CHILLIN’ & GRILLIN’

BEERFORD MCBREWIN’

For those of you living in a climate where it doesn’t rain 363 days a year (around here the other two days are overcast day and hail day), spring has probably been around for a while. Even here, a few valiant cherry trees have bloomed a few blooms, and the odd well-tended daffodil or two has blossomed. In celebration of this season, yesterday I busted the ol’ Weber out of storage and got him all cleaned up and ready for the first grill session of the year. As we mentioned in the earlier barbecue conundrum, grilling is an entirely different animal. Grilling (or cooking out, or whatever they call it where you live) is the art of cooking stuff quickly over high heat, generally over a charcoal or gas flame. It could probably go without saying that this should be done outside, but just to avoid any legal issues (and because Aleheads aren’t necessarily given to common sense): Please grill outside so you don’t get carbon monoxide poisoning and/or burn down your domicile.

When I have folks over for a grill session I generally stock a cooler with a few different beers so as to satisfy all comers. I can always use new ideas as to what should go in that cooler though, so I’m putting it to the Aleheads: What beers are the best to have around while you’re grilling?

Answers including one or more beers are acceptable, but let’s try to limit it to no more than three or so if possible. We’d love to hear from the peanut gallery in the comments section on this one as well!

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BROTHER BARLEY MCHOPS

Considering how many of these damn Conundra revolve around beer and food pairings, I’m surprised that Beerford doesn’t weigh like 450 pounds. Actually, I haven’t seen him in awhile so it’s possible he’s ballooned to Brando-like proportions. We’ve got our college reunion coming up in a few months and I sincerely hope we need a forklift just to get him into the class tent…

This Conundrum is maddeningly open-ended. The easy answer is that any good beer is perfectly acceptable while grilling. This isn’t about pairing a style of beer with certain food like steak or barbecued pork…this is about pairing beer with an activity. In other words, it’s like asking what color shirt you should wear when you’re mowing your lawn (Answer: Blue).

In order to answer this seemingly limitless query, I’ve decided to place a number of crippling restrictions on my response.

1. The beer must be canned. It just feels more appropriate when grilling. Sure, there’s nothing inherently wrong with sipping a glass of beer at the grill or drinking straight from the bottle, but grilling is an activity meant to be done in a T-shirt, shorts, and flip-flops. Even if you’re searing sesame-crusted tuna steaks, grilling is the most casual, blue collar method of cookery (short of hot plating, of course). Any type of cooking that involves standing around the backyard (a section of the McHops Monastery mostly filled with swingsets, rocking chairs, and dog poop), is clearly one that calls for the most humble of beer containers…the aluminum can.

2. The beer must be readily available in Alabama. I mean, I could throw out our “go-to” Conundra response and say Oskar Blues Dale’s Pale Ale or the thoroughly awesome Surly Furious. But truth be told, I’m not driving to Atlanta to pick up grillin’ beer. I’m running to Publix and grabbing a sixer.

3. Refreshment is the name of the game. More than any other Alehead, I’m the guy who thinks nothing of sitting outside in sweltering summer heat and drinking a goblet of Russian Imperial Stout. But when you add open flames to the mix, even I have my limitations. I’m not encouraging the consumption of light beer (god, no), but I am limiting myself to those beers on the “lighter” end of the spectrum (Pale Ales, IPAs, Pilsners, Blondes, etc.).

With those three restrictions in mind, my options are thoroughly limited…but that’s OK. There are still three great options available to me when my Weber is cranked up and the propane is flowing:

1. Good People IPA: My go-to grillin’ beer this summer will be the first canned offering from my local ale factory. Good People’s IPA is delicious, refreshing, and comes complete with retro-looking “American” graphics that seem both blatantly jingoistic yet somehow ironic.

2. Southern Star Pine Belt Pale Ale: If I need a pounder can, Southern Star’s Pine Belt is the clear choice. A nice, easy-drinking Pale Ale from a great little Texas brewery. Floral nose, light body, and a super-clean finish.

3. Avery Joe’s American Pilsner: The first Avery cans to grace Alabama’s shelves, the Joe is a classic American pilsner. Aggressively hopped with a good, sweet pilsner malt foundation, Avery’s pilsner is a welcome rendition of an* ubiquitous style.

Editor’s note: nice use of the correct article there, smuggy.

In reality, I’m clearly drinking whatever is in my fridge when the spatula comes out, but in the theoretical world of the Conundra, the aforementioned triumvirate will be the beers my dinner guests would see sitting between the flame control knobs on my Weber.

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KID CARBOY JR.

It is safe to say that I will never understand beer distribution. Why you get access to Avery’s Joe’s Pilsner there in Alabama and I can’t get it here in Illinois is beyond me. I live in Adam Avery’s hometown. And yet still, nada. It’s not available in Chicago either. Who knows? But I want to try that beer. Frustrating. By the way: I’ve also never had a Dale’s. No Oskar Blues here!

Regardless, here are my beer choices, all available in Illinois. Compiling this little list made me realize that there still aren’t that many breweries around here that can their beers, all things considered.

1. Half Acre Daisy Cutter: I’ve mentioned this beer a few times before, and to me it’s among the best American pale ales your money can buy. It comes in a sweet 16 oz can, and it packs quite the refreshing hop wallop.

2. Half Acre Gossamer Golden Ale: I’m sure that some of you would think that me saying “the best golden ale in the world” is akin to saying “the smartest of the Three Stooges,” but this 16 oz can contains the best American golden ale in the world. Period. Next list entry.

3. Capital Island Wheat: If you’re looking for a canned beer that is a little bit more quenching and gentle on the palate than the hop-forward Daisy Cutter, the Capital Island Wheat is an excellent choice. It’s your American-style pale wheat beer, with a little bit of bready flavor and lively carbonation that pairs well with practically any food. I could put down a lot of these low-alcohol 12 oz cans. This is a rare American style from Madison’s Capital, which is one of the country’s best brewers of traditional German-style brews. In fact, this is probably one of only two American-style beers Capital makes. (Don’t try the pale ale, it sucks. Stick with the German stuff.)

I can think of a few more good, local canned beers (The Wild Onion’s fantastic Jack Stout comes to mind), but they don’t really fit the “hot outdoor cookout” theme.

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Slouch Sixpack

Aleheads are ambassadors for a world of beer that lays beyond the realm of experience for most civilians. Thus, our public actions have real repercussions in a world of lite beer drinkers and craft beer virgins. Aside from being the most casual cooking technique (short of microwaving hot pockets in your underwear) grilling is also the most social; consider Tony Soprano’s lieutenants approaching the Don to share a brew, flip some porterhouses, and discuss the next skull that requires cracking. Most folks will drink whatever you provide at your grilling function- make sure it’s a high quality yet accessible session beer that will make their experience a great one.

You: “Hey, you want a beer?”
Them: “Uh, sure. You got light beer?”
You: “No.”
Them: “…”
You: “…”
Them: “Umm… what are you having?”
You: “Try one- you’ll like it.”*

*At this point, fight the urge to go into a dissertation about the beer they are about to imbibe.

My beer sponsor for the 2011 Grilling Season will be the Victory Headwaters Pale Ale. Complex and hoppy enough to satisfy my own perverse predilections, it also has a welcome bready balance that the whole family will love. Make this summer the summer that your friend and family stop drinking cheap swill- if you don’t soldier this responsibility, who will?

They’ll thank you later.

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Herr Humulus Hordeum

I’ll stick with the theme with a solid canned craft brew. I’m surprised though, that no one has mentioned a necessary element when drinking a can of beer outside in the summer, the koozie (alternatively (and incorrectly) spelled coosie or cosy). One down side of drinking a canned beer is that it warms up more quickly than a beer in a glass bottle, because of physics. This can be good, if it is winter and you have a can of Ten-Fidy and a fireplace. In summer the poor insulation of a can is decidedly bad.

In my koozie this summer, there will always be a Ska Modus Hoperandi. I have very limited selection of craft cans here, but I don’t mind, since it doesn’t get much better than a Modus. It packs a huge, floral hop punch that rivals any of the premier IPAs, but is a touch lower in % ABV, and so smooth I could drink it all afternoon.

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LORD MASHTUN COPPERPOT

It doesn’t need to be in a can. It’s ok, folks. You can drink from a bottle.

I’m gonna stand up for one of my favorites. It gets overshadowed all the time because of all of its bigger and bolder older brothers. But it happens to be a damn good beer in its own right. You cannot possibly go wrong with the plain old Lagunitas IPA. Sure, I love me some Hop Stoopid and Maximus, and that Waldo’s Special Ale sounds insane. But when I’m over-cooking salmon or under-cooking chicken, the Lagunitas IPA is never a bad call.

Acceptable answers also include Sam Summer (for old-times sake) and Oscar Blues Mama’s Little Yella Pils (I honestly don’t love pilsners, but this one’s an exception. And yes, Brother Barley. It’s in a can. Does that make you feel more loved?).

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BEERFORD MCBREWIN’

I don’t care about cans for this one, as I love a nice sweaty-cold bottle while I’m grilling at least as much as a sweaty-cold can. However a 12oz bottle vs. a bomber seems to be a reasonable requirement, and fortunately one of my favorite breweries has just started shipping 6-packs of bottles. And so I’m going to go with an assortment of Ninkasi brews this time around. Tricerahops DIPA will do nicely for the hop-ish types, Radiant Ale (their summer seasonal) will work for the more timid beer drinkers, and Oatis Oatmeal Stout will be an excellent option for those stouter drinkers.

And now, if you’ll excuse me, I need to go light the coals and stand there watching them (with a beer) to make sure that they burn.

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27 comments

  1. Sam Summer? Really? Do you just associate it with a time when you had at least SOME hair?

    Boycott aside, Bell’s Two Hearted is my one and only backyard cookout beer. If you don’t like it, bring your own. It’s refreshingly floral but relatively full bodied, pairing well with hearty grilled fare. And it doesn’t fucking turn blue when it’s cold. Can’t wait for cans of it in 2012.

  2. I’m a big fan of the Widmer Hef for brats on the grill. Sam Summer if the Red Sox are playing!

  3. The Captain · ·

    Shit. I agree with Wanker.

  4. Resie Rae · ·

    I’ll go with Mad River Brewing’s Steelhead DIPA, Victory Hop Devil, & Santa Fe Brewing’s State Pen Porter. De-lish.

  5. I’ve been meaning to try the Steelhead… have to pick it up now.

  6. Resie Rae · ·

    You won’t be disappointed Slouch. I picked up the Scotch Porter (sooo smooth & yummy) & the Extra Stout (definitely my jeans-creamin’ fav) along with the DIPA for my cooler. The DIPA is the best seller of the three, even at near $12 a sixer, & I just got in my latest shipment- 10 cases of DIPA alone. It’s Blossom Festival this weekend, & this town is swamped with bikers, families, rodeo cowboys, & carnies. What a mix. I’ll probably spend the next 8 hours in the cooler… shit, I already need a beer.

  7. This is a family site, and that means no jeans-creamin’, missy.

  8. Resie Rae · ·

    Riiight. I’m sure most parents allow their kids to regularly visit Aleheads & contribute to discussions of beer. And if my ‘jeans creamin’ is more offensive than Barley’s ‘butt-pluggery’, then I’m a bearded gnome with a 10 foot hardon.

  9. Beerford · ·

    Wait, we’re a FAMILY site? ? Fuck.

  10. If we want to take this thing global, all the fucking and butt pluggery will simply have to go. Demographics, ya’ll.

  11. Resie Rae · ·

    Are you trying to appeal to the demographic of delicate sensibilities & polite society? Too late for that, darlin’. This is a BEER site- we’re already pigeon holed as uncouth, unsophisticated, & low class, by the very nature of. It doesn’t matter how many Princes brew beer, or how many Czars blog about it- as long as beer as perceived as a ‘poor’ man’s drink- regardless of truth- this or any beer site will never be a part of ‘elite’ circles.

    And why the fuck would you want it to be? The reason I love this site, & why I hang around like an 80s hair band groupie, is because the Aleheads are as real as it gets & don’t give a shit if anybody likes it or not. I like that there’s no superficiality; no posers & people trying to be anything but who they are. We come together for the LOVE of BEER, not to showcase narcissism & snobby elitism. If we were here for that kind of rat bastardry, I’d shoot myself in the head ‘cuz that’s just bullshit.

    If you want the site to go global, be true to who you are. Like minded people will gravitate to Aleheads like bar flies, & will love you guys just for who & how you are. Why the hell do you think I’m here? It isn’t for the sexy avatars you guys have, that’s for damn sure. I ain’t never been accused of being a lady, sir, and if you try to make me into one, I’ll have to shove a bomber of Sublimely Self-Righteous right up your rosy little keester.

    Ponder this; you can reinvent yourself, but if you ignore the core of your being, you’ll only succeed in becoming well & truly lost, and it’ll show.

  12. I was kidding, if it wasn’t obvious. I like the idea of us having like some sort of “network talent scout” who is constantly telling us to modify the site to hit the juicy demographics. Like, we’re writing something about beer and he bursts in and says

    “ALEHEADS! That’s a weak name, kids! Ya gotta have something that’s gonna put a little mambo in your audience’s shorts! Like “Night Mistress!” And ya gotta have a cop on the site, one who doesn’t play by the gruff sergeant’s rules, but he’s loveable, damnit!”

  13. beer-miester · ·

    Is hardon one word or two?

    If you potty mouths every make it to Milwaukee… rap your lips around this tasty summer delight! We be grill-in!

    Sprecher Brewery’s

    Double IPA

    Alcohol by Volume: 7.5%
    Degrees Plato (Initial Gravity): 18.75P
    Weeks Aged: 12
    Bitterness Units: 88 IBU
    Year First Brewed: 1995
    Serving Temperature: 50°
    Malts: 2-Row Pale, Caramel, Carapils, Munich, Pale, Victory
    Hops: Chinook, Fuggles, Northern Brewer, Willamette
    Sizes: 1/4 and 1/2 Barrels, 16oz Bottles
    This traditional ale was originally brewed in England for the British troops stationed in India. Double dry-hopped,it has intense hop flavors and aromas delicately balanced with a potent, yet delicious, malty sweetness.

  14. Resie Rae · ·

    I figured you were kidding, Kid. But I erred on the side of beer wenchery; anybody that declares my Aleheads needs to clean up its act ought to be marched in front of a firing squad… just like the arsehole that invented bras.

  15. Woah there, hang on. I’m a pretty live-and-let-live kind of guy, and I appreciate that this blog is a generally open forum for stupid ideas and beer muttering. But I have to draw the line when people start attacking bras. I just won’t tolerate that kind of hate speech. Not on my watch!

  16. Resie Rae · ·

    Beerford I dare you to wear an underwire bra every day, for a full 8 hours, for a week. And I want time stamped photos to prove you did it. Then if you can convince me that bras are a wonderful thing to wear, I’ll never say a bad thing about them again.

  17. Do it, man. FOR SCIENCE.

  18. I don’t think they make underwire bras in my size.

  19. beer-miester · ·

    then she has to ware a jock strap with an appropriate piece of fruit in it.. again, for science!

  20. Resie Rae · ·

    They make bras in EVERY size. Remember that the US has an obesity problem- there’s probably a bra out there that would fit King Kong with a quadruple FF cup. (For you men, that’s GINORMOUS knockers- genetically modified watermelon big) Take a measuring tape & wrap it around your upper back, across your chest, get the inches, choose a cup size & go shopping, boyo.

    How to choose a cup size: if you’re a skinny guy with hardly any ‘cushion’ then it’s probably an A cup, maybe a B cup. If you’re average & have man boobs, go with a C cup or D cup. If you’re a jolly santa size, then you got titties bigger than me & that may require double D, E/double/triple E, maybe into the F cup realm. Anything beyond a D cup is unknown territory to me, so I can’t help you.

    Beer-miester, the only way you’re gettin’ me into a jock strap is if you ply me with several 8% beers and give me money, honey.

  21. Apologies, my apparently unclear point was intended to be that I don’t think you need an underwire for an a- cup. ;-)

    I also didn’t intend for my utterly silly bra hate-speech comment to be taken in any way seriously.

    I should know better than to try to talk about stuff other than beer. It only causes trouble.

  22. Resie Rae · ·

    The point of an underwire bra, regardless of if the gal is part of the Itty Bitty Titty Committee or not, is to give the twins lift.

    Hey I saw a bra challenge there, & I went for it with gusto. LOL That’s what you get Beerford, when you tangle steins with an aggressive redheaded mountain girl with an attitude. I’d duel you with frozen wiener dogs if you dared me.

  23. What in the butt-plugging name of underwire bras is everyone talking about here?!

    Resie, I wholly support your willingness to inflict bodily harm on Beerford, but I cannot in good conscience condone any form of canine abuse. If you could please retract your statement and change your frozen mammal of choice to something less adorable like a honey badger or naked mole rat, we can let this comment stand.

  24. beer-miester · ·

    I think a Choklat stout from Southern Tier should to do it. I am sure it is not as bad as the underwire but give it a try! Tip: drink beer first…

  25. Resie Rae · ·

    My bad, Barley. I meant the processed meat variety of frozen wiener dogs. When I was a kid there was this old woman who used to threaten to beat us with them when we were bad.

    WTF is a honey badger? *googles it* Oh huh. There actually is such a critter…

  26. My favorite article about honey badgers (scroll down to #1):

    http://www.cracked.com/article_18860_6-animals-that-just-dont-give-f2340k_p2.html

    Assaulting Beerford with frozen hot dogs is perfectly acceptable. Just make sure you drive a nail through one end of them otherwise you won’t be able to inflict enough damage.

  27. Resie Rae · ·

    BAHAHAAA! That’s a GREAT article Barley! The honey badger is a bad ass! I love it!

    Ok, so next time you see Beerford, you need to ask him (in Jack Nicholson/Joker tone) ‘Ever been beaten with a frozen weanie with a nail?’ The Devil in the pale moon light ain’t got nothin’ on that! LMAO

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