It's a big thing, the chicken wing. Might as well pick the best beer.
October 9th, 2012
08:00 AM ET
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Ray Isle (@islewine on Twitter) is Food & Wine's executive wine editor. We trust his every cork pop and decant – and the man can sniff out a bargain to boot. Take it away, Ray.

My secret theory about why chicken wings and football go so well together can be demonstrated by a very simple experiment. First, go to the store and buy a chicken. Next, remove its wings. Next, truss its little feet together. Now paint it brown. What does it look like? Exactly: a football. Chickens are footballs, except for the wings. And that’s why when we watch football, we eat chicken wings.

Some people might question the logic of the above theory, but they, of course, have not been drinking enough beer. Because that is the other thing that goes perfectly with chicken wings: beer, and enough of it.

Of course, it’s perfectly simple to order up a bunch of standard-issue buffalo wings, open a Bud and have a fine ol’ time watching big people with a ball smash each other silly. But given that I work at a place where we seem to be testing a new wing recipe every single day—everything from classic buffalo wings to Vietnamese-fish-sauce-soaked wings (which, contrary to how they sound, taste great)—the one-note approach seems a little like a cop-out. Given the vast world of wings out there, here are a few more off-the-wall beer-pairing thoughts:

Classic Buffalo Wings
Classic lager beer: Brooklyn Lager

Really, Really Hot Wings
Crisp pilsner beer: Trumer Pils

Asian-Influenced Wings
Belgian tripel ale: Westmalle Tripel

Sweet, Sticky, BBQ-ish Wings
Lightly bitter English pale ale: Samuel Smith’s Old Brewery Pale Ale

Fruit-Glazed Wings
Fruit-infused beer: Harpoon UFO Raspberry Hefeweizen

More from Food & Wine:

America’s Best Bars

Best Beer Gardens in the U.S.

Chicken Wing Recipes

Best Fried Chicken in the U.S.

Ultimate Tailgating Recipes

© 2011 American Express Publishing Corporation. All rights reserved.

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Filed under: Beer • Content Partner • Food and Wine • Sip • Tailgating


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soundoff (47 Responses)
  1. Caroline

    Maybe Old Rasputin would go well with Fernet Branca. I think you'd need a hearty beer in order to comabt the mouthwash taste. Keep up the good work, Caroline! I actually just reviewed this place on my blog,

    December 22, 2012 at 11:45 pm | Reply
  2. mrtinez666

    Scoop of chocolate, scoop of vanilla. Don't waste my time! (Seriously?) Drink what tastes good to you. Country music or rick and roll or hip hop? Make your own decision.

    October 10, 2012 at 3:22 pm | Reply
  3. Beer Billy

    Why in the universe is a wine editor talking about either chicken wings or beer. He even admits to being a classic, shameless corksniffer in his byline.

    There are 2 types of people – those who drink wine from a glass, beer from a bottle and eat chicken wings with a fork – and those who instead drink beer from a glass, eat chicken wings with their hands, and drink wine from the bottle!

    Oh, and you can stop name-dropping Brooklyn – the best beer in the world is happening in Central Oregon thanks to first dibs on fresh hops from the Willamette Valley.

    October 10, 2012 at 11:35 am | Reply
  4. a slozomby

    "Fruit-infused beer:" sorry but you lost all credibility when you recommended any fruity beer.

    October 10, 2012 at 6:55 am | Reply
    • bill

      If you do not recommend a Labatt Blue for "classic" Buffalo wings, then you have no intellectual or culinary base to even continue writing an article like this. I have never read a more flat out wrong article on wings and beer, and worse, wings combined with beer, in my life. The fact that you combined a fruit infused beer with a fruit based wing sauce is the cherry on the fail sunday. So, if you have a mango jalapeno wing sauce, you would recommend a raspberry beer? Not all fruits go together, and sweet with sweet, or fruit with fruit is almost destined to fail unless EXACTLY dialed in. The best bet for a sweet/fruit based wing sauce would be a smooth amber, to coat and clear the mouth, prepping it for the next wing. Not bitter, not too hoppy. The LAST thing you want your beer to do is compete with your wing sauce. and fruit on fruit, is just SO wrong. Epic fail article. this could ruin my day.

      October 10, 2012 at 9:34 am | Reply
      • taco bender

        You know nothing about beer. First you recommend Labatt Blue which is an awful example of a lager. Then you attempt to discredit the author by stating fruit doesn't go with fruit and ignorantly try to rant about how common flavors don't go with each other, which isn't true in its own right, but then at the end you top it off with sweet wings should go with an amber. This only contradicts your previous incorrect rant as an amber by DEFINITION is an ale with light FRUITINESS and toasted malt characteristics. I won't tell you to grow a pair as you adolescently replied to me previously but I will tell you to pick up a book you ignorant fool. You know nothing about beer and your taste is piss poor. There is a reason you have to drink your PBR ice cold. It is disgusting at any kind of taste bud level. Enjoy drinking your 30 pack of urine. I piss better beer than you drink.

        October 10, 2012 at 11:42 am | Reply
      • Labatt Who?

        Bill you have a few decent points actually but recommending labatt blue removes all credibility for you. Please keep your macro-brews to yourself.

        October 10, 2012 at 12:59 pm | Reply
        • bill

          "macro brews"?- what ever. snob. how do you even drink a decent beer with your nose so far in the air?

          October 10, 2012 at 1:46 pm |
  5. Pete Cottrell .FCA

    Magic Hat # 9

    October 9, 2012 at 10:18 pm | Reply
  6. Thinking things through

    I love - chicken wings, BBQ or Buffalo-ed
    Bored to tears by - football.

    At least in my yard, these twin indulgences can be separated.

    That's just the way it is, here. I don't care if your millage may vary. But I'll be working on kick-A-wings, and some great times together that don't need football. Since there's no TV reception here, and everyone knows that in advance, it works out all copacetic. We TALK. Much more fun for us that way.

    October 9, 2012 at 9:03 pm | Reply
    • Thinking things through

      And, yes, surprisingly, many of us are open for the beer pairings...

      October 9, 2012 at 9:05 pm | Reply
  7. noodle21

    Now I have another excuse to make wings for a football Sunday – to try out different beer pairings!

    October 9, 2012 at 8:22 pm | Reply
  8. Joseph Oshier

    Personally, I am partial to Kurt and Vreny's restaurant/biergarten when in the Atlanta area. It's kinda out in the sticks, near Norcross if I recall, but it's got a wider selection of beers than the more commercial Biergarten does. Kurt's is also a really nice restaurant in its own right.

    October 9, 2012 at 8:18 pm | Reply
  9. Kramer

    If you live in LA, grab a Craftsman 1903 for your next round of beers! It is arguably better than Brooklyn Lager! @kramersgourmet

    October 9, 2012 at 7:21 pm | Reply
  10. Steve Fix

    Genesee Cream Ale, from Western NY, where the BUFFALO Wing was first created.

    October 9, 2012 at 3:59 pm | Reply
    • Marty McMahon

      Hell yeah Genny Cream, or a cold Molson Canadian!!

      October 9, 2012 at 11:53 pm | Reply
  11. Michael M

    Why are you eating chicken wings with a fork?

    October 9, 2012 at 3:42 pm | Reply
    • Mistress Manners

      He's serving himself off a platter, the way polite people do.

      October 9, 2012 at 3:46 pm | Reply
      • Michael M

        I bet he eats his hamburgers with a fork too.

        October 9, 2012 at 4:04 pm | Reply
        • Donny

          I bet you live in a mud hut.

          October 9, 2012 at 4:38 pm |
  12. thomas

    most real beer drinkers are not reading this stuff all day long anyway, i like the pbr , but dont forget good ole colt 45

    October 9, 2012 at 2:48 pm | Reply
    • Labatt Who?

      That is crap beer

      October 10, 2012 at 1:00 pm | Reply
  13. A

    This is a seriously lazy list.

    October 9, 2012 at 2:03 pm | Reply
  14. taco bender

    Best beer with hot wings = Lagunitas sumpin sumpin.
    Best beer with bbq wings = stone ssra.
    Best beer with mild wings = Oscar Blues Deviant Dales.
    Best beer with suicide wings = Barney Flats Oatmeal stout.
    Best beer with sweet and sour or asian wings = Lost Abbey Angels share.
    Best beer with boneless wings = Sierra Nevada Northern Hemisphere.

    October 9, 2012 at 1:45 pm | Reply
    • bill

      LOL. the best beer for Boneless wings is O'Doul's. Grow a pair.

      October 10, 2012 at 9:52 am | Reply
      • taco bender

        O'Douls isnt beer.

        October 10, 2012 at 11:30 am | Reply
      • JOH

        Are you crazy? O'Douls is a nonalcoholic beer with .5% alcohol. It's not beer. You have a better chance recommending Red Stone gluten free beer. Or better yet, you would be more "accurate" by saying chicken goes best with Bud Light Lime (disgusting).

        October 10, 2012 at 12:03 pm | Reply
        • bill

          dudes. Boneless wings? it was a joke. the right beer for boneless wings ISN'T EVEN real beer. you guys are thick.

          October 10, 2012 at 1:49 pm |
        • TrueCoug

          I do believe he's mocking the concept of "boneless" wings. O'Douls isn't beer, just like boneless wings aren't wings.

          October 10, 2012 at 1:51 pm |
        • Flewrightbythem

          LOl It flew right over their heads

          October 10, 2012 at 7:12 pm |
        • Kiki

          Tuesdays, William Penn Tavern in Shadyside has $0.35 wings. They're rather tasty!!!Wednesdays, all you can eat wings at Buffalo Blues in Shadyside. SO good! I don't think you can have wings in Pittsburgh and not idlnuce Quaker Steak. Wouldn't that be un-Pittsburgh? And the best thing about it you can have them any day of the week!!!!

          December 23, 2012 at 4:57 am |
    • Beer Immediately

      Beer snob much?

      October 10, 2012 at 10:58 am | Reply
      • taco bender

        Not a snob just a fan of delicious beers. Do you have nothing to add to the discussion other than attempting to put a beer lover down?

        October 10, 2012 at 11:32 am | Reply
        • bill

          no. you're a snob. if you loved beer AND WEREN'T a snob, you wouldn't have listed 1/2 doz boutique beer brands, and if you loved wings, would would have left "boneless" wings" off the list. for anyone that doesn't know. boneless wings are what sissies who want to feel tough call their chicken nuggets.

          October 10, 2012 at 1:53 pm |
      • bill

        whatever (per-emptive response if you in fact respond)

        October 10, 2012 at 1:56 pm | Reply
  15. Jerv

    "Ray Isle (@islewine on Twitter) is Food & Wine's executive wine editor. We trust his every cork pop and decant – and the man can sniff out a bargain to boot."

    But the quesion is, does Ray Ray sniff the cork?

    October 9, 2012 at 1:05 pm | Reply
  16. Beer Truck

    Fat Tire Amber Ale.

    October 9, 2012 at 1:03 pm | Reply
  17. space chimp

    It's people like workerdrone that are honestly pushing me away from craft beer with this level of pretension.

    October 9, 2012 at 12:54 pm | Reply
    • workerdrone

      i'll drink a pbr as readily as i'll drink an oskar blues or long trail, but come on! homeboy here makes no effort with this piddly half thought response to what would have been a really interesting article. and don't let the snobs push you away from craft beer. like wine, it comes down to your preferences and all you have to do is ignore the snobs. my point was that a guy with such a "refined palate" should have put more thought into something like this. i've seen much better from cnn, even in these fluff pieces.

      October 9, 2012 at 1:30 pm | Reply
  18. workerdrone

    your article is bad and you should feel bad.

    October 9, 2012 at 11:00 am | Reply
    • You are

      a bad workerdrone.

      October 9, 2012 at 11:07 am | Reply
      • workerdrone

        i am. i am commenting on a terrible article when i should be working. but it's just so bad i couldn't help myself! i mean the guy clearly doesn't even watch football. and being a wine guy, he should know better than to make the suggestions that he did. for a really hot wing, why wouldn't you want a beer with a big mouth feel (come on wine guy, i know you can keep up with me here) like a brown ale. something malty and hoppy to take away the burn. or perhaps an ipa? a pilsner is too delicate and will be overpowered by the wings. and i'm just an average shmuck here. sheesh. and a brooklyn lager? what is the obsession with that brewery?! they are OK. and pairing a fruity beer with a fruity wing? isn't that a no no when it comes to wine? don't you want some contrast? i won't even get into how incredibly mediocre ufo is! at least defend your choices. give us some insight into your suggestions and why you made them. i couldn't even call this article half-arsed. it's more like quarter-arsed!

        October 9, 2012 at 11:25 am | Reply
        • bill

          Brooklyn Lager sucks. period. I have had it. When i moved to NYC, it was like "Oh you gotta try one". Whatever you sheltered urban zombies. it is junk beer. The local hipster beer. Like,. if you are hipster but also a patriot, you put down your PBR and drink a Brooklyn lager. Actually for super spicy BBQ style wings,. i recommend PBR... COLD. Just like people from Western NY go for Genny beer. it is not that good. Cheap. not that good. I just saw 30 packs of PBR for 14.99 at Wegmans! WTF

          October 10, 2012 at 9:45 am |
        • JOH

          Anyone that recommends Genesee does not know anything. It's sole purpose is to be cheap. Like Majorska. We all know how it tastes like garbage but people buy it because it's cheap and still strong in alcohol content.

          For spicy wings, Soju is very good. It is a Korean beer and there are many Korean establishments that hold chicken & beer nights. You can eat and drink all night.

          October 10, 2012 at 12:07 pm |
  19. Kenin - The Constant Rambler

    A nice stout or porter always goes well with hot wings!

    October 9, 2012 at 8:49 am | Reply
  20. Jerv-I couldn't resist.

    [youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9Pl5IokpHOE&w=640&h=390]

    October 9, 2012 at 8:37 am | Reply
    • Flewrightbythem

      Best comment LOL!!

      October 10, 2012 at 7:31 pm | Reply

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