Red, White, and Brewed: Best Beers To Have At Your BBQ

From IPAs to Porters, here are the best beers to have at your BBQ.

Christopher Osburnby Christopher Osburn

It’s grilling season, the perfect time of year for outdoor BBQs. Since you’re not planning on getting in shape, you should have no fear of eating massive amounts of grilled meat chased with a few frosty brews. But, it’s important to know how to pair the right beer with each BBQ delicacy. You don’t want to make the embarrassing mistake of pairing the wrong beer with a rich, meaty steak. What will the neighbors think?

Also: Beer Cocktails: More Than Just Boilermakers

There are few things more American than standing on a beach or in a friend’s backyard playing cornhole (or any number of yard games) while someone grills up an assortment of marinated meat. It’s vital to sip on the right beer while you also manage to juggle a croquet mallet and a charred hot dog. I’m here to guide you to the best beers for the occasion.

Burgers

grill-hamburgers

You might not think darker beers are in season, but the rich, beefiness of a well-made burger (or cheeseburger) is perfectly paired with a porter. The savory, umami flavors associated with the meat, mixed with the tanginess of cheese and pickles, lettuce and ketchup require a dark beer to be properly balanced. The roasted malt bitterness of porters works perfectly with the richness of the greatest sandwich ever made.

Porters Suited For Consumption With Burgers

  • Smuttynose Robust Porter
  • Maui Brewing Company Coconut Porter
  • Oskar Blues Nib Sip
  • Founders Porter

Steaks

grill-steak

When you think of grilling, images of burgers and hot dogs are prevalent. Just as common are steaks. A bunch of steaks cooking on the grill with a bucket of beers is just about as close to heaven as you can get. A great steak only needs a little bit of seasoning, but requires the perfect beer. The richness of a steak is best complemented by dark beers like brown ales, porters and stouts. Just like the burger, a steak draws the usually out of season stout back out to center stage.

Brown Ales and Stouts Suited For Consumption With Steak

  • Dogfish Head Indian Brown
  • Alesmith Nut Brown
  • Bell’s Best Brown
  • Smuttynose Old Brown Dog
  • Avery Ellie’s Brown Yeti Imperial Stout
  • Beamish Irish Stout
  • Founders Kentucky Breakfast Stout
  • Rogue Shakespeare Oatmeal Stout

Chicken

grill-chicken

Proteins like chicken aren’t remotely as rich and fatty as steak and burgers. Regardless of whether or not you plan to marinate it or cover it in barbeque sauce, chicken requires a lighter beer to complement its flavors. Chicken and wheat beer are perfect counterparts because the (sometimes) unfiltered beer plays well with the light protein in chicken. On top of that, beautiful weather is perfectly suited for the yeasty, light flavors associated with wheat beers. If you want to, feel free to throw an orange slice into your beer. I won’t tell anyone.

Wheat Beers Suited For Consumption With Chicken

  • Harpoon UFO White
  • Bell’s Oberon
  • Left Hand Brewing Haystack Wheat
  • Allagash White

Sausages

grill-sausage

Not many main dishes say “BBQ” like sausages. Whether it’s a kielbasa, bratwurst, Italian sausage, chorizo, andouille or beer brat, sausages should be paired with pepper, onions and a great beer. Not only is it traditional, but Czech style pilsners are the perfect accompaniment to a great sausage. The light, maltiness of the pilsner works well with the rich, spicy flavors of the sausage and the sweet flavors of the peppers and onions. The pilsner is the most popular beer in the world and one that is sadly sometimes overlooked in the US. Let’s change that by throwing some sausages on the grill and throwing back a few pilsners.

Czech Style Pilsners Suited For Consumption With Sausage

  • Firestone Walker Privo Pils
  • Victory Prima Pils
  • Pilsner Urquell
  • Oskar Blues Mama’s Little Yella Pils

Hot Dogs

grill-hot-dog

Few meats remind us of summer more than a hot dog. It brings back images of backyard BBQs and days spent at the ballpark. Hot dogs are great on their own with they multitude of mystery meats, but they are even better with a frosty beer. The rich, beefiness of a well made hot dog is perfectly complemented by the bitterness of an IPA. Also, since a hot dog usually only takes a few bites to finish, you can relax and enjoy your IPA while you completely forget about all the work you are putting off while having a BBQ. Those TPS reports will still be there on Monday.

IPAs Suited For Consumption With Hot Dogs

  • Sierra Nevada Torpedo
  • Lagunitas Hop Stoopid
  • Ballast Point Sculpin
  • Sixpoint Bengali
  • Elysian Space Dust IPA

Sides

grill-potato-salad-sides

Burgers, sausages, hot dogs, steak and chicken are fine on their own, but they shine when accompanied by the right sides. Whether it’s potato salad, macaroni salad, a finely crafted jell-o, potato chips, cole slaw, baked beans or corn on the cob, sides need a beer counterpart too. Sides can have different flavors from sweet, to tangy, to tart, to savory, but all go well with a nice, summery beer like a pale ale. The perfect beer for warm weather, a well-made pale ale pairs perfectly with any number of sides and meat combinations.

Pale Ales Suited For Consumption With Sides

  • Sweetwater 420 Extra Pale Ale
  • Three Floyd’s Zombie Dust
  • Firestone Walker Pale 31
  • Sierra Nevada Pale Ale
  • Full Sail Pale Ale
  • Widmer Drifter Pale Ale
Images: Getty