It’s a pretty good bet that if I’m eating lobster, I’m also drinking a beer. But while drinking beer is a pretty common practice in my life, eating lobster is not. For me, lobster is not merely a form of sustenance, but a symbol, even a portal to a certain state of mind and spirit. It evokes sunny days and water views; it also signals a temporary escape from working life.

Pairing beer with lobster, then, is not just a gustatory exercise, but a spiritual one as well. Yes, a beer’s flavors, aromas and textures should work with the lobster’s smooth texture, slight sweetness, the rich fattiness of accompanying butter or mayonnaise, and the breadiness of a roll (if that’s the vehicle). It must be a beer willing and capable of playing a supporting role to the lobster. But it also needs to put me in that place, the vacationing state of mind.

Pale lagers aren’t the answer to all of life’s questions, but they’ll satisfy a good many, including what to drink with your lobster. And Mainers have plenty to choose from. For drinking with a lobster roll, I’m particularly keen on Banded Brewing’s Pepperell Pils. It’s crisp enough to refresh on a warm day, and its spicy, bitter finish cleanses the palate between bites — cutting through both the fatty richness of buttery, mayonnaised lobster as well as the sweetness of the bun.

Liquid Riot’s Bobo Pivo, a Czech-style pils, is another good option. Whereas the crispness of a German pils cuts against the dominant flavors of the lobster roll, the slightly sweeter Czech pils – with its more rounded finish – echoes the sweetness of the bread, without being cloying. Even so, its effervescence balances out the lobster’s richness. And once you’ve polished off the lobster, it is an absolute pleasure to drink on its own.

A Maine Beer Co. Peeper and a lobster roll make a perfect pair. Photo courtesy of Maine Beer Co.

The same can certainly be said about Maine Beer Co.’s classic Peeper Ale. It’s sunshine in a bottle, with a bright, lemony profile that acts like a garnish. Drinking it with lobster is more like a two-step, pivoting from the savoriness of the lobster to the citrus of the ale. It’s beautifully made and an excellent companion, allowing the lobster to strut its stuff.

In “The Brewmaster’s Table,” Garrett Oliver – author, brewmaster at Brooklyn Brewery and James Beard award winner – writes, “Saison is not just versatile — it’s downright promiscuous. It seems to go with everything.” Oxbow Brewing Co.’s Farmhouse Pale Ale, with its spiciness, tropical fruitiness, lively carbonation and dry finish also makes for a fine dance partner with lobster, offering enough (but not too much), while resetting the tongue between bites. The term “saison” refers to seasonal farmworkers in France and Belgium – the “saisonniers” – who drank these beers as they tended the crops throughout the summer. It is literally the seasonal beer of summer.

When things get really hot, I’ll often be holding Oxbow’s Surfcasting, a lightly salted grisette with lime. Grisettes are a variation on the saison – though they were drunk not by farmworkers, but miners. Surfcasting’s effervescence cuts across the buttery lobster, and its acidic tartness emboldens the flavors of the lobster.

And, oh yeah, there’s another brewery in town working in the Belgian tradition that you may have heard of. On beer-and-lobster pairings, Arlin Smith, co-owner of Eventide, says, “Allagash … anything.” He clarifies: “Belgian-style beers have great body and complexity that goes great with rich foods like lobster. Their Tripel and White are the easy standout, but even the sours are strong contenders in this fight. Not to mention the quality of everything they touch.”

Allagash’s Two Lights is a cross between beer and sparkling wine. Photo courtesy of Allagash Brewing Co.

Allagash Tripel is a strong golden ale, weighing in at 9% ABV. Fruity, honeyed, and spicy – but with a clean finish – it can complement without overpowering. Another compelling option from Allagash is its seasonal Two Lights, which the brewery calls “an ode to two of the more refreshing drinks of summer: cold beer and sparkling wine.” It is brewed with sauvignon blanc must and fermented with lager and Champagne yeasts, resulting in a tropical profile with a tart, dry finish and the acidity that can unlock seafood.

Of course, all roads lead to – or from – Allagash White. That’s the lobster beer for Sarah Sutton of Bite into Maine, which has lobster-centered food trucks at Fort Williams in Cape Elizabeth, off Route 1 in Scarborough and at the Allagash brewery in Portland. “It’s light and crisp,” she explains, “which is wonderful with the richness of a classic Maine lobster roll – mayo or butter. The flavor of fresh lobster is subtle and sweet, and you don’t want a beer that overpowers that.” And yet, as Sutton acknowledges, it’s not just about the union of flavors but also about the state of mind: “Allagash White is my go-to summer beer – and nothing else reminds me of summer in Maine than a really good, fresh lobster roll.”

Ben Lisle is an assistant professor of American Studies at Colby College. He lives among the breweries in Portland’s East Bayside, where he writes about cultural history, urban geography, and craft beer culture. Reach him on Twitter at @bdlisle.


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