Of course, beer must be drunk while grilling. Without beer, the grill is just a hollow shell of ceramic glazed steel, lacking it's essential essence. But beer is not only for drinking while grilling; it's also the best marinade base. Marinades rely primarily on acidity to break down proteins in meat to tenderize it. However, very acidic marinades can actually toughen your meat. This is why beer is the best marinade base--it's less acidic than vinegar or wine, but still has enough acidity to tenderize the meat. It also adds great flavor. Your typical craft beer has all kinds of residual sugars and carbohydrates, proteins, hop compounds, esters, flavonoids, and other crazy stuff like that. All of these things give extra goodness to your marinade.
Not only does beer makes your meat taste awesome, it also prevents cancer. Seriously. If you didn't already know, that delicious black char on the outside of your steak is most likely increasing your cancer risk. The char contains heterocyclic aromatic amines (HAAs) and polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs), both of which are carcinogens. However, a new study out has shown that beer marinade (specifically marinade made with dark beer), can reduce the amount of PAHs up to 68%. And as a bonus, another study has shown that you can lower the HCAs in the charred meat by up to 70% by using garlic and onion in your marinade. It's a match made in heaven.
So here's my super-health-food-cancer-busting-marinade recipe that I'll be using this weekend (really it's just my basic go-to marinade that's super simple and probably copied off of an episode of Good Eats in my primordial grilling days):
12 oz. Dark beer
1/2 cup Olive Oil
4 cloves Garlic, crushed
1/2 Onion, chopped
2 Tbsp Salt
1 Tbsp cracked Black Pepper
Whatever herbs I've got in the garden--probably a couple springs of thyme, some chopped chives, and 3 or 4 basil leaves.
Step 1: Throw all the ingredients and your meat into a ziploc bag, squeeze out the air, and throw it in the fridge for an hour or two.
Step 2: Drink the rest of that 6-pack of dark beer.