How To Cook With Craft Beer: A Simple Guide

[ 0 ] June 25, 2020 |

Americans love their beer. It is served at just about every barbecue, sitting on the front porch and lounging by the pool. Yet, not many people think about cooking with it.

Beer is a great ingredient in recipes as it adds a new dimension to the flavor of whatever you’re cooking. It works great in marinades, stews and even in baked goods. If you haven’t used beer in your cooking then this is a good time to get started.

Not least of which is because there are so many good beers out there. Craft beers are being made all over the country with fantastic results. Melvin Brewing is a good example of what can be done when you break away from the big beer companies and find a small production beer to drink and even cook with.

There are beers for every season, too, so finding the perfect beer for your recipe is easier than ever. Whether you want it light or deep and dark, there is a craft beer ready for you.

In this article, I will go over several tips to start working beer into your recipes for bolder and tastier food. 

Match the intensity

Everybody knows the tips about wine drinking in which you pair seafood with white and meat with red. Though that is a bit simplistic it does make a point about beer. You should remember that you are trying to use the beer as a compliment to the flavors of the recipe and not overpower it.

Match lighter beers with low alcohol with foods that require some bright acidity like seafood for example. 

Then, when you want something hardy and deep in flavor, you can mix in a bold stout or something dark in general. If you do the opposite, your beer will ruin the recipe rather than enhance it.

Use a beer you want to drink

Luckily, there is no equivalent of cooking wine when it comes to beer. You should follow this advice when picking a beer to cook with. Always use one that you would want to drink on its own even if it weren’t being cooked with.

In other words, skip the Bud Light and go with a beer that actually has flavor. Craft beers run the gamut from light, bright and crisp to dark, rich and sweet.

A dark beer works great in a beef stew. In fact, a traditional stew recipe is the Irish Guinness Beef Stew that uses the famous stout for a rich and hearty stew.

Steaming mussels is a good way to use a lighter style beer like a pilsner. The acidity in the pilsner will work well with the mussels just as a white wine would but with a different flavor.

If the quality of the beer is good, it will elevate the dish by adding it. A low quality, mass produced beer is going to result in an inferior dish and adds nothing.

Use it to marinade

If you plan to cook a tough cut of meat, then using a beer to tenderize it is very effective. Wine is also good, but there is an enzyme in beer that loosens the fibers of tough cuts of meat and is more effective. In fact, sometimes using wine to marinade has the opposite effect because of the acid. Sometimes it toughens the meat that you intend to cook.

In Russian cuisine, shish kabobs are very popular. Shashlik is what they call it in Russin, however. It uses tougher cuts of pork meat usually from the shoulder and is marinated in beer overnight to make it more tender without having to cook it for long periods.

The best type of beer to use as a marinade is something in the Goldilocks zone. Not too light, not too dark. A pilsner is not going to add much flavor to the meat, although it will help to tenderize it. A stout is going to add a sort of caramel flavor which may be too strong.

Something like an Extra Special Bitter (ESB) is ideal as it has the acid you want, and will impart some flavor without competing with the flavor of the meat.

Bake with it 

If you have never had a chocolate cake made with a stout, then you are in for a treat if you decide to make one. The rich complexity the beer gives to the flavor is unique and delicious.

But, baking with beer in general is a really good idea no matter what the recipe. The carbonation and yeast found in the beer gives the batter of the baked good an extra lift. Your cakes and other pastries will end up with a lighter, fluffier texture.

Category: beer, Food.Fun.Stuff.

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