The Ultimate Beer Pairing For Kansas City-Style Barbecue, According To An Expert

Kansas City ribs and beer
Kansas City ribs and beer - Static Media / Shutterstock

When you're eating Kansas City-style barbecue, you know what the star is, so it can be easy to ignore the sides and beer complementing it. No style of barbecue is a subtle cuisine, it's all about big, hearty cuts of meat and bold flavors, but Kansas City does it especially big and isn't afraid to slather on some of the most potent sauces known to humankind. And when you're confronted with a big plate of saucy ribs, what you're washing it down with might seem like an afterthought.

But that would be a mistake because, like any beverage pairing, picking the right beer for your barbecue can enhance the whole experience, not just making the meal better but actually helping the meat pop off more too. So Tasting Table reached out to the sales and marketing director at Tall City Brewing in Midland, Texas, Stephen Alexander (who is also a member of the Texas Craft Brewers Guild Board of Directors) for his thoughts on pairing beer with Kansas City BBQ sauce.

Alexander left no room for dispute over what this style is all about, saying: "K.C. BBQ where SAUCE IS BOSS!!!" He explained, "This style of BBQ highlights the rich and sweet tomato based sauce." It's usually made with molasses and gets a little tang from vinegar as well, making it a complex flavor bomb. It needs a complex beer to match, and Alexander says that "Farmhouse Ale - Saison is the perfect match for KC style of BBQ."

Read more: Styles Of Regional BBQ In The US

Farmhouse Ales And Saisons Have The Deeply Flavored Spice To Match Kansas City BBQ

Boulevard Tank 7 farmhouse ale
Boulevard Tank 7 farmhouse ale - Jarretera/Shutterstock

Saisons and farmhouse ales are a style of beer that originated in Belgium, a beer lover paradise, and they have become popular in the United States as well. Alexander tells us, "Saison beer is renowned for its intricate flavor profile. It typically offers a balance of fruity, spicy, and earthy notes." With something as strong and heavy as Kansas City barbecue, you want something that is going to match its profile pound-for-pound while also being light enough to brighten your palate in between bites. As Alexander explains, it is a rustic beer, and along with a light hoppiness and yeasty taste "you may detect hints of citrus, pepper, and clove." There aren't many beers that have that depth of flavor and are still so refreshing and drinkable.

Alexander also has some personal recommendations to look out for, telling us, "If you can get your hands on Boulevard Tank 7 or my favorite Boulevard Quirk while eating KC style it!!!" Being Belgian-style beers, saisons and farmhouse ales frequently come in larger, multi-serving bottles, and one of the classics you'll find like that is Belgium's Saison Dupont. But there are also other popular American breweries working in the style, like Allagash and Ommegang, which sell nationwide. It may seem a little fancy for barbecue, but these high-quality beers are exactly the kind of drink that the craft of smoking meats deserves.

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