As the weather warms up and friends and family gather around the grill, it’s the perfect time to pair craft beer with some standard summer favorites. It’s also a great time to show off some serious homebrew skills. So, sit back crack a cold one and throw some meat on the grill, we have you covered.
Throwing some burgers on the grill? Then grab a nice American Pale Ale to go with them! The Pale Ale’s bitterness cuts through the greasiest burger you can muster. Add some cheddar on that bad boy and kick this pairing up a notch. With a typical ABV of 4.5% to 6.2% a Pale Ale is light and refreshing enough to hold up to the food and the heat without sending you inside for a nap.
But, if your burgers aren’t complete without mushrooms and swiss then try an American Amber Ale. Similar to an American Pale Ale, the bitterness in an American Amber will cut through the greasiness but the specialty malt back bone will bring out the savory of the mushrooms and swiss cheese.
If steak is more your style, you will need to find a beer that will match the intensity of the cut. My favorite pairing with a Ribeye is a nice barrel aged stout. While this may seem a strange choice for a summer day, the barrel character will marry well with the char from the grill and the roasty bitterness will cut the buttery fat from a well marbled steak. This pairing should be both sipped and savored for its complexity. If you’re not like me and wont drink a big boozy stout any time the opportunity arises, you can opt for a Vienna Lager. The smooth soft malt profile will pair well with the umami flavors of the steak while the moderate hop bitterness will cut the fat and refresh your palette. The light ABV of about 5% might be more palatable then the giant ABVs a Barrel Aged Stout can reach.
While Belgian beers are often classified in the “When it doubt pair with a Belgian” category, sometimes it’s exactly what a dish needs. This is the case with lighter fowl such as grilled chicken. A Saison, Wit, or Belgian Pale Ale share similar citrus, floral, peppery notes found in lighter marinades and should pair nicely. If you’re looking for something that can stand up to a coating of spicier barbeque sauce or marinade, then look for less hop bitterness and more sweetness like what is found in a Belgian Dubbel.
Sausages and Hotdogs
Finally, what backyard barbeque wouldn’t be complete with the standard hotdog. Such a simple dish can be easy to overpower when pairing with beer, but we can draw on the hot dog’s German roots and pair with a Hefeweizen (Also a winning combination with sausages). Sweet enough to tone down the salt, flavorful enough to stand up to the condiments, and light enough not to overwhelm.
Want to impress your friends and brew your own?
Hefeweizen kits: Sam Houston Hefeweizen
Almost Everything Else
If you are looking for more of a universal pairing for your barbeque this summer check out these styles that will hold up to almost anything you throw on the grill.
Kolsch – This clean, crisp style features a very light bready or honey grainy sweetness rounded out with medium-low to medium bitterness with a nice dry refreshing finish. The sweetness can tone down salt and heat while the bitterness and dry finish cuts fat. Try our Schmidt Kicker Kolsch to see what we mean!
Blonde Ale – An alternative to standard American lagers and a great entry level craft beer. A Blonde Ale shares many similarities to a Kolsch with light malt flavor and light to moderate hop flavor. However, its finish leans more towards the malt and is less dry which gives the illusion of sweetness. A great easy drinking style for those that don’t like “bitter” beers. Again, the sweetness can tone down salt and heat. Try our Brazos Blonde kit for a great example!
Cicerone Certified Beer Server, Homebrewer, and Tireless Recipe Researcher