Beer and Barbecue

Beer and barbecue go together like apple pie and baseball.  Before there was a craft beer brewery on every corner people drank flavorless mass produced beers by the 18 pack and provided nothing of value to the meal.  Then came the beer magicians like Greg Koch and Steve Wagner to save the backyard barbecue and to return beer to the dinner table.  This craft beer revolution has relegated the color shifting labels from Colorado and Clydesdale carted beers to the golf course and softball field opening a new door for what is possible for beer.

Don't get me wrong, I enjoy a couple cans of Coors on the course to help improve my swing, but when it comes to food, I want to enjoy all of the flavors and how the beer and dish compliment each other.  Just like a bottle of wine, different beers go better with different foods.  Fortunately for me Double IPAs, especially Stone Double Bastard Ale, go great with smoked foods.  In fact any of the Bastard Releases from Stone go great with smoked meats.  The bitterness of the hops cuts through the smokiness, but the meat is flavorful enough to not be overpowered by these massive brews.

If you are going for some carnitas and a spicy kick of hot sauce, an IPA is a good choice.  I really enjoy Ballast Point Big Eye IPA.  It provides just the right balance to accent the spiciness of the carnitas while cooling the palate before your next bite. I know what you are thinking, I am crazy, Mexican food and American IPA, isn't that yellow beer with a lime hanging out of it the best beer for tacos?  If that is your thing, then yeah, but give an IPA a shot, and you may never look back.

Next is the Burger, oh the glorious hamburger smothered in sauteed onions, cheese, avocado (hey its California, it has to have it), and well  bacon of course. You could pretty much go either way on this one, a good porter (my aunt will be smiling) or a Red Ale.  If you are going to go with a Porter, then Stone Smoked Porter is your best friend.  If an Amber Ale is your choice then a Green Flash Hop Head Red is your choice.

For those that eat a lot of chicken or salmon Kolsch style beer is an excellent choice.  Kolsch is under rated in my opinion and has a nice, light, crisp flavor that good for an afternoon of barbecuing or as a recovery drink from a long workout.  Ballast Point's Yellowtail Pail Ale is a really good representation of a Kolsch style beer in Southern California.  For those lucky enough to live in the NW, Chuckanut Brewery in Bellingham has an awesome rendition of a Kolsch.

When people think of Stout beers they often associate the dark color with an overpowering flavor, but that is not the case.  Stouts can have a balanced flavor that is often accented with chocolate, coffee, or hops depending on the profile the brewer is going for during the brewing process.  Stouts are diverse enough to go with a steak or a chocolate desert. It is a good choice for those looking for a great flavor without the palate busting hoppiness of some IPAs.    

A beer that is quickly becoming one of my favorite styles is Scotch Ale, or "Wee Heavy".  While the beer resembles the color of a fine scotch, there is no Scotch in a Scotch Ale.  A Wee Heavy often has a sweet roasted malt flavor with a subtle hint of hops.  This creates an amazing flavor that pairs well with beef, lamb, and other meats with a strong flavor profile. The AleSmith Wee Heavy is one of my top choices for Scotch Ales.  

I could pretty much go on forever, but I have to save something for next time.  We are in the midst of a beer revolution.  Beer is reclaiming its spot at the table of not only mom and pop restaurants, but fine dining institutions that used to scoff at the idea of serving beer in a fine dining establishment.  This sweet hoppy nectar has a firm grip on my palate and I look forward to introducing more flavor combinations any chance I get, and sharing the experience with my fellow foodies.