How To Pair Beer With Chicken And Pork At Summer Barbecues

Many people associate summertime with barbecues — after all, with such nice weather, who wouldn't want to enjoy the warm, breezy air as you cook (and eat) delicious food? Two of the most prominent foods that are enjoyed via barbecue would easily be chicken and pork, both of which are versatile and will give you plenty of options for your summer cookout meal. But, once you've decided which chicken and pork dishes you're going to make, it's time to decide what kind of beer — another summer staple — to pair them with. To help you choose from the wide range of beers out there, Tasting Table spoke with an expert: Jessie Massie, Head Chef at the Sierra Nevada Taproom in Mills River, North Carolina.

According to Massie, pairing beer with chicken or pork has less to do with the meat itself than it does with the seasoning. Massie declared, "A lot depends on the sauce or seasonings used for the meat." She continued with an example, stating, "Grilled white meat that is seasoned with a simple mixture like salt, pepper, and garlic, or an herbaceous dry rub would be really nice with a soft, velvety hazy IPA. You get a nice mouthfeel and notes of tropical fruit and citrus, and that can complement that treatment of chicken or pork nicely."

A stronger sauce flavor changes the pairing recommendation

A velvety and hazy IPA may be good for a simply seasoned chicken breast, but, according to Jessie Massie, it's not the best pick for chicken or pork that is paired with a stronger sauce.

Massie said, "If there's going to be a thick and rich grilling sauce that dominates the flavor of the grilled chicken or pork, I like to go ahead and amp it up with a roasty, malty dark beer style like a stout or a porter." Massie explained that the caramelized flavor of a dark beer will pair nicely with the caramelized flavor of a grilling sauce. Massie added, "Especially if you're mopping sauce onto the meat directly on the grill and layering those caramelized flavors during the cooking process."

If you're looking for some recommendations of the two types of beer that Massie recommended, you can try Sierra Nevada's own Juicy Little Thing Hazy IPA. And for a dark beer, you could try the Modern Times Black House Stout or Hopworks Urban Brewery Survival Stout — both of which Tasting Table named the best stout beers for summer.