Cooking With Beer: Dark Lager–Steamed Halibut in Parchment

Czech-style tmavé pivo adds depth to light and flaky fish in this recipe that highlights one of our Best 20 Beers in 2020—pFriem Czech Dark Lager.

Justin Kruger , Justin Wright Mar 13, 2021 - 4 min read

Cooking With Beer: Dark Lager–Steamed Halibut in Parchment Primary Image

Photo: Matt Graves/

This recipe features one of the Craft Beer & Brewing Magazine® Best 20 Beers in 2020—pFriem Czech Dark Lager, which scored a 100 with our blind review panel. However, you can use any good dark lager to add herbal, roast depth to the delicate fish.

Serves: 4

  • 1 sweet onion, julienne cut
  • 3–4 medium carrots, scrubbed and cut into thin slices
  • 2–3 medium parsnips, scrubbed and cut into thin slices, tough core removed
  • Parchment paper cut into four 12" × 12" (30 × 30 cm) squares
  • 20 oz (567 g) halibut filet, portioned into four 5 oz (142 g) pieces
  • Salt
  • 4 Tbs butter, divided into 1 Tbs pieces
  • 4 sprigs fresh thyme
  • 12 oz (355 ml) pFriem Czech Dark Lager, divided into 3 oz (89 ml) portions
  • 2 lemons, halved

Preheat the oven to 400°F (204°C). Prep the vegetables and separate them into four equal portions.

Lay out one square of parchment and place one piece of halibut in the center of the square. Season the fish with salt and place one portion of the vegetables, one pat of butter, and one sprig of thyme on top of each filet. Fold the parchment closed on the diagonal and crimp 90 percent shut. Pour 3 oz (89 ml) of beer into the parchment packet and finish closing, making sure the packet is well sealed. Repeat for the other three filets, vegetables, butter, thyme, and beer.

Carefully place the packets onto a baking sheet and into the oven. Bake for 15 minutes, or until the parchment is golden brown and puffy. While the fish is cooking, char the lemon halves pulp side down in a sauté pan (medium high) or on a grill.

Remove the fish from the oven and place each square on a plate. Cut open the packet and serve with charred lemon drizzled over the top.

Beer Tasting Notes: This Czech-style tmavé is everything that’s captivating about the style, from the bright floral Noble-hop aroma to the toasted bready and lightly chocolatey malt body, finishing clean and (mostly) dry. You could think of this beer as the cousin to schwarzbier and dunkel—complex and malt-forward, with a low level of IBUs but higher perceived bitterness because of the combination of the chocolate malt and Saaz hops.

What the Beer Does for the Dish: In this pairing, it might seem like the light, delicate fish would clash with the dark, mildly roasted beer, but the herbal notes in the beer pull it all together. The lightly bitter roast character adds a grill-like depth to the light and flaky fish without subjecting it to an actual grill. The earthy character from the vegetables blends well with the roasted malt, giving the vegetables a touch of roast bitterness. The fish itself is light and flaky, but still high in omega-3s, so the light malt and hop bitterness will balance out the fatty character.