Best Beers to Pair with Your Grilled Eats

Posted by Michael Dougherty on Aug 16, 2018 5:50:56 AM

Beer with grilled foodPeople are much quicker to talk about food and wine pairings than beer and food pairings, but with the plethora of beer options available and the countless breweries popping up around the country, it's just as important to know which beers go with the food you're grilling in your outdoor kitchen.

While flavor is a fairly subjective topic, the reasoning behind food and beverage pairings is surprisingly straightforward and scientific. The basic rules of beer pairing are this:

  • Carbonated beers go with rich food because they offset it
  • Crisp IPAs do well to cut through spice
  • Light beers pair best with light food
  • Heavy beers go with heavy food

Now, with a foundational understanding of the principles of beer pairing, let's look at the different meats you'll be grilling and decide which beers to recommend.

What beer goes best with chicken?

The beer you reach for when you're grilling chicken is very dependent on how you season, sauce and marinate your chicken.

For spicy chicken, drink a crisp IPA because, as we know, IPAs cut through heat. If you're grilling chicken that's been marinating in something light like a citrusy sauce, consider going with a pilsner so that you  don't overpower the subtle flavors. If your chicken is very herby, a hefeweizen would go very nicely.

What beer should I serve with steak?

Most agree that stouts and porters are best paired with grilled steak, regardless of the cut. Stouts have coffee and chocolate undertones, and porters have nutty and toffee flavors. Both beers pair well with steak because their malts offset the fat.

What beer should I drink with burgers? 

Deciding which beer to drink with your perfectly grilled burger depends on what flavors you want to stand out in your burger. For example, do you want your beer to cut through the fat of your burger? Then grab a crisp lager, pilsner or Kölsch out of the cooler. Do you want your beer to add richness to your decadent burger? Then choose a dark, malty beer like a brown ale, a porter or even a smoked beer. Is your burger spicy?  Drink an IPA with it.

What beer tastes good with sausages, brats and dogs?

Heavy beers that are both hoppy and malty complement red meat with their sweetness and cut through it with their bitterness. Black IPAs are great for this.

If you're not in the mood for an IPA, you have other options. The sour flavor of a gose or saison pairs perfectly with a sweet Italian sausage. A Märzen lager, known for pairing well with smoked meats, is another great go-to when you're grilling brats, sausages and hot dogs.

What beer complements fish and vegetarian dishes?

For lighter dishes like fish or vegetarian meals, always go with a lighter beer. Depending on how your food is seasoned, a saison or gose (beers from the sour family) could be a great option. If you're not a sour beer drinker, opt for a light Belgian beer that complements but doesn't overpower.

Try it for yourself

The only way to truly know which beer you like best with your grilled food is to fire up the grill and start tasting! Need a new grill before you start worrying about beer and meat pairings? Click on the banner below to get started!

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Topics: Cooking Tips