Few things are more all-American than a cold beer at a backyard barbecue. But if you want to step up your game and pair your beer choices with your food, how do you determine your lineup? We caught up with The Beer Chicks, Hallie Beaune and Christina Perozzi -- owners of the 8th Street Bottle Shop in Los Angeles and authors of "The Naked Pint: An Unadulterated Guide to Craft Beer" -- to learn their secrets to picking brews for a barbecue.
For General Sipping: Pale Ale or Pilsner
Pilsner is the classic beer -- crisp, clean and dry, it's always a crowd-pleaser. The light lager traditionally from Bohemia is excellent for anytime sipping. Pale ale has a stronger hop flavor -- it's less super-charged than an IPA, but it will still satisfy the hopheads in your life. We like Dale's Pale Ale from Oskar Blues brewery, not in the least because it comes from a can. Not only are cans easier to keep cold and transport, but "cans are great for the beer because they block out the sun which can ruin beer," says Beaune.
For Veggies and Seafood: Wheat Beer
There are two major styles of wheat beer that the Beer Chicks recommend for a barbecue -- Hefeweizen, traditionally from Germany, is the most well-known. It's a filtered wheat beer that has notes of clove and banana. Its relatively low alcohol content and bright flavor makes it a great contender for an outdoor shindig. It can also be used in the kitchen: Beaune recommends adding it to salad dressing. Belgian wit beer is light-bodied and citrusy, it's traditionally spiced with coriander seeds and orange peel, flavors that "complement veggies and seafood without overpowering them," said Beaune.
For Carne Asada and BBQ Sauce: Amber Ale
For spicy foods with a lot of flavor, the Beer Chicks recommend carmelely, malty, slightly sweet amber ales. "American Reds, like North Coast's Red Seal, have notes of caramel and nuts and finish with a crisp, clean, hoppy bite," says Beaune. "This goes well with spicy, sweet BBQ sauce without overpowering the meat flavor."
For Burgers: IPA
"With a nice cheeseburger with all the fixins' you gotta have a crisp, hoppy IPA," says Beaune. "This is a beer with a nice bitter bite and notes of grapefruit, pine and citrus. The hops cut through the fat and big flavors of the burger."
For The “Wow” Factor: Rauchbier and Schwarzbier
Impress your guests with your beer knowledge by serving these two lesser-known beer styles from Germany. Rauchbier is a German-style beer that is made with smoked malt. "They can be quite bold, with notes of bacon and campfire. Perfect for bbq and smoked meats!" says Beaune. Another outlier the Beer Chicks recommend is Schwarzbier, which means 'black beer' in German. It's less smoky and lighter than Rauchbier, but still "awesome with bbq."
For Dessert: Stout
Stout is velvety and dessert-like on its own, but if you want to gild the lily, the Beer Chicks have a recommendation: "Throw a scoop of ice cream into a Russian Imperial Stout like North Coast Brewing's Old Rasputin, which is a beer with notes of espresso and chocolate." Sign us up.