BBQ and beer have a lot in common. Both should be consumed in groups, preferably outside and around a picnic table. Both are better when they’re made by experts. And both are best when enjoyed in excess (under the appropriate circumstances).
For further proof, there’s Beachwood Brewing & BBQ. Like a lot of spots in Downtown Long Beach, it’s in a newly-renovated complex attached to a bunch of chain restaurants, and from the outside, it looks an awful lot like any other brewery: Retro signage, a huge patio out front, and a crowd of people in their 20s and 30s with dogs under their tables and beers on top of them. But unlike your average brewery, Beachwood also has a full menu of slow-smoked meats - and while the beer is fantastic, the BBQ doesn’t quite live up to its counterpart.
Still, it’s tough to really screw up beer and BBQ, and Beachwood definitely nails the excess aspect. Not that you should drink stouts until you don’t remember anything, or eat ribs until you feel sick, but if you’re doing either right, you’ll probably be ready for a nap afterwards. That’s especially true at Beachwood, where their 22 constantly rotating taps mean there’s always a whole lot to try. Their flagship Amalgamator is one of the best West Coast-style IPAs around - it’s light-tasting and fruity, but smells like you’re in a pine forest. It’s also strong enough to hold up to any food, which is ideal for pairing with a menu full of smoked meat.
Those meats are good, and some of them even get close to great. The chicken is perfectly smoked, so that it’s moist on the inside but still crispy on the outside, and goes well with the one of their intense sours. The BBQ chicken nachos are also surprisingly solid - and not just because you’ve had three high-ABV IPAs (preferably the 28 Haze Later) and want something salty and fatty. The pulled chicken, guacamole, and queso meld together into an ideal combination of spicy, cool, and creamy on top of the tortilla chips, and will definitely have you in the mood to try more brews.
There’s an interesting, inventive tri-tip pastrami sandwich that’s also a good bet - the salty pastrami and pickled green tomatoes go well with the braised onions and homemade beer mustard. Strangely, it’s the BBQ staples - things like ribs, pulled pork, and brisket - where Beachwood stumbles. The brisket is too fatty and chewy, and the ribs are cooked too long, so it’s hard to taste much other than smoke. It’s disappointing that they don’t quite match the quality of the beer, but there’s still enough good stuff on the menu to make up for it.
There are a lot of great food and drink combos out there - pasta and wine, milk and cookies, martinis and steaks - and BBQ and beer will join that list, too, once we find a place that perfects the pairing. For now, we’re happy to keep going back to Beachwood, because they’ve got one half of the equation down perfectly.
If you’re only coming here for one reason, it’s the beer. The excellent West Coast-style IPA Amalgamator is always on tap, and they rotate through New England styles, like the fruity, creamy 28 Haze Later. And if you see something from their sibling-brewery Beachwood Blendery, order it - the sours-only spot makes some of the best (and most unique) beer in Southern California.
This dish sounds like a sad, terrifying Cheesecake Factory mashup. We’re happy to report nothing could be further from the truth. Spicy, salty, and just a bit smoky, these are great, and a must-order.
The smoked wings here are absolutely excellent. The sauce just salty and smoky enough to complement the tender, moist chicken, but not so heavy it overpowers the plate. We pair these with a lighter beer like a pale ale every single time we’re here.
We’d never thought to pastramify tri-tip - and it’s a good idea. The meat is nice and lean, which makes it great to smoke and cure like this. The sandwich itself comes with vinegary pickled green tomatoes, braised onions, and Swiss cheese, yet is still surprisingly light.
This includes baby back ribs, pulled pork, smoked chicken, and brisket with some sides. None of it is bad, but the only thing we’d order again is the chicken - so just get the whole-smoked chicken instead.