Nothing goes better with barbecue than a nice cold one. You've probably heard of pairing wine with various foods to compliment or contrast the flavors, but did you know you can do the same with beer?
We've put together this quick guide so you can serve up the beer that best compliments the food you're preparing.
Burgers: IPA, Porters, Pale Ales, Pilsner
Burgers can be rich and flavorful, and this can make pairing a beer with them a tricky endeavor. Your traditional burgers will pair best with pale ales, IPA’s, or Porters. The robust flavors will help cut through the higher fat content of the burger to help cleanse your palette.
Pilsners are great for leaner, less fatty, burgers. They’ll have some of the same pallet cleansing effects as a pale ale however, are a bit lighter and won’t be overpowering.
Beers to Try : Wichita Brewing Vanilla Porter, Samuel Adams Rebel IPA
Turkey/Veggie Burgers: Brown Ales, ESB’s, Wheats
Turkey Burgers will pair well with darker beer such as brown ales, amber ales, or a nice ESB will compliment some of the earthy tones already present in the meat. Avoid IPA’s as the “hoppiness" may be overpowering.
Veggie burgers are best suited for lighter beers or wheat beers which will bring out the flavors and aromas of the veggies themselves.
Beers to Try : Kona Koko Brown Ale, Oskar Blues, Dales Pale Ale, Hopping Gnome Earl of ESB
Sausages: German Lager, Amber Brown Ales, Pale Ales and IPAs
Of course a German lager will pair well with sausages (they invented both). Amber and brown ales, pale ales and IPA’s will all go well with your preferred ground and cased meat. The higher fat content of the sausage is easily cut through by the bitterness of these beers leaving you with a freshly cleansed pallet after every sip.
Beers to Try : Odell IPA, Wichita Brewing V6 IPA
Steak: Stouts, Porters, Brown Ales, Pale Ales, Wheats
Much like burgers the beer your pair with your steak depends on the cut of meat itself. Again for the fattier cuts you’ll want a rich and flavorful Porter, Stout or Brown Ales to help cut through the grease and fat. For some of your leaner cuts you’ll want a lighter beer such as an amber and down the spectrum to a pale ale, or wheat beer.
Beers to Try : Free State Oatmeal Stout, New Belgium Fat Tire, Central Standard Standard Issue
Pork: Brown Ales, American Pale Lager, Porters IPAs
The fattiness of the meat will help stand up to the more robust flavors of your heavier flavors of a porter or brown ale and "hoppier" flavors of american pale lagers and IPA’s. A smoked porter will be especially nice if you plan on smoking your meat as the two will amplify the flavors of the other.
Beers to Try : Sierra Nevada Pale Ale, Uinta Black Lager, Central Standard Girlfriend
Grilled Chicken: Amber/Brown Lagers, Blondes, Helle
A grilled or roasted chicken will pair nicely with the lighter flavors of Amber ales, Brown Lagers, Blondes, Helles and Wheat beers. The light flavors of these beers will compliment rather than overpower the already subtle flavor of the chicken. The darker beers of the aforementioned will pair well if your chicken has a heavy char or caramelization.
Beers to Try : Kansas Territory Breakfast Brown Ale, Guiness Blonde Lager, Hopping Gnome Sepia Amber Ale
Seafood: Helles, Pilsner, Sours, Wheats
Just like chicken seafood has a somewhat delicate flavor that you don’t want to ruin with an overly robust beer. Pair a nice pilsner, helles, to offset the richness of the butter or fattier filet’s of fish. Try a wheat, or hefeweizen with your catch to enhance the sweeter flavors of the meat.
Beers to Try : New Belgium Wheat, Tallgrass Half Pipe Tart Pale Ale
Veggies: Pilsners, Lagers, American Pale ales, Belgian Saisons
Not all that far off from veggies burgers, if you’re going to be a herbivore while you grill keep it light with pilsners, lagers, american pale ales and belgian saisons, they’ll all compliment the veggies, bringing out the earth tones, and sweetness of the veggies without being overpowering to your pallet.
Beers to Try : Tallgrass Songbird Saison
When in Doubt
A good rule of thumb to follow the heavier the dish, the heavier the beer. The lighter the dish, the lighter the beer. Also, keep in mind that it is easier to accept and underwhelming “lighter” pairing than to deal with and overpowering “darker” pairing.