Beer and barbecue are American staples. Both continue to evolve, offering greater variety for devotees of smoked meats and fermented brews alike. So what’s new on the beer front to enhance your summer BBQ experience?
If you love the smokiness of barbecue, you’ll want to try a good rauchbier (literally, “smoked beer) like an Aecht Schlenkerla Marzen. Yes, the barley used in this beer really is smoked in a way similar to how a pitmaster lovingly tends a pork shoulder. The resulting “BBQ in a bottle” is guaranteed to enhance any good piece of smoked meat, its malty body providing mouthfeel that stands up to the richness and depth of the flavorful meat.
Looking for something lighter to contrast with the heaviness of the smoked meat and generous sides? A dry Czech Pilsner has enough malt body to stand up to the ’cue, but its finish — a touch bitter and very dry — will keep your palate refreshed throughout a long afternoon of barbecuing and picnicking. The no-brainer choice for this experience is the original pilsner, Pilsner Urquell (“urquell” means “original”). Full-bodied and full-flavored, this beer remains easily quaffable for extended periods at less than 5 percent alcohol.
Personally, I love the heaviness of barbecue — the richness of the smoked beef and pork, the caramelized fattiness, the sweet/spicy balance that a good rub or sauce can bring to the food. For that, I want a malty, almost chewy brown ale with lots of mouthfeel. For that, I recommend a 4 Hands Cast Iron Oatmeal Brown Ale. Rich and sweet from the malt, and chewy from the oatmeal, its pleasant roasted notes go gloriously with those lovely charred bits you get with barbecue. As an added bonus, this brew is also available in cans at most liquor stores, ideal for taking it on the go.