When you think movie, you think popcorn. When you think cookie, you think milk. And when you think of a barbecued burger, you think of beer!
Historically, beer and beef have always been a good culinary combination; spring and summer barbecues are often hosted with a mix of hamburgers and domestic beers. But America’s growing taste for culinary-quality beef, alongside a craft brew revolution, has created more opportunities for beer and beef pairings that are vast, delicious, and delightfully complex on the palate!
Beef has traditionally always been a nice complement to a variety of craft beer selections such as Amber Ales, Reds, Brown Ales, Stouts, Porters, and Dark Ales. This makes it hard to go wrong when pairing burgers with beer. After all, burgers are delicious, and beer is delicious, and together they are dynamite! But next level burgers like our Steakhouse Elite Kobe-crafted beef, hanker for a bit more sophisticated and thoughtful approach to pairing your burger with beer—finding a place where “Master of the Grill” and “Brew Master” can find one another.
Five Basic Rules to Pairing Burgers and Beer
1. Know whether a beer is better before, during, or after a meal.
Some beers, such as Pilsners, make great aperitifs—or pre-course drinks--meaning they “spark the appetite.” Choose a light beer to serve before a meal.
Other, sweet and dark beers, such as Stouts, make better digestifs, or after-dinner fare, and are better suited for the dessert course.
2. Don’t mix your beer marinade with a different beer at mealtime.
If a recipe or marinade calls out for a beer, pair that same beer at mealtime for a no-fail, winning combination.
3. Default to full-bodied, colorful and fruity ales.
When in doubt, choose full-colored, fruity ales, which almost always pair nicely with red meats of any kind. An IPA, Hefeweizen, Red or Pale Ale is a good choice for a beer that is very palatable but also has enough acidity and sweetness to cut through the beefy flavor of a burger.
4. Make the switch for the sake of the pairing.
Even if you are normally a wine fan, consider making the switch to beer, especially if you are going to enjoy a spicy or heavily spiced burgers. Lagers and hoppy Pilsners are best suited for these dishes, as they complement the acidity in these foods.
5. Don’t stop at the cooler. Incorporate beer into your burger dish.
Consider beer for your marinade. Beer makes for a great marinade because the acidity helps tenderize and soften meat. Our burgers are designed for optimal texture, but a beer marinade can still enhance subtle flavors in our crafting. Porters, Stouts and Autumn seasonals (such as an Oktoberfest) all make for great flavor-boosting marinades.
If these ideas have your refrigerator opened and your kegerator tapped, it’s time to put burger and beer combinations to the test. Try these beer and burger combinations for maximum kudos on your grill skills and beverage selection.
Burger and Beer Pairings
If you like: Lager
Pair it with: Spicy, Mexican-style burgers and sides such as grilled jalapenos, salsa, queso, pepper Jack cheese, spicy stuffed burgers, cilantro or chili.
If you like: Pale Ale
Pair it with: American BBQ-style burgers with BBQ sauce, bacon, American cheese, cheddar, garlic and sautéed mushrooms or onions.
If you like: Pilsner
Pair it with: Herb-rubbed or marinated burgers such as beer burgers with onion rings, burgers with Italian spices or Cajun-rubbed burgers.
If you like: Porter
Pair it with: Burgers with bacon, pork, smoked beef, shallots or onions, horseradish and a variety of cheeses like Blue cheese, queso, Swiss or sharp cheddar.
If you like: Stout
Pair it with: Rich flavors and spices, like Blue cheese, shallots, Italian spices, Cajun spices, Swiss cheese, brie, roasted red peppers, wine sauces or Au Jus.
If you like: Brown Ales
Pair it with: Peppered patties, teriyaki burgers or Thai-inspired toppings like carrots, cabbage, cilantro, Serrano peppers, pineapple and peanut sauce.
It may take a few times at the BBQ or a couple tasters of beer, but we are confident that with a few of these tips, you can create a next level culinary experience with brightly paired beer and burger combinations. After all, beef and beer are only one letter apart.