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A Beer Writer Ranks His Absolute Favorite ‘Grilling Beers’

The only thing better than standing over a grill, flipping steaks, sausages, and burgers on a hot, sunny day is doing it while sipping a frosty, refreshing beer. Crisp, thirst-quenching pale ales, pilsners, lagers, and IPAs were literally designed for hot, hazy days and long, humid nights. They’re also the perfect complement to grilled foods.

Whether you love steaks, chicken wings, carne asada, or portabella mushrooms, there’s a beer just waiting to be paired with the grilled meal of your choice. Below, you’ll find my 18 favorite beers to drink when I’m cooking over an open flame. Do you agree with my picks? If not, where did I go wrong?

If you get thirsty, click the prices. There’s sure to be at least one beer that becomes your next grilling go-to.

18) Miller High Life

Miller

ABV: 4.6%
Average Price: $5.99 for a six-pack

The Beer:

Beer geeks might scoff at this choice, but we challenge you to find a better example of a crushable beer to sip on while you grill. First launched in 1903, this crisp, easy-drinking beer stands the test of time thanks to malted barley, proprietary yeast, and Galena hops.

Tasting Notes:

It might seem silly to nose this beer, but if you do, you’ll be met with aromas of sweet corn, freshly baked bread, and sweet malts. The taste is that of fresh-cut grass. It’s subtly floral with hints of corn, biscuity sweetness, and just a touch of citrus hops at the very end.

Bottom Line:

This beer is dirt cheap. It’s highly crushable and pairs well with hot days and grilled meats, vegetables, and anything else you want to toss on a grill.

17) Brooklyn Summer Ale

Brooklyn

ABV: 5%
Average Price: $10.99 for a six-pack

The Beer:

This 5% pale ale is only available from March until August. It’s brewed with 2-Row malts and a combination of German and American hops to guarantee a crisp, thirst-quenching summery brew.

Tasting Notes:

On the nose, you’ll find scents of fresh grapefruit, orange peel, lemon zest, freshly cut grass, and subtle resinous hops. The palate is filled with more grass, wildflowers, caramel malts, and vibrant, citrus hops. The close is refreshing, light, and dry.

Bottom Line:

Brooklyn’s Summer Ale is a seasonal classic that pairs well with yard games, grilled foods, and warm weather.

16) Corona Extra

Corona

ABV: 4.6%
Average Price: $10.99 for a six-pack

The Beer:

No refreshing, summery grilling beer story is complete without Corona. It might not seem like the most craft-centric of choices, but is there anything better than drinking down a few Corona’s with lime on a hot day? This pale Mexican lager is simple, refreshing, and goes down easy.

Tasting Notes:

Honestly, there isn’t much going on with this beer’s nose. You can smell faintly bitter, floral hops and corn-like sweetness. Take a sip and you’ll find a sweet, malty, subtly citrus-driven (especially with the customary lime wedge) brew. It all leads to a sweet, floral hoppy end. But the truth is you’ll be drinking it so fast you probably won’t taste much of it anyway.

Bottom Line:

Corona was meant for hot weather. Since many of us have to wait until the summer for that inevitable heatwave, we spend the season drinking as many lime-filled Coronas as possible.

15) Harpoon Rec. League

Harpoon

ABV: 4%
Average Price: $8.99 for a four-pack of 16-ounce cans

The Beer:

Boston’s Harpoon launched Rec. League a few years ago. This surprisingly complex sessionable, hazy pale ale was brewed Cascade, Mosaic, Simcoe, Ekuanot, and Citra hops as well as some unique ingredients like buckwheat, sea salt, and chia seeds.

Tasting Notes:

Before sipping, take a moment to breathe in the scents of tropical mangos, guavas, and pineapples. This evolves into fresh limes and grapefruits. Taking a sip reveals flavors of grapefruit, lemons, sweet malts, and just a hint of tangy salt. It ends with a clean, refreshing sweet finish.

Bottom Line:

This beer was created to be enjoyed while you play kickball or slow pitch softball. Polish off the four-pack with an afternoon of grilling.

14) Narragansett Fresh Catch

Narragansett

ABV: 4.2%
Average Price: $10.99 for a six-pack

The Beer:

We easily could have put Narragansett Lager in this spot, but we prefer the crisp, bright flavor of Fresh Catch during the summer months. This sessionable blonde ale gets its subtly tart, highly crushable flavor from being dry-hopped with Citra hops.

Tasting Notes:

On the nose, you’ll be greeted with aromas of juicy tropical fruits, fresh grapefruit, and tangerine. Sipping opens up flavors of ripe oranges, grapefruit, mango, sweet malts, and subtly bitter hops. The last few sips are sweet, fresh, and filled with citrus flavors.

Bottom Line:

The folks at Narragansett crafted this beer to be paired with shellfish (as is evident from the can), but even if you don’t grill up lobster, you can still pair it with a nice, charred burger.

13) Sloop Juice Bomb

Sloop

ABV: 6.5%
Average Price: $16 for a 4-pack of 16-ounce cans

The Beer:

This beer totally lives up to its name. If you like to pair your go-to grilled foods with a juicy, hazy, fresh beer that tastes more like a glass of fresh-squeezed orange juice than a classic adjunct lager, this is your beer. Sloop’s flagship beer is filled to the brim with citrus-flavored American hops and has little to no bitterness.

Tasting Notes:

Breathe in the scents of guava, mango, passion fruit, and grapefruit before taking your first sip. When you do drink this beer, you’ll find notes of grapefruit, pineapple, and melted orange creamsicles. It closes out with juicy, sweet, and dominant tropical fruit and citrus flavors.

Bottom Line:

This juicy, hazy beer pairs well with rich, seasoned steaks and grilled chicken. It also pairs well with simply standing next to a grill while someone else cooks the aforementioned food.

12) Ballast Point Sculpin IPA

Ballast Point

ABV: 7%
Average Price: $13.99 for a six-pack

The Beer:

There’s a reason Ballast Point Sculpin IPA is one of the best-rated beers in the world. This award-winning, 7%, year-round offering gets its vibrant, crisp, tart flavors from being hopped at five different times during the brewing process. Named for the sting of the Sculpin fish, it carries just the right amount of spicy, bitter hops.

Tasting Notes:

After you crack open a bottle of this iconic brew, take time to smell the overwhelming aromas of a forest of pine trees. This is followed quickly behind by a combination of sweet malts and tangy citrus. The flavors you’ll find when sipping this beer include fresh grapefruit, pineapple, lemon zest, and a whole slew of resinous, slightly bitter pine at the very end.

Bottom Line:

This tart, slightly bitter, citrus-filled IPA pairs well with spicy foods. Pair it with spice-rubbed ribs or jalapeno, cheddar burgers.

11) Sierra Nevada Summerfest

Sierra Nevada

ABV: 5%
Average Price: $12 for a six-pack

The Beer:

It’s tempting to Sierra Nevada’s iconic Pale Ale here, but grilling is a time for summery beers. The brand’s Summerfest is Czech-style pilsner brewed with 2-Row, Pilsner, and Munich malts, as well as Perle, Saaz, and Spalter Select hops. It’s known for its golden color, crisp flavor, and refreshing flavors.

Tasting Notes:

Before taking your first sip, breathe in the scents of lemon zest, cereal sweetness, clover honey, and light, floral hops. Sipping this beer reveals sweet corn, fresh grass, and a nice mix of citrus and floral hops. It doesn’t have much hop bitterness but finishes sweet and crisp.

Bottom Line:

This is an easy-drinking beer. It lives up to its name and makes us want to attend as many grilled-food-and-yard-game-centric festivals as possible this year.

10) Dogfish Head SeaQuench

Dogfish Head

ABV: 4.9%
Average Price: $10.99 for a six-pack

The Beer:

Dogfish Head SeaQuench is a great change of pace beer from the usual lagers, pilsner, and IPAs of grilling season. It all starts with a thirst-quenching Kölsch-style beer. That alone would be enough, but the folks at Dogfish Head mixed it with a salty gose and a Berliner Weiss before adding black limes, lime juice, and sea salt.

Tasting Notes:

The nose is wall to wall lime. So citrus fans should be pretty stoked. You’ll also find citrus zest and just a hint of salinity. The palate is full of flavors like tangy, tart lime zest, subtle spices, sweet wheat, and a nice, salty, briny backbone that leaves you craving more.

Bottom Line:

This salty, sweet, tangy beer was designed to be the most thirst-quenching beer ever made. It lives up to the hype. It’s a great grill side sipper on a hot day.

9) Bell’s Oberon

Bell

ABV: 5.8%
Average Price: $10.99 for a six-pack

The Beer:

When warmer weather strikes, we often forget about the hazy, flavorful wheat beer. But one sip of Oberon and you’ll continue drinking it all summer long. This 5.8% ABV brew is made using Bell’s proprietary house ale yeast. The wheat flavor is kicked up with the addition of wheat malt.

Tasting Notes:

A complex, hazy wheat beer of this magnitude is best enjoyed after a proper nosing. You’ll find strong aromas of candied orange peels, sweet honey, wet grass, and a bready sweetness. After that, when you take a drink, you’ll find a nice mixture of tropical fruits, ripe tangerines, and a nice kick of banana-like yeast. The finish is all citrus and spices.

Bottom Line:

Oberon is one of the eagerly-awaited seasonal beers from Bell’s for a reason. It’s hazy, juicy, and refreshing. It also pairs beautifully with marinated meat skewers and grilled vegetables.

8) Ska Mexican Logger

Ska Brewing

ABV: 5.2%
Average Price: $9.99 for a six-pack

The Beer:

When it comes to grilling beer hierarchy, Mexican-style lagers are high on the list. One of the best is Ska Brewing’s Mexican Logger. This award-winning, Mexican-style lager gets its refreshing bite from the use of Saaz hops. It’s sessionable, light, and pairs well with humid days and good times.

Tasting Notes:

You’re going to want to give this beer a nosing before taking a sip. You’ll find aromas of caramel malts, subtle citrus zest, floral hops, and just a bit of nutty sweetness. After your first sip, you’ll open a world of corny sweetness, clover honey, sweet malts, and just a hint of bitter, floral hops at the very end.

Bottom Line:

While we enjoy a true Mexican lager while we grill, this Saaz hop-centric beer is the perfect change of pace from your usual Tecate or Sol.

7) Allagash White

Allagash

ABV: 5.2%
Average Price: $12.99 for a six-pack

The Beer:

When it comes to the best hazy wheat beers well-suited for summer imbibing, there’s Bell’s Oberon and Allagash White. While we’re happy with either, if we had our choice, we’d pick Allagash. This Belgian-style wheat beer is brewed with malted wheat, raw wheat, and oats, as well as coriander and orange peels.

Tasting Notes:

This is the kind of beer that tastes even better when you give it a nice nosing before taking a sip. While the wheat isn’t overly abundant, there are obvious notes of coriander and other spices as well as ripe orange. This beer is sweet and filled with flavors of dried orange peels, sweet malts, banana yeast, and just a hint of spice at the finish.

Bottom Line:

This flavorful, hazy beer pairs well with many types of grilled foods. It shines when paired with grilled swordfish and other grilled seafood.

6) Stone IPA

Stone

ABV: 6.9%
Average Price: $11 for a six-pack

The Beer:

One of the most respected West Coast-style IPAs ever made, Stone IPA was first brewed back in 1997 to celebrate the brewery’s first anniversary. Since then, this resinous, citrus-filled, surprisingly well-balanced IPA has become its flagship beer and one of the most respected and award-winning of the style.

Tasting Notes:

On the nose, you’ll find scents of orange peels, sweet malts, grapefruit, and just a hint of cracked black pepper. The flavor is well-balanced with notes of orange, pineapple, grapefruit, caramel malts, and resinous, dank hops at the very end. It has the bitterness West Coast IPA fans love, but it’s tempered by all of the other flavors.

Bottom Line:

IPAs like Stone were made to sit beside a grill. The slightly bitter, citrus flavor works well with fatty, rich meats because its bitter, effervescent nature helps to cleanse your palate in between dishes.

5) Ommegang Idyll Days

Ommegang

ABV: 5%
Average Price: $12 for a 4-pack of 16-ounce cans

The Beer:

Just looking at this can make us think of hazy, humid late spring and early summer days spent grilling and relaxing on a deck or porch. This unfiltered Belgian-style pilsner is brewed with Belgian lager yeast and floor malted Czech barley. It’s cellared until it reaches exactly the perfect fermentation level.

Tasting Notes:

Your nostrils will fill with the scents of honey, candied orange peels, citrus zest, and sweet, wheaty malts if you allow for a nosing before taking a sip. Tangerine, grapefruit, cereal malts, and honey are prevalent on the palate. The ending is crisp, hoppy, and finishes with subtle banana flavors.

Bottom Line:

Hazy summer days were made for Idyll Days Pilsner. It’s so thirst-quenching and complex, you’ll drink it all day — especially when you’re standing beside the grill.

4) Jack’s Abby Post Shift

Jack

ABV: 4.7%
Average Price: $11 for a 4-pack of 16-ounce cans

The Beer:

This classic low-ABV pilsner was made in the traditional German style using both hops sourced from Bavaria as well as malts. This beer was crafted to be the first one you crack open after a long day at the office (or wherever you work). It’s known for its refreshing, subtly malty, easy-drinking nature.

Tasting Notes:

The first aromas you’ll notice when nosing this beer are those of citrus rinds, noble hops, and sweet, cereal malts. Crisp flavors of biscuit malts, fresh-baked bread, orange, and subtly bitter, floral hops are pronounced. All of this leads to a clean, thirst-quenching sweet finish.

Bottom Line:

This beer was created to be enjoyed after a long day of work. So do just that. Crack one open, throw a few steaks on the grill, and enjoy your evening the right way.

3) Revolution Sun Crusher

Revolution

ABV: 5.3%
Average Price: $10.99 for a six-pack

The Beer:

With a name like Sun Crusher, you better believe this 5.3% ABV summer ale is up to the challenge. It’s juicy, filled with citrus flavors, and highly crushable with Apollo and Amarilla hops. It gets an extra kick from being dry-hopped with Crystal, Amarillo, and Mosaic hops.

Tasting Notes:

Don’t drink this summer ale without first giving it a nice nosing. You’ll find aromas of grapefruit, tangerines, and lemon zest, as well as light piney hops. When you do drink it, you’ll notice hints of orange peels, sweet wheat, grapefruit, tangerine, and a nice hit of resin and pine at the very end.

Bottom Line:

You can crush the summer sun by drinking this complex, citrusy beer on a hot day. Pair it with rich, cheesy burgers and you’re all set for a great season.

2) Maine Beer Lunch

Maine Beer

ABV: 7%
Average Price: $7.99 for a 16-ounce bottle

The Beer:

This 7% IPA from Maine Beer actually wasn’t named for our favorite mid-day meal, it was named for a whale that’s been seen swimming along the coast of the state since 1982. Brewed with Amarillo, Centennial, and Simcoe hops, as well as 2-Row, Carapils, Caramel 40L, Munich 10L malts, and red wheat, this is a complex, grill-friendly, memorable beer.

Tasting Notes:

The well-rounded flavor profile begins with the nose of ripe grapefruit, lemon zest, mango, and sweet malts. Take a sip and you’ll be transported to a world of guava, pineapple, tangerine, caramel malts, and resinous, piney hops. It all ends with a nice mix of tropical fruits and citrus.

Bottom Line:

This isn’t the type of beer you crack open and guzzle as you grill. In fact, it doesn’t even come in cans. Open a bottle, pour yourself a pint, and enjoy it slowly while you stand behind a grill on a hot day.

1) Firestone Walker Pivo

Firestone Walker

ABV: 5.3%
Average Price: $10 for a six-pack

The Beer:

You might be surprised to find a pilsner taking the top spot on this list. But if you think about it, a crisp, refreshing, dry-hopped American pilsner is exactly the type of beer any griller would love to crush. This European-influenced beer is brewed with Spalter Select, Tradition, and Saphir hops before being dry-hopped with more Saphir hops.

Tasting Notes:

Pivo has aromatic scents of fresh-baked bread, caramel malts, and a good deal of floral hops. On the palate, you’ll find hints of wet grass, tropical fruits, noble hops, and subtle pine. This beer closes with a crisp, fresh, floral, and sweet ending.

Bottom Line:

This well-rounded pilsner gets ramped up in the flavor department due to dry-hopping. It pairs well with spicy, grilled chicken wings and anything else you’d like to slather in hot sauce.


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