To achieve an ideal paring, beer and food should taste better together than either would separately. Neither the food nor the beer should overwhelm the other; rather, the flavors should balance.
Beer's slightly sweet malty flavors (with undertones of bitter hops and bready yeast) complement many foods. That said, beer pairs particularly well with strong flavors. Hence, beer is the beverage of choice for foods with vinegary, smoky, spicy hot, and pungent tastes. It's also sensational with deep-fried foods.
It's no accident that beer is popular with much Mexican, Thai, Indian, and German cuisine. Usually the best beer to enjoy with these dishes is one from the country where the food originated. Soothing Singha beer from Thailand is ideal with Thai food, while Bohemia from Mexico is ideal with chile-laden food, for example.
When choosing beer to pair with a particular dish, match like with like―mild lagers and lighter ales with delicate and subtle foods, and full-flavored ales and even stouts with stronger foods. For example, try a pilsner with a light dish like Stuffed Shrimp with Lemon-Pomegranate Glaze, or a full-flavored amber ale with the assertive Roasted Garlic and Shallot Potato Soup with Cheesy Croutons.