Pairing: Making a Better Social Life with Party Appetizers and Beer (Part 1)

Hello and welcome back for more food pairings to help you throw that primo dinner party!

What’s this you say?  Your last attempt with our guide flopped because that one person said, “I’m lactose intolerant.”  Don’t sweat it!  We have a few additional options to be your saving grace.  Although 2 of our 6 appetizers in part 1 still have lactose, part 2 will be more appetizing.

As the title indicated, we will be introducing party samplers and the range is endless, depending on your budget and where you are in Japan.  Shall we get cracking?


Edamame Avocado Dip

  • 170g (6 ounces) shelled edamame
  • 1/2 onion, chopped
  • 30g (1/2 cup) cilantro
  • 30mL (2 tablespoons) olive oil
  • 1 large avocado, peeled, pitted and cubed
  • 1 lemon, juiced
  • 15mL (1 tablespoon) chili-garlic sauce

The great thing is that edamame is plentiful, and avocado is becoming more available in the Tokyo area.  This dip has two advantages to it; it’s heavy in salt and fatty.  The best beer to be paired with this is an American IPA.  An IPA is great to cut through the fat of the avocado while the hops in an IPA tend to have more citrus notes, which balances the salt.  Look for IPA’s with these types of hops: Cascade, Amarillo, Columbus and Citra


Cream Cheese Fruit Dip with Tochigi Strawberries

  • 1 (227g/ 8 ounces) package cream cheese, softened
  • 200g (1 cup) brown sugar
  • 15mL (1 tablespoon) vanilla extract

Tochigi is famous for their strawberries, but like all fruit in Japan, it can be costly.  Look for ones with a deep red color.  The redder it is, the sweeter it is.  A sweet strawberry will go beautifully with a light Blonde Ale owing to its low hop/bitter characteristics and light body.  This dip will compliment the ale by enhancing its crisp taste.  If you can find a Strawberry Blonde Ale, it will enhance the strawberry profile even greater.


Tofu Banana Dip with Banana Chips (now this is just crazy talk)

  • 30g (1 ounce) tofu (any kind; note – this is 1/2 a container)
  • 1 medium banana
  • 66g (1/2 cup) chopped walnut
  • 8g (1 tablespoon) cinnamon
  • 1mL (1/4 teaspoon) vanilla extract
  • 60mL (1/4 cup) maple syrup
  • walnut pieces & cinnamon for garnish

Is this just crazy talk?  You wouldn’t think that tofu and banana will pair well, but hand in hand they’ll show you otherwise.  There are limitations however.  Avoid using tofu made from edamame or miso.  Plain old, unsexy tofu is best.  Also, when choosing your beer, steer clear of beers that have coriander seeds.  Coriander seed has a lemon-like citrus note that will overpower the tofu and banana.  We recommend an American Wheat Ale, or even a Hefe.  Another fun feature of this crazy dip will be buying wheats with honey; this will add some dimension to the overall taste.  Eating the dip with low salt banana chips will fit nicely.Cyonmage Wheat



Caprese Salad Skewers dipped in Balsamic

  • 25-30 (1 pint) cherry tomatoes
  • 227g (8 ounces) mini mozzarella balls
  • 1 small bunch of basil

Caprese salad is simply a combination of tomato, fresh basil leaves, and mozzarella cheese.  Putting this on a skewer of course means switching to a cherry tomato.  Every Japanese person has a different opinion of which prefecture produces the best tomatoes; Kochi, Nagano, and Fukoka are a few famous places.  However, the type of beer will dictate the right cherry tomato for a perfect pairing of flavors.

You can’t go wrong serving standard red cherry tomatoes with an herby British Pale Ale.

Black cherry tomatoes tend to have a smokier flavor that is best complimented with a porter.

The fruity taste of yellow tomatoes (Sun Gold) begs to be served with a light Golden Ale, or an American Wheat (go light on the balsamic).

Brimmer Brewing Golden AleRECOMMENDED BEERS

Pineapple Grill Chicken Skewers

  • boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cut into 2.5cm (1 inch) cubes
  • 100g (1/2 cup) brown sugar
  • 120mL (1/2 cup) soy sauce
  • 60mL (1/4 cup) pineapple juice
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 5g (1/4 teaspoon) pepper
  • 1g (1/2 teaspoon) salt
  • 9g (1 tablespoon) cornstarch
  • 15mL (1 tablespoon) water
  • 1 red bell pepper, cut into 2.5cm (1 inch) cubes
  • 1 yellow red bell pepper, cut into 2.5cm (1 inch) cubes
  • 1 green bell pepper, cut into 2.5cm (1 inch) cubes
  • 1 red onion, cut into 2.5cm (1 inch) cubes
  • 450g (2 cups) fresh pineapple cut into 2.5cm (1 inch) cubes
  • green onions, for garnish

Fresh pineapple will be hard to find off season, but adding this for a BBQ event is well worth the effort.  For a little Japanese twist, marinate the chicken in teriyaki sauce and add green peppers with red onion.  The sweet spiciness combined in these skewers will have your guests asking for seconds.  It only gets better when served with a hoppy American IPA of high citrus notes.


White Asparagus Pork Skewers

  • 680g (3 pounds) fatty pork shoulder
  • 236mL (1 cup ) extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 cloves garlic crushed
  • 3g (1 tablespoon) chopped fresh oregano
  • 7g (1 tablespoon) – approximately 3 sprigs chopped fresh rosemary
  • 30mL (2 tablespoon) lemon juice
  • 1g (1/2 tablespoon ) salt
  • 1 pinch cayenne pepper
  • 1/2 medium Spanish chorizo or salami
  • 4 large asparagus bunches

Never had fresh white asparagus before?  The difference between green and white asparagus is how it is grown.  White asparagus is covered in the soil so light will not directly hit it, causing the asparagus not to activate its chlorophyll.  The lack of chlorophyll imparts the asparagus with a sweeter taste with hints of bitterness.  White asparagus goes well with a Belgian Tripel, but if you use green asparagus then go with an herby Pale Ale.Iwate Kura Sansho Herb Ale


  • Iwate Kura – Sansho Ale
  • Zigzag Brewery – Tamba-Sasayama Zigzag Belgian Tripel
  • Aoi Brewing – Zen Infused Ocha Ale

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *