Cooking with beer is an easy way to add a rich earthy flavor to your next dish. I prefer to make my savory dishes with Stouts or IPA’s and desserts with beers that have sweet nutty flavors which adds depth. Wheat beers are great with chicken and seafood. Ales, porters, and stouts are perfect for pork beef and lamb. Belgian ales go great with hearty meats and game. Nut brown ales pair well with stews and cheesy dishes.
Used properly beer turns the most ordinary foods into exceptional fare. As a marinade for meat, fish, or seafood, it tenderizes. In roasting, baking or broiling beer is used to baste the foods or as an ingredient in the basting sauce to impart a rich, dark color and highlight gravy. Choosing what beer to cook with can be daunting. But there are a few simples rules. First, don’t cook with a beer you wouldn’t drink. We all know that applies with wines. I mean using a cooking wine versus a real wine, we all know there is an obvious winner and it isn’t grabbing the cooking wine. So why think of cooking with beer any differently? We are using the alcohol for flavor and to tenderize after all. Here is some key flavors to note when picking the appropriate beer to cook with.
IPAs The name Indian Pale Ale implies hoppy which means bitter and that bitterness will not go away with cooking time. The longer you cook with IPAs the bitterness will intensify as the liquid reduces. The new generation of IPAs that are dry-hopped, citrus and non-bitter can be used in dishes without concern. The work great in beer cheese or other dips.
Light Ales, Lagers, Pilsners and Wheat High carbonation creates a crispy tasty crust that is perfect for “beer battered” and the mild flavor will not overwhelm the food. Just remember the more carbonated the beer the batter will turn out. These are great beers to cook with chicken. Gose, fruit-flavored ales and Saisons are other options that can make a great sauce for mildly flavored meats.
Stouts, Dark Ales and Porters Going for robust flavorful meals of beef, lamb, and venison these are the winner! You can use these beers as stand-ins for a rich robust red wine while cooking. Malty, spiced lagers and brown ales work well with pork and helps to balance flavor in a marinade for a hearty comfort dish. And beef, it’s robust and flavorful dynamics is just begging for a doppelbock or stout. So simmer all the goodness of dark beer to braise short ribs, stews and even in chilis. Seasonal pumpkin ales can be added to the mix to keep all the pumpkin spice lovers that clammer to the Dunkin Donuts and Starbucks for the pumpkin beverages starting in August happy.
Worried about feeding it to a minor? The phrase it’s been cooked off is often muttered but here is the reality! Items such as Beer cheese and Bourbon Carmel sauces retain about 85 percent so if a guest is sober don’t be offended when they pass up your creation. Cooking with beer or any alcohol to a boil will still leave some alcohol behind. Check the chart below to learn the times and percentages.
15 minutes leaves 40% alcohol
30 minutes leaves 35% alcohol
One hour leaves 25% alcohol
Two hours leaves 10% alcohol
If you aren’t already brewing your own in-house libations, well this is a great opportunity to pair with a local brewery! 1.2 million barrels of craft beer a produced right in New York, each year from more than 500 licensed breweries! Not to mention the top-rated breweries in the surrounded states of Vermont, Massachusetts and Connecticut. There are plenty to choose from to up your signature, exclusive game AND get more repeat customers coming back for your unique dishes.
Cooking with beer can be overwhelming especially if you are a newbie. It allows you to be more creative with your menu, be as serious or fun-loving as you want. Imagine a tongue and cheek Chicken Beersala instead of a traditional Chicken Marsala as a special. I mean when we all sit back and have a “couple of beers with friends” were having fun. So why not use beer as an ingredient and have fun with your dishes! Remember cooking with that hoppy beverage can be just as delicious as sipping on it. Let’s go!