Fire Up the Grill

Scott Biely

scott biely | what i like about brew | july 2019

After months of battling the rain and snow, surviving temperatures that range from cold to colder, we have finally reached the greatest season of all; grilling season! Whether you turn on the gas or light up the charcoal, there is something magical about cooking dinner over the heat of a grill. Brats, steaks and salmon are just a couple of foods that instantly come to mind when I think of heading to the back patio to spark up the grill. But what about the beer? Choosing the right beer for your grilled meats is something that can take your BBQ to the next level.

When pairing food and beer, there are three main approaches to take. Do you want the beer to compliment your food, contrast it, or simply to cleanse your pallet to be ready for the next delicious bite? Different styles of beer offer varying levels of sweetness and bitterness and in turn compliment and contrast a different variety of foods. An IPA will surely interact differently with a particular food than amber ale. Here are some delicious beers I feel pair nicely with the wonderful food that will be rolling off the grill this summer.

Plush Crush

Ale Asylum (Madison, Wis.)

Session New England-Style IPA

4.7 Percent ABV

The New England-Style IPA continues to be one of the most popular styles on the market today. Ale Asylum's Plush Crush is another example of a great hazy IPA that brings with it something many don't: seasonability. Clocking in at 4.7 percent ABV, this beer is one you can drink during an extended BBQ session. Package that with its ability to pair with many different genres of food, and you have a great summer cookout beer.

Taking a sip of Ale Asylum's Plush Crush immediately makes me think of pairing this beer with grilled meat slathered in BBQ sauce. The malty backbone of the beer is really brought out by the char on the meat and the mellow hop flavor with minimal bitterness really adds to the intensity of any BBQ sauce. The hop presence also does a nice job of contrasting the savory flavors grilled meat brings with it. Throw some ribs on the grill, crack a Plush Crush and let grilling season begin.


MobCraft Beer (Milwaukee, Wis.)

Kolsch Style Ale

4.5 Percent ABV

A Kolsch-style beer is generally crisp and clean and offers a wonderfully light balance of malt and hops. MobCraft Beer's Oddball provides this balance and brings with it great drinkability. The beer pours a nice pale golden color and offers bready aromas and a hint of grassy hops. The taste follows and the finish is very clean.

When I think of the Kolsch style I think of it as a perfect compliment and cleanse beer. When pairing a Kolsch you should probably lean towards lighter foods. Chicken and salmon are two great options to pair with this beer. While chicken and fish are great, the perfect pairing can be found by tracing the style's heritage. A traditional German style pairs amazingly with a traditional German food: bratwurst. Nothing screams Wisconsin more than brats on the grill, and nothing pairs better with brats than MobCraft's Oddball.

Downtown Brown

Pearl Street Brewery (LaCrosee, Wis.)

Brown Ale

4.6 Percent ABV

When it comes to grilling, there is nothing that piques my stomach's interest quite like steak. Fire me up a nice medium-rare steak and I'm in heaven. While a number of different styles pair well with grilled red meat, a solid Brown Ale is definitely near the top of my list. Pearl Street's Downtown Brown is a wonderful choice to pair with your next steak (or pork chop).

The key to this food pairing is playing on the savoriness of the meat. While a steak in itself is savory, the char added by the grill adds a level that will make any mouth water. As stated earlier, we can either contrast this flavor or compliment it. When dealing with steak I personally only want to compliment it. Downtown Brown's sweet maltiness provides the compliment a steak is searching for. This beer also provides just enough hop presence to balance the combination perfectly. The next time you slap a steak on the grill this summer, forget the red wine and grab a Pearl Street Downtown Brown.

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