How To Pair Beer With BBQ
Not just for drinking and partying, there has been a shift bringing beer into the mainstream as a beverage that can go anywhere and do anything that a fine wine can. Homebrewers, craft and small-batch breweries create beers that feature a variety of flavors, and unique characteristics that make pairing them with food, especially barbecue, a foodie’s dream. Every ingredient that goes into beer adds to the flavor, that includes the barley, hops, spices, and even the water. There are many different types of beer, and we have some suggestions on how to pair them with your delicious grilled meals.
What is Beer?
Beer is a bubbly beverage that is made from barley, rye, wheat, rice, or corn and even some other cereal grains. It can even be a combination of many different cereal grains, which are then germinated and toasted to create malt. The malt is steeped in water, then strained and placed into a kettle with hops and boiled to add bitterness and aroma. Strained again, this new liquid is cooled and yeast is added. During the fermentation process, the yeast eats the sugars and creates carbon dioxide and alcohol in the beer. Finally, the almost beer is transferred to maturation tanks until it is finally packaged and consumed.
Types of Beer
Lagers are fermented longer and at a lower temperature, which makes them crisp, smooth, and mellow.
Types of Lager:
Pilsner is a light golden colored lager that is fairly carbonated with a low malt and high hop flavor.
Bock is an amber colored lager style beer that has a wide range of flavors that are characterized by a high malt and low hop ratio.
Dunkel is a dark red-brown with a very smooth flavor that is a little coffee-like. It’s malty with a medium hop flavor.
Sweet and full bodied, the color and flavor of an ale is dependant on the grains used in brewing. Hops are used to counteract the sweetness of the malt grains and adds a bitter taste to the finished product.
Types of Ale:
Porter is a dark and heavy beer with a burnt flavor that is high in maltiness, but not overly hoppy.
Stout is a sweet, caramel-y beer that tends to be heavy. When you think stout, most immediately think Guinness. Stouts are surprisingly low in hop and in malt.
Amber Ale is a deep gold color that borders on red, the excess malt makes this type of beer sweet, and it is low in hoppiness.
Irish Ale is red, malty, and sweet with a very low hop ratio which makes them particularly drinkable.
Pale Ales are golden in color with fruity tasting notes. They’re medium in maltiness and very high in hop making the finish bitter.
IPA’s – India Pale Ales – range from light gold to a medium amber color and are quite bitter due to the high hop to malt ratio. They are called India Pale Ales because when the beer was shipped from India to England, the hops were left in the barrels.
Wheat Beer is pale and highly carbonated. They’re usually fruity flavoured with low malt and hop ratios.
Hops & Malt
There are more types of beer out there, however to list them all would take a while. The ones listed above are the most popular and commonly found varieties.
How To Pair Beer With BBQ
There are no hard and fast rules to pairing beer with your barbecue meals, more like polite suggestions. If you aren’t a huge fan of a specific style, I particularly don’t like overly hoppy beers, then they don’t have to be part of your pairings. However, you should make an effort to enjoy what creative craft brewers have known for years.
Much like wine, a beer's weight, density, and flavor notes will directly effect how you feel, experience, and taste whatever is being served. There are a couple of different approaches you can take to a tasting and pairing:
Pairing beers that compliment the food being served, that way as people go from bite to sip, the food will enhance the experience.
Like sweet and sour or sweet and salty combos, pairing a beer that contrasts the food being served will produce a completely different experience.
When pairing any beer with barbecue, whether you are going with complimentary or contrasting pairings, it is best practice to start with lighter beers and move into darker ones as you move through the courses. This is due to the fact that you start light with the food as well, appetizers, soups, salads. Then as you move into deeper flavors and heavier foods like beef, a darker and weightier beer would be more appropriate. This isn’t always the case, however it is a great starting point.
TEMPERATURE MATTERS: Remember to serve most beers at approximately 45°F. However, you have about 5°F of play on either side of that temperature. Warm beer is the worst, but so is brain-freezing-ly cold. Do your research before serving, some beers in Britain are served at room temperature for optimal flavor.
Finally, remember that just because you are eating food BBQ that is inspired by or from another country, it doesn’t mean that beer from the same place will be an instant and perfect paring. Get out of your comfort zone and try something a little different like Irish Ale with some Grilled Pork Belly.
Remember that local beer and liquor stores sell unique beers in singles, so creating a delightful tasting flight to go with your next barbecue will be easy. What unique beers do you like to pair with your barbecued food? Leave a message on one of our social sites like Facebook and Instagram using the hashtags #BeerBQ and #NapoleonGrill.