Craft Beer and barbecue go hand in hand as one of the many grilling options during the summer months. There are many variations on barbecue sauce recipes and their flavor profiles, and here are some great suggestions for pairing these sauces.
Some barbecue sauces are sweet, some smoky, some spicy, and some are a combination of all of these. Barbecue sauce can be used when grilling on many different dishes, such as ribs, pork, chicken, beef and even shrimp.
One of my favorite pairings for a smoky barbecue sauce is a Scotch ale. Scottish-style ales have a nice solid malt base with a touch of peat, which enhances the smoky flavors while the sweetness of the beer plays well with the acidity of the sauce. If you are using a Carolina-style mustard-based sauce, I would go with a cream ale, Kolsch ale, or a blonde ale. These beers have a touch more sweetness, less bitterness and are balanced between the malt and hops. These will provide a nice complement to the spiciness of a mustard sauce.
The other Carolina-style barbecue sauce is ketchup and vinegar-based, and pairs well with a nice pilsner, which has a nice biscuit malt profile and just enough hops to stand up to the vinegar.
Another popular style of sauce is the Asian or Hawaiian style of sauce, which includes pineapple, soy and ginger. A great pairing for this sauce is a milk stout, which has a subtle sweetness and the dark roasted malts go well with the char on the meat.
These are only a few of the possibilities but the next time you barbecue this summer, give these pairings a try. Cheers!
Rob McFerren is the owner of Wolf Creek Restaurant & Brewing Co.