| Tips On Using Beer In Cooking
by Linda Smith-Gonzalez
Hi Bob and Friends -
Can't tell you how much I enjoy reading all the diverse things people
write you about. Each month I always read your column first then
check out the many cooking with beer recipes on Beer -Nexus from
Chef Alexander. I've made many of her dishes and they are really
good. That success got me to do some research on just what kinds
of beer work best in cooking. The more I read the more I got into it
since it was so interesting. I'd like to share with you what I've found.
One thing I've learned is in general, and I stress it's only in general,
the best beer to use in cooking is brown or amber in color, not too
hoppy, and tasty enough for you to drink, you can cook with it.
Now let me explain what I mean. Brown- and amber-colored beers
get their hue from the specialized malts used in brewing them. Those
malts are kilned or roasted to a higher degree than paler malts, and
they derive their color from that heating and drying process. Think of
malted grains like you’d think of toast: The darker the color, the
more intense the roasted, toasted, caramelized, or event burnt
flavors. Generally, brown- and amber-colored beers will deliver the
kind of biscuity, nutty, toffee, and milk chocolate flavors most people
like in savory dishes while not giving burnt, scorched, or charred
But as you know Bob some brown- and amber-colored beers are
also quite hoppy. Hops can taste good in food—there are hop oil
pizzas, and I like hops in a tangy salad vinaigrette—but they’re
generally a lot more difficult to cook with than malts are. That’s
because hops contain alpha acids that add bitterness—to say
nothing of the actual flavor of hops themselves, which can range
from citrusy and fruity to piney and resinous. Add a lot of IPA to your
sauce and you might wonder why it suddenly tastes like pine with
malt-focused beers. If you like it fine but some might not.
Just as chefs will tell you not to cook with wine you couldn’t stand to
drink, don’t try to cook with beer that’s skunky, stale, or just doesn’t
taste good to you. A beer that’s not your favorite but still tastes
pleasant overall is fine to cook with, as is a beer that you left in your
fridge just a couple weeks too long. But if you’re tasting undesirable
flavors, don’t put that in your food—just the way you wouldn’t cook
with rancid butter or old milk. That's a simple truth.
As your meal cooks, the heat will naturally cause the water and
alcohol of your beer to evaporate, leaving behind the hops and
malted barley and wheat that give the beer its flavor. This makes the
flavor much more pronounced than it normally would be, so subtler
beers will be much more defined after cooking, and louder beers will
be even more so. I
It's important to avoid over cooking. This is for soups, stews, or any
recipe that involves boiling. Too much heat for too long will
eventually take away the flavor. When cooking with beer in a stew,
you’ll want to add in at roughly the same time you let the dish begin
to simmer. If you're making beer battered fish (my favorite), you won’
t need to worry about evaporation as the beer cooks right into the
Like all kitchen activities, cooking with beer can take a little getting
used to before you can get those flavors just right. And if you need
a good recipe I recommend all the ones on BeerNexus. It's my go to
source for recipes designed specifically to work with beer.
One last thing. I have a friend who once told me she often cooks
with beer ......and sometimes even puts it in the food. I think that's
the perfect way to end my article. Hope you like it.
Thanks Linda for your very informative article. It certainly is our first
about hangovers. More importantly you have given all of us who enjoy
a beer or two something to consider.
Again, many thanks for sending your article. I'm glad we could publish it.
I'd like to invite everyone to send me their own columns about anything
related to beer in any way just as Linda did. I select the best and
publish them here. So join in and get writing!
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