Beer is for Cooking, Too!

John Drinks

Because this blog is home to all things beer, I wanted to point out something you may not be aware of: you can actually cook with beer. Yes, really! I’ve done it a few times now and have really become a fan. I’ve even started brewing some beers specifically to cook with. Most of the alcohol burns off as you cook, which means that you don’t have to worry about getting drunk from your food. There really is no wrong way to cook with beer, but I will give you one easy rule to keep in mind. If you wouldn’t drink it, don’t cook with it. Simple, right? If you don’t like the flavor of a beer, trust me, it won’t appeal to you more when you have to eat it!

The light flavor in wheat beers are an excellent add to cheddar broccoli soup or paired with fish. Porters, lighter than a stout and lacking the bitterness of an ale, are excellent in a stew or dessert like brownies. Speaking of ales, pale ales are excellent when you want to beer-batter anything—homemade chicken strips anyone? If you ever want to make bread, throw in a lager. Beer bread is a thing, and you will want it all the time.If stout is your thing, I can’t even begin to tell you how many recipes there are out there that involve cooking with Guinness. I heard the click of the lightbulb over your head all of a sudden. I basically just planned your St. Patrick’s Day dinner menu just now, didn’t I? You’re welcome!

Even the cheap stuff can get in on the action. One of my favorites is beer can chicken. I’d rather have it for Thanksgiving than turkey, that’s how good it is. Want to know how to make it? Listen carefully: buy a whole chicken. Take off the neck and do whatever you want with the giblets as long as they are away from your bird. Rinse it because chickens are dirty. Dry it off, rub it with oil and salt/pepper (or whatever other herbs you want). Get a can of beer. Drink about half—maybe pour it into a glass first. Shove the can with the other half of the beer still inside into the butt of the bird and stand that on the grill (indirect heat, for sure. Nothing directly under the bird). Cover the grill and in about an hour and 15 minutes, you will have one amazing chicken. Seriously. So easy, and you get to have some beer, too!

You can also substitute beer in any recipe that calls for wine. Just be smart about it—think about the flavor you want to develop before you dump in whatever beer you have leftover. White wines are better swapped out for something lighter and crisp, while bolder and darker brews will hold up fine in red wine dishes. Beer adds a more toasty, earthy flavor, which makes any dish go from a fancy-pants restaurant quality plate that you’re afraid to touch to gourmet comfort food in a flash.

So what do you say? Potluck at my place soon?