The Essential Meat & Beer Pairing Guide
Table of Contents
Who doesn’t love mixing two of the best things together? Combining grilled or smoked meats and excellent beer is part of the all-American experience.
To paraphrase a beer commercial from the 1980s, “it doesn’t get much better than this.” If you want to figure out the best way to pair beer and grilled meat, you’ve come to the right place.
You’ve probably thought that drinking a light beer with a burger was good, but what is the perfect beer pairing to a burger?
In this guide, we’ll explore some of the most popular grilled meats and best beers to pair with them.
Best Beer + Burger Pairings
When you’re preparing a burger that’s going to end up on the grill, you can start to imagine those sizzling sounds and juicy flavors that await you.
Combined with all the fixings, a burger never rarely you down or leaves you wanting something more (especially when you use award-winning rubs, sauces, marinades and condiments from your monthly Grill Masters Club subscription box!).
Most people feel that a beer is an essential companion when grilling up burgers in the backyard.
There are folks who like to pair a lighter beer with their burger, while some prefer pairing a beer with more flavor and body to support the robust flavors of your perfectly grilled burger, like an IPA.
While neither are bad selections, your choice of beer can have an impact on the overall flavor profile and experience of the meal.
Pairing IPAs w/ Burgers
IPAs (India Pale Ales) are a good fit for people who love to have contrasting flavors in their foods and drinks.
A burger can hold a lot of flavor, and can hit just about every spot on the tongue, save bitter flavors.
That’s where IPAs can deliver and satisfy your urge for some bitterness! The hoppy flavors of an IPA compliment the taste of a burger so well that they’re most folks’ go-to.
If you like IPAs, but want to try a different type of flavor, a black IPA is an excellent choice. It has a roasted malt flavor that works to turn the grilled meat of your burger into a more complex and deeper complimentary flavor.
5 Best IPA + Burger Pairings to Try
Pairing Smoked Porter Beers w/ Burgers
If you’re into heavier beers with your burgers, you can’t go wrong with a smoked porter.
They contain the roasty bitterness you’re probably after from a full-bodied beer, and that smoky flavor combines perfectly with the grilled meat!
It’s a savory flavor that pairs well with a bacon or black-n-blue burger.
If you’re feeling adventurous, you can even mix things up with some barbecue sauce from your Grill Masters Club box. Any solid BBQ sauce will compliment the smoky flavor profile of the beer as well.
It won’t ruin the flavor of the burger, and a smoked porter actually gives off a smooth flavor that satisfies the healthiest of appetites.
5 Best Smoked Porter + Burger Pairings To Try
Pairing Regular Porter Beers w/ Burgers
If you can’t find a black IPA or smoked porter, a regular porter is the perfect alternative. Porters are well balanced and give off a delicious taste.
The roasted malt flavor doesn’t give off a smoky taste, which can be overwhelming for some people.
There are different kinds of porters available, all with their own unique flavors: Black malts, crystals, chocolate and smoked brown malts provide a winning combination with burgers.
Porters are complex, and when combined with a burger, you definitely know you’re eating something special.
5 Best Porter + Burger Pairings To Try
Best Beers for Turkey Burgers
While beef burgers are what people think of when they hear burger, turkey burgers can have their own beer combinations.
Ground turkey is leaner and has a softer taste than beef, so your choice of beer pairing should reflect and respect those flavors. You don’t want to wind up with a beer that overpowers the turkey burger’s flavor.
A beer that’s lower in alcohol content and lighter in bitterness will pair perfectly with a turkey burger.
Depending on the type of beer you want with your alternative burger, you won’t have to sacrifice flavor or body.
Pairing Brown Ales w/ Turkey Burgers
Brown ales are ideal for pairing with a turkey burger. The nutty flavor of a brown ale has a toasty or caramelized flavor that can be produced by the grill.
The combination of the beer’s flavor and the grilled turkey burger will cuddle up with each other.
The flavor isn’t as complex as with a porter and a beef burger, but it will keep you intrigued.
Since brown ales have a flavor that is like coffee, the complexity and depth of the flavor will entice you to keep taking a bite and a swig.
5 Best Brown Ale + Turkey Burger Pairings To Try
Best Beer for Sausages
Beer and sausages are the perfect company on a hot summer day. They go together like peanut butter and jelly.
What’s better than eating a spicy sausage while taking a long draw out of a bottle of your favorite beer?
Sausages are perfect for any beer lover because their fat content can handle just about any and every flavor you throw at it.
No matter if you’re pounding a lager down with a foot-long sausage, or enjoying a grilled brat with a stout beer, you can’t miss.
As for getting the right combination of flavor between your sausages and beer, here are some pairings you should give a try.
Pairing American Lagers + Sausages
American lagers are the perfect complement to a sausage.
Their light bodies allow you to enjoy your sausages without getting too full. The low bitterness allows you to enjoy the flavor of the sausage.
Though they don’t provide too much flavor, American lagers are perfect for eating a sausage that is loaded with flavor. Beers like Budweiser or Pabst Blue Ribbon are low in alcohol content and won’t fill you up while you’re eating.
If you like toppings, such as sauerkraut, relish, mustard and ketchup, an American lager is the way to go.
5 Best American Lager + Sausage Pairings to Try
Pairing Rauchbier w/ Sausages
If you’re not a fan of drinking an American lager with your sausages, rauchbier is an excellent choice.
This German-style beer is a dark beer, and actually has the flavors of an Oktoberfest bier. It has a unique smokiness that it tastes like a spiced and smoked meat.
When a sausage is grilled, a caramelized crust appears on the skin. The snappy flavor of the crust pairs well with the dense and smoky flavor of a rauchbier.
5 Best Rauchbier + Sausage Pairings To Try
Best Beers to Pair w/ Steaks
As the king of the barbecue and grilling, steaks hold a high place on people’s list.
When you fire up the grill after marinating your steak all night, or working with a dry-aged steak, you can feel the goosebumps start to appear.
As you prepare to put the steak on the grill, you ask yourself, “What beer do I want?”
While steaks do pack plenty of flavor with simple marinades, you need a beer that will go down smoothly and pair well with that taste.
Try a beer that can handle that hunk of meat without compromise.
So, do you reach for that hoppy IPA or lager?
Perhaps, you should run to the store and get yourself something darker.
But, what is the best beer for steaks? Let’s dig into it.
Pairing Stout Beers w/ Steak
A stout beer consists of roasted barley, which has a dry character.
The roasted flavor can be complex, which makes your steak more interesting. The coffee or chocolate flavor is robust, and it won’t ruin the flavor of your steak.
Stout beers have a moderate alcohol content and a dry taste that pairs well with steak. They’re the perfect contrast to your juicy, flavorful steak.
Stout beers have the same carbonization process that your steak goes through when you peel it off the grates of your grill. They have a similar taste that works well for any steak lover.
5 Best Stout Beer + Steak Pairings To Try
Pairing Brown Ales w/ Steak
If you decide to go with a leaner steak, you don’t want a beer that won’t pair well.
That’s why for flank or hanger steaks, brown ales offer the perfect balance.
These lightly roasted beers to pair well with almost any steak, and the flavor isn’t overpowering. The bitterness and hoppy flavor provides a wide flavor range, and the alcohol content won’t ruin the taste.
Brooklyn Brown Ale has the perfect alcohol content and provides an excellent flavor for any leaner steak you choose to grill.
5 Best Brown Ale + Steak Pairings To Try
Pairing Belgian Strong Dark Ales w/ Steak
If you want to maximize the flavor between your beer and your steak, you can’t go wrong with a Belgian strong dark ale.
It does have a higher alcohol content than other beers, but it does have more character.
There is a lot of complexity to the Belgian strong dark ales, and the alcohol flavor varies from hidden to exposing itself right away. The combination of hops and malt characters varies, as well.
Most of the Belgian strong dark ales are going to be fruity with some dark malt flavors. They are going to be spicy, which is perfect for a marinated steak.
5 Best Belgian Strong Dark Ale + Steak Pairings To Try
Best Beers to Pair w/ Chicken
Grilled chicken is a challenging, yet rewarding, meat.
It doesn’t have a whole lot of flavor, which is why chicken lends itself to marinades, spices and finding the perfect beer to pair with it.
You want to shift your focus from the flavor of the meat towards the sauces and marinades of the chicken.
It isn’t difficult to find a beer that will pair well with those spices, and you can drink the perfect beer with your chicken.
Preparing the chicken can alter the flavor, especially if you wanted to smoke it before putting it on the grill.
Once you know how you’re going to marinate it, you can choose the right beer for a winning combination.
Pairing Amber-Brown Lagers w/ Chicken
If you decide to smoke the chicken beforehand, you most likely will use a barbecue sauce of some type.
The combination of the smoke from the chicken, and the bold, smoky flavor of the beer will pair nicely together. There isn’t a dramatic shift of flavors, which is ideal for eating chicken.
The caramelized crust, the brown sugar of the barbecue and the beer all have similar tastes that are welcoming to the palate.
If the chicken is lean, drinking a more assertive beer can ruin the flavor and you may wind up tossing it out!
5 Best Amber-Brown Lager + Chicken Pairings To Try
Blonde Beers to Pair w/ Chicken
You prepare herbed chicken differently from smoked chicken, and won’t add a strong flavor to it.
Citrus and herbs can compliment a chicken very well, and you want a beer that can work off that combination.
Blonde beers are perfect for chicken marinated with herbs.
The doughy malt has a grassy, peppery or spicy flavor that can bring out the taste of the chicken.
It meets the herbs to create a wonderful taste on the palate without the overpowering flavor of the beer.
5 Best Blonde Beer + Chicken Pairings To Try
Pairing Wheat Beers w/ Chicken
If you’re not a fan of blonde beers, a wheat beer is an excellent alternative.
Citrus flavors of a wheat beer will compliment a perfectly seasoned chicken.
Wheat beers like Blue Moon are made with an orange flavor with a hint of coriander. If you have a citrus chicken that has a citrus flavor, pairing it with a wheat beer will be welcomed.
The smoothness of the beer compliments the chicken, especially if it’s a little bit drier than you want it to be.
Your mouth will be popping when you add a citrus beer to the chicken!
5 Best Wheat Beer + Chicken Pairings To Try
Pairing German Lagers w/ Chicken
Jerk chicken is an excellently flavored meat that’s complex and delicious. The spiciness of a jerk chicken pairs well with a sweeter beer.
Wheat beers, like those already recommended, are perfect for spiced meats since they can help your mouth cool down when you’re eating a spicy food.
You could also go with a blonde beer, as we mentioned above, to help out with the heat.
However, a German lager that has the grains and a touch of grassy flavor that makes it an excellent choice for jerk chicken as well.
When your chicken is packing heat, you want something that will help you — and your mouth — chill out a bit. Try the beers below to achieve just that.
5 Best German Lager + Chicken Pairings To Try
Best Beers to Pair w/ Grilled Seafood
That being said, the delicate flavors of grilled seafood need a beer that will cradle the flavor in your mouth.
You should find a beer that will pair nicely with the delicate flavors of the seafood.
Seasonings can impact the flavor of seafood too, so you want a beer that can pair well with the marinades or seasonings of the seafood you’re preparing.
Pairing Pilsners w/ Grilled Seafood
Shellfish, like crab, shrimp or lobster, are going to have a more delicate flavor.
Blonde beers are excellent for pairing with those delicate flavors. Blonde beers have a hint of bitterness that can balance the flavor of butter.
You can extend your tastes to include a pilsner that will complement the marinades and spices of the shellfish.
If you want to add some sweetness to your meal, a witbier has a citrus-y flavor combined with the spiciness of coriander.
It’s the perfect complement for any shellfish dish.
5 Best Pilsner + Grilled Seafood Pairings To Try
Pairing Sour Beers w/ Grilled Seafood
If you’re feeling adventurous, you can try out some sour beers to pair with your grilled seafood.
You can pair grilled seafood with a weisse and gose, German wheat beers that complement any grilled seafood dish. They’re perfect for grilled white fish like halibut or cod.
Sour beers are bright and refreshing, which contrasts the oily and fatty seafood dishes you may put on the grill.
Who knows, you may try it once, and never look back after giving this unique pairing a shot!
5 Sour Beer + Grilled Seafood Pairings To Try
Grilling & beer…when it comes to grilling meat, finding the perfect beer to compliment those lovely grilled and smoky flavors shouldn’t be an overly tough decision.
Your tastes do play a role in the beer you want to pair together, and you may even feel adventurous especially once you hear the sizzle of the grill.
You can find beers that will round off your meal by having the same flavors, or maybe you want to try contrasting the flavors for a unique experience.
When it comes down to it, beer should make the meal more exciting and enjoyable.
Even if you’re the type of person that drinks one specific beer all the time, you can always try new combinations to see how different flavors work together.
And what’s the best way to change up your tastes and try new pairings?!
Sign up for Grill Masters Club to receive a box of award-winning barbecue sauces, dry rubs, grilling surprises and recipes every month to elevate your BBQ game, of course!