Reviews, Commentary and Opinions on Midwest Craft Beer and Microbreweries

May 26, 2009

Beer and Food:

Time To Grill

Summer is the season of grilling, and nothing goes better with grilled fare than all kinds of Midwest craft beer.
by Kaitlyn Logue

Kaitlyn Logue is just here for the beer.
Contact Kaitlyn»
Grilling season is finally upon us. Well, the “official” grilling season. I realize that there are some die-hard Midwesterners who have no qualms grilling their brats outdoors when the temperature reaches a balmy 20°. Barbecuing and grilling is one of those great traditions to get out there and celebrate the warm weather. Of course, a good summertime craft brew is always a great compliment to your favorite grilled dish.

One of our favorites is barbecued country-style ribs. Not only are they great to drink with beer, but beer is also one of the ingredients in preparing this tasty dish. I buy large boneless ribs, cut them up and marinade them in a mixture that includes a beer with a light malty flavor like a brown or a red. The beer is a wonderful tenderizer, and the meat is enhanced by the sweet, rich caramel flavors. Once they’re on the grill, they’re brushed with a tangy barbecue sauce.

The spicy hot flavors definitely dominate the entire meal. The marinade includes hot sauce, and crushed red pepper flakes are added to the sauce. Therefore it is important to pair it with a beer that will cut through the strong flavors of the main dish. We like to pair this dish with an IPA, such as Lake Louie Kiss The Lips, Great Lakes Commodore Perry, or Founders Centennial. The bitter crispness of the hops flavor is a nice contrast to the heavy, sweet flavors of the sauce. It cuts through the heavy, fatty properties of the meat, and tames the hotness of the sauce left lingering on the tongue.

I don’t go too crazy with side dishes for this meal either. I’ve found that all you really need is a simple, light salad to accompany it.

We tend to grill out quite a bit during the summer. I typically keep foods around that we can easily throw on the grill for a quick weeknight meal. So, it’s important for us to keep the beer fridge stocked with brews that can be paired with whatever we end up making for dinner. Brown ales, like New Glarus Fat Squirrel, Surly Bender, or Flossmoor StationPullman Brown Ale, goes great with burgers and grilled beef tenderloin. IPAs contrast anything with a thick barbecue sauce. Bell’s Oberon is almost a staple for us in the summertime—it’s versatile and can be paired with almost anything, especially grilled salmon. American amber ales (like Capital Brewery Wisconsin Amber or Dark Horse Amber Ale) and pilsners (i.e. South Shore Honey Pils, New Glarus Bohemian Lager) are also beers that are lighter in flavor than browns and IPAs, but will still be perfect matches with your barbecued chicken, burgers or grilled T-bones.

My advice on enjoying this great weather is to stock your freezer with burgers and steaks, and fill your fridge with great Midwestern craft beers.

Country-Style Ribs with Barbecue Sauce
½ cup firmly packed brown sugar
¼ cup stone ground Dijon mustard
24 oz brown ale
1 tsp hot sauce
3 lbs country-style ribs, boneless, cut up into 1- to 2-in. pieces

Combine all the ingredients, except the ribs, in a large bowl. Pour into a large resealable bag and add the meat. Seal bag, turn to coat ribs. Place bag in a pan and refrigerate at least 1 hour. Turn bag occasionally.

Barbecue Sauce
1 cup ketchup
½ cup Worcestershire sauce
¼ cup firmly packed brown sugar
¼ cup chopped onion
¼ cup lemon juice
½ tsp freshly ground pepper
½ tsp salt
¼ tsp crushed red pepper flakes

Cook all ingredients in a saucepan over medium heat, stirring occasionally. Bring mixture to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer for 5 minutes.

Remove ribs from bag; discard marinade. Place ribs onto a preheated grill coated with cooking spray. Brush ribs with sauce. Grill ribs and keep brushing with sauce, turning occasionally, until ribs are fork tender. About 20 minutes. Serve ribs with remaining sauce.

Today is the feast day of St. Arnold, patron saint of beer.

Drinkin’ And Thinkin’

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