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'Merican Beer-B-Q 

How to choose the best beer for your 4th of July cookout

Beer's favorite holiday is upon us. Nothing says "America" like grilled meat and pyrotechnics, especially when accompanied by good ol' American craft beer. Rather than buying 18-packs of cheap beer, find more pleasure with the purchase of 6-packs or singles of great local brew (just like Benjamin Franklin would do). The difference between cheap and good is significant when serving beer next to smokey, saucy BBQ. Thin, watery beer is simply lost behind moderate flavors; let alone the big, bold flavors of good grilling. IPA is a great catchall around the grill, but a bit more curiosity and variety will enhance all of that great food.

But yes, if an IPA is demanded, choose a citrusy version to serve alongside grilled salmon; it is a combo as straightforward and elegant as stars and stripes. Seafood also pairs well with sour ales or the local fruit-bomb ciders.

For an explosive twist on grilled ribeye, reach for a chili-infused beer. The fat from the steak will temper the heat, leaving a pleasant mellow burn. (Hopefully the only burns felt during this fiery celebration!)

Serving burgers? Ambers can highlight the sweeter notes, or porters to highlight the char and toasted buns.

For a real showstopper, look no further than smoked beers. While smoked beers should usually be avoided with smoked food, next to grilled pork, it is a winning combination. Grilled pork chops or pork tenderloin both take on new dimensions of flavor when paired with smoked beers.

Regardless of what meat hits the flames, if copious amounts of sweet BBQ sauce are involved malty brown ales are usually best.

But it is not all about meat; there is more to a Fourth of July barbecue than the marquee dish. Try grilling onions and other vegetables, and serve with saison. With a bit of earthy funk, saisons highlight the flavor of grilled onions and summer squash. Wheat beers have a touch of sweetness that help them pair well with corn. For dessert serve simple stout with either strawberry shortcake or s'mores. Both the whipped cream and marshmallows are amazing with the coffee and chocolate notes from most stouts.

Happy Independence Day!

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