Food & Wine

Beer meets grill: Summer pairings offer flavorful versatility

Photo By: Courtesy of Derek
Photo Courtesy Of Derek Grilled T-bone steak, benefits from the nuances of an aged ale. Wolfgram

The wide range of beer styles and flavor profiles creates plentiful opportunities for food pairing.

In fact, Garrett Oliver, brewmaster at Brooklyn Brewing and author of “The Brewmaster’s Table” (Ecco, 2003), suggests that beer is even more versatile than wine for pairing with main courses, cheeses or even desserts.

In the summertime, enjoying dinner fresh off the grill with locally brewed beers is one of my favorite meals. Following are a few combinations you may enjoy.

Hawaiian teriyaki chicken kabobs, paired with Knee Deep Brewing Citra Extra Pale Ale (based in Lincoln)

Citra Extra Pale Ale packs an intense, fruity punch of hop flavor and aroma, without the extreme bitterness of many India pale ales, allowing it to be more versatile in food pairing. The beer contains only citra hops, which feature a complex profile with a wide variety of fruit flavors, including sweet mango, crisp nectarine and tart lime notes. At 7 percent alcohol by volume, the beer has a pronounced but fairly simple malt flavor. A touch of sweetness comes through, but the malt definitely takes a backseat to the hops.

The beer pairs nicely with Hawaiian teriyaki grilled chicken kabobs with red onions, red peppers and pineapple. Grilling the fruit and vegetables brings out a caramelized sweetness, as well as a hint of smokiness from the red peppers. The crisp flavor of the beer complements the smoky sweetness of the fruit and veggies, and the tropical, fruity hops cut through the salty-sweet soy-pineapple marinade on the chicken.


Grilled T-bone steak, paired with Russian River Brewing Co.’s Consecration (Santa Rosa)

With a juicy steak, the classic beverage pairing is a robust red wine like Cabernet or Syrah, because the astringent tannins can stand up to the marbled fat and the char from the grill.

Consecration is one of the most “winelike” beers available – not only is it aged in Cabernet barrels for several months with black currants, but it also clocks in at 10 percent alcohol by volume, much closer to the alcohol content of wine than a typical beer.

When Consecration is poured, it appears relatively thin and the carbonation fades quickly, but the appearance belies an intensity of flavor and aroma to match any big red wine. The predominant aroma and flavor is sour cherry, with hints of vanilla, and dark raisinlike dried fruit. As it warms up, vinous aromas include earthiness and floral notes, reminiscent of Pinot Noir.

Sour beers, typically fermented with brettanomyces yeast and/or bacteria like lactobacillus and pediococcus in addition to traditional ale yeast, are not for everyone’s palate – but Consecration is one of the best examples on the market.


Hot dogs, paired with Trumer Pils (Berkeley)

Watching a baseball game on a Saturday or Sunday afternoon, I enjoy traditional ballpark fare – hot dogs and salted-in-the-shell peanuts. To pair with the salty, savory, snappy goodness of a hot dog (or other grilled sausage of choice), a crisp, light, refreshing brew is the ideal pairing.

Instead of one of the light lagers brewed by one of the big commercial breweries, try Berkeley’s Trumer Pils. With a subtle spicy, earthy aroma from Saaz hops and a delicate, clean bitterness, this German-style pilsner has much more flavor and complexity than the typical macro-brewed light lager without being overwhelming. The high carbonation level, low alcohol (4.9 percent by volume) and crisp finish of Trumer Pils are sure to quench your thirst.

Derek Wolfgram is chief communications officer for the Los Altos Hills-based Silicon Valley Sudzers Homebrew Club. For more information, visit or email [email protected]

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