The best beers to drink with your BBQ

The best beers to drink with your BBQ
14th June 2018 Fussy Beer
The best beers to drink with a BBQ

Beer is an essential accompaniment to any self-respecting barbecue. From the moment you light up the coals, to the time you collapse into your patio chair, belly full and eyes red with smoke.

In fact, lighting a barbecue is one of those occasions where it’s socially acceptable to drink beer while you do it, no matter what time of day it is.

But don’t just settle for a half price slab of insipid lagers from the special offer aisle at the supermarket. Sparking up the barbie is a celebratory occasion and deserves good beer, especially when you’re going to such effort to prepare the food.

From refreshing lagers to full-bodied porters, we explore the best bbq beers that can take you through the whole ritual, from the cooking through to the perfect beer pairings to match your barbecue food. We’ve included some harder to find craft beer gems, as well as some high street hits that should be easier to find at short notice when the sun makes an unexpected appearance.

5 of the best BBQ beer styles

  1. Helles or Pilsner
  2. Citra Pale Ale
  3. Smoked Porter
  4. Belgian Dubbel
  5. Black IPA

Helles or Pilsner Lager

Perfect with: Tongs in your other hand as you stand cooking over the barbie

Choosing two types of lager might sound might sound like a cop out description and, to be honest, it is. It was supposed to say ‘Pilsner’ until we realised our top choice wasn’t technically s Pilsner, but a Helles style beer. Very similar, but with an added maltiness and less pronounced hop flavour. But both types are in the right ballpark for delivering that light, smooth, dry finish, but with a refreshing sweetness and fizz.

Choose a low-ABV here as you’re likely to get through a few of these as you work up a sweat tending to the grill. A lager might not seem the most original option, but the crispness is perfect for helping you keep a cool head. Light and not overly complex, you’ll be hit with a flurry of fumes, aromas and smoke as you light and maintain the fire, so anything with too much depth of flavour will just get lost anyway.

Serve it ice cold, ideally straight from the bottle or can for minimum fuss.

Top pick

  • Thornbridge Lukas

British brewer Thornbridge has embraced the traditional German style as well as any of their European counterparts, using all Bavarian ingredients and Hallertau hops to produce an elegantly crisp lager. A light golden colour (‘Helles’ comes from the German word for light), the cereal flavour of the malts comes through but is far from overpowering with a clean finish, making for a fresh and sweet way to start your day of al fresco grilling and swilling.

High street hero

  • Camden Pils

Other options

  • Hofmeister Helles
  • Sierra Nevada Nooner Pilsner
  • Augustiner Bräu Lagerbier Hell
  • Cloudwater Spring + Summer Mittelfrüh Lager
  • Four – Freedom Brewery

Citra Pale Ale

Perfect with: Sausages

Citrus is the ultimate thirst quencher in many drinks, so the tropical citra hopped ales are a great easy-drinking option for a sunny day. The juicy bursts of flavour also help bring out the sweetness of grilled meats such as pork or chicken, without overpowering the subtle flavours of lighter meats and poultry, and also pair beautifully with caramelised onions and ripe tomatoes.

A German Pilsner may seem like the natural bedfellow of the humble sausage, and of course it’s a timeless winning combination. But more flavoursome bangers will be elevated alongside the hoppy punch and tropical notes of a citra pale, especially if you’re dolloping your hot dog with fruity relish or tangy mustard. The citra is an American dry hop, abundant in some of the most eye-popping single-hopped American pales. But a growing number of British breweries have also adapted it to add their own twist to the big hitting flavours.

Top pick

  • Toppling Goliath – PseudoSue Pale Ale

High street hero

  • Oakham Citra

Available from Tesco, Morrison’s

Other options

  • YellowBelly Citra Pale Ale
  • 3Floyds Zombie Dust
  • Northern Monk Heathen IPA

Smoked porter

Perfect with: BBQ ribs

Now this is a flavour explosion that will linger long in the mouth, but a surefire way to embrace all the smoky goodness of a backyard barbecue. The thick, treacly notes of a porter combine effortlessly with the sweetness of your marinated ribs, adding an intense level of bitterness to complement the juiciness of the meat, while the smoky aftertaste unites with the crispy charcoal crunch of your grilled ribs. Works well too with chargrilled steaks, especially when accompanied with a blue cheese dip or sauce, for one hell of a savoury adventure.

Top pick

  • Stone Brewing Company Smoked Porter

A modern classic in the craft beer world, Stone Brewing produced a traditional English porter, infused with a subtle yet distinctive smokiness from the peat-smoked malt. As smooth as you’d expect from a porter, the complex roasted coffee and chocolate notes and perfectly balanced bitterness pair beautifully with sweet and savoury foods.

High street hero

  • Marks & Spencer London Porter

Not as intensely smoky as a true Smoked Porter, but still with a subtle smokiness from the combination of 7 malts, following the hints of bittersweet caramel.

Other options

  •  Beavertown Smog Rocket Smoked Porter
  •  Top Out Smoked Porter
  • Blackjack Smoked Farmhouse Porter

Belgian Dubbel

Perfect with: Cheeseburgers (fully loaded ones)

The powerful Dubbel goes beautifully with beef and cheese, especially strong ones. Combine those two foodstuffs into a fully loaded cheeseburger and you’ve got a true bbq classic elevated to a new level by the dark, spiced fruitiness of a Trappist-style Dubbel.

This strong Belgian brew also stands up well against spicy foods, cutting through the heat, so whether you’re stacking the jalapeños on your burger, or dialing up the spicy sauces, your Dubbel will more than make itself heard.

Top pick

  • Westmalle Trappist Dubbel

A classic and still one of the finest examples of a Dubbel, coming from one of just six remaining genuine Trappist breweries in Belgium, where the beer is made and sold by monks. Dark red in colour, this living beer pops with Christmas cake-style fruity spices, with a lingering bitter finish. Thankfully this is also one of the most readily available examples of this beer style, being one which you might find on supermarket shelves.
Available from: Waitrose

Other options:

  • Chimay Premiere
  • Ommegang Abbey Ale
  • Buxton Brewery Dubbel
  • Tickety Brew Dubbel

Black IPA

Perfect with: Lamb kebabs

Smooth and aromatic, a good black IPA is overflowing with roasted malty goodness, matching perfectly with the charcoal flavours of your grilled food. The bitterness and hoppy depth of flavour is a winner with lamb, as it cuts though the fatty, savoury flavours of the meat for a real umami party on your tongue. Also goes well with other rich meats, as well as savoury sauces and ‘good’ fats from oils and nutty dressings, for a complex, earthy and bitter finish on the tongue.

Toasty and dark, although not as full-bodied as a stout, but finishing with sharp, aromatic hoppiness of a traditional Indian pale ale, a good black IPA can be a smooth all-rounder to accompany your BBQ food.

Top pick

  • Windsor & Eton Brewery Conqueror

A relatively rare example of a British-made black IPA, the Conqueror from the wonderfully British Windsor & Eton Brewery is a complex brew made up of five different malts for a roasted bitterness, while the Summit and Cascade hops cut through to give it a tropical edge.

Other options:

  • Thornbridge Wild Raven
  • Buxton Imperial Black
  • Northern Monk Black Arches
  • Chorlton Brewing Co Dark Matter

Roundup of the best BBQ beers:

  • Helles or Pilsner
    • Thornbridge Lukas
    • Camden Pils
    • Hofmeister Helles
    • Sierra Nevada Nooner Pilsner
    • Augustiner Bräu Lagerbier Hell
    • Cloudwater Spring + Summer Mittelfrüh Lager
    • Four – Freedom Brewery
  • Citra Pale Ale
    • Toppling Goliath – PseudoSue Pale Ale
    • Oakham Citra
    • YellowBelly Citra Pale Ale
    • 3Floyds Zombie Dust
    • Northern Monk Heathen IPA
  • Smoked porter
    •  Stone Brewing Company Smoked Porter
    • Marks & Spencer London Porter
    • Beavertown Smog Rocket Smoked Porter
    • Top Out Smoked Porter
    • Blackjack Smoked Farmhouse Porter
  • Belgian Dubbel
    • Westmalle Trappist Dubbel
    • Chimay Premiere
    • Ommegang Abbey Ale
    • Buxton Brewery Dubbel
    • Tickety Brew Dubbel
  • Black IPA
    • Windsor & Eton Brewery Conqueror
    • Thornbridge Wild Raven
    • Buxton Imperial Black
    • Northern Monk Black Arches
    • Chorlton Brewing Co Dark Matter

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