Another Way To Help Breweries Now – Cook With Their Beer

Another Way To Help Breweries Now – Cook With Their Beer

by Mark E. Lasbury for Indiana On Tap

With restaurants and breweries closed for the time being, there are two things Indiana craft drinkers are learning to do more of – drink at home and cook. I wholeheartedly recommend that you order carryout from your favorite brewpubs and restaurants, but it’s tough financially to eat out every night. So how can we do as much as we can? Try cooking with the beer of a local brewery.

Make a list of your local breweries that are doing carryout or delivery of beer (they can deliver beer you know, it falls under their small brewer’s permit) and see what beers they have for sale now. Then look at your larder, what’s on the shelves of the local grocery, and what you can get from carryout of the neighborhood deli. Can you find a way to cook something using that beer? Sure you can, and we’re here to help.

Hoppier beers are good for cooking with foods that are higher in sugars, they balance the hops just like malts do in balanced beers. Caramelizing onions with some IPA works well. Hoppy beers also work to give a bit of bite to rich or creamy foods, like cheese dips and some stews/soups.

Get a growler vis carryout or delivery, then cook with it – some for you, some for the food, some for you, some for….. image credit: Mass Brew Bros

Malty beers can add body and sweetness to spicy food or some more umami (meaty) dishes), like chili or pot roast. Malty beers, like porters and stouts, are also good for baking with.

I’m going to make a huge generalization here, but malty beers are usually darker, and hoppy beers are often lighter. This doesn’t work great for things like hoppy barleywines or hoppy reds, and malty beers like white stouts or golden ales also muddy the waters a bit, but basically you can follow that plan.

As such, lighter colored beers (especially light lagers) are good for fried foods. They’re also good for poaching or steaming fish and seafood Highly carbonated beers (often light lagers and fruity beers that are bottle conditioned) are good for making batters. Darker beers work better for meats, cakes, and heavier foods, even dark breads.

Recipes often call for wines, and in many cases, these can be replaced with beer – light ales and wheats for white wines, while darker, maltier beers can substitute for red wines. Other recipes call for beer – they might even suggest a style in the name – Chocolate stout cake – but when they don’t, the style best used is suggested by the points we made above. However, and this is important, it’s tough to screw this up by picking the wrong beer; if you’d drink it on its own, you can cook with it in pretty much any situation.

Many websites will give you recipes with beer – but we don’t need no sticking recipes. image credit: Bell’s Brewery

If a recipe doesn’t call for beer or wine, look for places where you can swap out pretty much any water-based liquid with beer. Cooking rice? Many chefs will tell you to use stock instead of water, but a medium bodied ale will work even better. Basting liquid, egg poaching liquid, liquid for boiling pasta – these can all be done using beer in place of some or most of the water.

Go ahead, enhance with your dinner tonight and help out a local brewery at the same time. Glaze some fish or candify your carrots with a local scotch ale or export porter. Roast your pork by basting with an ESB. Steam some mussels with an IPA, or make a vinaigrette for your grilled shrimp with an Australian champagne ale. The chances to cook with beer most definitely go beyond stout chili and beer can chicken (although those are always good).

We should always buy local beer, but especially right now while the breweries are forced to be closed. They need our help, or they might not be there when this is all over. If a recipe you devise using local beer works out well, let everyone know on social media – they don’t have much to do either. We need to turn this into something that will stick around longer than the pandemic.

Update: Tonight for dinner Walter and I made a pot of French Onion soup using 2 pints of King of the Castle Scottish Ale from Bad Dad Brewery. We subbed soy sauce for the worchestershire and used havarti cheese over the top. Not so bad if I do say so myself.


banner image credit: Brews Cruise

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