The prevailing culinary wisdom here in America is that burgers pair best with hoppy beers. We don’t disagree. Hops are a nice way to cut through fat and bolder flavors in a burger’s toppings. But there’s more to consider when looking for a beer to enjoy with your burger. This blog is about getting the most out of this quintessentially American meal.
HOP TO IT
The most logical place to start is with the most prevalent burger toppings: a classic beef burger with cheddar or American cheese, pickles, lettuce, onion, ketchup, mustard, and potentially mayo. Of course, if you’ve been to a typical cookout, you know that pretty much any beer will taste delightful with the burger we just described. We get that. But if we’re getting specific, hops are a great way to go. The citrusy and often sweet-perceiving aspect of many of today’s hoppy beers (pale ales, IPAs, and double IPAs included) is a wonderful counterpoint to a classic burger’s unctuous fat, cheese, and condiments.
A beer with a hop-forward flavor profile, either a Pale Ale, IPA, or a beer that has been dry-hopped – Allagash Hop Reach, Sierra Nevada Hazy Little Thing, Troëgs Perpetual IPA
In so many other instances, the pairings we offer tend to advocate for constraint when pairing beer and food. In this case, we’re going the opposite direction. A big, fully-loaded burger is the right time to bring out the biggest, most flavor-packed beers in your cellar. We’re talking the barrel-aged stouts, the tripels, and the barleywines of the beer world. When faced with a burger that can be topped with onion rings, BBQ sauce, bacon, chipotle mayo, or even mac ‘n’ cheese, there’s no reason to show restraint in your beer pairing.
Pick something of a higher ABV (7% and above) which will most likely carry with it larger flavors – Allagash Curieux, Sierra Nevada Celebration Ale, Three Floyds Dark Lord
OR GO SMALL
The funny thing about this pairing is that you can tone it up or down with almost equal success. All of those big burger flavors can also be nicely complemented by something that is extremely light. Think of the beer as a palate cleanser, rather than something that has to add flavor to the mix. In this instance, something light and refreshing will be just the ticket. We’re thinking beers like Pilsners, blonde ales, and saisons. Those three styles of beer are crisp and notably dry, meaning they’ll clear all that grease from your palate and prepare you for another big, burgery bite.
Go for a dry, refreshing beer to cleanse your palate – Allagash White, Firestone Walker Pivo Pils