It’s hot outside! Like, really bloody hot. At least for us here in the UK. Which means it’s BBQ season good and proper. That means you need to decide what to take along with you and we are here to help you to be the ultimate BBQ hero. Now we’re not going to delve into the BBQ stuff – the food, the coal or the machinery – we’ll leave that for someone else. But we do not know what beers go well with what food, what beers go with what time of day and what beers are good to finish off the day in style.
Now, to start off, let’s think about your go to, session beers – the brews that are going to keep you going throughout the day. These need to ideally be relatively low alcohol, refreshing and best drunk cold. On that basis, we’re really looking for some tasty session pale ales and lagers. 

Our top recommendation for the pale ale is Gipsy Hill’s Beatnik. At 3.8% it’s super sessionable but it’s still packing a ton of favour, brim full as it is with US hops Citra, Ekuanot, Simcoe and Magnum. If you’re more of a lager drinker then we’d recommend reaching for Brick’s Peckham Pils. At 4.8%, it’s sessionable (by lager standards), but as a representation of the style, it’s one of the best being brewed (outside of the Czech Republic). If you want something lighter, give Small Beer’s lager a try – at under 3% it’s perfect for a long hot BBQ.

Ok, so you’re set for fridge fillers. Time to break the day into its different parts.

Part 1: Arrival

Wild Beer Ninkasi Group
This part of the day often gets overlooked but it really is very important. Whether you’re hosting or being hosted, an interesting sharer bottle is the perfect welcome gift. It’s infinitely better than some cheapo bottle of wine you picked up at the petrol station enroute. 

Looking to replicate that Prosecco fizz moment, there’s a couple of beers we’d highly recommend here. The first is Wild Beer Co.’s Ninkasi. This Belgian style saison has been brewed with bucket loads of tropical NZ hops, freshly harvested Somerset apple juice and has been fermented with a wild yeast. As if that isn’t enough, Ninkasi then undergoes a secondary fermentation with champagne yeast, giving it a brisk spritziness on the tongue. Light, refreshing and slightly tart, this tastes great served in a champagne flute and will definitely be more of a talking point that a boring old bottle of fizz. The other ‘opener’ is one of the Kernel’s Bière de Saisons. Not as widely available as the Ninkasi but if you can get your hands on, for example, the damson or sour cherry variant, we promise you will not be disappointed. The Bière de Saison is a blend of fresh and barrel aged beers which has then been aged for a few months with various fruits. It’s a bit tart, a bit funky, with a big fruit hit upfront! At less than 5% too, it’s a good starter for the day.

Part 2: The Main Course

Smokey BBQ
It’s now of course time to look at some beers specifically aimed at pairing with the food you might be eating. The go to food for BBQs are of course burgers, sausages and chicken. Whilst they’re different types of meat, when cooked on a BBQ, they all take on a similar characteristic, that of charring. So we’re going to give you a nice choice of beers to pair with a BBQ’d piece of meat. Number 1 is Beavertown Smog Rocket, which is a smoked porter that was literally brewed to pair with BBQ foods, given that it originated in Duke’s Brew & Que, Logan Plant’s original restaurant. This is a classic complement – charred meat coupled with a beer made using 9 different malts, including a smoked ‘Rauchmaltz’, from Bamberg. Big flavour hits of molasses, raisins and caramel are cut with the resinous US hop Chinook. OK, we’re not crazy about the Heinken connection,but it can’t be denied that this is just a brilliant pairing. If you’re keen on some other dark beers to try, why not grab yourself either a traditional Bamberg Rauchbier – we’d highly recommend the OG Schlenkerla Rauchbier Marzen – or alternatively pick yourself up some form of strong porter or stout, such as Siren Broken Dream

That said, if you want to keep things a bit lighter, at least in terms of beer colour, then get your hands on a super bitter West Coast style IPA. Something like either Stone IPA or, from closer to home, Weird Beard Five O Clock Shadow. Both have the bitterness turned up to 11, which will be great amplifying any spice you might have on the food, but because they’re jam-packed with US hops there’s some lovely citrusy notes that will help cleanse and cut through the more fatty parts of the dish.

Part 3: Dessert

Magic Rock salty-kiss
Put away those ice pops, the best BBQs now make sure to include a top selection of tasty desserts. Which means you’re going to need some decent beers to accompany. 

Given that most puddings are sweet, the first beer style we’d recommend going for is a fruit based sour such as a Boon Kriek or maybe even one of the Lindeman’s fruit range. This should complement nicely with that black forest gateau or Millionairre Shortbread someone kindly brought along.

If you’re looking for something that can contrast with some of the sweetness, why not grab yourself a bottle of Wild Beer’s Sleeping Lemons or a can of Magic Rock Salty Kiss, a gooseberry sour.

Part 4: The Sunsetter

After a day of eating and drinking, it’s time to wind things down a bit. As long as you’re still with it, you want to crack open something extra special to watch the sun set. Barrel aged imperial stouts are usually just the ticket for finishing off the day, and if it’s that time of year, we’d highly recommend you getting your hands on either Kees Caramel Fudge Stout or Founder’s KBS. Both decadently velvety, and sweet with a hint of previous barrels adding just the layer of complexity you need. 

If you’re a little bit overroasted however, reach for a barley wine and sip it slowly. Fuller’s Golden Pride is just the ticket for this, rich as it is and bursting with flavours of sweet orange oil and toasted grains.