The Best Beers for Barbecue, According to Texas Monthly

According to Texas Monthly, the best beers for barbecue all fall into one category: Berliner Weisse. Barbecue is a heavy, smoky feast that is so hearty that sometimes the thought of pairing it with a beer is less than appetizing. Even if that’s not the case, often the bitterness of hops can overpower your barbecue. Either way, Daniel Vaughn of Texas Monthly found that there is something about alcoholic hops that just doesn’t pair well with smoked meat. That is until he discovered an old style of German beer called Berliner Weisse.

He describes his encounter saying, “It was crisp, bubbly, and a little acidic—basically, it was everything the beef rib wasn’t. And that’s how I discovered the Berliner Weisse, the only beer I really love with barbecue.”

These beers are bright, light, clean, and refreshing. They are everything you want during a Texas summer. Plus, their alcohol content usually tops out at 3.7 percent so you won’t find yourself struggling to stand up if you enjoy several pints with your meal.

An Old School Love Affair

It turns out that Vaughn was actually a little late to the game. After his revolutionary meal of Berliner Weiss and barbecue, he found out that Texas has been a fan of the beverage since the 19th century. In fact, over a century ago, breweries in Worth, San Antonio, and Denison advertised the release of their seasonal Berliner Weisse beers. 

Don’t believe it? Take a gander at this advertisement from Alamo Brewery which was released during the hot summer of 1886.

alamo brewing ad
July 1, 1886 advertisement from the San Antonio Daily Light. Image from The Portal to Texas History

Dallas, too, was having a love affair with this brew at that time. Brian Brown, who co-authored a regional beer history book, North Texas Beer, with Paul Hightower, revealed that Mayer’s Garden – Dallas’s most famous beer garden – was known specifically for the Berliner Weisse.

With a long history to back up Vaughn’s claim that Berliner Weisse is the perfect beer for barbecue, it’s hard to imagine that there’s anything this beer doesn’t go well with. However, Vaughn set out on a quest to find the smoked meat that did not pair favorably with the beer.

He succeeded, saying, “It was a struggle, but pastrami is the answer.

Despite this, Berliner Weisse is still the best bet if you want to enjoy a brew with your barbecue. And besides, the best part is that the majority of these beers are brewed right here in Texas so you know that those master brewers had barbecue in mind while they were experimenting with their hops and grain.

Try the Beers Yourself

What are the specific beers that were recommended? Here is a list:

Austin Beerworks (Austin) – Einhorn

Blue Owl Brewing (Austin) – Little Boss

Braindead Brewing (Dallas) – Der Storch (available on draft only at the brewery. Pairs well with their brisket/bacon cheeseburger.)

Dogfish Head (Delaware) – Festina Pêche (peach flavored)

Folksbier (Brooklyn) – Raspberry Glow Up (available only in New York)

Live Oak (Austin) – Berliner Weisse and Lichtenhainer (only available on draft)

Mikkeller (Copenhagen) – Ich Bin Berliner Weisse (raspberry flavored)

Saint Arnold (Houston) – Raspberry AF

Freetail Brewing (San Antonio) – Yo Soy Un Berliner

Bare Arms Brewing (Waco) –Nebulous Tart

Watch: 11 Award-Winning Texas Breweries