Best Beer for Pulled Pork: Complete Pairing Guide

Whether making traditional Southern-style BBQ, Kansas City-style barbecue, or something else, having the right beer can transform your dish and make it even more delicious.

Learn how to choose the best beer for pulled pork dishes—from tips, tricks, and recommended pairings so you can find the perfect brew for whatever type of pulled pork you’re making.

Best Beer for Pulled Pork: Top 5 Picks

Top Beer Pairings With Pulled Pork Variations

No matter what style of pulled pork you are making, there’s a perfect beer to pair with it. From traditional Southern flavours to global flavours, the right beer choice can enhance your meal.

Traditional Southern Pulled Pork

Try something new and savoury by pairing your favourite Memphis-style, Texas-style, or Alabama-style pulled pork with an equally delicious beer.

Memphis-style Pulled Pork: Sierra Nevada Pale Ale

Sierra Nevada Pale Ale is the perfect choice when making Memphis-style pulled pork with its mild maltiness and hoppy bitterness that’s nicely balanced by fruity citrus flavours.

The beer helps keep the meat moist and tender while adding incredible flavour to the classic dish.

When cooking the pork shoulder in Sierra Nevada Pale Ale, it’s important to use enough beer not to dry out or burn during cooking but not too much that it overpowers the flavour of your other ingredients.

Cook on high for at least 6 hours before reducing heat to low, then cook for 4-5 hours until pork is cooked through but still moist.

In addition to BBQ sauces, try incorporating garlic powder and oregano into your rub for added aromatic notes, complementing the beer’s sweetness in the slow cooker.

Texas-style Pulled Pork: Shiner Bock

Texas-style pulled pork is one classic barbecue recipe that goes perfectly with Shiner Bock, a Czech-style golden lager from Texas. It has a clean taste with notes of barley, hops, noble Saaz hop aroma, and subtle hints of honey.

This richly flavoured beer pairs well with the caramelized flavours from the smokiness of slow-cooked pork shoulder and provides the perfect balance to all its seasonings in this delicious dish.

To make Texas-style pulled pork, rub your 4-5 pound piece of pork loin with salt, pepper and other spices such as garlic powder and paprika.

Add a bottle of Shiner Bock to it in an oven-proof pot or slow cooker backed away over low heat for several hours until it’s tender enough to be shredded easily using two forks.

Alabama-style Pulled Pork: Good People IPA

Alabama-style pulled pork is famous for its slow-cooking process and distinctive flavours – fragrant spices, sweet molasses, tart vinegar, and smoky barbecue sauce blend to create an irresistible dish.

When it comes to beer pairings with Alabama-style pulled pork, Good People IPA stands out as a popular choice. This bitter India Pale Ale helps to enhance the flavour of the signature spices used in this traditional Southern pulled pork recipe while complementing the sweetness of the molasses.

The hoppy notes also add complexity and a nice balance between savoury and sweet elements in this unique style of slow-cooked pork.

Best Beer for Kansas City-Style Pulled Pork

Kansas City-Style Pulled Pork

Kansas City-style pulled pork is known for its sweet and smoky flavour, calling for bold beers that can stand up to the dish’s intensity.

Sweet And Smoky Pulled Pork: American Pale Ale or Lager

This type of pulled pork is a combination of juicy pork, smoky spices and sweet, sugary flavours. It is slow-cooked in the oven or on a smoker to create an incredibly flavorful dish that can be paired with various beers.

The ingredients typically include pork shoulder, brown sugar, smoked paprika, garlic powder and oregano, among other things such as onion powder and mustard. Slow cooking allows those flavours to mingle while bringing out the meat’s natural sweetness.

Regarding beer pairings for this type of pulled pork, you should choose something that will not overpower its intense flavour profile but complement it instead. 

An American pale ale or lager, their light body makes them a great companion for this dish without overwhelming its unique blend of sweetness & smokey flavours.

If you’re looking for something with a bit more kick, try an Irish Stout, which brings out some dark roasted goodness when matched up against these beautiful ingredients.

Bourbon-infused Pulled Pork: Founders Dirty Bastard

This beer is an excellent choice for those looking to enjoy that classic Southern flavor with a kick. Founders Dirty Bastard is a slightly malty Scotch Ale/Wee Heavy style, brewed with roasted barley and seven different varieties of malts–the perfect accompaniment to the smokiness and sweetness of bourbon-infused pulled pork! Caramel notes give this beer just enough sweetness and balance out the boldness of bourbon without overpowering it, while hints of hops provide an extra bit of muscle and smoothness.

And if you’re looking for something with extra oomph, look no further than the 8.5% ABV—you’ll definitely taste it in the finish but won’t experience any harshness or astringency due to its well-crafted malt recipe.

Spicy Kansas City Pulled Pork: IPAs

Kansas City-style pulled pork is characterized by its intensely smoky flavour, complex sweetness and generous spiciness. 

If you want to enjoy this all-in-one dish, a good beer pairing can make it come alive! For the spiciest Kansas City-style pulled porks, look for beers with citrusy floral hop aromas that balance out the heat of the spices.

Consider IPAs such as Cigar City Brewing Jai Alai IPA or Founders All Day IPA with bitter notes to cut through the spiciness while boosting all those wonderful smoky tones.

Additionally, American Pale Ales like Terrapin Hi-5 are a great option thanks to their subtle malt sweetness mixed with a spicy bitterness and heavy hop aroma.

Best Beer for Carolina-Style Pulled Pork

Eastern North Carolina Pulled Pork: Highland Gaelic Ale

Highland Gaelic Ale is the perfect complement to Eastern North Carolina-style pulled pork. This beer features a malty sweetness that pairs well with the smoky and tangy flavors of traditional Eastern NC BBQ.

Its caramel flavor profile plays off of the sweet, tart and savory notes in Heinz Apple Cider Vinegar-based sauce often used on this type of pork, creating a dynamic and sublime taste sensation.

In addition to its versatile flavor qualities, Highland Gaelic Ale has become an integral part of local culture throughout North Carolina as Asheville’s own Highland Brewing has brewed it for over two decades now..

South Carolina Mustard-style Pulled Pork

South Carolina mustard-style pulled pork is a traditional favourite in the Southern states, an iconic barbecue dish that dates back to the 18th century.

This style of barbecue typically involves slow-cooking shoulder blade bone-in cuts of pork over low heat with various seasonings and spices before being slathered in a tangy, light sauce made from scratch using yellow mustard, apple cider vinegar, and brown sugar.

The unique flavor profile that comes from this combination draws out the sweetness of the pork while adding just enough zesty contrast to make it perfectly compliment any side dishes like coleslaw or hushpuppies.

When choosing beer pairings for South Carolina mustard-style pulled pork, wheat beers and witbiers are an excellent choice.

The crisp notes found in Allagash White balance nicely with the sweet smokiness of the pork as well as cut through some of its fattier elements when served along with abundant sides such as fries or onion rings.

Best Beer for Hawaiian Kalua Pulled Pork

Kalua Pulled Pork With Pineapple Salsa: Kona Brewing Big Wave Golden Ale

Kona Brewing Big Wave Golden Ale perfectly accompanies Kalua pulled pork with pineapple salsa. This beer, produced by Kona Brewing Co., a Hawaiian-based brewery, uses unique local ingredients and Tahitian pure cane sugar, providing complexity to its sweet flavour.

The tartness of the pineapple salsa makes for an exciting combination with this golden ale’s smooth balance of caramel malt sweetness and mild hoppiness. The beer brings out the characteristics of barbecued meats, and its soft bitterness cuts through any added sweetnesses from unfamiliar sauces.

Kalua Pulled Pork Sliders: Maui Brewing Co. Bikini Blonde Lager

Maui Brewing Co. Bikini Blonde Lager is the perfect pairing for Kalua pulled pork sliders.

This light Helles lager is made with Pilsner and Munich malts, as well as German Hersbrucker and American German-style hops that give it a slightly sweet flavor profile with a hint of orange citrus tones, which nicely complements the sweetness of the Hawaiian Kalua pulled pork elements such as pineapple salsa or teriyaki sauce.

The crisp carbonation in this beer can also help cut through all of those rich flavors while keeping your taste buds refreshed, making it an ideal combo for both hot summer days and cold winter nights alike.

This lager’s soft mouthfeel also won’t overwhelm your palate like other heavier beers might when you are eating it alongside something spicy like the typical Kalua filling recipes include jalapeños or chillies for heat, ensuring every bite stays delicious without overwhelming one’s senses.

Best Beer for Mexican Carnitas

Mexican Carnitas

Whether you’re looking for a beer to accompany your tacos, burritos, or nachos, Modelo Especial, Pacifico Clara and Dos Equis Lager Especial pair effortlessly with the delicious flavors of carnitas.

Carnitas Tacos: Modelo Especial

Modelo Especial is the perfect beer to pair with a dish of carnitas tacos. This light, amber-colored lager has a slightly sweet taste and aromas of spices, citrus fruits, and fresh bread.

It’s low in alcohol content but full in flavour, making it an ideal accompaniment for complexly spiced dishes like carnitas tacos. The bright and refreshing notes balance out the boldness of the spice without overpowering it; meanwhile, its sweetness accentuates its distinctive smoky flavours, adding another layer to your carnitas taco experience.

Carnitas Burritos: Pacifico Clara

Pacifico Clara is a Mexican-style lager that pairs exceptionally well with carnitas burritos and other related dishes. Its bold and light flavour makes it the perfect accompaniment to traditional Mexican meals, as its slight sweetness helps bring out the flavours of such dishes.

The delicate ingredients found in Pacifico Clara offer light fruit and herbal notes, along with hints of malty sweetness blended for an enjoyable beer experience.

Furthermore, the moderate bitterness mixed within this lager can result in a perfectly balanced meal paired with spicy boneless pork pulled apart into small pieces like what is found in carnitas burrito filling.

Carnitas Nachos: Dos Equis Lager Especial

Dos Equis Lager Especial is the perfect beer pairing for Mexican Carnitas nachos due to its light body and refreshing flavour. With its slightly sweet malty notes and hints of citrus, it gently balances out carnitas’s spicy, tangy flavors without overpowering them.

The effervescent character of this beer helps to cleanse the palate between bites of nachos piled high with taco meat and a variety of other toppings.

It also enhances the savoury umami notes imparted by slowly cooked pork shoulder carnitas marinated in herbs and spices, such as garlic powder and oregano.

The smoothness from Dos Equis contrasts beautifully with sharp cheddar cheese or creamy Monterey Jack cheese melted over jalapenos, onions, tomatoes and olives added atop crunchy tortilla chips.

Asian-Inspired Pulled Pork

From familiar Asian flavours like hoisin and Korean BBQ to more exotic flavours of red curry, try out any of these fantastic beer pairings for your next batch of Asian-inspired pulled pork!

Chinese Hoisin-glazed Pulled Pork: Tsingtao Lager

Tsingtao Lager is an excellent pairing for Chinese hoisin-glazed pulled pork, complementing this classic dish’s sweet, sour, and savory flavors. This premium Chinese beer is made from lightly roasted barley malt plus select hops for its distinctive flavour.

It has a deep gold colour with a light taste that delicately balances malty sweetness and hop bitterness. The subtle hint of citrus gives Tsingtao lager a bright finish while adding depth to spicy dishes like pulled pork sliders with hoisin sauce.

A recipe featuring these Asian flavours can be found at Tastemade or in your local grocery store.

Brewed in China in 1983, Tsingtao Lager quickly gained popularity due to its refreshing taste and precise quality ingredients (no artificial additives!). The main focus when brewing this beer is precise fermentation temperatures; it’s aged longer than other beers, so each sip offers a smooth texture and mild alcoholic strength.

Korean BBQ Pulled Pork

Korean BBQ pulled pork is a tasty and versatile dish. It’s made with Instant Pot or slow cooker pulled pork combined with homemade Korean barbecue sauce (gochujang, hoisin, soy sauce, rice vinegar, etc.).

The resulting mixture has bold flavours of sweetness alongside layers of garlicky spice. This pairing creates an umami-laden taste that is at the same time savoury and slightly sweet.

When looking for the ideal beer to pair with this flavorful Asian-inspired recipe, look to light lagers—such as those from Korea’s Dragon Brewing Company—for something refreshingly crisp in between bites.

Alternatively, when creating smoked versions of the dish, opt for malty homebrews such as brown ales or stouts that play up any smoky elements in your rubs.

Thai Red Curry Pulled Pork: Singha Lager

Singha Lager is an excellent match for Thai red curry pulled pork or other spicier Thai dish. The beer’s sweetness pairs beautifully with the hot and sour flavours of a traditional red curry, while its malty taste helps balance out and enhance the savoury goodness of this comfort dish.

From Singha’s light floral notes to earthy undertones, balanced sweetness, and subtle hop aromas, it pairs perfectly with spicy pulls.

This makes it an excellent option for adding more complexity to your Asian-inspired meal without overpowering it with bitterness or astringency that might muddy up all other flavours in the pot.

Italian Pulled Pork

Bring Italy to your plate with Birra Moretti and a classic pulled pork ragu served over pappardelle! Don’t forget the Peroni Nastro Azzurro for an authentic Italian-style experience.

Pulled Pork Ragu With Pappardelle: Birra Moretti

Birra Moretti is an ideal partner for this classic Italian comfort food meal. Its malty, sweet flavour adds a delightful touch to the pulled pork. The beer’s dark colour and robust caramel notes beautifully complement the savoury flavors of the simmering ragu gravy.

It has a light but lingering bitterness that balances out any sweetness from the onions and carrots in the dish while adding depth to the overall taste of this hearty dish. Its slightly hopped aroma can easily be detected with all these delicious ingredients! 

Not only is Birra Moretti perfect for pairing with pulled pork ragu, but it can also serve as one of your main components if you choose to make your own slow-cooked sauce or use it as an ingredient while shaping ravioli or other filled pasta dishes.

Italian Pulled Pork Panini: Peroni Nastro Azzurro

Peroni Nastro Azzurro has earned a place in history and is the quintessential Italian beer. It was introduced in 1963 and has become one of Italy’s more popular beers.

That popularity has spread to much of the world, including many parts of the United States, where it can be purchased at restaurants and retailers alongside other popular beer brands.

This premium quality lager beer is light-bodied with subtle flavours that pair perfectly with all sorts of foods, especially Italian pulled pork panini.

Peroni Nastro Azzurro features Caramel malt flavour and a unique bitterness derived from specially selected hops—notably Saaz hop, which contributes to its golden hue and distinctive aroma—followed by sweet roasted barley for softness, sweetness, balance & complexity of taste.

Interestingly enough, this brew also contains plantains and two-row malted barley, making it even better suited for pairing with higher acidity recipes such as the classic Italian pulled pork panini.

Tips For Cooking Pulled Pork With Beer

Balancing Beer Quantity for Perfect Pulled Pork

To enhance your pulled pork with beer, aim for flavor and moisture without overdoing it. Adding a couple of cups of beer, depending on the amount of meat (about 2 cups for 8-10 pounds), ensures the pork stays juicy and tender. The alcohol helps tenderize the meat, adding depth to its flavor. However, too much beer can make the meat too soft and mushy.

Choosing the Right Beer for Pulled Pork Recipes

Choose a beer that complements your recipe’s flavors. Lighter beers like lagers are suitable for milder dishes, while darker ales like Guinness add smokiness. Be mindful of the beer’s bitterness and sweetness, as this will affect the dish’s overall taste. For example, a malty beer like Sierra Nevada Pale Ale balances well with tangy, spicy recipes.

Experimenting with Beer Varieties for Enhanced Flavors

When selecting a beer, consider how its profile will pair with your pulled pork’s style and ingredients. Experiment with different types and brands to find the perfect match, keeping in mind that porters and stouts often pair well with pork, adding a rich depth of flavor.

How To Incorporate Beer Into Your Pulled Pork Recipe

Making a pulled pork sandwich with beer is an easy and delicious way to add flavor and tenderness to the slow-cooked dish. Beer adds natural sweetness, bitterness and aroma that can enhance the overall taste of your finished product.

When selecting which beer to use in your recipe, it’s best to choose one that complements both the spices and flavors you are using in the pork. For example, a brown ale or stout pairs nicely with sauces containing garlic or spicy rubs used on ribs or pork butt roast.

When adding beer into your pulled pork recipe, it’s important only to use enough liquid not to overwhelm the rest of the ingredients; remember that typically, 12 ounces of beer should be plenty (unless otherwise specified).

Depending on what tastes best for you, you may even wish to reduce this amount further during cooking for a more concentrated flavour; experiment with different amounts until you find what works best.

FAQs on Beer Pairings With Pulled Pork

What types of beer should I consider for making pulled pork?

The best types of beer to use when making pulled pork are lagers or ales with a light, crisp flavour profile, as these will not overpower the subtle flavours in the dish. Ales that are light, malty and sweet also work well. Darker beers, such as stouts, can be too intense and overshadow flavours from other ingredients.

Are there specific food pairings that go best with my chosen beer?

Yes; depending upon your choice of beer for this recipe, you may want to intentionally pair it with complementary side dishes like coleslaw, potato salad, macaroni & cheese or green beans; all foods which can help bring out either maltiness or hops present within your brew selection.

How much beer should I add to my slow cooker while cooking pulled pork?

A good starting point generally tends to be approximately 1-2 bottles per pound of meat (depending on size), allowing enough liquid to remain present throughout the cooking process without dipping into an over-saturated state as the dish nears being served.

Final Take on The Best Beer for Pulled Pork

When it comes to pairing beer with pulled pork, the possibilities are endless. From traditional southern flavors to Mexican-style carnitas and Thai-inspired dishes, there is something for everyone.

The best beer for pulled pork depends on the type you’re making—sweet and smoky or spicy and fiery—but in general, the best choice would be a malty or hoppy beverage with enough strength to offer a good contrast against the heavy meat.

Dan Smullen Beer is my life profile

Hi, I'm Dan, founder of BeerIsMyLife. I've been an avid homebrewer for over ten years, and beer is my true passion. I've traveled all over the world, visiting breweries, tasting beer, as well as making my own batches. I set up this blog to share that experience with you.