Cooking with Beer – Become a Gourmand with Brewsky

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Want to know the right way to cook with beer?

Beer can flavor food several ways – from the bitterness of the hops imparting their flavor to the sweetness of the malt and more. While you can cook a lot of foods with beer, not all recipes will taste great with beer. Thanks to the brewpub revolution, people assume that beer can pair with all types of food – but that just isn’t the reality. Also, you cannot use the same beer as the one used in the dish – which means you need an ample supply of complimenting beers on hand if you are going to tame the brewsky and become a gourmand of beer recipes.

Cooking with Beer: A Few Basics

Honestly, it takes time and a lot of practice. You’ll need to experiment assimilating beer into your recipes and your personal cooking style. And no, you don’t have to dumb down your tastes or style to add beer. There are plenty of fine restaurants and gourmet dishes out there that use beer as a base. Also, you don’t have to assume the only recipes that pair well or use beers nicely are fried. While beer does take on the heaviness of fried foods well, it has plenty of uses in lighter dishes too.

Basic Rules of Cooking with Beer

We will call these the golden rules – or pale ale rules if such pleases you. These should be your rule of thumb before you incorporate any beer into your recipes.

  • Beer is bitter. After all, it is made from hops. The malt is what adds sweetness and it counteracts the bitterness, but you still have bitter in your beer. PERIOD. Sweet foods will profit from the bitterness of hops, but that doesn’t mean you need to serve dessert. We are just talking about sugary vegetables, like carrots, corn, onions, etc. You can also add sweeteners to recipes to counteract the bitterness, such as sugar or honey.
  • The bitterness of the hops also pairs nicely with rich and creamy oil-based recipes as well as cheese recipes. But, use it like you would other acids – such as lime or lemon juice – and stick to a few drops.
  • Acidic foods can handle the sweetness of the malt and add balance to a dish. Things like vinegar, citrus or even tomatoes pair nicely with sweeter beers.
  • Beer is a great meat tenderizer, which is why it is ideal if you’re whipping up a marinade. It is best if you use beer on game meats, but fish and chicken can handle it well too.
  • If you are baking or battering foods, the yeast in beer is perfect. You can utilize it for everything from pancakes (sweet and savory ones), fritters, breads and even desserts.
  • The more you cook and reduce down your beer, the stronger the flavor will be – but also the more the hops and malt flavors will come out. Be cautious when reducing beers in sauces, especially if they have a high bitterness to them.
  • Lastly, never use a beer in a recipe if you haven’t drunk it or wouldn’t drink it on its own. If a beer tastes bad from the bottle, how do you think it will taste in your recipe? Drink it up and then see what recipes you imagine it going well with – usually if you find yourself craving something with a beer, it is a good bet it will taste great if it is cooked with it.

    Cooking with Beer Requires Beer on Hand – and Lots of Variety

    You need a good variety of beers on hand to cook with them – and we’re talking good quality beers here. To make sure you’re stocked up, we recommend looking into a beer of the month club. Then you have great micro brews delivered to your door each month.

    If you’re not sure where to start, we recommend first trying out the Craft Beer Club or the Microbrewed Beer of the Month Club. Of course, you can read up on all of our beer of the month club reviews to see which club membership option suits your tastes and budget.

    Bottoms up!



    Shailynn is a word slinger, chef, Pinterest addict and adult coloring book collector. As our Operations Manager and Senior Researcher/Editor, you will find Shailynn busy finding new companies and topics to research, but also handling the crazy day-to-day on the backend – and by crazy…we mean all of us. She attended the International Culinary Institute, where she studied pastry arts and she worked as an executive pastry chef before hanging up her chef’s hat and decided to work from home as a writer. She is a fanatic for a great cup of coffee or wonderful glass of wine! Shailynn is a mother of three and married to a handsome firefighter.

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