Summer is arriving which brings craft beer and grilling to go with the great warm weather we have here in the Santa Clarita Valley. One of the most “American” of grilled meals are numerous versions of burgers paired with some different styles of craft beer! Backyard burgers are one of the most popular summertime meals and being that we all individualize this classic with different toppings, buns, cheeses and even different meats (veggie burger included), there are many amazing craft beers to pair them with. Anything spicy that is added to your burger will pair well with India Pale Ales or a great craft-brewed Pilsner or Lager. This include roasted chiles, spicy salsa or hot sauce, or even a homemade Tomato-Jalapeno jam. Pilsners will cool the heat while IPA’S will often accentuate the spiciness. Savory flavors such as sauteed mushrooms (or even a grilled portabella mushroom replacing the meat) along with aged cheese such as Gouda or Swiss will pair nicely with Porters, Brown, and Amber/Red Ales. Another great burger pairing is a Belgian Golden Ale, American IPA or Pale Ale with avocado or Guacamole. These hoppy beers will cut through the richness of the avocado and prepare you for the next bite. Smoky flavors such as bacon pair amazingly well with dark beers such as Porters with the roasty malt flavors or if you can find one, a Smoked Porter! Let’s not forget about turkey burgers or an Ahi Tuna burger which both will go great with a refreshing German-Style Hefewiezen. For me, an American Blonde Ale is one of the more neglected summertime beers that will pair with so many different flavors. It’s a great all-around choice and is quite refreshing during the warmer summertime weather. Also, being that Blonde or Golden Ales are usually lower in alcohol than most beers you can have a few without feeling tipsy. As I always say, drink the craft beer that you enjoy with your meal but sometimes if fun to see how well certain beer styles and their unique flavors pair with different foods. Cheers! Rob McFerren is the owner of Wolf Creek Restaurant & Brewing Co.