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Guide To Pairing Beers with Barbecue

Guide To Pairing Beers with Barbecue

Barbecues and cookouts are a staple of the summer season, and along with any barbecue comes copious amounts of beer. What would a good barbecue be without beer?

Of course, beer has come a long way in the last twenty years or so.

No longer do you just have to grab a six-pack of the most popular lager, there is an art to pairing alcohol to what you’re eating, as well as an element of personal taste, so no matter what is said to go best, you have to choose what you like as well!

Let’s have a look at some of the most popular foods to eat at a cookout and the types of beer that will go well alongside them.

Burgers

No barbecue is complete without burgers. These are, without doubt, the staple of a good barbecue. Everyone loves a burger!

There’s a lot of elements to a burger when you think about it. The meat is fatty and salty, the creamy taste of the cheese, the sweetness and acidity of tomatoes and pickles – a burger really is a feast, so it’s no wonder why everyone loves them.

IPAs have long been the choice to pair with a burger because they bring an element of bitterness that is otherwise missing in a burger. However, the rise of black IPAs has seen a leaning towards this type of beer with a burger.

A black IPA has a roasted malt flavor that when paired with a burger, especially a burger that has been cooked on a grill, really brings out that smokey charcoal flavor.

If you are catering to those watching their weight, or the vegetarians and vegans in your social group, then you may well find yourself cooking vegetable burgers on your grill. Veggie burgers are much lighter than traditional burgers, and your black IPA will not pair so well.

You want to pair with vegetable burgers with brown ales, particularly those with nut or malt undertones.

Chicken

Probably the second-most popular meat to grill on an American barbecue, chicken legs and chicken thighs being the most common cuts to grill, as they retain their moisture so well.

Chicken itself has quite a delicate flavor, and it is unusual to find it being grilled without any added flavors. If that is your choice, then you will need to pair a very mild beer with it.

However, it is much more common to have chicken with added flavors, either via a spice rub or marinade.

It’s best in these cases, to pick the most dominant spice and choose a beer to complement that.  Amber-brown lagers pair well with barbecue sauce, whereas those with more punchy aromatics will be better with a blonde ale.

Seafood

Seafood may not be the first thing that comes to mind when talking about food for a barbecue, but these are a very popular choice for many people.

Shellfish are seen on many a grill now, with lobster, crab and shrimp being some of the more popular offerings. These types of shellfish are fairly easy to eat with your fingers, which is an important quality of any barbecued food, and as they are quite ‘meaty’, they don’t fall apart in your hands like the more delicate types of white fish do.

A crisp white wine is a common choice for pairing with seafood, but if you want to have a beer instead, a pilsner is probably going to be your best choice.

Steak

A good steak does not need much added to it to have an extremely tasty cut of meat. In fact, you probably only need to add a little salt and pepper to bring out the taste.

Steak is such a unique flavor that it really doesn’t need much else to go with it, apart from some well-cooked fries.

So, you don’t want a beer to take over the taste of the steak. Instead, you want something that really complements the flavors.

What you really need here is to have a good strong stout. A stout is layered with dark, roasted flavors, which go very well with a good steak recipe.

Sausages

Grilled sausages are one of life’s greatest pleasures and are more common in some areas of the country than others.

Sausages are quite fatty and rich, so a beer that brings some bitterness would be welcomed to cut through that fatty taste, so an IPA is always a good choice.

However, if you want to get back to sausages’ origins, you want to be looking towards German lagers.

Germans do two things very well, sausages and beer. So, who are we to doubt their choices? Most German lagers will go very well with the sausages you have on the grill.

Vegetables

While barbecues focus very much on meat, you will probably be grilling some vegetables as well.

Popular grilled vegetables are corn on the cob, mushrooms, courgettes and similar vegetables.

Whichever type of vegetables you are having, they will usually have a much more subtle taste than the meat, so you don’t want a strong beer, like a stout, to take away the taste.

Lean more towards a German pilsner, as these beers have a much lighter taste that will complement, rather than overwhelm, the vegetables you’ve chosen to serve.

Keeping It Simple

We’ve gone over many different beers here, and what to serve them with, but really, do you want to be buying six or seven different types of beer?

That would be expensive enough just for you, but having so many different beers will quickly become very expensive and not a little confusing if you’re hosting a large event.

So, try to keep it simple. For the meat-eaters, invest in a good, high-quality brown ale. This will go with most meat that you’re cooking and complement them all well.

For the vegetarians and pescatarians, you’ll need something a bit lighter, so a German pilsner is what you’ll want to be looking at. These beers will complement and not overwhelm the more delicate flavors.

Don’t forget to stock up on some non-alcoholic drinks for those who want them and have fun!

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