Because of its wide range of properties, beer makes an excellent ingredient in the kitchen. It may be used in similar ways to other cooking liquids, but requires a few considerations. Match the intensity of the beer to the dish, just as if you were pairing a beer and a finished dish. Bitterness in beer requires special attention. In general, low-bitterness beers are best for cooking. It is advisable not to reduce beer, as even a slightly bitter beer may become too bitter for the dish. Small amounts of bitterness may be balances by a touch of sweetness, salt and/or acidity. As always, taste as you cook.
Beer can be used to:
Lighten up a batter. Beer adds a lightness to batter used to deep-fry items like fish and chicken. Beer Suggestions: pale or amber lightly hopped lager or ale.
Deglaze the pan. A quick sauce for sautéed or roasted items can be made by using beer to deglaze the pan. Do not reduce the beer, as it may become excessively bitter. Beer Suggestions: delicate or intense, to match the nature of the dish, but low-bitterness beers are preferred.
Dressings and marinades. Beer can make a great addition to salad dressings and marinades for grilled meat or barbecue. Acidic ones can substitute for vinegar in dressings. Beer Suggestions: Pale, low-bitterness beers for dressings; heartier amber or brown beers for marinades.
Steaming or poaching liquid. Although mussels steamed in wheat bier is a classic, other great combinations are possible. Beer Suggestions: witbier, weissbier, other delicate, lightly-hopped brews.
Replace or augment stock in soups and sauces. Many beers can add richness to hearty soups or meat gravy. Don’t make cheese soup without it! Beer Suggestions: sweet stout, doppelbock, Scotch ale.
Make dessert even more luxurious. Strong, rich beers may be substituted for other liquids in cakes and other pastries. Fruit beers add another layer to fruit compote or sauce. Or, make beer the star – drop a scoop of ice cream into a glass of imperial stout, and voila, dessert! Beer Suggestions: sweet stout, doppelbock, fruit beer.
A Few Dishes Prepared with Beer
- Roast pork loin with apples and cherry ale
- Duck glazed with doppelbock
- Roast salmon with witbier cream sauce
- Grilled steak marinated in red ale and green peppercorns
- Roast chicken with dried apricots and weizenbock sauce
- Steamed scallops in witbier
- Gingerbread brown ale cake
- Chocolate imperial stout truffles, dusted with powdered black malt
- Barley wine walnut ice cream