Although choosing the right beer to pair with your grill food usually ends with "pass me the beer", we went beyond the pale (ale) -- pestering Sheffield's resident Beer School expert Phil Kuhl until he divulged the tastiest summer brews to pair w/ cookout classics. The Skinny
Bratwurst: Such a German sausage demands a German-style bock, deep and dark with big hints of caramel and molasses that intertwine beautifully with the gentle spiciness of said sausage, before quietly falling asleep, spooning adorably. Try: Bell's Consecrator Doppelbock
Pulled pork: Phil recommends a nice rye with a strong bite that "cuts through the sweetness of the barbecue", 'cause you know it's just telling you it loves you to get on your pants.
Grab: Two Brothers Cane & Ebel Rye
Grilled chicken: The notes of honey in a blonde ale will blend well with most classic chicken marinades, although Phil says it'd probably blend best with a marinade of... blonde ale, fulfilling your deepest fantasy -- blond and blond in your mouth. Snag: Ska True Blonde Dubbel (to marinate) & Ska True Blonde Ale (to drink)
Tilapia: If you're girlishly grilling up the Til (or any whitefish wave), a saison will bring a soft flavor and an almost Champagne-like feel that won't compromise the delicacy of the fish. Phil's vehemently anti fruit-in-beer, but if you're doing any kind of lemon-citrus element on the fish, it should mingle quite nicely, the opposite of a junior high dance
Sip: North Coast Le Merle Saison
Burger: Phil advocates a good pale ale or IPA (depending on your tolerance for hoppiness), because, fatty burger juices notwithstanding, the "fresh hops and floral aromas" really come through, unlike Ted whenever you need a ride from the airport. Demand: Great Lakes Burning River Pale Ale
Shrimp skewers: Since you don't want to overpower the poor little guys, Phil suggests a nice Belgian-style white ale that's light on carbonation and has a "soft mouth feel" and ships in a discreet, brown paper package.
Guzzle: Wittekerke Belgian White
Ice cream: Yes, ice cream. There's no rule that says you can't amp up the root beer floats of your childhood with a little buzz. Grab a nice stout (chocolate stouts pair well with coffee ice cream, others can party with vanilla bean), and you're feeling crazy shave some coconut on top to "seal the deal", which is less likely now that you're officially "the adult drinking root beer floats at the cookout".
Indulge in: Goose Island Bourbon County Stout