Fire. Food. Beer. The three make up the summer trinity.
Last year, Esquire named Virginia the food region of the year. And it makes absolute sense. It’s the biggest and oldest in the area, with mountains and coastline, how could we not be? And now our beer scene is really hopping.
With over 100 craft breweries, a huge milestone for Virginia, you’re bound to find a beer that will excite your palate. According to Cassidy Rasnick of the Virginia Craft Brewers Guild, the state has seen an “exponential growth in the last few years, not only in the number of craft breweries, but also in the quality of the beer being produced and the cooperation and collaboration in the industry.”
So, instead of reaching for a boring old Miller Light, why not celebrate summer delighting your tastes with beer brewed in your own backyard?
Whether you’re smoking a pork butt, throwing on country style ribs or eating pulled pork from the whole pig, pork is a summer staple in the South. If you’re looking to enhance the smokiness and sweetness of pork barbecue, try pairing it with these beers:
• Twenty Knots Belgian Style Tripel Ale (Williamsburg Alewerks) pairs really nicely with the sweetness found in BBQ pulled pork. It sits at a solid 10.00% ABV making its delicious fruity taste deceptively sneaky.
• Stone Smoked Porter (Stone Brewing Company) connects with the smokiness of grilled pork. Tasters have described its flavor as “smoky,” and “a good beer to pair with anything smoked.”
For most people, there’s nothing like a steak on the grill. The natural juices and flavors of the meat combined with the charring from fire scream all-American summer. Enjoy your next burger or Porterhouse with one or both of these:
• St. George Porter (St. George Brewing Company) has a dark brown pour and hints of coffee and chocolate, so you can enjoy full porter flavor without the traditional heaviness; a good beer for a late evening barbecue.
• Great Dismal Black IPA (O’Connor Brewing Company) pours deep and dark, like The Great Dismal Swamp in Southeastern Virginia that it’s named for. Its earthy aroma and hoppy flavor complement beef well, especially the herbaceous grass-fed varieties found in Virginia.
This easy-to-eat handheld grill favorite leaves you a free hand to enjoy backyard games, or clench a cold drink. Grab one of these IPAs and drop a brat on a potato bun smothered with delicious grilled veggies for a ballpark experience in your back yard:
• Northern Lights IPA (Starr Hill Brewery) has a nice hoppiness that’s not overwhelming and that makes for a good starter IPA. Its light citrusy and pine taste nicely compliments the herbs and spices found in bratwurst.
• Green Flash Palate Wrecker (Green Flash Brewing Company) is an American double IPA for those who love big, hoppy beers. It’s aggressively flavorful with the taste of citrus, earth and pine, and its 9.5% ABV won’t disappoint those who love strong IPAs.
Most everyone loves the sweet, smoky and charred taste of grilled chicken. Two of the best types of beer to enjoy with this white meat favorite are saisons and lagers. Try these:
• Helles Lager (South Street Brewing) counterbalances the sweetness of malt with the spices found in the grilled jerk chicken or chicken brushed with other piquant sauces.
• Alter Ego (Smartmouth Brewing Company) pours golden and has a fruity, carbonated zip. It also comes canned, which helps it to maintain its integrity. Those who taste it like its citrusy finish and lasting aftertaste, which enhance the flavors of barbecued chicken.’
With so many varieties of fish we narrowed it down to tuna and salmon, two of the more popular grilling fish that are so thick and meaty—for lack of a better word—they sit on the grates of a grill like a steak. The next time you throw a tuna or salmon steak on the grill, be sure to pair it with one of these beers:
• El Guapo IPA (O’Connor Brewing Company) has a hard citrusy flavor that has a lot of character. It also contains agave nectar, which gives it a slight sweetness. Pairing this diverse and earthy beer with fish is a winner.
• Green Flash Hop Head Red Ale (Green Flash Brewing Company) is dubbed “The blissful union of Double India Pale and Red Ale,” this delightful ale pours amber red and is rich with hops and malt, giving it a finish described by one taster as, “outrageously good.”