Beer…. it’s not only a good drink, you can also cook some awesome meals with it. Beer can really enhance a meal. Many chefs have known this for years and many traditional foods use beer.
Since it comes in so many flavours (sweet, nutty, floral, roasted, coffee, chocolate, honey) there’s no end to how you can use it in your cooking. While wine can give some good flavours, many believe it doesn’t come close to beer when used in cooking. Plus, beer is cheaper which is a good advantage for a home cook or a restaurant chef.
If you’re cooking with beer there are some basic guidelines you can follow to make a good beer dish:
- Just like wine, never cook with beer that you wouldn’t drink. If you don’t like it in your glass, you’re not going to like it in your meal.
- Match the intensities of the ingredients. Beer and food should be in tasty harmony. Beer shouldn’t be used to cover up the flavour of the ingredients. It should be balanced. Overpowering the beer or the ingredients defeats the purpose of using beer in the first place. It’s fine to just have the beer as a background flavour, as long as it enhances the rest of the dish.
- By nature, beer is bitter. This bitterness comes from the hops, while malt adds a sweet flavour that counters the bitterness of the hops. So, sweet foods will benefit from the combination of hops and bitter tastes. Carrots, onions, and some honey can be used. Caramelised onions are a good example of a sweet vegetable that can be used with beer.
- The bitter hop flavour can also help in counteracting rich, creamy, cheesy and oil based dishes but use it sparingly just like a touch of vinegar or a squeeze of lemon.
- Take advantage of food similarities. If a meal has a citrus flavour, use a beer with a citrus flavour. IPAs will work for citrus dishes because of the citrus hops used in making them. Porter and stout brings out great flavours in stews.
- The yeast in beer is well suited for batters and baking. Breads, pancakes and fritters can benefit from being made with yeasty brews. This lightens the texture and make for a tasty, tender and flaky crust.
- Be careful with the bitterness of beer. Always remember that whenever you cook beer, the flavours become concentrated. Thus a bitter beer will become even more bitter when cooked. IPAs and pale ales can work wonderfully if used properly.
- The more beer is cooked and reduced, the stronger the flavour will be, unlike wine. If a dish requires long cooking and reduction, try to avoid using strong brews.
- Beer helps in tenderising meats, thus they are good for mixing with marinades. Game meats go well with beer and so does chicken and fish. If you’re new to using beer in cooking, robust dishes are good to start with before experimenting with beer subtleties and other refined flavourings.
- Don’t add beer just for the sake of it. Think about what you’re bringing to the table, figuratively and literally.
Beer Types and Beer Styles
One of the hardest decisions in cooking using beer is deciding which type of beer to use. If you have been into a beer isle in your local supermarket or other stores that sells imported or craft beers, you will get confused or overwhelmed when picking the best selection. Let’s try to learn the beer types and styles you could include in your next meal.
Major beer types include:
This type of beer is brewed with top fermenting yeast at cellar temperature. Ales are full-bodied with hints of fruit or spice with a pleasant hop finish. Ales come in many varieties that includes mild, bitter, abbey ales, pale ales, nut browns. Ales are often darker than lagers. It ranges from rich gold to reddish amber. Because they are top fermented, the hops give this beer a distinct fruitiness with a good bitter seasoning.
This word originated from the German word “lagern” which means “to store”. Lagers are made through a method of storing the beer for several months in near-freezing temperatures. Lagers have a crisp and refreshing character with a smooth finish achieved through longer aging. Lagers are the most popular type of beer in the world. A lager can range from sweet to bitter and from pale to burgundy to black. The term is also used to describe bottom-fermented brews including Dutch, Czech and German styles, but most lagers are pale to medium in colour. It has high carbonation with a medium to high hop flavour.
3. Stouts and Porters
There’s very little difference between a porter and a stout. Porter is a dark, almost black brew with a fruity-dry taste and top fermenting style. A porter is a type of ale that is brewed with a combination of roasted malt to impart the aroma, flavour and colour. Stout on the other hand is a very dark ruby red to black colour but not as sweet. It has a rich, creamy head and is flavoured and coloured by roasted barley. Stouts use a portion of unmalted roasted barley to create the dark, coffee-like, chocolatey and astringent character.
4. Malt Beer
Malt beers are usually sweet and dark. Malt beers contain hints of caramel, toffee and nuts. Malts can be light to full-bodied.
In addition to the major beer types, beers can also be characterised by other factors. Below are some of the famous beer types from around the world:
- Ambers. These are very versatile beers. They are full bodied malt roams with some hints of caramel. Ambers can be a lager or an ale.
- Brown. This type is either dark amber or brown in colour. Brown ales have hints of chocolate and caramel with a slight citrus note. It can be strong, nutty or malty depending on the brewing area.
- Blonde. Blonde ales are pale in colour and tend to be clear, dry and crisp. They have low to medium levels of bitterness and an aroma of hops and a bit of sweetness from the malt.
- Cream. This is a sweet, mild and golden style ale.
- Dark beer. This is a British style beer combining malts, yeast and hops. It has a chestnut colour with a delicate fruity smell with a robust and malty character.
- Fruit beer. Most fruit beers are ales but do not carry a typical ale characteristic. The malt is not dominant with a low bitterness to allow the fruitier flavour to come out.
- Golden. These British-style beers are ales with a straw-coloured drink with a hint of vanilla and citrus.
- India Pale Ale. Also known as IPA, this is a hoppier version of a pale ale. It was originally brewed in England using extra hops to prevent spoilage for the journey to British soldiers assigned in India.
- Pale. This style of beer has a copper colour with a fruity taste and has a robust character. Pale beers are best paired with spicy foods.
- Red. Red ales can be light brown or red in colour. They are moderate or heavy in flavour and have hints of caramel.
- Wheat. Easy, light to drink with very little aftertaste. Wheat gives a soft consistency. It is sometimes cloudy or hazy with a touch of fruity and spicy notes at the end.
Now we have discussed the merits of beer as a drink, we can now move on and present recipes that take advantage of beer.
1. Pan Seared Steak with Bock Beer Mushroom Sauce
¼ cup of bock beer
1/3 cup of olive oil
5 cloves of roasted garlic
3 lbs of flank steak
¼ lbs of oyster mushrooms
¼ cup of Portobello mushrooms
1 tbsp of olive oil for sautéing
2 tbsp of finely minced onion
6 Oz of bock beer
1 tspn of dried thyme
Salt and pepper to taste
A dash of hot sauce
Blend ¼ cup of beer, 1/3 cup of olive oil and the roasted garlic in a blender. Place the steak in a gallon-sized zip lock. Pour the marinade in the bag and then refrigerate to marinate. Wash and slice the mushrooms thinly.
Rub 1 tablespoon of olive oil in a nonstick 10” saucepan and then place on low heat. Saute the mushrooms and onion. Salt to taste. Stir constantly to prevent from sticking. Cook until mushrooms are almost dehydrated and crisp. Pour the bock beer and thyme, let it simmer and let the mushrooms absorb the beer and return them to tenderness.
Pan sear the steak in a heavy skillet over high heat. Rare steak needs 8-10 minutes per side while well done needs 15 minutes per side. After cooking, let the steak rest for a while. Slice across the grain and serve a spoonful over each slice of the steak.
2. Beer Cheese Soup
1 12 oz of IPA beer at room temperature
1.25 lbs of white cheddar
1/3 cup butter
1/3 cup of all-purpose flour
½ cup of chopped yellow onion
3 cups of vegetable stock
1 cup of heavy cream
2 tspn of ground white pepper
1 tspn of hot Hungarian paprika
Grate the cheese. Cut the top portion of the bulb, wrap it in aluminum foil with a drizzle of olive oil, and roast it in the oven at 180C for 30 minutes. Melt butter in a pot on medium heat and then stir in the flour. Keep stirring until its golden brown. Add the chopped onion and then stir well.
Slowly add the vegetable stock and then the beer. Mash up the roasted garlic and then mix it in followed by the paprika, pepper and salt. Bring it to a simmer over low heat. Remove from heat and slowly stir in the cheese until thick, creamy. You can add more beer if it is too thick.
3. Beer Can Chicken
500ml can of stout
1 4lb whole chicken
2 tbsp of 4321 spice rub
1 foil drip pan
Prepare the grill for high, indirect heat and fit it with grill pan. If you’re using a charcoal grill, ban the charcoals on one side of the grill and place the drip pan on the empty side. Add ½” of water to the pan. Season chicken with 4321 spice rub. Place the beer can into the cavity of the chicken, legs pointing down to support the chicken. Place the can and chicken over the indirect heat over the drip pan. Grill the chicken, covered until it is cooked through and the thickest part of the chicken reads 80C or after 1 hour. Let the chicken rest for 10 minutes before carving and serve with the pan drippings.
4. Irish Beef Stew
2 lbs of cubed beef stew meat
2 tbsp. of olive oil
1 chopped onion
3 minced cloves of garlic
1 tspn of salt
½ tspn ground black pepper
3 cups of Guinness stout
2 peeled and sliced potatoes
2 peeled and quartered potatoes
Salt and pepper to taste
Heat the olive oil in a large pot over medium heat. Stir in the onion, garlic, pepper and salt. Cook and stir onion until it has softened and turned translucent or for about 5 minutes. Stir in the beef, Guinness, sliced potatoes and the quartered potatoes. Bring heat to high and let boil. Once boiling, reduce to medium-low and cover. Let it simmer until the beef is tender or for about 2 hours. Season with salt and pepper before serving. You can serve it with some crusty bread and a pint of Guinness to complete the dish.
5. Stout Braised and Bacon Studded Collard Greens
4 slices of chopped bacon
1 tbsp of olive oil
1 large chopped onion
1 large head of collard greens, stems removed and leaves torn
1 12 oz bottle of your preferred stout
½ cup of chicken stock
4 tbsp of malt vinegar
1 tbsp of unsalted butter
Salt and pepper to taste
Using a wide pan, heat oil over medium heat. Add the bacon and onion and cook until brown. Toss the collard greens and cook until the leaves are slightly wilted or for about 5 minutes. Stir occasionally. Pour in the chicken stock and the beer and cook uncovered for 30 minutes. Add the butter and the vinegar during the last minute and season with salt and pepper.
6. Beer Dip
1/3 cup of beer
2 packages of softened cream cheese
1 envelope of ranch dressing mix
2 cups of shredded cheddar cheese
In a large bowl, mix the cream cheese, dressing mix and beer until smooth. Stir in the cheddar cheese and serve with pretzels and your choice of cold beer.
7. BBQ Beer Wings
3 lbs of chicken wings
12 oz and 1 cup of oatmeal stout or any flavourful craft stout or porter
1 tbsp olive
3 cups of ketchup
2 tbsp. honey
1 tsp. ground pepper
1 tsp. salt
2 tbsp. of fish sauce
3 tbsp hot sauce
½ lime juice
½ cup of thinly sliced scallions
Rinse the wings under cold water and dry using paper towel. Marinate the wings in the stout and refrigerate for 5 hours or overnight. After marinating, drain wings and towel dry. Mix olive oil, spices and salt in a large bowl. Add the wings and toss to combine. Arrange wings on a baking sheet and then broil on high heat for 20 minutes. Turn wings halfway through cooking.
In a separate saucepan over medium heat, reduce 1 cup of beer into ¼ cup. Remove from heat and let it cool. In a large bowl, mix and whisk the honey, ketchup, beer, hot sauce, fish sauce, honey and lime juice. Season with salt and pepper and then toss wings to coat. Top with the scallions and serve with your favorite beer.
8. Beer Battered Hake, Tartare sauce and Mushy Peas
For the mushy peas
225g or 8oz of dried marrowfat peas
1 tsp of bicarbonate of soda
25g/1oz of butter
1 lemon, cut into wedges.
For the beer battered hake
4 7oz of hake fillet, skinned and deboned
½ oz of fresh yeast
Salt and pepper
A pinch of sugar
1 tspn of cider vinegar
Vegetable oil for frying the fillet
1 large onion, sliced into rings
For the tartare sauce
3 egg yolks
1 tbsp Dijon mustard
2 tbsp of cider vinegar
300ml of rapeseed oil
1 ¾ oz capers
2 1/2oz of chopped gherkins
1 finely chopped shallot
1 small bunched of dill, chopped
2 tbsp chopped parsley
½ lemon juice
For the peas, soak in a large bowl of water, 3 times the volume of water for 1 ½ hours or overnight. After soaking, drain the peas and rinse. Place peas in a large pan with water over medium heat. Add bicarbonate soda, cover and bring it to a boil. Reduce heat and then simmer for 2 hours, stirring from time to time to prevent sticking. Once the peas turn mushy and soft, beat in the butter and season with salt and pepper.
For the beer battered hake, combine yeast, flour, salt and sugar in a bowl. Add the beer and the vinegar, whisk until it forms a thick batter. Let it rest for 30 minutes and let it ferment. The batter is ready when you see bubbles appear. Heat oil in a deep fat fryer at 190C. Dip each onion into the batter and cook them in batches. Let it fry for 2-3 minutes or until golden brown. Dip each fish into the batter and then slowly lower them into the fryer. Cook one at a time or by batches. Cook for 4-6 minutes or until batter is golden brown. Fry the remaining batter to make scraps.
For the tartare sauce, whisk the egg yolks, vinegar and the mustard in a food processor. While whisking, slowly add the rapeseed oil, process slowly until it becomes mayonnaise. Stir in the gherkins, capers, herbs and shallot. Season with salt and pepper and the lemon juice while whisking slowly
Place the fillet on a plate with a spoonful of the mushed peas and tartare sauce on each side of the plate. Place the onion rings on another side. Enjoy.
9. Arrogant Bastard Ale Onion Rings
4 large yellow onions
2 cups of Cold Arrogant Bastard Ale
Vegetable oil for frying
¾ tspn of Cajun Spice Blend
½ tspn kosher salt
½ tspn dried chipotle chilies
½ tspn of smoked paprika
½ tspn granulated garlic
1 cup of all-purpose flour
1 tspn baking powder.
Pour the ale into a bowl and stir in the spices. Sift flour and baking powder together and then add them to the beer mixture slowly. Whisk the batter until thoroughly mixed. Add or remove flour to achieve your desired consistency, but it should be thick enough to coat the onions. Cut onion into rings.
Pre-heat oven to 95C while preparing a deep fryer. If you don’t have a deep fryer, you can use any other heavy duty pan that is at least 4 inches deep. Heat the oil to 180C. Dunk the onion rings into the batter and fry them in batches. Fry onions until golden brown or for about 4-6 minutes. Do not overcrowd the fryer because it will lower the temperature which will result in soggy onion rings. Transfer cooked onion into a wire rack or a baking sheet. Season with salt and pepper and keep them in the oven until all batches are fried. Serve hot with BBQ sauce and a cold beer.
10. Corned Beef and Cabbage In Ale
3 lbs cut of corned beef
24 oz of your preferred ale
2 carrots cut into chunks
12 small red potatoes
4 quartered onions
1 tspn of dry mustard
1 large sprig thyme
1 head of cabbage cut into quarters
Place the corned beef in a large pot with the ale, potatoes, carrots, onions, thyme and mustard. Add just enough water to cover the ingredients. Bring it a boil and gently simmer for 2 hours. Check the vegetables halfway through, if they are already tender, remove them and set aside. Add the cabbage and cook until they are tender. Once meat is tender, return all vegetables to the pot. Serve the meat in slices with the vegetables and broth while hot.
11. Mussels in Lager
½ stick of unsalted butter
1 chopped medium onion
2 celery ribs, diced
1 cup of drained diced tomatoes
3 finely chopped cloves of garlic
1 tspn chopped fresh thyme
½ bay leaf
Sal t and pepper
2 cups of Harp lager
2 lb mussels bearded and scrubbed
1 tbsp of Dijon mustard
2 tbsp of heavy cream
¼ cup of chopped parsley
Heat butter in a 5 quart heavy pot over moderately high heat. Cook onion, celery, garlic tomatoes, thyme, bay leaf salt and pepper. Stir occasionally until vegetables are soft. Pour beer and bring to a boil then add mussels. Cook and cover, stirring occasionally. Cook mussels until they open or for 4-6 minutes. Discard any mussels that remained closed after cooking. Discard bay leaf. In a separate small bowl, stir mustard and cream and then add this mixture to the hot broth. Add the parsley and whisk until well combined. Serve the sauce over the mussels.
12. Beer Cooked Chicken
1 can of lager or ale
4 skinless and boneless chicken breast halves
2 tbsp of butter
1 cup of sliced fresh mushrooms
1 tbsp of grated Parmesan cheese
Pour half of the beer in a glass bowl and then add the chicken breast. Make sure that the chicken is well coated, cover the bowl and refrigerate for 30 minutes. To cook, melt 1 tablespoon of butter in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the mushrooms and saute for 5-10 minutes or until cooked. Remove from skillet and set aside.
Melt the remaining butter in the skillet over medium heat and add the chicken. Cook on each side for 6 minutes or until cooked through. Reduce heat to low and then pour the remaining beer over the chicken. Add the mushrooms and then cover skillet, letting it simmer for 10 minutes. Sprinkle with cheese and then serve.
13. Chocolate Guinness Cake Recipe
1 cup of Guinness Stout
½ cup of cubed butter
2 cups of sugar
¾ cup of baking cocoa
2 beaten eggs
2/3 cup of sour cream
3 tspn vanilla extract
2 cups of all-purpose flour
1 ½ tspn of baking soda
1 package of softened cream cheese
1 ½ cups of confectioners’ sugar
½ cup of heavy whipping cream
Grease a 9” springform pan and line the bottom with parchment paper and then set aside. In a small saucepan, heat the stout and butter until butter is melted. Remove from heat and then whisk in sugar and cocoa until well blended. Combine the eggs, vanilla and sour cream and then whisk into the beer mixture. Combine flour and baking soda and then pour into the beer mixture, whisk until smooth. Pour the batter into the pan.
Bake for 45-50 minutes at 180C or until the toothpick inserted near the center comes out clean. Once baked, let it cool completely on a wire rack. Remove the sides of the pan. In a large bowl, beat cream cheese until fluffy. Add the confectioners’ sugar and cream and beat until smooth. Remove the cake from the pan and place it on a cake stand or a platter. Spread icing on top and serve.
14. Coconut Porter Brussel Sprouts
2 lbs of trimmed and halved Brussels sprouts
3 tbsp of coconut oil
2 thinly sliced shallots
1 cup of Oatmeal stout or chocolate maple porter or any good stout of your preference
¼ cup of maple syrup
Salt and pepper
¼ cup of toasted coconut flakes
In a large skillet, heat oil over medium heat and cook the Brussels sprouts with the cut side down until they are golden brown or for about 5 minutes. Add oil in each batch if needed. Remove the Brussels sprouts from the pan and then set aside.
Add the shallots to pan and cook for 2 minutes. Pour the maple syrup and beer and whisk until combined. Let it simmer and let it reduce and starts to thicken. Add the Brussels sprouts into the pan. Season with salt and pepper and cook for another 5 minutes. Transfer into a serving dish and top with the toasted coconut.
15. Honey Mustard Beer Bratwurst
10 fresh bratwurst sausages
2 bay leaves
1 sliced strips red bell pepper
1 large onion, sliced into rings
2 cloves of garlic
1 tspn of liquid smoke flavouring
2 cups of honey mustard BBQ sauce
1 can of beer
10 hoagie rolls
In a 5 quart slow cooker, place half of the bratwurst into the bottom and then arrange half of the green pepper, onion and red pepper over the sausages. Assemble the remaining sausages over the top and lay remaining vegetables. Throw in the bay leaves and garlic. Using a separate bowl. Mix half of the honey mustard sauce, the liquid smoke and beer. Pour into the slow cooker. If needed, add more beer to cover all the ingredients in the pot. Cover and cook for 4-5 hours.
Prepare grill, preheat and lightly oil grate. Place the brats over the grill, but leave the onions and peppers. Baste brats with the remaining honey mustard sauce and occasionally turn until charred. Assemble the sausages on rolls and place onions and peppers on each sandwich.
We hope you enjoy these delicious beer-infused recipes!
Have any to add? Let us know your beer & cooking tips in the comments below.