For Perfect Grilled Beer Brats, Avoid This Brew At All Costs

Bratwursts on a grill
Bratwursts on a grill - Discover Beautiful World/Shutterstock

During peak cookout season, burgers and hot dogs are staple menu items but there are a few fun ways to level up the format. Enter the bratwurst, the hot dog's flavorful German cousin. Brats are deliciously prepared in several ways but grilling and braising them in beer gives them a touch of char and caramelization and another dimension by absorbing some of the characteristics of this flavorful cooking liquid.

That said, beer is a spectrum with more than 100 styles, each with its own particularities and personalities. So when a recipe calls for "a bottle of beer," which do you use? It may be easier in this case to work with the process of elimination, and there is at least one style you may want to take off the table right off the bat — IPA. Even if you enjoy drinking this popular brew, it's not the best for cooking purposes.

Read more: 10 Of The Healthiest Beers You Can Drink

Why IPA Is Bad For Your Brats

Brats on a grilling fork and beer
Brats on a grilling fork and beer - Igorr1/Getty Images

The reason why IPAs are so bitter is that in comparison to many other styles, they're aggressively hopped. Hops are the element of the quintessential beer ingredient list — along with water, malt, and yeast, still dictated by a 1500s guideline today — that are responsible for the bitterness. The intention is to balance the malty sweetness and add flavor to the beer. Some hops are known for being citrusy while others are grassy or more pine-like. But at the end of the day, the issue when cooking with this type of alcohol is that as an IPA reduces that hoppy bitterness becomes hyper-concentrated.

This makes for a much more exciting finished product than simply boiling in water, but it puts the characteristics of your beverage on blast. In the beer-making process, more bitterness is extracted during a long boiling step (after mashing and before fermentation) and the same principle applies here. Since you're braising brats, you'll naturally be heating the brew and causing some of the moisture to evaporate, reducing and amplifying the flavor of the beer. A little bit is balancing but too much can make your brats pretty unpleasant.

Best Beers For Brats

Pile of grilled brats on a cutting board with beer
Pile of grilled brats on a cutting board with beer - Alexpro9500/Getty Images

So what beers are best for brats? It depends on the flavor profile you're hoping for. Belgian dubbels are known for big, malty flavors — sometimes referred to as caramelly or chocolatey, reminiscent of dark or dried fruits like fig and raisin. When reduced, those qualities complement the char you'll have created with the grilling portion of the process.

Saisons are paler beers that have more fruity notes from yeast and many are also known for being a touch peppery. You can also source flavored beverages like a coconut porter or a coffee-flavored stout, which are lower in bitterness but may lend both additional flavor and inspiration (pair with a coconut sauerkraut or coffee-spiked ketchup). If you're looking for a more subtle flavor, we suggest trying our recipe for beer-cooked bratwurst with sweet onions that calls for a pilsner or lager-style.

Sour beers also bring a balancing vinegary tartness, while wheat beers like hefeweizen offer banana-like notes and built-in coriander and orange peel with witbier — all of which pair with the spices like garlic and nutmeg that are often used in bratwurst. Ultimately, like beer-braised beef, your brats will benefit from this tasty technique. And by steering clear of using an IPA, you'll have a delicious specialty you'll want to keep in your cookout rotation.

Read the original article on The Daily Meal.