Nothing washes down savory, smoky BBQ down better than a crisp, cold beer. But which type of beer should you serve at your summer BBQ? Certain flavors complement one another better than others, but there are tons of possibilities for tasty combinations. Here’s a cheat sheet of some of our favorite BBQ and beer pairings.
As a General Rule
If you’re grilling lighter fare, such as seafood or veggies, lighter beers with floral or citrus notes are good choices. Try a pilsner, a hefeweissen or a blonde ale. If you’re cooking red meat, such as burgers, steaks or sausages, beers with a richer, maltier flavor are excellent picks. Opt for a mellow brown ale, dark lager or porter. Look for beers that will enhance but not overpower the food you’re serving.
Bring out the fresh flavors of vegetable skewers or veggie burgers with a beer that’s lightly acidic but not too hoppy. Try a smooth pilsner or a mild American pale ale that will bring out the earthy flavors in the veggies.
For fish and seafood, choose a beer that has a subtle flavor profile, such as a hefeweissen, a helles or Belgian-style witbier. These brews will add a hint of citrus and spice to the seafood, without taking over.
Chicken is a versatile meat and pairs nicely with both light-bodied and medium-bodied beers. Go for an amber ale to balance sweet marinades and BBQ sauces, or choose a crisp saison for a hint of pepper and citrus.
Burgers offer some of the best opportunities for BBQ and beer pairings. Get a little hoppier with an IPA or black IPA, especially if you have some sweeter sauces or toppings to balance the bitterness. Or crack open a rich porter that brings out the smoky flavors of the grill.
Whether you love spicy hot dogs or traditional bratwurst, grilled sausages are a summer grilling favorite. Pick a German-style lager, such as a märzen, or a toasted amber ale that’s smooth and not too bitter.
You can’t go wrong matching a classic brown ale with a grilled steak. The brown ale is malty and complex, but it still lets the steak take center stage. If you’re feeling bold, a more robust porter or stout is also a fantastic choice.