Craft Beer/Chinese Food Pairing Ideas

An ice-cold beer can balance the zing from Asian spices that comprise the bold flavors of classic Chinese dishes. But as a more breweries continue to pop up and the range of beer types expands, there’s more complexity in flavor than ever before—just as with wine. How to approach pairing craft brews with Chinese cuisine?

Travis Sparks, chef at contemporary Chinese restaurant Tánsuŏ in Nashville, has a few suggestions. Sparks explores traditional cuisine, using humble ingredients in extraordinary ways in dishes reminiscent of China’s night markets and street fare. 

Here are some of his insights on how to match the flavors of classic Chinese dishes to a range of craft beers, and why they work so well together.

IPA with Cumin Beef. The spice undertones complement the flavor profile of the savory beef dish. Suggested brew: Saffron IPA.

Kimchi Fried Rice

Saison with Ginger Chicken. The floral notes of the tart saison pair well with ginger. Suggested brew: Blackberry Farm Tennessee Saison.

White Ale with Kimchi Fried Rice. Subtle and light citrus tones in the ale balance the bold kimchi. Suggested brew: Hitachino White Ale.

Red Ale with Hong Kong Style Cumin Short Rib. Although a large contrast in flavor, they complement one another really well. Suggested brew: Johnny Red from Steel Barrel Brewing Co. in Murfreesboro, TN.

Melissa Dowling is editor of our on-premise sister publication, Cheers magazine. Reach her at Read her recent piece A Taste of The Glenlivet’s Winchester Collection Vintage 1967.



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