The Best Brews to Pair with KFC
You don’t need to be eligible for Mensa membership to realize the perfect matching of beer and fried chicken, especially when you get your food from KFC. Countless gatherings in front of the TV screen watching the game have pretty much proven the point, especially on a day like the Superbowl. In fact, in some countries people have made up co-joined nicknames for the combo, much like “Brangelina” for Brad and Angelina. In Korea, they call the pairing “chimaek”, with “chi” for chicken and “maekju” for beer.
Any of the Kentucky Fried Chicken specials will go well with a cold beer. After all, the KFC specials include Nashville chicken variety, and they’re really spicy. A nice beer will go down just fine.
So here are some beers you may want to try out:
- Tecate. This is one of the good Mexican beers, and it’s perfect for the Nashville Chicken with pickles, the Nashville Tenders, or the whopping $20 Fill Up that includes 8 pieces of chicken, a large cole slaw, 2 cups of mashed potatoes and gravy, and 4 biscuits. If you compare the Tecate to the more common Corona or Dos Equis, you’ll really notice its citrusy lime taste that perks up the taste of the chicken.
- Ayinger Jarhundert-Bier. This is a fine example of the Munich Helles type of beer. It’s full-flavored but light in body. The pristine bread-like sweetness of the malt comes with just the right amount of spicy hops.
- Surly Hell. This is another Munich Helles, but this time it’s from a little-known Minnesota brewery. It offers the flavor and aroma of fresh bread, but the sweetness is nice and light. You can be sure it won’t cover up the taste of the meat, as it contrasts with the savory and salty character of KFC while the beer also balances the crust’s bready aspect.
- Wychwood Hobgoblin. This is an English Brown Ale, and it’s somewhat sweet with toasty and rich caramel flavors. It’s truly great, especially with the spicy Nashville chicken. The English hops are quite earthy, and you get the slight hint of roast malt bitterness for balance. This may be the darkest you should go for beer for KFC, but it’s great with its toasty and sweet taste.
- Great Lakes Oktoberfest. This Märzen Oktoberfest lager may be a tad strong at 6.5%. But you get full flavor and full body while you still get the balance you need. With the crispy chicken skin, this beer really shines.
- Lindemans Cuvée René. This is a Lambic beer, which is a beer known for its funky character. It’s as if there’s something indefinably “extra” about it that makes it seem like there’s something “more”. Whatever that is, it’s great with KFC. This one seems to skirt between a sour earthiness and sweetness that offsets the saltiness and spice of the KFC. Personally, I really think you should try this first, but only if you can find it.
Of course, personal preference is still an important factor here. But you need to remember that good fried chicken (which pretty much sums up the Kentucky Fried Chicken specials) offer a subtle balance between the crunchiness of the crust and the juice and flavor of the meat. Your beer should complement both factors accordingly, without overpowering either.
So a lot of Belgian beers and weissbiers may not be all that appropriate, as their fruity and spicy yeast flavors may clash with the crusty crunch of KFC. The same goes for the pale ales and the IPAs, as their almost feral bitterness can really disrupt the balance of flavors in the fried chicken.
If you’re going to try out new beers on your own, start with the beers with the lighter bodies, with a bit more malt but with sufficient hops to keep the balance between the bitter and sweet flavors. The same chemical reactions that give the fried chicken its signature flavor also provides the toasted caramel flavor of mid-color malts, which makes them a perfect match.
So where can you get these beers? Trying going online—if you’re reading this post, then you’re already online. Jut use Google and cross your fingers that any one of these can be delivered to your home. You won’t be sorry you stocked them well in advance, so when the time comes you can trot them out when the KFC order arrives.