With summer finally here, my thoughts immediately turn to my backyard — filled with the smell of BBQ and the frosty feeling of a cold beer in my hand. So what is the perfect backyard beer?
Now anyone who knows me well or follows my twitter will see that I can be found BBQing in my backyard while enjoying a beer 52 weeks of the year and in all kinds of weather (especially in all kinds of weather) and the variety of beers are as varied as Imelda Marcos’ shoe collection. I don’t really have a “go-to” beer as a BBQ companion but there are some styles that are right at home when the sun is shining — like wheat beers.
As always there are exceptions to the rule but generally wheat beers are brewed using around 50% wheat, are almost all ales, generally pale in colour and unfiltered which leaves them cloudy from the yeast and proteins that remain. A German-style “weissbier” or “weizen” is usually sweeter than your average beer and very low in bitterness (so if you aren’t a fan of really bitter, hoppy beer this is for you). The yeast also tends to give weissbier a very subtle hint of banana and cloves. A Belgian or Dutch style “witbier” will be very similar to its German brother but usually has hints of coriander and orange peel. They are generally even less hoppy but may have a slightly sour or bitter taste to them because of the orange peel, the yeast used or other spices.
I’m all about drinking local — wherever you are — as fresh beer is almost always better than beers that have travelled the globe to get to your fridge. But in this case I think it’s best to make yourself acquainted with the classics here so you can give yourself a benchmark. For me there are two perfect beers to start with: the world’s most popular wheat beer, Erdinger Weissbier and Weihenstephaner Hefe Weissbier from the world’s oldest brewery (both readily available at the LCBO). Now that you have a starting point, why not check out Amsterdam Brewing’s Oranje Weisse or the Canadian classic Grasshopper from Big Rock Brewing.
Wheat beers pair beautifully with lighter fare and salads. I like to grill some trout on a cedar plank and serve it over a simple salad for those hot, humid summer nights that a traditional grilled menu is too heavy. I actually use wheat beer with some olive oil, balsamic vinegar and grainy mustard to make lovely salad dressing as the perfect compliment.
Here are some other great Backyard BBQ beers:
I love lagers — Mill St Organic.
I’m an ale drinker — Moroccan Brown Ale from the Spearhead Brewery or a Conductor’s Ale from Junction Craft Brewing.
I want something in-between — Beau’s Lugtread Lagered Ale.
How about another wheat beer — Muskoka Summer Weiss.