Ultimate DIY Grilling Recipe: Summer Ale Smoked Wood Chips

summer grillingMany people love to grill in the summer, myself included. And in my experience, nothing goes better with grilling than beer – as a pairing with food, infused into the dish or in my hand as I grill. You might remember I love grilling with beer so much, I even ventured outdoors this past winter to grill with beer-infused recipes.

This summer, with the help of Kevin Kolman from Weber Grills, I experimented with smoking on the grill, which imparts flavors and aromas that are hard to replicate. I asked Kevin what he thought might happen if we soak wood-chips with Samuel Adams Summer Ale. He didn’t know, so we gave it a shot and discovered that by soaking wood chips with Summer Ale, smoked foods take on a slightly sweet and citrusy note from the lemon as well as a subtle peppery flavor from the Grains of Paradise.

One of my favorite recipes, especially when grilling at a backyard BBQ on Cape Cod, is Summer Ale Grilled Swordfish Steaks with Avocado Butter. Summer Ale-soaked wood chips add beautiful citrus flavors to the swordfish, which are balanced by the subtle char from cooking on a grill. The chips also impart a nice sweetness and light smoky flavor to the swordfish.

Get ready to impress friends and family next time you grill with the secret ingredient: Summer Ale-soaked wood chips!

Summer Ale Grilled Swordfish Steaks with Avocado Butter

Serves 6


  • 4 ounces (1/2 cup) Samuel Adams Summer Ale
  • 4 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons plus 2 teaspoons ground cumin
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • Grated zest of 1 lemon
  • 6 swordfish steaks (each weighing 8- to 10-ounces)
  • 2 ripe avocados
  • 2 tablespoons salted butter
  • 2 teaspoons ground coriander
  • Kosher salt
    • 6 sprigs cilantro


In a mixing bowl, whisk together the Samuel Adams Summer Ale, olive oil, 2 tablespoons of cumin, 2 teaspoons of pepper, garlic, and lemon zest. Lay the swordfish steaks in a shallow glass, ceramic, or rigid plastic dish and pour the marinade over them. Turn the fish to coat, using your fingers or a brush to make sure all steaks are well covered. Cover and refrigerate for at least 1 hour and for no longer than 2 hours.

Peel and pit the avocadoes and put the flesh and butter in a blender or food processor. Blend until smooth. Add the remaining 2 teaspoons of cumin, the coriander, 2 teaspoons of pepper, and season to taste with salt.

Prepare a charcoal or gas grill so that it is medium hot. *Directions for using a gas or charcoal grill as a smoker are below.

Lift the swordfish steaks from the marinade and let any excess drip into the dish. If there is excessive marinade clinging to steaks, scrape it off. Grill the steaks for 3 to 5 minutes on each side or until the fish is opaque but not dry.

Serve each steak topped with about 2 tablespoons of avocado butter, which will melt into the fish. Serve immediately, garnished with cilantro.

DIY Samuel Adams Summer Ale-Soaked Wood Chips:

  • To maximize the flavors and aromas of Samuel Adams Summer Ale, soak the wood chips for at least an hour but no more than 90 minutes. The wood chips can be soaked by placing them in a bowl and covering them entirely with Samuel Adams Summer Ale.
  • After they’re done soaking, remove the chips and drain them of excess beer. The wood chips should be damp, not dripping wet, when they’re placed in the grill to help prolong their ability to smolder, not burn. (We recommend using Weber’s cherry woods chips for this recipe.)

Tips for Smoking on a Charcoal Grill:

  • Light a pile of charcoal briquettes on one side of the cooking grate, and place a large disposable foil pan on the other side.
  • Carefully add about 2 or 3 cups of water to the pan (this helps maintain a low cooking temperature and adds moisture to the food). Allow 30 minutes to one hour for the coals to burn down to the correct temperature and the water to heat up.
  • Next, drop the damp wood chips directly onto the coals, then place your food on top of the cooking grate over the water pan, and cover your grill.
  • Begin cooking the food, and add coals as necessary to maintain heat.

Tips for Smoking on a Gas Grill:

Some gas grills come with a built-in smoker box, which can be filled with woods chips. If your grill doesn’t have a built-in smoker box, here’s what to do:

  • Place the wood chips in a disposable foil pan, cover with aluminum foil, then poke holes in the foil cover to allow smoke to escape.
  • Place the pan directly on the bars over an unlit burner or two, preferably towards the back of the grill.
    • Put the cooking grates in place, turn on the grill, with all the burners on high, and close the lid. When smoke appears, begin cooking your food, adjusting the temperature of the grill as needed.