beer and barbecue

The ultimate guide to pairing beer and barbecue

Nothing complements the smoky flavours of a perfectly grilled barbecue like a cold, refreshing beer. The art of pairing beer with barbecue is a culinary adventure that can elevate your dining experience to new heights. In this ultimate guide, we’ll explore the intricacies of matching beer with various barbecue dishes, helping you discover the perfect harmony between flavours. We know it’s a real challenge pairing the right beer and BBQ so we have compiled helpful tips.

First of all, learning these three simple rules will elevate your pairing game and you’ll be choosing the right beer to pair with any type of meat in no time:

Light beer should go with light food and heavy beer with heavy food.

If you serve beer with spicy food, make sure the beer has high maltiness.

Serving beer with food items cooked with wine is not a great idea.

Understanding beer styles

Before diving into the world of beer and barbecue pairings, it’s essential to familiarize yourself with different beer styles. From light and crisp lagers to robust stouts and hoppy IPAs, each beer style brings unique characteristics to the table. Understanding these nuances will pave the way for successful pairings.

Classic pairings

  1. Lager and burgers. The clean and crisp profile of a lager complements the savoury goodness of a classic burger. Opt for a light lager to cleanse the palate between each flavorful bite.
  2. Pale ale and grilled chicken. The balanced bitterness and citrusy notes of a pale ale cut through the richness of grilled chicken, creating a harmonious combination.
  3. Stout and barbecue ribs. The bold and toasty flavours of a stout can stand up to the intense smokiness of barbecue ribs, providing a delightful contrast that tantalizes the taste buds.

Consider intensity

Pairing beer with barbecue isn’t just about matching flavours; it’s also about considering the intensity of both the food and the beer. Lighter beers work well with more delicate flavours, while more robust beers can complement heartier, spicier dishes.

Inspiration for the greatest grillers

Take inspiration from the barbecue styles of different regions when selecting your beer. For example, pair a hoppy IPA with tangy and spicy Texas barbecue, or opt for a malty amber ale to accompany Kansas City-style barbecue’s sweet and smoky notes.


Don’t be afraid to get creative and experiment with different beer and barbecue combinations. Try a fruity wheat beer with grilled shrimp skewers or a sour ale with smoked sausages. The possibilities are endless, and your palate is the ultimate judge.

Serving temperatures

Consider serving temperatures when pairing beer with barbecue. While some beers are best enjoyed ice-cold, others, such as stouts and porters, may benefit from being served at slightly warmer temperatures to enhance their complex flavours.

Pairing beer with grilled fish

Pairing beer and barbecue is not a challenge. However, when it comes to grilled fish, you might struggle to choose the proper beer since it’s not a protein we often cook on the grill.

Grilled fish and seafood pair well with mildly hoppy beers like a pale ale or a session IPA.

Pairing beer with grilled fish involves finding a brew that complements the delicate flavours of the grilled fish without overpowering them.

Some beer styles that work well with grilled fish could be a refreshing wheat beer. Moreover, the balanced bitterness and hoppy character of a pale ale can cut through the richness of grilled fish, providing a nice contrast. Opt for a pale ale with a moderate alcohol content to maintain a harmonious balance.

pairing beer and barbecue
Grab your favourite beer and enjoy!

Also, if you enjoy hop-forward beers, a Citra-hop IPA can be an excellent choice. The citrusy and tropical fruit notes from the hops can complement the grilled fish without overwhelming it.

What beer goes well with vegetables?

A lighter beer-like pilsner has a refreshing, crisp taste that compliments salads dressed in tangy vinaigrettes, as well as simple pan-roasted green veggies. Grilled veggies, on the other hand, pair better with an amber lager, which has more body and a slight sweetness that complements the smoky flavours from the grill

Moreover, the fruity and spicy characteristics of a Saison can complement the earthy flavours of grilled vegetables. The effervescence of this farmhouse ale can also cleanse the palate between bites.

Also, a classic Pilsner is an excellent choice to accompany grilled vegetables. Its light maltiness and refreshing qualities won’t overpower the delicate flavours of the veggies.

When pairing beer with grilled veggies in a barbecue, a fresh lager should do the trick here – just like with the fish, the crispness will cut through nicely but, if you’re in search of more flavour, try something sweeter and boozier.

The art of pairing beer with barbecue is an enjoyable and subjective journey. Embrace the diverse world of craft beers, explore various styles, and let your taste buds guide you. Whether you’re hosting a backyard barbecue or enjoying a meal at your favourite smokehouse, the perfect beer pairing can elevate the overall experience, making it a celebration of flavours and camaraderie. Cheers to the ultimate union of beer and barbecue!

And remember, personal preferences play a significant role in beer pairings, so feel free to experiment and find the combination that suits your taste buds the best.


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