Since the dawn of time, beer and barbecue have gone hand and hand. Beer has been around since at least 4300 BC, while grilling has been around since man harnessed the power of fire. Together, and throughout the ages, they’ve quenched the thirst of our ancestors and satisfied the instinctive craving for flame touched grub. In modern times, barbecuing is a cathartic vessel taking us back to primal times and often a social event, bringing people together to enjoy fantastic food and, hopefully, quality brew.
To many, including myself, nothing is more relaxing than drinking a cold one while tending to the grill. Beer comes in a myriad of flavors while barbecue comes in endless flavors — nearly anything can and has been grilled. In this series, we’ll pair two of our passions: delicious barbecue with quality, craft beer. It’s a tough challenge but we’re certainly up for it.
Advanced Two-Level Barbecuing with Direct (Flame) & Indirect Heat (Smoke)
We like to utilize “low and slow” indirect heat along with wood chunks/chips to infuse a smoky flavor. A smoker (Weber Smokey Mountain Smoker) was used in conjunction with a charcoal grill (for direct heat) but a lone charcoal or gas grill will adequately do the trick for both (see the additional grilling information at the end of article). Oak was chosen as the wood for its clean and modest smoke flavor. A smoker box (or tin foil) and soaking the wood in water is recommended to avoid flare-ups, particularly if using a grill. Add a handful of wood chips periodically throughout cooking, especially when the food first hits the grates.
Of course we use direct heat (directly over the coals or burner) at times during the cooking session too.
Temp: Try and keep the temperature between 215-250 F.
The Meal: Today’s brew-n-cue will include three courses: an appetizer, a main course with a side, and a beer-inspired dessert. We chose a craft beer to complement each course. We started off with fresh mushrooms, seasoned with cracked pepper and garlic salt. The main course is prime beef sirloin Tri-Tip with sliced baby reds. For the dessert, homemade Kona Pipeline Porter ice cream.
The Appetizer: Seasoned Smoky Mushrooms – a simple and tasty star. The mushrooms readily absorb the smoke flavor.
- The Beer: Shipyard Fuggles IPA, an English IPA featuring the famous Fuggles Hop.
- The Pairing: Shipyard’s rich caramel malts bring out the smoky, grilled flavor of the mushrooms while the beer’s spicy, earthy Fuggles hop finish deliciously mirrors the flavors of the seasoned ‘shrooms.
Appetizer directions: Use larger sized mushrooms — we used the regular store kind, but any variety will work. Remove the stems, gently wash, then rub with a small amount of butter to help keep them moist during cooking. Lightly season with cracked black pepper and garlic salt. Cook at 215-250 F on a smoker or grill (indirect heat with oak chips) until desired doneness. Serve hot off the smoker/grill. Open beer, pour in pint glass-enjoy.
The Main Course: Beef Tri-Tip Roast (steak) –a rich and flavorful 1.5-2.5 lb specialty cut (NOT sirloin tip) of bottom sirloin with roots in Santa Maria, CA. Much of it used to be shipped to California but Tri-Tip is becoming more commonplace nationwide. Usually the local butcher will custom cut this awesome piece of meat for you, and give you a respectful nod for being “ in the know”. Best served medium rare.
- The Beer: Fort Collins Brewery Retro Red, a complex, malt forward American Red Ale with an interesting hop finish.
- The Pairing: The Retro Red’s substantial toasty and roasted malts perfectly complement the Tri-Tip’s smoky, robust flavor.
Meat Directions: Keep the Tri-Tip in the refrigerator until just before cooking, then remove. Sprinkle with favorite spice mixture — we used a Greek seasoning. Cracked pepper and Kosher salt is commonly used too. Have the grill (or smoker) temperature preferably between 215-250 F and add a couple of handfuls of oak chips. Then place the meat as far away from the coals (or burner) as possible and keep the lid closed. Monitor the temperature of the roast with a thermometer, a wireless meat thermometer is the ideal tool. Cook until the internal temperature of the Tri-Tip hits 120 F then place the beef directly over the coals for a couple of minutes each side to sear. Pull the meat from the grill at 130 F or so, wrap with tin foil and allow to rest for 10 minutes (off the grill). This rest will allow the juices to reabsorb. Cut across the grain, pour the beer and enjoy!
Directions for Sliced Baby Red Potatoes: Slice baby red potatoes along with a white onion then place both on a sheet of tin foil. Next add olive oil, sea salt, and cracked pepper. Cook over direct heat and remove with the meat. The baby reds should be on the grill about half an hour before the Tri-Tip goes on.
The Dessert: Kona Pipeline Porter Ice Cream — homemade ice cream infused with the addition of a tasty coffee porter. A decadent sauce and whipped cream cover this dessert. Requires an ice cream maker
- The Beer: Kona Pipeline Porter, a balanced Porter hailing from the Aloha state that’s deliciously brewed with Kona coffee.
- The Pairing: The chocolate and coffee flavors of the beer are also found in the ice cream and reduction sauce. Perfect.
(2) 12 oz bottles of Kona Pipeline Porter
(1) can sweetened condensed milk, chilled
2 cups heavy cream, chilled
Dessert Directions: Simmer 2 bottles (24 oz) Kona Porter on stove until reduced by ½ (or 12 oz), then refrigerate until cold. Set 4 oz of the reduction aside for the sauce. Pour the other 8 oz of the Kona reduction, the heavy cream, and the sweetened condensed milk to the ice cream machine and run for 25-30 minutes. Pour into a freezer-safe container and freeze for 1 to 2 hours.
Sauce: Pour the remaining (4 oz) porter reduction sauce into a bowl. Add ½ teaspoon molasses (or to taste) and ½ teaspoon honey (or to taste). Mix and pour over ice cream prior to serving.
Additional grilling information:
If using a charcoal grill only: Start with only about 20 briquettes and keep them to one side of the grill, put the food on the other side of the grill. Keep the vents mostly closed. Add more charcoal as needed to maintain desired temperature. Use a chimney charcoal starter, not lighter fluid, to ignite coals.
If using a gas grill only: Turn on one of the end burners on low and put the food on the other end of the grill, adjust end burner to achieve desired temperature.