It’s the most wonderful time of the year again. No, not Christmas time, it’s barbeque time. Since I live in the northeast, I figure that I only have about four or so months of really nice weather for grilling and I’ll do my darndest to take advantage of it. I have a nice front porch with large steps that are the perfect place to set up my grill. Nothing beats burgers, sausages, and some mustard potato salad on a beautiful, sunny spring day. But what should you wash it all down with?
There are numerous beverage choices that match up well with the picnic set. Green Tea is delicious and full of anti-oxidants, Kool-Aid (and the ensuing sugary mustache) is a nostalgic remembrance of our youth, and sports drinks have those wacky electrolytes that are supposed to be good for us, but there’s nothing I would rather drink while enjoying a great burger than a frosty beer.
What beer should you select for your barbeque? You can go the easy and obvious route and buy one of your basic domestic brews such as Miller, Coors, and the like. But, if you want to be the most popular person at your party, I would suggest that you get a little crafty. As in craft brewed beer from one of the thirteen-hundred or so craft breweries located in the U.S.
A Hefewiezen (wheat beer) is always a great choice on a hot day, especially with a slice of lemon. One of my favorite new brews this spring is Harpoon Brewery of Boston’s UFO White (4.8%ABV). UFO White, available from April until October, pours a hazy golden yellow and has a similar appearance to Harpoon’s regular UFO. The difference is the flavor. UFO White is sweeter, without being cloying, and has more citrus flavors to go along with the coriander flavor. This brew would be great to pair with spicy foods, seafood, and burgers.
Another great choice for picnics and barbeques is the IPA, or India Pale Ale. This style is more for the hop heads. If you don’t like the bitterness that extra hops bring to your brew, this style isn’t for you. I love hops, and one of my favorites is Victory Brewing Company of Pennsylvania’s HopDevil Ale (6.7%ABV). Victory’s website describes HopDevil as “menacingly delicious, with the powerful, aromatic punch of whole flower American hops backed up by rich, German malts.” It would be the perfect accompaniment to steaks, blackened chicken, and Buffalo wings (which are also great on a grill!).
For those looking for something lighter, I would suggest a Pale Ale. One of my all-time favorites is Magic Hat Brewing Company of Vermont’s #9 (4.6%ABV). This Apricot infused Pale Ale is not overly sweet, with the apricot flavors coming in a little more subtly and not as overpowering as many of the other fruit flavored beers. It pours a coppery yellow and is the perfect accompaniment to all kinds of barbeque delights and yard games such as washers, croquet, and bocce.
One of my favorite ways to mix my love of beer with my love of grilling is to make beer can chicken. There are countless different recipes available online, but they all have some of the same basic steps. My brother Matt, the chef, helped me out with this recipe due to the fact that I have little to no background in the culinary field.
Osburn On Tap Beer Can Chicken:
Ingredients needed for this recipe:
- 1(or as many as you want) three to four pound chickens
- 1 can of beer (for each)
- 1 cup of spice rub (Barbeque, Asian, whatever you like)
- 2 teaspoons of vegetable oil
This whole process could be done in an oven, what’s fun about that? Since I’ve been talking about grilling, I’ll tell you how to make this amazing treat on a grill.
- Remove the giblets and do whatever you want with them. I won’t judge you; you just don’t need them for this. Wash each chicken inside and out and dry them off thoroughly. Apply the spice rub to your chickens. Make sure to get it under the skin and inside the body cavity. Rub the vegetable oil on the outside of the body and sprinkle rub all over. Add as much as you’d like, just make sure it’s covered.
- Drink a few big gulps from each can (drink about ¼ of the delicious nectar). You might need some assistants (I’m positive nobody will complain) for this if you are making a few chickens.
- Before you start, make sure your grill has enough space for the chickens to be sitting upright. Also, make sure the cans you are using actually fit inside. I would suggest not using tallboys for this, just save those for later.
- To make sure that your bird is as moist as possible, it’s a good idea to cut off the top of your cans. Most can openers will do the job with little hassle for you. Some recipes call for the addition of spice rub to the beer itself. If you want to, feel free to pour a little bit in and stir it around.
- Holding your chickens upright, place them on top of the beer cans. Make sure the can enters the cavity at the bottom of the bird and that it is able to sit comfortably (well, not for the chicken) on top. The can as well as the chicken’s legs should form a tripod to make sure it stays in that position.
- Set up your grill for indirect heat and preheat to medium. If you are using a charcoal grill, make sure to have a pan underneath the birds to make sure they all receive the same amount of heat.
So, you’re ready to grill????
- Put the chickens as close to the middle of the grill on top of the pan. Close the lid and cook the chickens until they are fall off the bone tender. That should take about two hours.
- Enjoy some of the above mentioned beers and play some yard games while you wait!
For another barbeque treat, soak hot dogs, sausages and brats in your favorite kind of beer for an added kick. No matter what you do, be responsible, have fun and keep grilling!
Image credit: Steve Woods, SXC
30 year old freelance writer and The Father Life‘s resident beer columnist and sports editor. He also writes about fine beverages for drinkingmadeeasy.com and Chilled Magazine. On top of that, he writes about college and professional lacrosse for insidelacrosse.com. He’s also written for Genesee Valley Parenting Magazine, the Democrat and Chronicle Newspaper and ESPN.com. “Osburn on Tap” appears monthly in THE FATHER LIFE. For questions, comments, or if you have a story idea for Chris, throw him an email firstname.lastname@example.org. Also, follow him on twitter http://www.twitter.com/chrisosburn