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Beer-BQ 101: Tips for the Perfect Summer Cookout

Note from KegWorks: This is the first in a series of guest posts from the intrepid women behind GirlsDrink.Beer. We think you'll like them as much as we do.

beer can chicken on the grill

We are always looking for fun and interesting ways to learn, bring people together, and drink beer. This time we decided to bring grilling into the mix because, summer. So, we created a menu and paired it with some tasty brews.

To successfully pair flavors that will not only complement each other but bring something fun and different to your taste buds, it's necessary to know some basics. Beer, because of its grain-based nature, is a food. There is a huge range of flavors, aromas, and textures to choose from, which makes beer the perfect match for nearly any kind of cuisine.

guac and beer

One of the most important things to consider is how the flavors will play with each other. Usually, when the food and the beer share common aromas or flavor profiles, the pairing will be successful. Another thing to consider is balance. For example: a hoppy/bitter brew will be a nice counterpoint to the richness of a fatty cut of meat, a malty/wheat beer will play nicely with spiciness in a dish, and a fruit-forward sour will complement the creaminess and sweetness of a dessert like gelato.

Other things to consider when deciding your pairings: seasonality, carbonation, and the origin of the beer. In the summer months, we tent to eat lighter foods and drink lighter/ brighter beers, while in the winter we opt for robust flavors. Carbonation is refreshing; it's what gives you that “Ahhh” after a good sip. The bubbles act like a palate cleanser and get you ready for the next bite. This is especially important with fatty foods that coat your mouth. And when it comes to the origin of the beer, its safe to say that the cuisines of historically beer drinking countries are full of beer friendly recipes. Above all, remember to have fun, don’t over think it, and drink what you like!

Shrimp, Avocado, Charred Corn & Tomato Salad 

Paired With Clown Shoes Mango Kölsch | 5.5% ABV Traditional Kölsch, Dry Hopped With Huell Melon and Added Natural Mango Flavor

shrimp salad and beer

This was the winning combination of the evening.  Bright, crisp, refreshing, the kolsch (in a traditional stange glass, obviously) was the perfect beer to start the meal. With a hint of fruit, it balanced the charred flavor of the corn and the sweetness of the tomatoes along with the richness of the avocado. The corn and mango flavors held hands and danced in my mouth! Because we loved this pairing so much, we decided to share the recipe with you (see at bottom of page). Hope you enjoy it as much as we did!

Beer Can Chicken, Grilled Sweet Potatoes 

Paired With Bells Oberon | 5.8% ABV. Wheat Ale Fermented With Bells Signature House Ale Yeast


We seasoned the chickens with a creole blend of salt, cayenne pepper, garlic powder, black pepper, chili powder, celery salt, ground mustard, ground basil, ground sage, onion powder, ground oregano, and ground thyme. One sat on a can of Genesee Cream Ale and the other on a Miller High Life. (Tip: use a can opener to remove the lid of the can. Place chicken on top of can that’s half full of beer.)

high life chicken

The result was crispy, charred, spicy, flavorful skin and, moist, perfectly seasoned meat. The spicy hop character of the beer along with its wheat malt qualities were the perfect balance to cut through the spiciness of the Cajun rub and the sweetness and creamy texture of the sweet potatoes.

Ribeye Steaks with Grilled Asparagus and Portobello Mushrooms 

Paired With Lord Hobos Glorious APA | 6.5% ABV. American Pale Ale Brewed With Galaxy Hops

ribeye and beer pairing

We seasoned the steaks with only salt, pepper, and olive oil. Gave them a good sear and cooked them to medium rare. The veggies were treated the same way, coated in a mix of extra virgin olive oil, salt, pepper, and thrown into the grill until cooked but al dente. The hop character of the beer was enhanced by the IPA glass we served it in, which played well with the fattiness of the steaks, cut right through the mouth feel in a pleasant way. The tropical quality of the beer was a nice complement to the grilled vegetables.

Vanilla Gelato 

Paired With Peak Sweet Tart Blueberry Sour | 4.8% ABV Ale Brewed With Organic Maine Blueberries

sour beer and gelato

All I wanted was to make a float out of this, so I did. I ended up pouring a couple ounces of the beer from my Teku glass into a bowl with 2 scoops of vanilla gelato. I can’t remember the last time I was that happy. The acidity of the beer cuts right through the richness of the velvety gelato and makes it easier to eat more of it. The combination of the vanilla and blueberry flavors is like the perfect song.

We hope you enjoy your next cookout as much as we did at ours! 

Recipe: Shrimp, Avocado, Charred corn, Tomato Salad

Servings: 6

1 lb med shrimp, peeled & deveined
2 cups halved cherry tomatoes
2 Haas avocados, peeled & cubed
2 ears of corn, uncooked, husk on
3 oz cotija cheese, grated
¼ cup basil (chiffonade)
1 1/2 tbsp balsamic vinegar
1 tbsp olive oil
1 tsp salt
¼ tsp black pepper
¼ tsp cumin

Pan fry or grill the shrimp until they are pink, 3-4 minutes total. Cool and set aside. Pull the husks back from the corn ears and char on the grill, about a minute on each side. Cool, set aside. Remove the corn from the cobs and out in a bowl. Combine all ingredients, except for the avocado. Refrigerate for about 30 minutes. Add the avocado, toss. PUT. IT. IN. YOUR. MOUTH. Thank me later!

Beer Pairing and Blog Post: Syrie Roman, Photography: Tessa Lowe

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