A beer sommelier’s recommendations for the best beers to drink with Christmas dinner

Fancy trying a little something different this Christmas? We’ve teamed up Cicerone and Carlsberg beer sommelier Adrian Rigby to bring you his top Carlsberg Marston's Brewing Company beer and food pairings for Christmas. Here’s what he says.

It’s funny when you think about it really. Britain is known for its beer. Yet, when it comes to our preferred drink to accompany our Christmas feats, we Brits seem to opt for that red and white stuff made from grapes. But with hundreds of unique beer styles, beer actually has as much or even more versatility on the table as wine. So, without further ado, here’re my top recommendations for pairing the fantastic beers in Carlsberg Marston’s Brewing Company’s portfolio with Christmas food.

Christmas starters

Smoked salmon seems to be a popular choice for kicking off a Christmas day feast. A crisp, refreshing lager such as Carlsberg Export, Estrella Damm or Birrificio Angelo Poretti 4 are perfect complements with sea-scented dishes, as they won’t overpower the fish.

If lagers aren’t really your thing, the radiant yellow ERDINGER Weissbier with its gorgeous creamy head is the answer. The beer’s fruity notes and unmistakably fresh flavour makes it an absolute classic with seafood. It’s worthwhile pouring properly as the sediment at the bottom of the bottle, composed of brewer’s yeast and barley protein, is a major flavour component and so you want to make sure it reaches your glass. This means you pour the first three-quarters of the beer like you would any other. Then (and this is the important bit), swirl the remaining contents to pick up the sediment. Now pour the rest.

If you’re looking for an alcohol-free option, I would suggest you go for ERDINGER Alkoholfrei.

Photo by Karolina Grabowska from Pexels

The main event

Let’s talk turkey. For the traditional turkey main course, we need to be thinking about the whole plate. Normally, for white meat we’d be looking at lighter beers. However, I reckon you’ll have a plateful of vegetables, potatoes, pigs in blankets and more all topped off with rich gravy. This means finding the perfect beer to pair with dinner can be a little tricky. Hey, you can even say that the rulebook goes out the window! Nevertheless, I’m going to give it a go and line up a few options that will adequately replace that glass of wine.

London Fields Brewery’s new Gobble Gobble Xmas Dubbel is a good place to start. The depth in the Dubbel works straight away. It’s got a nice spiciness to handle all the big flavours, plus a really nice yeast character to the finish to keep it balanced. Marston’s Brewery’s Owd Roger or Hobgoblin King Goblin would also be excellent choices.

If you’re feeling exploratory, I would suggest you try ERDINGER Dunkel. It’s got the yeasty depth and sweetness to go with the vegetables and gravy. And the malty backbone to go with the meat.

My preferred alcohol-free option would without doubt be Brooklyn Special Effects, which is our award-winning 0.4% hoppy lager.

Vegetarian Christmas mains

Vegetarian Christmas dinners can pack all the flavour of a meat-filled one, so choosing the perfect beer for it is just as important! If you’re digging into an herb-stuffed nut roast, I’d again recommend some of the darker beers in our portfolio. All suggestions above pair really well, but something with a full-bodied toffee flavour and fruity notes will work extremely well – Hobgoblin Ruby, for example.

Christmas pudding

In the unlikely event that you made it through the main course but didn’t finish your beer, you need not worry; the beers I suggested for your main all pair nicely with Christmas pudding. However, another fantastic beer that compliments this traditional Christmas dessert is Carlsberg Special Brew. Originally brewed to commemorate Sir Winston Churchill's visit to Copenhagen, it has Cognac notes to reflect Churchill's favourite tipple. In a nutshell, you want to look for full-bodied beers with a hint of sweetness and flavours of caramel, spice and dried fruit.

And finally, cheese

A good cheeseboard deserves a nice beer rather than what’s left in your glass. The palate-cleansing frothy mouthfeel of a well-carbonated beer makes it an excellent partner for most cheeses. For strong cheddar, an IPA is a sure-fire winner. Brooklyn Defender or Marston’s Old Empire will both be really nice choices. If you, like me, enjoy some Stilton, Old Empire will work equally well here. For a real treat though (and if you can find some) Marston’s Brewery Horninglow No.3 Double Dry Hopped IPA or its Imperial Stout will be a sensational way to end any meal.

The nicely balanced bitterness of San Miguel 0,0 provides a good alcohol-free option.

I’m sold, where can I get my hands on them beers?

Glad you asked. You’ll find most of my suggestions in your local supermarket. And the more specialist beers at or

Adrian Rigby,
Commercial Manager of On Trade Quality & Dispense Innovation