Beer and barbeque is a just natural match. Beer has a traditional association of tongs in one hand and a beer in the other that is one of the great symbols of Australia’s relaxed outdoor lifestyle.

More than just that casual association though, beer is also a great flavour match for barbeque. Here we don’t just mean tipping a few glugs of lager onto your onions. The flavours of beer are such a glorious match for the flavours of meat that has been seared over a flame.


But there is a much deeper link between the brew and ‘cue, and that is, both have changed dramatically over the last few years. A decade ago to order a beer was to choose between ‘heavy’ and ‘mid’, the brands largely interchangeable. Today we have a multitude of beers to choose from and more than 400 small breweries crafting them.

As it is with barbeque. Gone are the days when tossing s couple of snags and chops onto a hot plate and presenting them, with a side of salad, as a burnt offering to one’s guests is seen as the highest form of outdoor cooking. Today barbeque covers a myriad of techniques and one of the most exciting is the smoker.

Low and slow cooking allows you to take a great piece of meat and do more than just cook it. You can infuse it with a wide variety of flavours depending on wood types and rubs and this is where the art of beer matching comes in.

As we have moved away from traditional lagers, whose chief character was refreshment, into a world where beer has more flavour, we have been given opportunity to find flavours that match with what we are eating.

The diversity of styles gives the beer drinker plenty of scope to find characters from the malt, hops and yeast that will pair with what you are cooking.

The first rule to beer and barbeque matching is don’t take it all too seriously. It’s meant to be fun and it’s meant to be pleasurable. Experiment and have fun.

With the delicious caramelised flavours that develop in barbeque, beers with a malt profile match well. These beers tend to be a little darker than lagers due to the slightly toasted malts that are used, and give roast character of stout…though many stouts work beautifully with barbeque.

Hops too can play a role in matching, depending on the rub and the marinade. Hops create the bitterness in beer, but more recently brewers have been using newer varieties that can also have spicy, fruity and tropical aromas as well.

SOME GREAT PAIRINGS TO GET YOU STARTED ON YOUR OWN BEER AND BARBEQUE JOURNEY INCLUDE:

SMOKED BRISKET - Try an Amber or Brown ale. These styles have the richer toffee malt character that work beautifully with the smokey juicy meat characters of smoked brisket.

Look for: Stone & Wood Jasper ale, Balter Brewing Alt Brown, Mountain Goat Hightail Ale, James Squire Nine Tales

SMOKED HOISIN CHICKEN - For a real flavour journey, seek out a Saison. These are a style of Farmhouse Ale in which the spicy yeast  characters really come to the fore. The clove and white pepper characters and dry finish with contrast nicely with the sweetish hoisin flavours.

Look for La Sirene Saison, Bridge Road Brewers Chevalier Saison, Hawkers Saison, Saison Dupont

SMOKED SWEET STICKY PORK RIBS - Try some hops with this one. The bold hop characters of a strong pale ale or India Pale Ale will work nicely here.

Look for: Fixation IPA, Little Creatures IPA, Feral Hop Hog

BeerMatt, Matt Kirkegaard,is a Brisbane-based freelance beer writer who has developed a national reputation as one of the few independent beer educators and advocates in Australia. In 2014 Matt was named the first ever Australian Beer Writer of the Year when he was awarded the inaugural Australian International Beer Awards Media Trophy. And he loves BBQ. Visit beermatt.com for more about Matt & beer.