Beer + BBQ Pairings
The Big Red BBQ and Beer Pairing Guide
The first barbecue session of the season is an unofficial holiday in America. It signifies the start of spring. Not the official start when you’re likely to have still a frost on your car in the morning, but the “mow your lawn, dust of your flip flops and get the cornhole out of the garage” spring we all know and love. And no backyard BBQ is complete without cold beer chilling in the tub and making everything just a little bit more perfect.
If you’re a regular to the Big Red Liquors Blog, you know we take our food and beer pairings seriously. If you’re going to wake up at 5 am on a Saturday to put your meat in the slow cooker and claim your role as the official pitmaster of your group of friends, you should also take your beer just as serious. Your regional barbecue style of choice should also be reflected by your beer. So tuck in and get ready for our official beer pairing guide to backyard barbecues.
Beer Pairing With The Big Four Styles of BBQ
You’ll find many different styles of barbecue in a state as big (and meat crazy) as Texas. Typical Texas-style is ribs (beef or pork) and brisket slow cooked over oak. You can add sauce to your Texas BBQ, but it is the meat that is the center of attention.
Pairing: Amber and Blonde Ales are good beers that take a backseat to the meat and don’t compete for attention. This is also a style of bbq that works well with hoppy beers as the acid content isn’t as present due to the lack (or low amount) of sauce. We don’t recommend an IPA or APA with Texas bbq, but if you’re a hop hound, this is the style for you.
Kansas City BBQ
If it moves, Kansas City will barbecue it. Pork, chicken, beef, turkey, you name it, KC will slow cook it over low-heat hickory wood and cover with a sauce made of molasses and ketchup. You’ll also see “burnt ends” in KC, which is the charred fatty ends of brisket.
Pairing: The sweetness of the sauce matches nicely with light German Dunkels or Cream Ales.
Memphis-style is typically pulled pork and pork ribs with a dry rub (garlic, paprika + other spices) slow (very slow) cooked in a pit and served with a thin tomato-based sauce.
Pairing: Memphis BBQ gets nice and smokey in that pit so a malty brew like a Scotch Ale, Porter or Oktoberfest will enhance the experience.
North Carolina BBQ
Down in the land of college basketball and NASCAR, you’ll find bbq made with pork (whole pig or just the shoulder and ribs) brushed with a vinegar-based sauce while cooking. It is served with a ketchup-based sauce. Don’t be surprised if they heap coleslaw on a pulled pork sandwich – that’s just how they roll.
Pairing: The acid of the vinegar means you want to balance with a milk stout or a dark American Lager.
South Carolina Style is similar but with mustard and vinegar sauce which is eased out by the light sweetness of a Cream Ale.
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