Tomato and Beer Pairings – Really!

By Annie Tobey | July 11th, 2024

Classic Hanover tomato dishes and local beers

Tomato and Beer Pairings: Two BLT sandwiches in the foreground on a cutting board, a mug of beer in the background. By Alexpro9500

Tomato season is here! If you’re in Central Virginia, you’ll be on the lookout for fresh, delicious Hanover tomatoes. While you’re enjoying the tomatoes in classic preparations, you can pair them with local beers. For these tomato and beer pairings, I’ve chosen taprooms near the source of the legendary Hanover vegetable (or is it a fruit?).


Perhaps the easiest dish for highlighting the rich umami goodness of a fresh tomato is a classic BLT – a bacon, lettuce, and tomato sandwich – with a sprinkling of salt and pepper on the tomatoes, slathered with mayonnaise (Duke’s, of course, the Richmond favorite).

Pair your BLT with Pocahoptas, a West Coast-style IPA from Center of the Universe Brewing in Ashland. This hop-forward India Pale Ale is dry-hopped for additional hop flavor and aroma. The hoppy bitterness contrast with the savory, smoky flavors of the bacon, the sweetness of the tomato, and the richness of the mayonnaise. The carbonation and bitterness help cleanse your palate, cutting through the fattiness of the bacon and mayo, for freshness in every bite.

Center of the Universe Brewing Co., Ashland 
Pocahoptas IPA, 6.8% ABV

Tomato Pie

A savory Southern tomato pie layers tomato slices and cheese, such as cheddar and mozzarella, in a two-crust pie. Other common ingredients include basil, onions, mayonnaise, salt, and pepper, and sometimes hot sauce and other variations.

Pair your tomato pie with Väsen American Saison. The complex flavor profile of this dry, Belgian-style ale harmonizes with the flavors in the pie, creating a wonderful complement to the basil, green onion, and savory flavors of tomatoes and cheese. Notes of pink peppercorn and graham cracker malt highlight the pie’s ingredients, including the crust. The beer’s carbonation cleanses the palate, cutting the dish’s richness.

Väsen Brewing Co., Richmond
American Saison, 6% ABV

Caprese Salad

The simple Caprese salad is a pairing in itself: delicious fresh tomato slices, generous chunks of mozzarella cheese, and sweet basil, seasoned with sea salt, pepper, and olive oil. I like mine drizzled with balsamic vinegar, too.

The classic salad calls for a classic beer style: a lager. Pair the Caprese Salad with a Brewski Lager. The beer comes from Center of the Universe Brewing, and you can also find it in the heart of Ashland, at Origin Beer Lab, COTU’s sister brewery. The easy-drinking, balanced beer won’t detract from the delicious matings within the Caprese. Its dry finish contrasts with the juicy-sweet tomatoes and creamy mozzarella. Serve it well-chilled to enhance its refreshing qualities and keep it in balance with the cool salad.

Origin Beer Lab, Ashland 
Brewski Lager, 5% ABV

Chilled Tomato Soup

A cousin to gazpacho, chilled tomato soup focuses on tomatoes, of course. Bell peppers, onions, and fresh basil add complexity, while a sweetener such as honey can balance the tomato’s umami and acidity.

Pair the soup with Intermission Beer Co.’s Sidekick, a sessionable American wheat ale. The beer’s light, citrusy flavors complement the brightness of the fresh ingredients. Since a chilled soup expresses less flavor than a hot soup (fewer aromas wafting to your nose to elevate the tasting experience), you’ll want an easy-drinking beer that doesn’t overwhelm it.

Intermission Beer Co., Glen Allen  
Sidekick Wheat Ale, 3.5% ABV

Tomato and Watermelon Salad

Combine chunks of fresh tomato and watermelon, add thin slices of sweet onion, and top it all with fresh mint and crumbled feta cheese. You’ll get tomato and watermelon salad, a sheer summertime delight.

Pair the salad with Strangeways Brewing’s Wake Me Up Before You Gose. The German-style sour offers lemony tartness, enhanced with Sicilian sea salt, coriander, and ginger. The slightly tart and salty beer enhances the acidity of the tomatoes and the sweetness of the watermelon. (The wisdom of the salt pairing is apparent to those who sprinkle salt on their watermelon.) Further, the salt complements the feta, the tartness refreshes the palate, and the hints of spicy yeast say hello to the mint.

Strangeways Brewing: Richmond, Fredericksburg, and Williamsburg  
Wake Me Up Before You Gose gose-style beer, 4.6%

More delicious ideas for tomato season

Pairing notes:

  • These suggestions are based on generally accepted principles of pairing food and drink, but everyone experiences flavors and aromas differently, so they may not work for you.
  • As of press time, these beers are noted as available at the local tasting rooms. If they’re gone by time you get there, the staff can undoubtedly steer you to other remarkable pairings.
  • Or better yet, just drink whatever makes your palate sing!


Thanks to Boomer reader Victor Gottlieb for this idea of tomato and beer pairings! As a professional musician, Victor has created his own Hanover tomato pairing: an original song. Enjoy!

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