-loaded thin crust to a meat lover’s pie.
- Brown ale: Brown ale dials up the notch on roasted malt flavors but still has that balanced medium body and hoppy finish. You’ll find brown ales available in American styles as well as a lighter, less bitter English form.
- Belgian-style: Belgium is considered the mecca for ales, with a deep history of brewing and branding this unique beer type. While you’ll find numerous subcategories of Belgian-style ales, in general, Belgian ale is famous for its notably spicy-sweet upticks and higher ABV.
3. Indian Pale Ale (IPA)
Sure, IPAs are technically pale ales. Yet their unique flavor profile, range of IPA brands and immense popularity lands IPAs their own place on this foodie list.
IPAs are famous for their hop-forward, bitter palate. Bold flavors of pine, herbs and fruit dominate this beer type, which pairs exceptionally well with citrus. In fact, many commercial and craft beer producers carry lines of citrus-infused IPAs because these flavors marry so well.
Witbiers are a type of Belgian beer that, like IPAs, have resurged commercially and are more than deserving of a shout-out on our beer breakdown. This type of beer is brewed slightly differently than many other styles, using unmalted wheat and oats as the primary ingredients and resulting in a hazy pale gold brew. This base is then amplified with orange peels and coriander, giving Witbier a discernably bright, off-dry taste.
5. Wheat Beer
Light, bready and bubbly, wheat beers are approachable and versatile. Their grain-forward flavors help tame those bitter hops, yet will still maintain underlying notes and finishes that are sharp and crisp.
Wheat beers are particularly great for warm summer days. Many enjoy this type of beer solo as well as paired with their meal since its medium-to-high carbonation and fragrant herbal body lightens dishes without overpowering the food itself.
Dark brown and velvety, porters are decadent and hold up well on their own while also providing a good grounding for many dishes. This beer type is particularly revered for its chocolaty and toffee flavors, which producers coax depending on their brewing combination of roasted barley, malt and hops.
Stouts are often credited as the younger sibling of porters — but the bigger, bolder sibling. With thick, foaming heads and near-opaque body, stouts are a smooth, rich and tinged with coffee, caramel and even slightly smoky profiles. Stouts are best when paired with heavy, homey foods or enjoyed in cooler weather when many breweries release their seasonal stouts.
The Best Beer With Pizza Pairings
Tastebuds, rejoice! These pizza and beer pairings are a sure bet when craving a cold one to join that hot slice, with flavors and textures that complement the other. Enjoy any of the following best beer and pizza pairings.
1. Parmesan Pan Crusted Pizza and Pale Lager
Pizza is delicious in any form. Pizza infused with salty, savory Parmesan cheese right into its pan-style crust, then sprinkled with even more Parmesan on top? Well, now we’re in paradise.
Pale lager offers a refreshing pairing for this decadent, cheese-centric dish. Its light, biscuity flavor complements both the thicker, buttery pan-style crust as well Parmesan’s signature salty brine. It will also play nicely with whatever additional toppings you throw onto this specialty pan feast. At select Giordano’s locations, you can pick Parmesan pan-crusted pizzas with everything from spicy pepperoni to garlicky alfredo sauce — or build your own!
2. Chicago Classic Deep Dish and IPA
Classic Chicago deep-dish pizza is uncompromising — in flavor and in fun. Layers of pepperoni, mushroom, green pepper and white onion sit hot and ready inside a thick coating of tart tomato sauce. This hearty take on pizza demands an equally lively, flavorful beer. Luckily, that’s where IPA comes in.
IPA’s hop-forward bite pairs perfectly with the tang of acid in the tomato sauce. For bonus points, opt for a citrus-infused IPA. The added acidity will lift up all other ingredients in this stuffed deep-dish delight without muddling or overpowering.
3. Thin-Crust Margherita and Pilsner
When people say less is more, they may as well be heralding thin-crust Margherita pizza. This pizza style reminds us that simple is sometimes best, especially when simple is made from premium ingredients and washed down with the cold, refreshing pale lager style of Pilsner.
Pilsner’s bready, earthy palate complements the slight char so prized on a good thin-crusted Margherita pizza. The same flavors also allow Margherita’s fresh basil to pop yet is strong enough to cut through the creaminess of fresh mozzarella, giving your tastebuds a break before the next bite.
4. Cheese Deep Dish With Witbier
Sumptuous strings of rich, creamy melted Wisconsin mozzarella in our cheese stuffed deep-dish pizza are a heavenly match for the bright and lively Belgian Witbier. Infused with orange peels and coriander, Witbier’s natural spice cuts through all those layers of cheese, plus adds a delightful uptick to keep bite after bite from falling flat.
5. Meat Lover’s Deep Dish and Pale Ale
Pepperoni, salami, sausage, bacon — oh my! Why pick one smoky, savory meat topping for your stuffed deep dish pizza when you can have them all?
We suggest the bright, bitter but smooth beer pairing of an American pale ale to go with your meat lover’s selection. A pale ale will cool the spices from the sausage, pepperoni and salami while also letting bacon’s natural smoky flavors sing.
6. Thin or Deep-Dish Mushroom Spinach Pizza With Stout
Mushroom and spinach pizza is a warming, umami-filled force that won’t leave you missing meat. This pizza type needs an equally warming and flavorful beer, with stouts stepping up to the plate.
European-style stouts, in particular, make a great choice to add a heartier finish to this vegetarian dish. Think English, oatmeal and Irish-dry style stouts, whose roasted barley, coffee and chocolate tones are more pronounced than hoppy ones. Bonus points if you get a stout from a nitro-tap or nitro-beer can, lending the pour even more creamy body.
7. BBQ Chicken and Amber Lager
Sweet and savory BBQ chicken pizza finds its perfect pairing with a cool, malty amber lager. Choose an American amber for the ultimate symphony of flavors, with the sweet tang of barbecue sauce enhanced by the soft, toasted caramel notes of this beer. Round out your pizza toppings with balsamic onions and smoky bacon bits and a group of hungry friends. Or keep it all to yourself — we don’t judge.
8. Pesto Chicken and Brown Ale
A pint of brown ale and a few slices of chicken pesto pizza? Count us in!
Brown ale’s beautiful, deep copper pour, medium hops and medium malt balance the herbs and garlic so pronounced in pesto. The beer remains versatile and mellow where other pours would innately clash with the earthy pops of ingredients like basil and pine nuts. We recommend opting for a traditionally thin, crispy pizza crust with pesto chicken for this combination. Chef’s orders.
Ordering Beer With Your Pizza? Check out the Mouth-Watering Options
Is there anything more delicious than pizza? And is there anything more American than a cold, frosty beer? At Giordano’s Pizza, we believe they’re a match made in heaven.
Want to know what combos will most titillate your taste buds? Start with our delicious pizza pie or your favorite combos — or your favorite Giordano’s appetizer or entrée — then ask your server about beer selections. May we suggest…
1. Bruschetta With Samuel Adams Summer Ale
Nothing says summer like sweet tomatoes in this quintessential Italian appetizer — and nothing lets you celebrate summer quite like Samuel Adams Summer Ale. Summer Ale is a wheat ale with citrus and spicy pepper notes that play beautifully off the astringency and sweetness of ripe tomatoes in Giordano’s famous bruschetta.
2. Chicago Deep Dish Pizza and Samuel Adams Rebel Grapefruit IPA
Giordano’s deep dish stuffed pizza is not for the faint of heart. This is a serious pizza, filled with the rich cheese, meat and vegetables you love. Choose
from our huge selection of ingredients to build a pizza you’ll love. Not any beer can stand up to the rich tomato sauce, cheese and sheer taste explosion of our deep dish stuffed pizza. Only a rebel can stand up to the job — Samuel Adams Rebel Grapefruit IPA. Made with rich hops that won’t compete with the pizza flavor and real grapefruit for an upper cut of citrus that plays off the tomato sauce of our pizza, this is one intense burst of flavor.
3. Chocolate Cake and Samuel Adams Hard Root Beer
Beer with dessert? We think it’s a sweet match. Samuel Adams Coney Island’s hard root beer is the perfect match. With no hops and brewed with Madagascar vanilla, sarsaparilla, spearmint, honey and natural cane sugar, it perfectly mixes with the darkness of the chocolate in the cake.
Interested in another dish? Check out our handy infographic or ask your server at your Giordano’s Pizza location about beer availability. Not all our locations serve beer, but those that do change up our offerings, meaning you can always mix and match the perfect taste for your night out.
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NoDerivs 3.0 United States License.
Visit Giordano’s for a Delicious Deep Dish Pizza and Samuel Adams Beer
Ask your server at your local Giordano’s Pizza location about its beer selections. Not all our locations serve beer, but those that do change up their offerings, meaning you can always mix and match the perfect taste for your night out. Cheers!