Top 5 beers for the barbecue

Ayinger Altbairisch Dunkel
( Germany , $3 per 500 ml bottle)

German lager and grilled pork are natural companions; neither overwhelms the flavor or taste of the other. This dark lager goes especially well with grilled pork. Expect a faintly roasty, lightly sweet-but still crisp-character with hints of coffee and cooked caramel and an off-dry (slightly sweet) finish.

Meaty Recipe Pairing:
Grilled Pork Chops With Classic Barbecue Sauce
Add the vaguely smoky effects of the grill, matched by the beer's softly roasted character, and the partnership only improves.

Meatless Recipe Pairing:
Grilled Vegetable Sandwich
The natural sugars in the vegetables make the beer taste sweeter than it is; the soft sugars of grilled vegetables actually enhance the malt sugars of a beer.

Aecht Schlenkerla Rauchbier
( Germany , $5 per 500 ml bottle)

Arguably the ultimate in barbecue brews (at least in Germany ), this thirst-quenching lager is brewed from barley malt that has been smoked over a wood fire. Bold, malty, and unquestionably smoky, with a slight hint of sweetness and a bit of licorice lurking in the background, this is not lager for the timid, but it is splendid when paired with red meats cooked over charcoal.

Meaty Recipe Pairing:
Grilled Spice-Rubbed Skirt Steak
The beer is full-bodied enough to match the big flavors of the meat, and will not be intimidated by the spice of the rub or smoke of the grill.

Meatless Recipe Pairing:
Grilled Pizza Margherita
Schlenkerla is a Marzenbier, a traditional pale ale. Its sweet taste is a natural match for tomato sauce; char the crust for a smoky complement to the beer.

Pilsner Urquell
( Czech Republic , $8 per six-pack)

This Czech pilsner (produced since 1842) has a malty, faintly buttery flavor supported by a crisp, palate-cleansing bitterness, which makes it an ideal foil to spicy barbecue sauce, especially when said sauce is slathered over a nondominating meat like chicken or pork. The dry, lingering hoppiness on the finish makes it especially refreshing and easy to drink more than one.

Meaty Recipe Pairing:
Grilled Chicken With Root Beer Barbecue Sauce
You need a crisp, bitter, and refreshing Czech pilsner to cut through the combination of smoke, spice, and sweet tomato in this dish.

Meatless Recipe Pairing:
Grilled Corn On The Cob With Chile And Lime
The buttery character of the malt highlights the rich flavor of the corn, while the beer's crisp hoppiness cuts through the butter and spice.

North Coast Red Seal Ale
(U.S., $9 per six-pack)

Patriots take note: If you're going to be cooking classic American grilled foods, like burgers, it's only fitting that you add a classic, born-in-the-USA pale ale to the menu as well. North Coast Brew Pub opened its doors in 1988 in Fort Bragg , California , and was a pioneer in the craft-beer movement. The Red Seal ale has a fragrant, herbaceous aroma and a body that balances lightly fruity, caramel-y malt with spicy, bitter hops. Refreshing and substantial.

Meaty Recipe Pairing:
Chipotle Burgers
The greasiness is cut by the hops, allowing subsequent bites to be enjoyed with a fresh palate.

Meatless Recipe Pairing:
Portobello-Black Bean Burgers With Corn Salsa
The spice of the green chiles will be tamed by the hops, while the meatiness of the mushroom is buoyed by the ale's rich maltiness.

Left Hand Milk Stout

(U.S., $11 per six-pack)

Believe it or not, the most versatile beer for the barbecue is stout, in all its roasty, smoky glory. This sweeter version of the style, fortified with lactic sugars for richness and body, is particularly food-friendly and has a natural roasted-malt character mellowed somewhat by a mildly fruity, coffee-ish sweetness. Pair it with almost anything off the grill.

Meaty Recipe Pairing:
Grilled Sausages, Peppers, And Onions On Rolls
Sweet and spicy meets sweet and roasty. It's an even more harmonious marriage if the sausages are accented by fennel seed or anise.

Meatless Recipe Pairing:
Grilled Mushroom Salad With Frisée And Hazelnuts

The intense flavors of grilled mushrooms pull out the earthy taste of the dark malts, creating a gastronomic combo greater than the sum of its parts.

Stephen Beaumont is a veteran drinks writer and author of five books on beer.


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