Barbecues are essentially how cooking started. Fire was all hunter-gatherers and neolithic man had to heat up his food - no fan oven, no microwave. Maybe it's the anthropological history that so connects us to barbecues, the simplicity of harnessing fire to prepare a meal. Perhaps it's the chance to show off our tong skills and humorous apron that does it. But our continuous love affair with barbecues, come rain or shine, is probably down to the fact that food prepared on the grill tastes delicious.
Barbecues have moved on a bit since our efforts all those years ago. The apparatus itself now comes in all shapes and sizes with some gas-fired beasts looking more like family-sized cars. The main event, of course, is the food. The sausage, for example, is no more just a humble cylinder of swine. With bangers now being rammed to the rafters with herbs and spices that offer a huge range of complex flavours, what better to have with it than a beer? The bitterness from hops, one of beers key natural ingredients, will impart bitterness that will cut through the meat.
Burgers come with a whole host of accoutrements to consider, ranging from sweet gherkins and cheese slices (we all love them) to jalapenos and coleslaw. Here the sweet, roasted, toasted, charred character from the malt in beer will complement both the meat and the tasty extras. It’s the dark malts in beer, with their subtle smoky notes that also work so well with the chargrilled flavours of a barbecue. Then, there's the sticky sweetness of a rack of ribs, the heft of steak or lamb chops, or the more gentle flavours of fish, chicken or vegetable kebabs. Add the carbonation found in beer to the hops and malt, which cuts through those dense rich textures, cleansing the palate after each bite, and it’s easy to understand that whatever you fling on the flames you’ll find a flexible friend in beer.
BEER STYLE & BBQ
|Pale ales, lagers, blonde ales, bitters, wheat beers|
Sausages and chicken
|The classic chicken drumstick pairs very well with refreshing, aromatic blonde ales and lagers, where their citrus notes will complement perfectly. Belgian wheat (wit) beers adorned with coriander, herbs and citrus flavours also make a great match for chicken. Sausages can be laden with herbs, spices and some sweetness, so look to pale ales and bitters that offer bittersweet balance and palate cleansing carbonation.|
|Lagers, pale ales, IPAs, dark ales|
|You’ve got meat, bun and all manner of added extras including salad, so an all-rounder is required and pale ales fit the bill. Their healthy hop addition offers both fresh aromatics and bitterness to carve through the meat. A lager will also work with carbonation doing a great job of cutting through the density. Alternatively, opt for the complementary roasted and toasted notes of a dark ale.|
|Bitters, dark ales, stouts, porters, dark lagers |
Steak, lamb chops and ribs
|Porters and stouts have a dry, roasted character that complements steak and ribs very well. Dark lagers also carry enough ‘oomph’ to cope with the big flavour of the meat and the palate cleansing bubbles are an added bonus. Bitters and dark ales are lovely with lamb, offering sweetness to complement the meat and enough balancing bitterness to cut through any fattiness.|
|Wheat beers, lagers, blonde ales|
|An elegant, subtle lager is the perfect fit for grilled fish as it won’t overwhelm the delicate flavours. Wheat beers are fruity, spicy and citrusy thus complementing seafood excellently, and blonde ales have a sweet, tangy character that works very well too. They all possess decent carbonation that will scrub your mouth after each bite leaving you ready for more food.|
|Lagers, wheat beers, bitters, pale ales|
|Bitters and some pale ales have a floral, fruity and nutty character which makes them a great match for grilled veg. The sweetness in the veg will be enhanced with the beer’s bitterness cutting through the texture. Lagers offer similar flavour intensity to their vegetable counterparts, as do wheat beers. Both are blessed with crisp carbonation that will refresh the palate.|