The days are hotter, and grillmasters like you are firing up their modern, top-of-the-line grills for the perfect summer cookout. You then prepare several plates of oh-so-juicy ribs and grilled chicken, realizing that you forgot to buy one grilling essential: barbecue beer. A good barbecue beer is a necessity. While cheap beers will do, the best beers for a barbecue are a mix of thirst-quenching, food-friendly, and flavorful. With the mercury on the up, barbecue beers ought to be refreshing. They can simply accompany you as you work the grill or pair with common barbecue grub like steak, burgers, grilled veggies, salmon, and more. They can even be a part of the recipe, per beer-can chicken. The trick here is to find a barbecue beer that can balance, complement, or contrast the flavors of the food.
While stouts, porters, and barrel-aged beers deserve your attention, barbecue beer is generally trimmer and more suitable for the season. This is the time for pilsners, pale ales, IPAs, fruit beers, and farmhouse options. Before you start grillin’ for your friends or family, be sure to stock up on the best barbecue beers for summer.
This collaboration beer between Roadhouse and Maui Brewing is a dandy. A lighter take on the hazy IPA, it’s clean and just 5% ABV, brewed with a touch of Hawaiian passion fruit. It’s one of many tasty beers designed, at least in part in this case, by the Jackson Hole label.
In the backyard, simple can be best. Blue Point’s Summer Ale is exactly that, a no-frills ale made with just the right amount of wheat malt. It’s fresh and straightforward in the best of ways. Enjoy one on its own as you prep your meal.
Rome’s go-to beer is incredibly clean and refreshing, the way a pilsner should be. With moderate alcohol content and utter thirst-quenching powers, Peroni is built for the hottest days of the year, made all the hotter as you work the flames with your spatula and tongs. Crack one and travel mentally to sunny Italy.
This pale ale from Northern California is well-rounded with zest and cracker notes. Anderson Valley makes a handful of solid beers but this one stands out with its even build. Try it with grilled halibut or some corn hit with lime and cayenne pepper.
A model citizen within the hazy IPA category, this beer features a new collaborative trio each year, headed by Oregon’s Fort George Brewery. The latest Three-Way IPA boasts a citrus-y flavor, imbued with just the right dash of berry, grapefruit, and other fruity add-ons that pair well with your go-to grilled staples.
North Carolina’s Red Oak makes a mean amber, and it’s perfect with bigger grilled items such as burgers, ribs, or Portobello mushrooms. Red Oak is German-inspired and a little nutty in terms of flavor, with enough of a malt backbone to stand up to most foods.
Responsible for the original rauchbier — or “smoked beer” — Germany’s Aecht Schlenkerla has since mastered the style. The brewery’s wheat version is a little lighter while still holding on to enough of its signature smokiness to fare beautifully with whatever is in your smoker.
This Helles lager from Seattle is dry, a tad sweet, and hugely refreshing. The bitterness is quite light and there’s a grassy note reminiscent of outdoorsy fun. Enjoy the beer with a fresh batch of just-grilled oysters.
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