Pairing Kombucha With Your Backyard Barbecue
At long last, peak grilling season is finally here! When the weather’s nice, it’s hard to make yourself stay indoors, even for mundane tasks like cooking. You’re probably scheming all kinds of barbecue shenanigans, digging your cooler out of the basement, and calculating how many six packs of beer you’ll need to buy for your next shindig. But before you commit to five different kinds of IPA, add a case of kombucha to your list.
Kombucha is the perfect drink to pair with grilled foods because kombucha’s bright acidity and mild sweetness are an ideal foil for the smoky, salty complexity of anything that comes off the grill. It’s a refreshing alternative to beer and wine with the added benefit of probiotics, which you don’t even need to know how to pronounce to benefit from!
But if you’re the type that likes to have a plan for pairing drinks with food, you might be wondering which flavors of kombucha will make the most sense with veggie kebabs vs skirt steak. Just like with wine or beer, kombucha can be paired with food to draw out the flavors in both the food and the kombucha. If you’re the no-nonsense type and pairing sounds a bit fussy to you, no worries! It’s almost impossible to go wrong with a kombucha pairing. Take a glance at the recommendations below for a general idea of where to start.
Steaks, chops, kebabs, sausages, and burgers are classic summer grilling food. There’s no better way to transport yourself back to your childhood than to load up the grill with hot dogs and hamburgers (using grass-fed beef, of course!). Grilled meats, which are loaded with savory, umami goodness, pair best with bright, bracing flavors. Try Brew Dr.’s Citrus Hops kombucha with bratwurst or Lemon Ginger Cayenne kombucha with a classic burger.
To bring your meaty barbecue foods up to date, set up a hot dog or burger bar. Go beyond the usual toppings of ketchup, mustard, and mayo and devise a plethora of creative options that can turn a basic burger or old school hot dog into something your guests will fall all over themselves to Instagram.
Take a jar of mayo, divide it in smaller amounts, and make flavored mayonnaises in a rainbow of colors. Add sriracha, roasted red peppers, or Buffalo-style hot sauce for red; wasabi powder or pesto for green; curry powder or yellow curry paste for yellow; and even blue algae powder for blue if you’re really feeling festive. Also have tons of tasty toppings on hand for epic burger building. Kimchi, pickled peppers, thinly sliced jalapeños, cilantro, guacamole, and grilled pineapple salsa are all great toppings. Finally, have plenty of potato chips or root vegetable chips on hand for munching or as a burger topping that packs a crunch.
Even if you consider yourself an omnivore, the reality is that a lot of us are eating less meat and more vegetables, not just because they’re healthy and better for the planet, but because they taste delicious. It’s hard to imagine a backyard barbecue without vegetables, even if it’s just a big bowl of vinegary cabbage slaw or a pile of crudités. Grilling brings out the natural sweetness in most vegetables, caramelizing them and concentrating their flavors. Some vegetables, like mushrooms, tomatoes, and eggplant, can almost take on a meaty flavor when grilled, and so you might serve them with the kombucha flavors suggested above. Otherwise, pair grilled vegetables like zucchini, corn, peppers, onions, or cauliflower with mild, herbal kombucha like Brew Dr. Kombucha’s Clear Mind or Herbal Uplift.
When grilling vegetables, there are a few different strategies you can take. One is to make kebabs. While skewering all kinds of colorful vegetables on the same skewer is a pretty approach, because all vegetables cook at different rates, it makes more sense to skewer pieces of the same vegetable on one skewer. For example, one skewer for zucchini, one for cherry tomatoes, and one for chunks of red onion. That way, you can grill all the vegetables to perfection rather than worrying about your cherry tomatoes burning or overcooking while the onion is still too crunchy.
Alternatively, try grilling big slabs of vegetables for a modern approach. Eggplant, sweet potatoes, cauliflower, zucchini, and carrots can all be cooked this way. To make sure they get nice and tender, par cook them either by steaming or blanching until just barely tender, then finish them on the grill. Serve grilled vegetables with a creamy sauce like yogurt flavored with garlic and herbs or a simple tahini sauce with lemon, olive oil, and garlic.
Fruit is something that even barbecue aficionados tend to forget about grilling, but ripe, summer fruits are some of the best things to grill. They’re extremely juicy, flavorful, and sweet, and putting a little char on them just adds another layer of complexity and crave-worthiness. Grilled fruit will be best paired with floral tasting kombucha. Try Brew Dr. Kombucha Love with grilled peaches, apricots, or cantaloupe or Brew Dr. Mint Lemonade Kombucha with grilled pineapple, papaya, or mango.
If you grill very ripe seasonal fruit, it will be delicious enough to serve all by itself, but you might want to sweeten the deal with a drizzle of local honey, a scoop of ice cream, or a sprinkle of fresh herbs like mint or a tangy, soft cheese like fresh chèvre. For example, serve halved, grilled peaches with a scoop of vanilla bean ice cream, a honey drizzle, and a sprinkling of fresh mint. Sprinkle spears of pineapple with brown sugar before grilling and sprinkle with sea salt. Or make fruit skewers and serve them drizzled with homemade chocolate sauce and sprinkled with toasted nuts.
There are so many ways to turn your grill into a magic carpet that will transport you to worlds of delicious food; and while you can always keep it simple, there’s certainly an argument to be made for going all out and giving your guests a backyard barbecue experience to remember. This summer, add kombucha to your shopping list. It’s not just for sipping after yoga practice!