I live in Minnesota and I will see people put olives in their beer and I have never understood why.
Why do some people put olives in their beer?
Apart from the obvious reason, because they can, they seems to be couple of reasons for this.
- Some individuals actually enjoy doing it.
- Olives are paired quite nicely with some varieties of beer.
- For some it is a sort of tradition: beertini.
- It is part of barroom culture in the Midwest.
Olives still have that much needed salty taste which keeps us thirsty and makes our beer that much more appreciated, and with so many varieties of olives available they make pairing with some great craft beers a perfect choice! And with olives being used in cocktails for decades why wouldn’t they work with beer? The key is finding the right match.
Through some experimenting with various olives and types of beer, I came to one conclusion, and that was to not go any darker than an amber ale. Beers like stouts and deep IPA’s when tasted with olives felt a little bitter. The hops seemed to be competing with the olive and maybe the brine but anything lighter than an amber ale was really tasty!
Here’s how some of my favorite Delallo olives ended up being a good pairing with five varieties of beer.
Calamata Olives + Belgian Ale
These are popular olives usually from Greece with a smooth skin and chewy bite to them. They’re definitely on the milder side for flavor and went really well alongside a light and crisp Belgian ale. Belgian beers are know to include spices in the fermentation process which also goes well with the olives.
Piccante Green Pitted Olives + Hefeweizen
Piccante means spicy and these Sevillano olives are combined with red pepper flakes. Although the olives aren’t too spicy I needed a beer that would tame the heat but still let the olive taste come through and Hefeweizen does that perfectly. The beer is crisp and should be served well chilled. This is the perfect snack pairing for a warm summers day!
Castelvetrano Olives + Saison
These Sicilian green olives are buttery and smooth with a soft bite and a mellow flavor. Pairing them with a light and fruity Saison made perfect sense. Saison’s are not that common amongst the rest of the belgian wheat beers but they have a distinctive crisp and fresh summery taste, making them a great pairing choice with the Castelvetrano’s.
Olives Jubilee Mix + Red Amber Ale
Because this mix consists of Kalamata, Picholine and green olives marinaded in savory spices, the choice for beer had to be a bold one but not as strong as a dark stout. Tasting these spiced olives with a red amber ale seemed to cut the happiness of the beer and elevate the spices in the olives. This pairing was probably the boldest of all of the combinations but still really tasty.
Aglio Green Pitted Olives + Pilsner Lager
Italian green olives with a texture much like the Castelvetrano’s but covered in chopped garlic pieces. The garlic isn’t overpowering and pairs well with a light Pilsner Lager. Some people might say this kind of beer isn’t very exciting. It’s really light but it lets the garlic shine through from the Aglio Olives. This is one for quick picnic on a hot summers day. Throw down a blanket and enjoy! - Olive and Beer Pairing Guide
Putting an olive in a glass of beer has become known as a beertini.
At first glance, the “Beertini” is the ultimate dad joke—something that a sitcom father would facetiously claim as his favorite drink after overhearing someone order an Appletini. His flannel-shirt-wearing buddies would all chuckle and eye-roll as they clinked their mugs together, happy with their classic, no-fuss beer selection.
In certain pockets of the Midwest, though, the combination of beer and olives known as the Beertini (also called the Minnesota, North Dakota or Wisconsin Martini, depending on where you’re located) is not only very real, but is deeply engrained in barroom culture.
In its most elemental form, the Beertini is a drink and bar snack in one. The way a drinker preps his or her Beertini relies both on what’s available and on individual taste: a canned beer or a draft beer can be used, as can a stein or a lager glass, and the olive count can range from just a few to a whole bowl if the spirit moves you. Beertini-crafting is a trial and error process.
What the drink lacks in a colorful origin story (no one quite knows—or, frankly, cares—where the first Beertini came to be), it makes up for in simple best practices. Craft beer varieties need not apply and the olives can only be green, the kind most often found swimming in their own juices on dusty bar tops. Want to get wild and use a pimento or blue cheese-stuffed green olive? Not a problem. Try to drop a black olive in your beer, though, and watch the room raise a collective eyebrow.
The olives—and, often, a splash of olive juice—brighten up the beer, spotlighting how the humblest of ingredients can become the perfect odd couple. They also offer a charming lesson in barroom chemistry. When plunked into a glass of beer, the olives neither settle at the bottom nor lollygag around at the top of the glass. Instead, they bob up and down, sinking and rising like tiny, edible submarines. It’s downright hypnotic.
Travel a little further down into South Dakota, and you’ll encounter a variation unceremoniously dubbed “Red Beer” (sometimes known unappetizingly as a “Bloody Beer”), which calls on both olives and tomato juice to brighten up a standard lager. The addition of tomato juice draws parallels to the Michelada—minus some of the spice, of course. But no one is quite sure if the two share a common ancestor, or if it is, perhaps, a case of multiple independent discoveries in the same vein as calculus or the theory of natural selection.
There also seem to be an almost infinite number of permutations and combinations for the way Red Beer can be crafted. Several people suggest swapping out the tomato for orange juice if it’s before noon to create a “poor man’s Mimosa,” while others claim the more olives you can plop into the glass, the better. A few even prefer the additional crunch of a pickle.
Weber estimates you can find Red Beer (or a Beertini) in just about every single neighborhood bar across South Dakota, but seems less optimistic about the drink’s ultimate future. Craft breweries have been frothing up all over the Midwest for years now, supported largely by a boom of millennial enthusiasts, while Beertinis and Red Beer are the barroom hacks of a former generation.
But it’s hard to imagine olive-speckled beer steins disappearing anytime soon. The practice is, after all, a true testament to the creativity of Midwestern drinkers and their spirit of brassy, briny industriousness. - How the Beertini Became a Midwestern Staple
Some bars in Spain serve olives as a bar snack, so it seems beer and olives are a little more commonplace than simply just the Midwest!
Yum! Because it's delicious! Despite using a New Glarus glass, my favorite beer to add sinkers, (Olives) to is Hoegaarden. Otherwise a cold & cheap Miller Lite does the trick. Olives add a briney, salty kick of flavor. Especially good in hot weather. I'm from Southern Minnesota and we call olives sinkers. Some folks prefer a pickle to olives. Usually with a Bud Lite. I hate Bud Lite but it's tolerable with a pickle.
This is a very interesting post, as I would never do such a thing as I prefer Bourbon Barrel Aged Beers, so olives in that would be odd. There is a beer called Salty Lady with is a Gose that tastes like one mixed pickle juice and peppercini juice for that really sour flavor...