Top 5 Beers to Pair with Grilled Food

When people think about pairing alcohol with food, most people think about wine.  This is disheartening because beer can be paired with food just as successfully as wine can.  The type of beer that is paired with your food depends on the food being prepared.  Interestingly, grilled foods add a unique twist to beer pairings because grilled food adds that charred, smoky flavor to food that not other cooking method can replicate.  Although many beers can be paired with grilled food, there are a few that stand above the rest.

If you are planning on preparing hot dogs, bratwurst, or any other type of sausage, an America Lager is the best way to go.  American lagers are the quintessential beers throughout a good part of the world.  The light and simplistic flavors or American lagers will not overpower the grilled sausages, but will be a highly refreshing accompaniment to such foods.  Examples of American Lagers are Budweiser, Coors, and Miller.

If you are smoking something on your grill, a smoked porter is a great accompaniment.  Smoked food develops a great bark (the brown/black, crusty layer that surrounds the meat when it is finished smoking) that is full of smoky flavor.  A porter is a dark beer with robust malt flavors.  In order to make a smoked porter, the malt is smoked in commercial grade smokers before it is used in the beer making process.  This creates a wonderful malty, liquid smoke flavor that permeates throughout your palate.  The smoked porter will greatly enhance the smoked flavor of the food with which it is paired.  Examples of smoked porter are Stone Smoked Porter and Alaskan Smoked Porter.

If you are grilling chicken or white fish, a lightly flavored, citrus noted beer is ideal.  In this category, the hefeweizens are king.  Hefeweizen is a wheat beer that is lightly flavored, but rich.  Many American bars add a lemon wedge to hefeweizens in order to enhance the natural citrus undertones in the beer.  Grilled chicken or white fish are likewise usually accompanied with a splash of citrus to enhance the natural and grilled flavors of the meat.  Due to this fact, hefeweizens compliment that grilled flavors of chicken or white fish and naturally add a citrus undertone that enhances the flavors of the beer and the food.  Examples of hefeweizens are Pyramid Hefeweizen and Hefeweizen (the brand name is the beer type).

If you are grilling vegetables, a pale ale is the way to go.  Pale ales have a higher amount of hops than do other beers.  As a result, pale ales have a more floral and bitter flavor than other beers.  Grilled vegetables have an earthy, sweet flavor that is perfectly contradicted by the floral, bitter flavors of pale ales.  Examples of pale ales are Sierra Nevada Pale Ale and Samuel Adams Pale Ale.

Finally, if you are grilling steak, a red or amber beer is your best bet.  Red beers and amber beer have more malt than do America Lagers (examples of American Lagers are Budweiser, Coors, and Miller) and will therefore have a darker color.  Reds and ambers have citrus-carmel flavor that greatly compliment the charred, beefy flavor of steak.  The best part is, reds and ambers can hold their own against this kind of grilled food and will not be overpowered.  Examples of reds and ambers are Grolsch Amber Ale, McTarnahan’s Amber Ale, and Rodenbach.

The beer pairings stated above are not set in stone.  There are many more beer varieties available, and you should explore your curiosity and experiment with different beer types for your grilled food. 

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