This is How to Pair Beer with Classic Greek Food

santorini yellow-donkey-beer

Feasting is our column dedicated to cooking, grilling, eating and discovering what’s on the menu across America and the world.

Craft beer certainly isn’t the first thing that comes to mind when you think of Greece. But a motley crew of brewers from Santorini are here to change that notion. Six years ago, a Greek oenologist (read: wine scientist), a Serbian brewer, an English brewing enthusiast, and an American came together to open Greece’s first craft beer operation: Santorini Brewing Company. Their simple recipe of malted barley, hops, yeast and water is used to create their three signature brews and any special varieties that are released each year. Their “living” beers are unfiltered, unpasteurized and preservative-free, so they must be refrigerated and enjoyed right away.

greek food, Santorini Brewing Company

It’s difficult to find Santorini Brewing Company outside of Greece, so one man decided to introduce the line of beers stateside. Kamal Kouiri, wine director of Molyvos restaurant in New York City, discovered the brews on one of his many research trips to Greece. Kouiri loved them so much that he put four of the beers on the menu at the upscale Greek eatery. As it turns out, they pair perfectly with both the restaurant’s traditional dishes and their modern interpretations of the classics.

Even if you’re nowhere near New York City and aren’t able to get your hands on these island brews, you can still pair your favorite type of beer with a traditional Greek meal. Here, Kouiri explains how to pair four Santorini brews with some of the restaurant’s best dishes. Simply match your favorite beer to the description, whip up one of yiayia’s recipes and enjoy.

Santorini Yellow Donkey

A refined, dry, unfiltered, fresh lager with citrus flavors and slightly bitter undertones.

Pair with: Pan Seared Salmon, made with baked gigantes beans, roasted eggplant, and extra virgin olive oil. Salmon is a light fish, but it’s also oily. So, not only does it stand up to a lager, but the contrast between the two will create a joyous feeling on the tongue.

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Santorini Red Donkey

A full-bodied red ale with citrus hops and a crisp flavor.

Pair with: Moussaka, made with spiced ground lamb and beef, potato, eggplant, pepper, and yogurt béchamel. Strong flavors from meat dishes tend to overwhelm light beers, which is why you need a complex, heavier brew, such as a red ale to balance out the meal.

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Santorini White Donkey

A malty, hoppy beer in the German Weiss style with citrus and banana flavors, sweet spices and a light bitter fruitiness.

Pair with: Aegean Seafood, a dish made with marinated mussels, scallops, shrimp, crab, red onions, green cracked olive, celery heart and citrus vinaigrette. Weiss-style beers work better with richer, sweeter seafood like shrimp and crab. In addition, the soft texture of the beer offers a refreshing counterpoint to the bright and sharp acidity of the vinaigrette-dressed seafood.

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Santorini Crazy Donkey

A rich, briny, yeasty IPA with hoppy wine notes, a tropical fruit taste, and a dry long finish.

Pair with: Lamb Shank Youvetsi, served with orzo, tomatoes and Kefalotyri cheese. IPAs are robust in flavor and help to accentuate the spice of the dish while cutting through the richness of the slow-cooked meat.

pairing beer greek food lambyuvetsi

Bonus Beer
Serres Voreia: An American-style Pilsner with subtle bitterness, citrus and floral flavors, light and very pleasant aftertaste.
Pair with: Ouzo Flamed Halloumi Cheese, served with lemon sauce. Pilsner is perfect for delicate, light-tasting cheeses like Halloumi, and the malt sweetness from the beer will balance out the tart, citrus sauce.