Unibroue Trois Pistoles is my go-to when looking for a brew to take the place of the traditional glass of red wine with a perfectly grilled steak. It’s big and rich, has plenty of body and alcohol — 9 percent alcohol by volume (ABV) to hold up to a hearty meal — and has a sweetness that comes off as something similar to red wine grapes. The subtle sweetness is essential when looking for a beer that enhances the slightly sweet notes that come with the caramelized fat you get with a wonderfully seared cut of beef.
If you’re keeping it light with seafood and doing something like salmon or shrimp, then you can’t go wrong with a traditional saison. Ommegang’s Hennepin is one of the most underrated beers on planet Earth. As ubiquitous as a saison is with most meals, it really sings with seafood. It’s sharp, effervescent and will keep your palate clean and light throughout the meal. With notes of lemongrass, herbs and wildflowers, this beer also pairs well with seasoned, grilled fish.
Lastly, and perhaps most importantly, what’s the grill master drinking while they’re preparing the feast? You’re on the deck and you need something to keep you company while you keep a close eye on the grill. Ideally, you keep it light and wait until the meal before you pull out the big guns.
Boulevard’s Kolsch is a brand new offering that’s going to be on the “light” side of things, with just enough notes of biscuit and light fruit from the special yeast strain to keep things interesting. Good news, it comes in cans and will be easy to keep in a cooler next to the grill. Kolsch is essentially an ideal “patio beer,” whether you are cooking by fire or not.