What’s Brewing? Add some beer to your recipes
We’ve been conditioned to accept that wine pairs well with food. Cooking with it adds another tasty flavor to our dish. Wine is romantic and used to complement the perfect meal, date or special occasion. Consequently, we’ve been conditioned that beer goes well with hot dogs, sports and popcorn. It’s anything but romantic and still accepted to consume in abundance while tailgating. Craft brewers have done a lot to change the overall reputation of how Americans view beer by using artisan ingredients. As consumers, we can help take craft beer to the next level by using more of our favorite craft beer in what we cook. It’s not a complex thing, but the flavor profiles in the meals you make will be.
I love cooking with wine but beer is the more versatile of the two. Beer can be used as a substitute for broth, wine or any dish that requires a liquid base. White wine is a great base to cook fish or chicken in, but you can substitute the white wine for a wheat, lambic or pilsner beer. I use red wine often when cooking pork or beef but switch it up every now and then by using a porter, stout or brown ale. As a general rule, just remember that light-colored beers work best with light-colored meats like fish, shrimp and chicken. Equally, dark beers work best with darker meats like beef, duck and lamb.
• When making a batter for fish or onion rings, try using a lighter beer. The carbonation from the beer will help make the batter light and airy.
• Steam mussels in an IPA. Using beer as the base along with a few thinly sliced scallions, garlic and diced peppers tastes wonderful.
• When making Irish beer bread, try using a red ale, wheat beer or lager. You’ll end up with a moist and chewy loaf that tastes awesome.
• I love making a beef stew with a dark stout or brown ale. It definitely adds another flavor profile to the dish that’s different than using red wine, again.
• Next time you make a steak on the grill, saute onions and mushrooms in a barrel-aged stout. Mmm!
• Instead of always using red wine in your red pasta sauce, use a brown ale or a dark Belgian beer. The tasty sugars in the beer will accentuate your sauce.
Have you ever tried beer in ice cream? Don’t say “gross,” like I did, until you try it. Instead of a root beer float, try a stout with quality vanilla or chocolate ice cream. You might consider using that last bottle of pumpkin beer you have with vanilla ice cream, too. Using raspberry lambic as a glaze on top of your favorite ice cream is delicious!
Just try it
Cooking with craft beer is easy and you don’t have to be concerned about it overpowering your dish. So go ahead and start splashing a bit of your favorite brew in the next dish you cook.
Here are some tasty craft beers to try:
• Caliente Pizza and Hoppin’ Frog Brewery (collaboration)
New Ohio I-PA (6.9% ABV). A New England style IPA with tropical fruit hop flavors and aromas. Citrusy flavor with a light body and low bitterness. Brewed with black pepper in addition to Amarillo, Lemondrop, Chinook, Centennial and El Dorado hops.
• Enix Brewing Co.
Mad Red (7.2% ABV). This red IPA is resinous and malty. The assertive bitterness is balanced by a strong malt backbone. Tastes piney with a citrusy finish.
• Full Pint Brewing Co.
White Lightning (6% ABV). This Belgian-style white ale combines pilsner malt, toasted wheat, Vienna malt, flaked oats and flaked barley for a complex malt character. Sweet orange peel and coriander are added for a refreshing wheat beer.
• Mindful Brewing Co.
Klark Bar (6.5% ABV). This brown ale is a tribute to a favorite Pittsburgh candy bar with notes of chocolate, caramel and peanut butter. It contains peanuts and lactose for a sweet candy bar-like finish.
Mark Brewer is a Tribune-Review contributing writer. He’s the author and illustrator of “Brewology, An Illustrated Dictionary for Beer Lovers.”