Barbecue University™

7 Great Ways to Barbecue & Grill with Beer

Steven Raichlen with BBQ U 2013 Attendees

A barbecue without beer is like, well, a pit without smoke or a grill without fire. And the beer’s not just for drinking – it’s a lifeblood of live-fire cooking. So, pop open a cold one, fire up your grill, and try one of these flame-tested techniques featuring brew. What are the possibilities? Let me count the ways:

  1. As a soaking medium for wood chips. Slows the combustion rate of the wood so it smolders and smokes, not burns. Gives you a hint of beer flavor in the process.
  2. As a humidifying agent in your smoker. Add your favorite brew to the drip pan of your water smoker to keep the meat moist. May add a subtle beer flavor that becomes more pronounced the more beer you drink.
  3. As a marinade. The malty, hoppy flavor of beer particularly dark beer tastes awesome with pork, beef, and chicken, as in this Brazilian Beer Chicken recipe.
  4. As a basting or mop sauce. Mix 1 cup dark beer with 1 cup honey, 1 stick of butter, melted, and a few tablespoons of minced ginger. Use this mixture for basting spanferkel, German-style roast suckling pig, or smoked or spit-roasted pork shoulder.
  5. As a spray. A nifty trick I learned from a pit master in Austin. Put your thumb over the top of an open longneck (preferably a Texas beer). Shake gently, then slide your thumb back a millimeter or so — just enough to release a carbonated stream of beer, which you direct towards the brisket, pork, or spit-roasting chicken in lieu of a mop sauce.
  6. As a barbecue sauce. Used sparingly, beer makes an interesting addition to barbecue sauce — especially a flavored beer, like Belgian krik lambic (cherry beer). I say sparingly because the hops can leave a bitter taste in a sauce if you add too much beer. Click here for Cherry Beer BBQ Sauce.
  7. And, of course, for beer can chicken. I assume everyone reading this knows beer can chicken, but if you don’t, pick up a copy of my book Beer-Can Chicken. While you’re at it, pick up one of my Beer Can Chicken Roasters. It comes with a stainless steel canister designed to hold boutique and artisanal beers that normally come only in bottles.

Get more recipes with beer: