Barbecue is as broad a term as “Italian food.” You have sweet and spicy Memphis style; mustard-infused South Carolina style; tangy, tomato-based Kansas City style and many more. Our goal here was to find the throughline of major flavors, and then suggest beers that gave you the best experience across the most state lines.
For sweeter BBQ sauces—like those found in Memphis and some spots in Texas—we recommend going with a lighter, more hop-forward beer. The hoppier notes like citrus, pine, tropical fruit, all complement the sauce’s sweetness, and clear your tastebuds with a refreshing hint of bitterness. It’s that bitterness that’s really the key component with these sweeter sauces. Another consideration when choosing a lighter beer is to go with a lighter meat: we’d say go either pulled pork or chicken with this one. Not that a lighter beer wouldn’t be refreshing with a more full-flavored brisket or sausage, but a lighter meat allows the beer’s subtler flavors to shine through.
- Lighter, more hop-forward beer (Allagash River Trip)
VINEGAR-BASED & INTENSELY SMOKED BBQ
For more acidic or smoky BBQ, we’d recommend a wheat beer or witbier like our Allagash White. Whether the tang comes from mustard or vinegar, the witbier style has an ability to smoothly transition from the food’s sourness to its own blend of spice and citrus. Sausages, ribs, burnt ends, anything that’s spent a whole lot of time in smoke, a wheat beer will not only have a delightful blend of spices, but its fuller mouthfeel is quite pleasant when balanced against the BBQ’s acidity. The mix of fruit-forward beer and more savory flavors makes for a flavor combo that just keeps you coming back for more.
- A wheat beer or witbier with fruit notes and perceived sweetness (Allagash White)
Ah yes, the Alabama white sauce: a BBQ outlier. Creamy and tangy, this mayonnaise-based sauce goes on everything from Chicken to fish. You’re going to want something dry to cut through the fat of the sauce. And because there’s a bit of vinegar in this sauce, we’d recommend something with a bit of perceived sweetness, like a tripel. The balance of subtle fruit aromas and subtly sweet notes of honey make for a holistic flavor that really nicely complements the tart and spicy flavors in this signature sauce. Also, our Tripel finishes quite dry—meaning it won’t linger on your palate—which is essential in cutting through the fatty character of white-sauce-based BBQ.
- A dry, golden or blonde beer (Allagash Tripel)