Arriba, arriba, we’re heading to Mexico. I’m a big fan of Mexican food and as a result, 777 on George’s Street in Dublin is one of my favourite restaurants for a fun date night.

During the pandemic, when my husband and I missed Mexican cuisine, we often put some pulled pork n the slow cooker and whisked up some margueritas.

However, you wouldn’t be drinking margueritas all night long and we’d soon switch over to beer.

When I paired beer with Neven’s party food for our Entertaining at Home series in March, readers loved it. Bring on the beer they messaged me on Instagram.

So although wine will stay as our main drinks pairing for this column, beer will also get some much deserved column space, focusing on Irish beers where possible.

Interesting recipe

Neven’s recipe for pulled pork is an interesting one. Often you’ll find pulled pork recipes are covered in thick, flavoursome barbecue sauce which are heavy in nature and therefore, people often opt for a light, refreshing beer such as a lager or an IPA.

However, this recipe doesn’t add barbecue sauce and, therefore, allows the natural flavours of the pork to shine. But it still is complemented by some complexity from the spices, citrus fruits and chipotle. This allows us a more variety when it comes to our beer pairings.

Wicklow Wolf Arcadia €3.15

For our first beer, we are keeping things nice and fresh. Heading to Wicklow, we are opting for the Wicklow Wolf Arcadia. This is a really smooth, refreshing lager. Its light and very drinkable, perfect for someone who doesn’t like a beer that is overbearing.

However, that doesn’t mean it’s bland and boring. It has a nice pop of sweetness that comes through in the form of fruity notes which will work well with the little bit of spice in the pulled pork. It’s got a crisp finish and a hint of hops.

It’s also gluten free, which is an area that we think is going to become more popular in the coming years. Although the gluten-free market has really expanded in the past decade, beer has been somewhat slow to adapt, but this is a great option for coeliacs.

Mescan Saison €3.50

I’ll admit that I am a bit biased when it comes to Mescan beer. Last year, I interviewed the two owners of Mescan Brewery – Cilian Ó’Móráin and Bart Adons – for a piece I wrote in our sister publication Irish Country Magazine. And the passion and enthusiasm they have for creating excellent beer still comes across in every sip I take. This is a beer that has a little bit of oomph. It’s still a dry and light beer but the citrus notes are prominent and the taste profile is elevated by earthy, spicy yeast flavours. I choose this beer as it’s a real thirst quencher and it’s got a slightly bitter finish that pairs well with spicy dishes. And although there isn’t a huge amount of spice in this dish, you can adjust the levels of the guacamole or opt for a spicier salsa and this beer will also carry you through.

Eight Degrees Brewing Sunburnt Irish Red Ale €2.50-€2.75

Another story of two guys with a love of beer who established their own brewery is that of Scott Baigent and Cam Wallace. Based in Mitchelstown, Co Cork, New Zealander Scott and Australian Cam joined forces to create adventurous, great-tasting beers. For this food pairing, we opted for their Sunburnt Irish red ale because red ale and pork love hanging out together but also because it is a modern twist on a traditional Irish beer style.

These beers have a bit more body and can stand up to the complexities of the spices and flavours in the Mexican meal. It’s got a subtle sweetness which will balance out those spicy notes and while the sweetness comes through in fruity notes in the lighter beers we just mentioned, this one has lovely rich toasty caramel flavours which gives it a more full-bodied flavour, complemented by a soft hop bitterness and a touch of orange in the finish.

Foxes Rock-Irish Red Ale €3

It’s not surprising that the Foxes Rock beer range is produced in the Cooley mountains in Dundalk. This is where the late Pearse Lyons grew up and given his lifelong love for brewing, it’s fitting that the range found its home here.

The brewery continues to make great beer thanks to his family’s commitment.

Again, we have chosen a red ale because it’s such a good pairing with pork. However, this beer is quite different to the Sunburnt red ale, it’s more of a classic Irish style.

You’re going to get lots of hops and a fair bang of bitterness but the sweetness that comes across is lovely and moreish. Think toffee and biscuit as well as some caramel malts. This is going to work really well with the guacamole as it will encourage those fresh flavours to really shine.

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