The Expert-Approved Beer Pairing For Carolina-Style Barbecue

beer and Carolina barbecue
beer and Carolina barbecue - Static Media / Shutterstock / Getty

The Carolinas are such an influential part of American barbecue culture that we separate its regional styles of barbecue into north, south, east, and west. There are many who wholeheartedly proclaim South Carolina as the birthplace of barbecue (though not without controversy). To celebrate this iconic American cuisine we ought to grab a beer, and to find the perfect beer pairing for it, we asked Stephen Alexander, Sales & Marketing Director for Tall City Brewing in Texas and member of the Texas Craft Brewers Guild Board of Directors.

"Carolina barbecue is known for its tanginess and spiciness," Alexander told Tasting Table. "Which comes from the use of vinegar and pepper-based sauces in some areas of the region." Bold flavor profiles can be difficult to pair beer with since big, punchy notes in your food can quickly clash with a flavorful beer's character.

Alexander went on, "A well balanced beer for this style of BBQ is schwarzbier, also known as a black lager." Black lager is one of the best beer pairings for spicy food thanks to its unique middle ground between light and dark beers. Spicy foods are particularly difficult to pair drinks with because of how spicy flavors interact with bitter notes and alcohol content. It's the same dilemma that makes white wine a better choice than red wine for spicy food since the tannins and higher alcohol content can often exaggerate the heat. Carolina barbecue isn't usually that high on the Scoville chart, but the dynamic is the same.

Read more: 13 Underrated Cuts Of Meat You Should Be Grilling

Black Lager Is A Refreshing Counterbalance To Spicy Carolina Barbecue

schwarzbier lager with bar snacks
schwarzbier lager with bar snacks - 5PH/Shutterstock

Alexander described black lager as being "medium-low to medium bitterness, which can last into the finish. Light to moderate spicy, floral, or herbal hop flavor. Clean lager character." If you've never had black lager before, the flavor could surprise you. We often associate dark beers with thick viscosity, rich malt, and caramel notes. While the black lager does get a good dose of malt and caramel from using toasted grains, it remains bright and crisp like a light beer. It's this unique marriage of the two styles that makes black lager so well suited for Carolina barbecue and spicy food in general.

It's the malt that really solidifies black lager's role. "Malty sweetness cools the heat," said Alexander. "If you're leaning towards a hoppy beer with spicy food, make sure it has plenty of malt as well." Beer itself won't tame the fire of a hot barbecue sauce since the chemicals that create the sensation of heat aren't typically water-soluble, and water is the primary ingredient in beer. But the refreshing sweetness of a light malt will cut through that bite despite this. If you don't want to taste the heat, you should probably avoid Carolina barbecue all together. But just because you want the flavorful kick doesn't mean your body doesn't crave something smooth and refreshing once the heat hits. To that end, black lager is the perfect match.

Read the original article on Tasting Table