The Beer To Bring To A BBQ That'll Pair Well With Everything

Summer is the perfect time for cookouts featuring tasty meals cooked on the grill and fun and fresh sides like creamy potato salad, corn on the cob, and even just regular old potato chips. The perfect accompaniment to these salt and savory foods is an ice-cold drink, and for the adults, what's better for cooling down than a chilly beer? The only catch is that an already-frazzled host (perhaps like yourself) might have a hard time selecting a brew.

With over a hundred different types of beer around the world, it can be tough to know which is the best to buy. Sure, you could buy a generic case of light beer, but what if you or your guests like something a bit more complex? Felipe Diaz, Bar Manager and Sommelier at Zingerman's Roadhouse, spoke with Daily Meal and gave a few exclusive insights into which brews are best for your summer cookouts. He explains that your choice doesn't lie exclusively in tasting notes, like it might when choosing the best wine for a summer barbecue. Regarding beer, he says to "worry less about pairing it with the food; I look to pair it with the vibe."

Match your beer to your atmosphere

Felipe Diaz says that a big part of picking a beer is to consider who's going to be at the barbecue. "If the crowd is a lot of gourmands and food lovers, I'll bring a beer that helps to accent the main protein, usually a classic IPA like Bell's Two Hearted." IPAs or India Pale Ales tend to be highly hoppy, with notes of earthy, citrusy, and herbal notes. Their characteristic dry bitterness makes them quite refreshing at a summer cookout. Not into IPAs? Learn more about the ins and outs of dry beer and choose one you think you'll enjoy, whether it be a classic Asahi or a small craft brand to please discerning gourmands.

On the other hand, sometimes you're dealing with groups that are more laid-back and perhaps aren't as familiar with specialty beers. "If the crowd is more casual," Diaz says, "I'll bring along an easygoing American lager, like Short's Local's Light Lager." While you can go more upscale with a craft lager, some of the most popular beers in America are in this style — take Miller High Life, a balanced beer with plenty of bubbles. Other crowd-pleasing beers include Corona, which is a smooth Mexican lager, or Heineken, which is a European-style lager.

How to keep your beer chilled at a BBQ

Once you've selected the right beer for your barbecue, it's time to think about the temperature, too. Most of us know that a beer that's too warm can wind up tasting flat, and loses some of its hoppy flavor. At the same time, if you serve it too cold, you'll mute some of the beer's taste and aroma, as well. Typically, you'll want to keep your beer between 33 and 55 degrees Fahrenheit, depending on the type of brew you're serving. 

With hot summer temperatures, this range can be tough to maintain, but Felipe Diaz has a suggestion: "For keeping beer cold over a long period of time, I use science. Add some salt to your ice; it'll lower the freezing point, which means your ice melts more slowly, and keeps your drinks colder for a longer period." Beer left on ice can reach as low as 32 degrees Fahrenheit, putting it right on the cusp of the ideal drinking temperature. It should warm up by at least one degree while your guests enjoy mingling with a bottle or can in hand.