Bottoms Up

Beer and wine in the Bay Area and beyond

Let’s Beerbecue

By Jay Brooks
Tuesday, July 7th, 2009 at 2:52 pm in On Beer.

It’s time once again for Bruce Paton, better known as the Beer Chef, to share some of his culinary magic with us, this time around on the subject of beer and barbecue, a match made in heaven.

Bruce Paton, the Beer Chef

Food & Beer with Bruce Paton

Let’s Beerbecue

No I haven’t lost my spelling skills. I just think that two of our favorite pastimes can be intertwined in more ways than we think. I am talking about what a large portion of the world populace does when the weather is warm. Fire up the grill and open up a cold beer, does that sound like a plan or what? After all, cooking over fire and consuming beverages fermented from grain both go back thousands of years. The word barbecue is derived from the Taino Indians of Haiti who fashioned platforms out of sticks and dried meat over fire. The Spanish explorers that landed on the island translated the Indian word to barbacoa. The American tradition was started by the English settlers in the early eighteenth century as a social gathering to enjoy meats roasted over hot coals.

I like to enjoy a refreshing beer while I am closely tending the coals and the foodstuffs I am cooking. While I am doing the grilling I prefer lighter styles, also know as “session” beers. These tend to be lower in alcohol and go down very easy in warm weather without tiring the grill chef. Pilsners such as Trumer from Berkeley and Lagunitas Czech Style are excellent choices. If your taste goes toward beer with more hop flavors, Drakes 1500 or Moylan’s Tipperary Pale Ale fit the profile while being easy on the alcohol. And what could be more fitting on a hot summer day than a cold Watermelon Wheat from 21A.

I also like to go to the next level and involve beer in the cooking process. There are several ways to go about this and that is where the fun begins. Beer is an excellent ingredient for marinades and brines as well as basting sauces to finish the cooking process. Marinades do double duty in adding flavor and tenderizing the items to be grilled. Brining and basting are useful to add flavor as well as moisture to foods like poultry and pork that may otherwise become dry during the cooking process. A flavorful beer is perfect in any of these roles. My preference leans towards Porters, Stouts and doesn’t a Smoked Porter Marinade sound good (see recipe below)try Alaskan Smoked Porter or Stone Smoked Porter . Point Reyes Porter from Marin or Magnolia’s Cole Porter also fit the bill, as does Anderson Valleys Barney Flats Oatmeal Stout. The roasted malt flavors complement the roasted flavors of the food while adding elements of taste.

Now it is time to enjoy all that hard work and consume the fruits of our labor. What can we wash down the grilled delights with? How about a beer (big surprise) but which one should we choose? Well that my friends will depend on what you have opted for in the food department. For traditional American grilled items such as steaks, chicken or ribs with a spicy sauce I prefer and India Pale Ale like Racer 5 from Bear Republic or Blind Pig from Russian River. You could also drink the Porter that you used for the marinade or brine. The choices are limitless so fire up the grill and enjoy.


Chef Bruce
The Beer Chef

Dark Beer Marinade

1 C Porter, Stout or Smoked Porter
½ C Chopped Garlic
¼ C Pimentone Dulce (Sweet Smoked Paprika)
¼ C Dijon Grain Mustard
1 C Olive Oil

Marinate ribeye steak, pork chops or chicken overnight.

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