Are Most British Barbecues a Bit of a Wash-Out?

We’re currently experiencing a bit of a heat wave here in the UK, and for once all the weather reporters on TV are saying it’s supposed to be with us for at least a while. They could end up being totally wrong of course, as anyone who’s old enough to remember Michael Fish’s on-air blooper will most likely agree with. In any case, as soon as the sun comes out during a British summer weekend there’s a tendency for us to all rush to get the barbecues out so we can get some good old fashioned grill cooked meat down our throats. A quick look at sales from places like Barbecues, B&Q or your local supermarket shows that British barbecues remain as popular as ever, but the question I put to you is this; are they usually a bit of a let-down?

Are Most British Barbecues a Bit of a Wash-Out?

We took advantage of a yellow ball of fire suddenly appearing in the sky (prompting many of us to shield our eyes and gasp in surprise, as it is something that we British don’t tend to see all that often) to partake in some barbecue fun and simply spend a lazy Sunday catching some rays and filling ourselves with hopefully cooked meat. I had discovered a brand new barbecue stored in the shed of our rented home a couple of months ago, so we dragged it down to my partner’s parents’ house and spent about an hour wondering where this screw and that piece had gone to put the thing together. It was only when we’d lit the coals that we realised we forgot to put the bottom shelf in (see picture to the right), which was a bit of a rookie mistake given that I write for a barbecue blog.

British barbecues

Anyway, it was while we were slapping on the sausages and burgers to cook (or rather, someone else was as I had vanished inside by this point to catch Andy Murray’s epic win in the Wimbledon finals) that I looked at what we were about to eat and started to wonder if all creativity vanishes when it comes to us British and our barbecues. I regularly post superb recipes that are some of the tastiest slices of meat I’ve ever had the pleasure of tasting, but 90% of them I attend a barbecue I find a grill full of the sort of burgers and sausages that you find you’ll find as part of your local supermarkets summer offers. Why don’t we try something new? And why are we in such a rush to prepare what we have?

The USA has been doing barbecues right for decades. In places like Texas it could be said that they almost see the meat as sacred; something to be lovingly prepared, with the time taken to create flavours that have the mouth drooling more than a burst water main. We’ve posted about Internatonal barbecue cooking, creating tasty marinades and rubs or smoking meat – but in reality most people tend to stick with a half burnt sausage and a splodge of ketchup. I’ve had more dry pieces of chicken than I have pork that’s been moist and melted in the mouth.

Barbecues always seem to be a let down

When I talk about wash-outs I mean in it the ‘disappointing’ sense, rather than the heavens opening up and the rain literally putting a dampener on a planned day of barbecue frivolities. The weather probably plays a part in the way we British handle barbecues though. Maybe we don’t want to spend a lot of time standing over a barbecue and instead buy things that are quick to cook simply because we can’t trust the weather to stay fine and not end up suddenly causing a minor bout of flooding in our back gardens. I saw this at a Queen’s Jubilee barbecue I went to; one minute it was hot and sunny and the next the coats and jumpers had come out with the clouds having turned an ominous dark grey. We’ve simply come to expect the worst from our weather.

Similarly, we won’t buy the meat until the last minute because nobody wants loads of meat sitting in their freezer when you can’t really rely on ever getting a decent enough day to use it. So, we rush to the supermarket or butchers as soon as the sun looks like it’s coming out and usually end up picking up whatever is there in bulk and for a low price. Nobody seems to have the time to sit down and read prepare for cooking a quality barbecue recipe, made with quality meat. This needs to change, or we will forever be stuck with barbecues that disappoint with every year.

The little sun we get, we should take advantage and barbecue

For the few days of sun we get every year we deserve to have barbecues that will be high up there in terms of the quality of food, and not just in terms of the amount of beer cans and burnt sausages that end up in the bin at the end of the day. You could make the argument that barbecues are more about the social side rather than the good; the opportunity to enjoy the company of family and friends, have a few drinks and generally just soak up the sun. However, there really is no reason why we can’t do both. Other countries manage to do it fine, and even if it’s only twice a year (at a push) surely we can make the food served at our barbecues a taste to savour and remember for years?

Get a head start on your next barbecue and take a look at our barbecue recipes. All it takes is a bit of time, preparation and a healthy attitude towards cooking. Your barbecue guests will thank you for it, trust me on that one!

Best Barbecue Beers


The barbecue is cooking an array of fabulous meats and flavoured vegetable dishes, the garden looks great, the weather is playing ball and you are surrounded by some of your favourite people. So far the barbecue, whether it is an informal get together or a special event looks set to be a raging success, until one of guests head for the ice bucket and give you “that” look.

After spending time perfecting your famous marinade, lovingly preparing vegetables, buttering rolls and making sure the barbecue is fit and ready to go, why would offer your close ones watery French beer or whatever is on offer in the local supermarket. Food and drink go hand in hand and to really pull off a memorable barbecue you need to think carefully about what beers you offer.

Barbecue Beers from Black Sheep

Black Sheep Brewery which is based in Masham, North Yorkshire and is the beloved brewing company of Paul Theakston incorporates traditional methods in a renovated brewery alongside generations of beer brewing expertise.

For nearly twenty years the Black Sheep Brewery has been producing a number of great tasting and unforgettable beverages to suit all occasions. Better yet, while these Northern ales are locally made, they are available all over the UK.

Amongst the most popular and barbecue ready beers from Black Sheep you will find the unforgettable Black Sheep Ale.

Black Sheep Ale, first bottled in 1993 is a premium full-flavoured bitter with a unique orange-fruit, hops and roast coffee aroma. Don’t be fooled by its rural origins, this is one the best-selling bottle beers nationally and is stocked by hundreds of well-known UK retailers.

A lovely barbecue beer bottled

Another bottled Black Sheep favourite, perfect for the barbecue ice bucket, is the Monty Python Holy Grail. First commissioned back in the late nineties to celebrate the thirtieth anniversary of Monthy Python, this has remain a popular beer ever since.

Described as “dangerously fruity” with an almost biscuit-like malty background, the Holy Grail is the bestselling Black Sheep bottled beer in the US and Canada and won the 2006 “Favourite Import Ale” award at the Canada Cup of Beer event.

Last but not least on my best barbecue beer list is Riggwelter. The aroma is one of banana-fruit, roasted malt and hops and is a strong yet easy to drink smooth beer. Perfect with a meaty meal, Riggwelter would not be out of place at any back yard or even a gourmet barbecue event.

To avoid that disappointed look from your guest, don’t settle for cheap and cheerful when filling your ice bucket with bottled beer, choose a variety of award winning ales from the world renowned Black Sheep Brewery and enjoy the compliments on a choice well made.

Black Sheep is Yorkshire based however their ales can be found in all major retail outlets across UK, and more information on the history of the brewery and their other brews can be found on the website.