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Find the right beer for your backyard barbecue

Find the right beer for your backyard barbecue

A cold beer may already be your go-to barbecue beverage. But like wine, different types of beer taste better with some foods than others. Here’s our experts’ beer menu for which types of beer go best with what foods, from pre-party nibbles to dessert (yes, dessert).

Crisp, lighter-flavored beers such as domestic lagers and wheat beers are especially good at washing away the saltiness of chips, pretzels, nuts and other snacks. They also go well with Monterey Jack and other mild cheeses you might be eating while the grill’s going. Their flavors are also fine with lighter-flavored food such as salads or grilled chicken, seafood or vegetables.

Craft ales typically have more-intense flavors. Their pronounced bitterness and malt, fruity, and floral flavors complement the strong flavors of burgers, ribs, steaks, sausage, and other fatty foods. The fat can help cut the beer’s bitterness. These ales also taste good with flavorful ripened cheeses such as Stilton or aged Gouda. So if you’re a fan of India Pale Ales (IPAs), grill some cheeseburgers. Many craft ales also pair well with fruit tarts, cheesecake, or ice cream.

Dark, caramelized malt beers go wonderfully with a slice of chocolate cake or poured over vanilla ice cream.

Consumer Reports is currently testing beer. We expect to have the results of our taste tests of more than 20 beers before the Fourth of July. If you prefer wine, however, we’ve tested 15 varietals including some picnic-worthy wines in a box all the way up to pinot noirs that cost $40 or more.

Of course, there’s no barbecue without a good grill. We found 31 winners in our recent gas grill tests including the small Weber Spirit E-220 4631000, the mid-sized Weber Spirit SP-320 46700401 and the large Jenn-Air 720-0709 sold at Sam’s Club.

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