Grilling season is here. Frankly, it's always grilling season at our place. Outdoor kitchen, grill, smoker even a small pub. Burgers and Beer are always a crowd-pleaser and a little experimentation could help you elevate your burger prowess to new levels.

You don't have to have a fancy setup to make great food outdoors, especially when it comes to burgers. Burgers are simple to cook, delicious with a variety of condiments and toppings, complimented easily by a host of side dishes, popular with almost everyone, and, of course, great with beer. Here in Hop Country, that's important!

5 Awesome Grilling Tips to get Burger and Beer Lovers Actually Cheering!

1) Begin with a clean cooking surface. Of course, the grill is going to be seasoned and nobody is expecting it to be shining like new. However, nothing is more off-putting than seeing the debris leftover from the bbq chicken you scorched three weeks ago still stuck to the cooking surface. Give the grill a good scrub with a high-quality brush while it's still warm, and give it another quick treatment before you fire it up again.

2) Temperature is key. I often see recipes online that talk about how long to leave the patties on the grill and though there are general rules of thumb - the temperature is really what's important. Have a good meat thermometer and use it. Also, the temperature you're cooking the burgers is important as well. normally 375 to 400 degrees.

3) Someone once said, "If you're lookin', you ain't cookin'". Actually, I've heard dozens of people say that but no matter who gets the credit for saying it first, it's correct. Don't beat the burger up with a spatula, peeking underneath to see how it looks. If you have the temperature right, the average thickness burger will be ready to flip over in 3 to 4 minutes at 400 degrees. (lots of variables here - distance from flame or coals, etc. but this is where experimentation comes in and once you have a feel for how your setup works, it will become second nature). Tip 3.1 - before firing up the grill, spray liberally with a non-stick cooking spray.

4) This is no time to be cutting out the fat. I use 80/20 ground chuck and 85/15 is alright too. The fat content provides so much flavor and helps to keep things moist as well. So many backyard burger warriors don't feel their job is done until the patties are dry and hard like hockey pucks. Don't do that. Take things a step further and get creative by mixing it up. Make a zesty burger by mixing 1/2 ground beef and 1/2 chorizo or Italian sausage or something else. I like to use 1/2 80/20 ground beef and 1/2 ground brisket. Yum. Make them thick and use a patty former for evenness and a nicer presentation.

5) Think about everything besides the burger. Assuming the patties turn out edible, how will you serve them? Determine ahead of time what type of bun to use, what type of cheeses, and vegetables, or additional toppings, and have them sliced or diced and ready to serve. Think also about side dishes. I often like to serve one hot side and one cold side. For example, homemade baked beans are delicious and easy to make and serve. Then, a fresh garden salad or stellar potato salad. Of course, depending upon the season, serving a nice piece of fresh fruit on the plate is awesome.

Picking a beer that goes with the burger and side dishes is a topic in and of itself. I feel a second article coming on. In the meantime, get a nice variety of craft beers, IPAs. Ales, Stouts, Lagers and let your guests take their pick.

Check Out This Awesome Gallery of Grilling!


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