The best barbecue beers
The best in Irish craft lagers and session ales for barbecues and summer parties
YellowBelly: Citra American Pale Ale 4.8%: easy summertime drinking with grapefruit and pine aroma and a clean finish
Lighter is better when it comes to sunny-weather beers and you’ll find plenty of craft offerings on the shelves these days – from session ales to lagers – that are lower on the alcohol side.
Cans are handy for bringing to parties, lighter to carry and don’t take up as much space in the fridge or ice bucket. They also protect against light, which can create off-flavours in beer. More and more Irish microbreweries are now adding cans to their line-ups, so you’ll find a good selection of 330ml and the larger “tall-boy” 440ml cans in many off-licences around the country, some as part of four/three for €10 deals.
If you’re having a barbecue, think a little about how your food and beer will work together. There are no strict rules when it comes to beer and food pairing but generally it’s a good idea to match strength with strength. So strongly flavoured foods, such as spicy ribs or chicken wings, will need an assertive beer, like an IPA with a solid bitterness and flavour profile.
A crisp lager will cut through the salt and fat of a grilled burger, while a citrussy pale ale with touch of toasted malt flavours will accent the light sweetness in a honey-glazed chicken or the delicate flavours of a white fish.
A nice glass always helps to enhance any beer-drinking experience, so get yourself a stemmed tulip or a tapered pilsner one or just grab a large wine glass, and sip away while admiring the golden, hazy or amber glow of your beer in the sunshine.
Mont Irish Pilsner 5.1%
Classic Pilsner-style lager made in Wicklow with spicy hop aromas and crisp, clean finish.
Four Provinces: Valsa Vienna Lager 5.2%
Refreshing amber-style lager with malty backbone and crisp, light body.
Boyne Brewhouse: Vienna Lager 5%
Light amber lager with hint of caramel and a clean finish.
Brown Bear: India Pale Lager 5.2%
Medium-bodied, clean and crisp lager is made for Aldi by Station Works Brewery in Newry.
As the name suggests, these are designed for easy-drinking and lighter in flavour and bitterness, though as a style they can vary quite a bit on alcohol content – from 3 to 6 per cent.
McGargles: Little Bangin’ Session IPA 3.8%
Award-winning, light-bodied and hoppy IPA that’s the little brother to the Big Bangin’ IPA, available at Lidl.
Rascals: Happy Days session pale ale 4.1%
Lovely melon, mango and lots of juicy fruit balanced with a malty backbone.
Galway Bay Weights + Measures Citra session IPA 3.9%
Light-bodied and very tasty, this pours a hazy, bright yellow with delicious hoppy Citra aroma and flavour.
Hope: Summer session IPA 2018 4.5%
Lots of tropical fruit flavour, a smooth mouthfeel (from the oats used in brewing) and refreshing bitterness.
Whiplash: Rollover session IPA 3.8%
Juicy IPA is for easy drinking with lots of hoppy flavour and good body for its light alcohol content.
The White Hag: Little Fawn session IPA 4.2%
Well-balanced IPA made by the Sligo brewery with lovely fruity hop aromas and pleasant finishing bitterness.
YellowBelly: Citra American Pale Ale 4.8%
Not technically a session beer but this one’s a winner for easy summertime drinking with grapefruit and pine aroma and a clean finish.
If you like your beers big and bitter and loaded with hops, try one of these well-balanced and fully-flavoured offerings, from Ireland and beyond.
Ballast Point Sculpin IPA 7%
One of the world’s highest-rated beers, this is full-flavoured with lots of peach, apricot and grapefruit, malty base and a solid finishing bitterness.
Third Barrel IPA 6.8%
Bags of tropical fruit with a resinous, piney finish and an overall smooth body and easy drinkability despite its strength.
Rascals Wunderbar IPA 6%
Dublin brewery’s very tasty IPA made with German hops, a medium bitterness and fine malt balance.
8 Degrees Full Irish Single Malt IPA 6%
This award-winning beer, now available in cans, has lots of floral and citrus hop aromas with biscuit malt base, and rounded bitterness.