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Let’s be honest, one of the greatest joys of the summer is the lazy afternoon, spent with friends and family around a grill, enjoying some freshly cooked food with a bottle or glass of something chilled.
Beer by itself can be a brilliantly complex experience, but the food that you pair with it can change its character significantly. It’s not just the food, but the sauce, any pickles, sides and salad all change the palate, meaning the beer tastes different depending on what you’re eating. So, with that in mind, welcome to the Green’s Ultimate Barbecue and Beer Guide!
Firstly, the barbecue staple – the humble burger is actually quite a complex thing. The beef is savoury, slightly salted but quite rich. Ketchup makes it sweeter, while pickles and mustard make it more acidic. An ever-popular choice is an IPA, where bitterness rounds out the meaty, sweet, acidic flavours of a fully stacked burger. Some of the more hop-forward IPAs act as refreshers of the palate, but ones with fuller mouth feels can be more suitable.
If you’re looking for something to complement the savoury umami flavours of the meat, a well-rounded amber could be more of a treat! The nuttiness not only sits well with the beef of the burger, but if your barbecue takes on a bit more a sophisticated nuance and steaks go onto the grill, a nicely balanced amber will sit nicely.
Chicken and turkey are more delicate flavours than beef – and if your chicken has been marinated in garlic or lemon, then you don’t want anything that will override the flavours! Choosing something light like a Blond ale with a soft, lightly spiced flavour will mean you still get all of the enjoyment of the food as well as a beer that works well. Choosing a crisp Pilsner with a citrus-floral aroma means you don’t have the flavour of the chicken affecting your enjoyment of your drink.
Bangers and bratwurst
A good Pilsner is also the drink of choice when it comes to most sausages; whether it’s a hot-dog, frank or bratwurst, there’s a reason that Germany is the land of sausages and lager! Good quality pork sausages have a flavour of their own, but lagers and pilsners work better with the less deep flavours. If you’re adding sauerkraut, relish, mustard or ketchup (or all four!) then the crispness of the lager doesn’t ruin the additions!
Barbecues and vegetarians used to be at opposites, but no longer! Veggie burgers can literally be made to any flavour, so for spicy vegetable burgers, stick with the Golden Ale. The seasonings and spices used can easily be overridden by dark or amber beers that beef burgers suit, so treat them similarly to chicken or turkey. For grilled vegetables, like corn or large mushrooms that retain sweetness, then IPAs that have notes of pine and their own sweetness could be your answer.
There are no hard and fast rules, however, but for the favourite summer pastime, sticking to ‘the usual’ means you could miss out on an entirely new and fascinating taste sensation!