Cooking with Beer

Still matching beer with food? That’s an archaic concept. Every beer connoisseur has done it across every era and every region. How about using the hoppy beverage in recipes? 

When a bevy of different food ingredients combines with an equally diverse array of malt and hop varieties, an unforgettable gastronomical experience is on the cards. Instead, cooking with beer is the new phenomenon endorsed by beer enthusiasts keen on adding zing to their fares. 

Beer is compatible with the majority of the foods we eat. The reason is that the composition of beer – water, grains, herbs, and yeast – is similar to that of most foodstuffs. But there’s a caveat to it. Unlike wine, beer is complicated. It’s easier to cook with wine than with beer. A newbie might struggle to pull it off because of a lack of knowledge. Here’s a beginner’s guide to beer-based recipes. 

Stick to your taste and pair well:

Using a brew you relish is the golden rule to cooking with beer. There’s no point in dousing a dish with a beer you are unfamiliar with or disapprove of. The recipe won’t taste as good, despite all the effort you put in – plain and simple. However, your favorite brew might not go well with your cooking dish. The art of pairing isn’t that complicated, luckily. Lagers, pilsners, and other lighter beers pair well with delicate cuisines. Conversely, use porters, stouts, and similar dark beers for heavy dishes. If vegetable dishes are on the menu, I prefer earthy beers. 

Keep it light to start with:

When you are new to cooking with beer, light brews should be your go-to add-ons. Examples of light beer include pale lagers, pilsners, nut-brown ales, and more. As a starter, you will find working with these beers much easier than the darker variants. Plus, they are compatible with almost all foods and cuisines, thanks to their mild flavor and low ABV. Feel free to experiment with stouts, porters, brown ales, certain Belgian Ales, and other dark variants once you are comfortable with light beer-based recipes. It’s a gradual progression of sorts. 

Be clear about the ABV:

Alcohol by volume (ABV) is the measure of ethanol present in a particular volume of beer. The strength and bitterness of a beer escalate with the ABV. The higher the ABV, the more pungent and the bitterer the beer. These characteristics will be reflected in the dish under preparation. Prefer beers with low ABV, as they readily blend into most delicacies, making them way more palatable. When working with a higher ABV beer, reducing it makes sense. Remember, the alcohol content is trimmed down during cooking, but alcohol traces will stay intact. 

Start light and pour sparingly:

Your excitement is understandable. It’s for the first time you wish to cook with beer. But let not the emotion push you into using the brew excessively in whatever you’re cooking. Higher beer content will make the dish overwhelmingly bitter. That’s something you’ll wish to avoid. The thumb rule is to pour sparingly. You can make up for the low beer flavor by adding more brew to the dish later. But it’s next to impossible to eliminate the unpalatable bitterness caused by over-pouring. Plus, the flavor gets stronger as the cooking duration increases. So, you are better off starting light and being good with estimating the beer’s strength. 

Use it for tenderizing meat:

Your favorite brew might be worth more than just taste. Instead, it’s a fantastic tenderizer for various meats. Before cooking, marinate your chicken, tuna, or pork with a light brew like a stout for a tenderizing effect. Use dark beers for beef.