Food Pairings

The Best Beer Pairings for Memorial Day Grilling

May 27, 2017

Memorial Day weekend is here, and with it comes warmer temperatures, cold beer, and backyard grilling with friends and family. You might be thinking, “it’s a backyard BBQ, as long as the ice chest is full it doesn’t matter which beers are in there,” but I’m telling you some are going to wash that smoky, grilled meat down much better than others.

Before the meat and fixins have even hit the grill, you’re going to want something refreshing to cool you down while you stand over all that heat. For grillmasters I’d suggest something with a light body, light ABV (since you don’t want to get ahead of yourself too early), refreshing balance, and maybe a light citrusy quality. Personally, I like it when the beer I’m enjoying in warm weather has a tart kick that reminds me of lemonade or Arnold Palmers when I was younger.

For beer while you’re grilling, I’d suggest:  Pilsner or Saison

Pilsners are light bodied, dry, boast a delicious hop aroma, and promise a clean balance that makes them very drinkable. Saisons are highly carbonated, dry, and boast a unique Belgian yeast gives them a kick that is very refreshing, and tasty when combined with some citrus.

For burgers, I’d suggest:  Porter or Black IPA

A Porter or Black IPA will have roasty malt flavors that pair well with your grilled patties. The Porter will be more malt forward – biscuity & bready, while the Black IPA will be more hop-forward, though not bitter.

For hot dogs, I’d suggest: Belgian Dubbel or well-balanced IPA

Hot dogs bring a whole lot of flavor with them. The sausage link, bun, and many condiments mean that the beer being paired must be a multitasker of sorts. Dubbels have rich, malty flavor with spice, fruit, and ester notes, meaning they too have complex flavor to compliment the hot dog. They aren’t terribly boozy and warming, and finish with a dryness that makes them drinkable, and suitable for outdoor beer sipping in the heat. A balanced IPA will have crisp, clean hop bitterness (though not too much, thus the “well-balanced” bit) that cuts through particularly rich hot dogs, if you are more interested in a beer that will bring contrast.

For chicken (grilled or fried), I’d suggest: Amber-to-Brown Lager or Helles Lager

Juicy, savory chicken pairs excellently with amber lagers like Märzen (Oktoberfest beer) or Vienna Lager, which are malty, bready, dry, easy to drink and complement the chicken’s flavor. For something smooth and grainy sweet with spicy, floral, herbal hops, Helles Lager would also be an excellent choice.

For ribs or pork shoulder, I’d suggest: Dunkel or Kölsch

Rich, salty, smoky pork deserves a bold complement, which is precisely what a Dunkel or roasty, smoky Porter will provide. If you’d rather enjoy a light and crisp beer to contrast the pork, a Kölsch will bring enough character and hops to stand out.

For grilled veggies, I’d suggest: – Pilsner, Helles Lager, or Schwarzbier

Portobellos, zucchini, green onions, and all the rest may bring a variety of tastes, but a light-bodied Pilsner or smooth Helles will pair well without overpowering. For more hop bitterness and character, a Schwarzbier would be an excellent choice.

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