Tap This: Burgers, brews & BBQ’s

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Summer’s here. This means we will spend much more time outdoors and cooking on grills.

Cookouts mean we will enjoy lots of great beers, both while cooking and as pairings for the delicious foods you’ve cooked. Beer is a beverage that compliments any meal, but there are distinct beer styles that go better with certain foods.

So, whether you are a fan of hamburgers, chicken, ribs, IPAs, wheat beers or brown ales, there is certainly a perfect combination to enjoy this summer. Here is a short list of popular cookout dishes and some recommended beers to pair with them.

Hamburgers: The cut of meat you choose to use is up to you, but organic grass-fed beef is most definitely the prime choice (if possible). The wonderfully cooked and slightly caramelized meat goes perfectly with beers that will accentuate the natural sweetness in the meat. American Brown Ales fit the bill perfectly, with subtle hop notes providing just the right amount of bitterness and a soft, sweet malt bill that is the perfect partner for red meat. Some great American Brown Ales to try are: Dogfish Head Brewery- Indian Brown Ale; Avery Brewing- Ellie’s Brown Ale, Smuttynose Brewing- Old Brown Dog Ale; Anchor Brewing- Brekle’s Brown.

Chicken: This dish depends on your preparation of the meat. If you are a fan of straightforward grilled chicken with light amounts of salt and pepper and little else, then try a light pilsner. If you love to lather on the barbecue sauce for an extra layer of sweetness, then pair your poultry with a devilishly decadent American Double IPA. Some great pilsners to try are: Victory Brewing Prima Pils; Firestone Walker- Pivo Pils; Sixpoint Brewery The Crisp; North Coast Brewing Scrimshaw Pilsner. If you are looking for some solid DIPAs, these choices are some of BBQ chicken’s best friends: Dogfish Head Brewery- 90 Minute IPA; Great Divide Brewing- Hercules IPA; Founders Brewing- Double Trouble; Lagunitas Brewing- Lagunitas Sucks.

Fish: Fresh fish, especially salmon, is wonderful on the grill. Just be careful not to let it fall apart and into the fire! No matter the preparation of the fish, one particular style of brew pairs perfectly with fish: weissbier. The refreshing qualities of the beer that impart tart notes with bright lemon acidity will enhance and compliment any fish. Some great weissbiers to try are: Dogfish Head Brewery- Festina Pêche; Bear Republic Brewing Tartare; Saint Arnold Brewing- Boiler Room Berliner Weisse; Firestone Walker Brewing- Bretta Weisse.

Ribs: Another meat dish that takes on wonderfully sweet caramel notes as it cooks, and, the thicker the sauce, the more decadent the dish becomes. The best pairing with this dish is one that will cut through the sweetness and leave behind a crisp, clean and dry finish. The best pairing for ribs is an American IPA such as: Cigar City- Jai Alai; Sierra Nevada- Torpedo; Firestone Walker Brewing- Union Jack; Deshutes Brewery- Fresh Squeezed IPA.

Salad: While salads are enjoyed year round and don’t require a grill to make, they are popular staples at most cookouts, and a great option to have on hand for any vegetarian friends. The subtleties of a salad can be lost when paired with the wrong beer as anything too heavy will crush the salad. Salads require a beer that is light, refreshing and complimentary to the delicate flavors. This calls for an American Pale Wheat Ale. Try these: New Belgium Brewing- Snapshot Wheat; Boulevard Brewing- 80 Acre Hoppy Wheat; Lagunitas Brewing- A Little Sumpin’ Sumpin’ Ale; Southern Tier Brewing- Hop Sun.

No matter what foods you enjoy this summer, there is always a great craft beer out there that will elevate your dish. Summer is the best time to explore and find new great beer and food combinations!