Is there anything more classically summer than beer and the barbecue? This summer, cue the brew when it comes to matching grilled fare. Beer’s versatility means there’s a brew for everything that comes off the grill, but it also means if you want to take your beer and barbecue entertaining up a notch, don’t just serve any lager. Pick a beer that complements what you have coming off the grill.

Burgers and Brews

There was a time when burgers were the most common grilling fare, often offered little more than bottles of brightly coloured ketchup, mustard, relish, pickles, or even a slice of fluorescent orange cheese as potential toppings. Despite this, burgers have gone gourmet over the last few years, with restaurateurs and home grilling experts alike focusing more attention on the quality of the beef – great burgers are made with cuts of beef such as chuck with a high fat content – and placing more emphasis on gourmet toppings. With so much attention focused on the flavour of the burger, the flavour of the beer match needs to be a little more amped up than a basic lager. Look to Pale Ales with fragrant fruit, esters and big malt fl avours such as Granville Island English Bay Pale Ale from British Columbia.

Black and Blue

Do you like your beef just seared on both sides, known in restaurant lingo as blue? Consider a black and blue pairing, as the robust, roasted, almost smoky flavours of Stout pairs beautifully with the similar caramelized, charred notes of a steak that has been seared at a very high temperature.

On the Lam from Boring
Get off the typical beef and lager pairings and try grilling up some local lamb served with a flavourful brew. The rich, gamey flavours of lamb, whether it’s chopped or lamb skewers, beg for
a substantive and flavourful beer mate. Chimay Grande Réserve Trappist Ale is a robust, malty and spicy brew that can handle the intense flavours of grilled lamb.

Secret Burger Sauce

Combine1/2 cup mayonnaise with 2 teaspons finely chopped gherkin pickles, 1/6 cup ketchup, 1 tablespoon smoked paprika and 2 tablespoons chopped parsley.

Rethink Surf & Turf

In this case, think of surf and turf as meaning what comes from our coastal waters and what’s drawn from the ground. Long gone are the days when the flavours of the grill were just reserved for the carnivores. Seafood and vegetables have found a place at summer back-deck occasions. When it comes to matching the more delicate textures and flavours of grilled seafood and vegetables, look to lagers with a little malty richness, such as Spindrift Coastal Lager, beers modelled

after Bohemia-style Pilsners, such as Propeller Pilsener, or styles such as German Weizen that boast fragrant aromas but not heavy palates. Wheat Ales, such as German-style Weizen, are great with dishes accented with delicate Asian flavours and Dunkel (dark) Weizen is a particularly good match to richer seafood dishes such as grilled salmon.

No Ribbing, Match Pork and Red Ale

If you take your ribs seriously, as many of us do, don’t forget to serve up a beer that can stand up to the sweet, smoky  flavours of ribs without overpowering them. If you want to support local and elevate the pairing experience, don’t forget to keep the pork local and the Red Ale local. New to NSLC store shelves is the very flavourful Garrison Irish Red Ale, 6 x 341 ml, $13.49.



All steaks taste better when they have been marinated, but tougher cuts such as skirt and flank do particularly well when sitting in a flavourful beer broth overnight. Other, less tough cuts such as tenderloin do better with dry rubs. A great gift idea when attending a barbecue this summer is to bring a selection of your favourite beers and a jar of homemade steak spice.

Brown Ale & Asian Spice Marinade

Combine 1 cup Brown Ale, 1/2 cup maple syrup, 3/4 cup soy sauce, a 1-inch piece ginger (peeled and minced), 4 cloves garlic (minced), 2 tablespoons chopped green onion, 1 teaspoon sesame oil and 1 teaspoon Sriracha sauce in a bowl. Whisk together.

Southwestern Weizen Marinade

Combine 1 cup German Weizen, 1/4 cup honey, 1/2 cup orange juice, 2 teaspoons Jalapeño (minced), 3 cloves garlic (minced), 1/6 cup minced cilantro and 1 teaspoon ground cumin in a bowl. Whisk together.

Herbed Red Ale Marinade

Combine 1 cup Red Ale, 1/4 cup maple syrup, juice and zest of 1 lemon, 4 cloves garlic (minced), 1  teaspoon each dried oregano and thyme, 2 to 3 bay leaves and 1/4 cup olive oil in a bowl. Whisk together.

Homemade Steak Spice

In a jar, combine 1/4 cup each smoked paprika, sea salt, crushed black pepper with 2 tablespoons each red pepper flakes, dried dill, ground coriander, onion powder and garlic powder. Mix well.

Occasions Recommends

  • Granville Island English Bay Pale Ale, 473 ml, $3.49
  • Spindrift Coastal Lager, 473 ml, $3.60
  • Erdinger Dunkel Weissbier, 500 ml, $4.15
  • Rare Bird Full Steam Stout, 660 ml, $6.97
  • Chimay Grande Réserve Trappist Ale, 750 ml, $12.87
  • Garrison Irish Red Ale, 6 x 341 ml, $13.49
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