We Asked Bartenders The Best Beers To Pair With Spicy Chicken Wings

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Today is National Chicken Wing Day. That means that it’s the perfect time to pay homage to the hot sauce-slathered fried delicacies that we all love so much. It doesn’t matter if you’re a drumette fan or a wing purist, today is your day. And either way, you’re going to need a frosty beer to wash it all down.

Especially if you like your wings like we do. With heat.

This is where the dilemma begins. Do you want to pour a sour or acidic beer to lean into the spice? Or do you want a refreshing brew that will give your taste buds a respite from the fire. It’s not an easy call — so we asked a few of our favorite bartenders for an assist.

Westbrook Gose

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Rich Depascale, beverage manager at The Wilson in New York City

A Gose. Preferably Westbrook Brewing’s Gose or Sixpoint Jammer. Something tart or sour to counteract the heat of the wings. Low abv, crisp, and most importantly light to pair with the savory spicy wing flavor.

Modern Times Critical Band

Casey Lyons, bartender at Pacific Hideaway in Huntington Beach, California

I love myself a Juicy IPA with Buffalo Wings — more specifically Modern Times Critical Band, the unfiltered mouthfeel and full fruity body will help mellow out even the spiciest dozen of wings.

Paulener Radler

Torrence R. O’Haire, beverage director & sommelier of Gage Hospitality Group in Chicago

Spicy food needs quenching with lots of liquid, so I always drink the coldest, lowest-alcohol beer so I don’t accidentally find myself on the floor. Paulaner Radler for Asian-spice, or a creamy Boddington’s with southern-spice.

Corona Extra

Yuki Minakawa, beverage director at Sushi Ginza Onodera in New York City

When eating spicy chicken wings, it’s hard to beat a Corona with lime. It’s light and breaks the fat really well with acidity.

Hangar 24 Orange Wheat

Gabrielle Ricord, lead bartender at Outpost in Goleta, California

My favorite beer to pair with spicy chicken wings is Hangar 24 Orange Wheat. It’s smooth and light and has the perfect hint of citrus to calm the spice down.

Bell’s Two-Hearted Ale

Nacohle Hansen, bartender at Hazel, Ravines and Downtown in Birmingham, Michigan

I’m heavy into IPA’s. My go to is Bell’s Brewery’s Two Hearted with spicy wings. IPA’s are always a good choice to pair with heat because of bitterness of the hops will cleanse your palate.

Miller High Life

Jack Galobich, bartender at The Gage in Chicago

I like to go one of two completely different ways here: if I want something to provide some relief and cool the heat, then I want a crisp American or Mexican lager like a High Life, Metropolitan Krankshaft or Pacifico. Essentially the kind of beer you drink on a hot day that makes you think you’re being hydrated. Otherwise I like to go against conventional wisdom and drink something with some hop to it. A Dogfish Head 60min or Spiteful Brewing IPA acts as a way to elevate the heat to a sort of tasty masochism.

32 North Pilsner the Conqueror

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Joey Biñas, bartender at Bootlegger in San Diego

I prefer to stay away from beers with a high hop content; they do not soothe spice. (Plus, I’m not the best with spice myself.) I like lighter lagers or pilsners, like 32 North’s Pilsner the Conqueror. San Diego obviously has a huge array of great beers and ales, and a nice local pilsner like that does the job for me.

Dogfish Head 90 Minute IPA

Justin Monell, general manager at BLVD & MAIN in Las Vegas

A very heavy IPA, like Dogfish Head 90 Minute. A heavier, hoppy beer is actually good when it comes to heat. Something about spice and hops just work together.

Pabst Blue Ribbon

Josh Cameron, head bartender at Boulton & Watt in New York City

I love chicken wings. Bring on the heat. I will definitely need to wash them down with something light and ice cold. If I can, I go with good old PRB. Pabst Blue Ribbon. The colder the better. Chicken wings are not time for fancy small batch IPAs.

Time and place, of course.

Founders Centennial IPA

Mark Hawkins, director of food and beverage at RT Lodge in Mayville, Tennessee

Founders Brewing Company Centennial IPA. It’s the perfect pairing. With floral on the nose and citrus in the mouth, its slightly sweet with perfect balance. It goes hand in hand with a basket of spicy wings for a great day out with your crew.

Alaskan Amber

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Laura Mitchell, bar lead at BEER PARK in Las Vegas

Alaskan Amber is delicious with spicy foods. The caramel in the beer mixes perfectly with the spice of wings.

Wynwood La Rubia

Ilan Chartor, spiritual advisor at KYU in Miami

Spicy chicken wings need something acidic and refreshing. Wynwood’s La Rubia has a great amount of citrus and vanilla notes. It’s a perfect pairing for spicy food.

Interboro Premiere

Megan Reynolds, certified Cicerone at R&R Taproom in Woodstock, New York

An IPA goes well with spicy wings — you need a bigger beer to match the big flavors of the wings. For the brand, Interboro Premiere (not available everywhere) which is fairly accessible in NYC and where I am in Woodstock. I don’t drink a lot of national IPAs because I don’t carry them at R&R — that doesn’t mean there aren’t good ones out there and most will do the trick!

Samuel Adams Boston Lager

Kelly McGee, beverage manager at Park Avenue Tavern in New York City

I’m a fan of a good Sam Adams Lager with spicy wings…. could be that I grew up in New England and that is the beer of choice up there!? I think it pairs nicely and holds up to the spice.