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Usually when there is alcohol in a recipe, it's wine. Why isn't there more beer? I've only ever seen it used in beer batters. Can beer be made into sauces or other uses? Do ales, lagers, or stouts have different uses?

I have a fridge full of steak and Sam Adams. Can I turn this into something amazing?

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You can also get sauced. Then anything will seem amazing. –  bmargulies Jul 25 '10 at 22:15
    
Isn't beer a classic ingredient in sauce served with Toad In The Hole? –  Pointy Jul 25 '10 at 22:22
    
What is toad in the hole? –  SamAlterman Jul 26 '10 at 2:57
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toad in the hole is great! en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Toad_in_the_hole –  Paul McKenzie Jul 26 '10 at 12:41
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Sam Adams isn't bad for a lager, but there are lots more flavorful beers than what you find in most lagers. I wonder what a more flavorful, lightly-hopped beer would taste like instead of a lager. –  Ben McCormack Jul 26 '10 at 13:51
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14 Answers 14

up vote 10 down vote accepted

I use beer a LOT for my cooking. As the others have said, you need to watch out for the bitterness, which can intensify when you cook and reduce it down. As such, I often cook with different beers than I drink.

You can use the IBU (International Bitterness Unit) rating for a beer to get an idea of whether your favorite beer will be a problem.

Personally, I use Guinness and other dark beers when red wine is called for in a recipe. The flavors are definitely different than the red wine version, but it usually comes out good. I also cook quite a bit with wheat beers and the kind of beers that people describe as "nutty", like porters.

America's Test Kitchen looked at beers for cooking at one point and a "non-alcoholic" beer actually did really well: O'Doul's Amber. I agree with them and tend to keep it on hand for cooking, even though I never drink it. It stays mellow and away from the bitter flavors when used for cooking.

So, what do I cook with it? Like most of the others, cooking bratwurst before grilling and cheese fondue, but I also use it for lots of other stuff.

I have a baked bean version that uses 4 cans of beer and a couple of shots of whiskey and sits in a crock pot on low for 24 hours. I've made this with all different kinds of beer and each brings something different to the results. (Recipe for J's Drunken Beans)

I also like using beer in most of my stews. Throw beef chunks, veggies and beer in the crock pot in the morning and it's a tasty stew when you get home.

It works well as the liquid for braising pork or beef. In the winter, I'll often throw a pork shoulder roast into the crock pot with a bottle of beer and let it slow cook all day. When it's completely falling apart, I pull it out, shred it and add back as much of the beer as the shredded mess will hold (which turns out to be far more than you thought). What results is a juicy sandwich option, which is really good, topped with mustard or bbq sauce. It comforts me when it's too cold to deal with slow smoking pork (I live in MN).

I'll also often take some of that shredded "drunk" pork to my baked beans and give the beans some extra dimension.

We do a version of "bangers and mash" that I use beer in the gravy/sauce that I like.

Beer and self-rising flour make for a really quick quickbread that has an interesting flavor profile. I particularly like using wheat beers like Leinenkugel's Sunset Wheat, as the wheat flavors work well in a bread.

Beers (and hard ciders, which I actually REALLY like) work well for marinades.

Beyond that, I tend to find myself just tossing a few ounces of it into a lot of other liquids/sauces to add some flavor.

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Thank you for so many ideas –  SamAlterman Aug 4 '10 at 20:48
    
@J Wynia: Definitely need a link to that baked beans recipe as well us those others. Please post links to them. –  Dougman Aug 4 '10 at 21:49
    
Glad to help, @Sam. I added the bean recipe as a link. Most of the rest I don't really work off of a recipe. Mostly just wing it. The beans were that way too, until I got asked too many times for how to make them. –  J Wynia Aug 5 '10 at 0:46
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Yes. Keep in mind though, that strong / bitter flavors may become unbearably strong / bitter in a reduction. That said, I use beer in sauces, marinades, as a braising liquid, mixed with broth in risotto, and as lubrication for the cook.

I have a fridge full of steak and Sam Adams. Can I turn this into something amazing?

Marinate the steaks in beer for several hours. Pat dry, sear, slice thin, serve with pickled beets.

Fry up a couple of onions. Deglaze the pan with a bit of lightly-flavored beer, reduce, season, serve over steaks.

Bring the steaks to room temperature, lightly season, sear, and serve with frosty Sam Adams. Simple can be amazing...

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Beware: CUI is a serious offense in some parts of the world. –  Aaronut Jul 25 '10 at 21:59
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+1 for the bitter comment. –  Tobias Op Den Brouw Jul 26 '10 at 12:57
    
What does CUI mean? –  nalply Aug 1 '10 at 19:10
    
@nalply: I suspect he meant, "Cooking Under the Influence", a play on "Driving Under the Influence (of alcohol)": a criminal offense in some places (and a Saturday Night in others). –  Shog9 Aug 1 '10 at 20:48
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Beer in sauces or marinades works best if it's flat. Carbonation generally doesn't do anything good for a sauce.

Beer also works well with any of the following additions:

  • Worcestershire sauce
  • Mustard (preferably dry)
  • Hot peppers (or hot pepper sauce)
  • Honey (or, as we do it in Canada, maple syrup)
  • Garlic and/or ginger (surprisingly)

If you want more of a sauce as opposed to a marinade, just reduce it.

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Beer is great in some cheese sauces, and my husband like to use it with brown mustard to marinate/simmer pastrami for his hot pastrami sandwiches and bratwursts.

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Beer cheese soup... Mmmm... –  Shog9 Jul 26 '10 at 0:48
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esp the brats; beer makes a great glazing agent when you're pan-frying (pre-cooked and not) brats on cold winter nights when your grill is covered in snow –  mfg Jul 27 '10 at 12:16
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Belgian Beer Stew! One fantastic use of beer. Caramelize onions in a enamel cast iron pot, set aside. Brown off stew beef, dredged in flour with S&P, in same pot. I use butter, you can use oil of choice. Set the beef aside. Deglaze the pot with one to two 12 ounce beers - based on the amount of beef. When all the bits are blended into the beer, add the reserved onions and beef. Place into oven set at 325 degrees. allow to bake for 2 hours. I finish the stew on top of the stove with dumplings. This is a family favorite.

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This sounds delicious! I'm going to try it. –  SamAlterman Jul 28 '10 at 18:21
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(Under other uses:) Beer makes a good liquid for reducing your initial spices in the bottom of a pot of chili. The nice thing is if you are doing all your own spices and you know your beer you can make some really interesting combinations. Also, you are never limited to a certain type of beer for the chili. If you go for a roasty, toasty winter chili throw in a maltier beer; if you make a white chili with pulled chicken and lime and habanero go with a Dos Equis.

Basically, even after using the beer in the initial phase of seasoning the pot (after garlic/onions/spices; before adding tomatoes, etc) its pretty easy to add an entire bottle of beer and not worry about it hitting the palate too rough as long as you are cooking for an extended period (3+ hours). With Sam Adams you might try an Adobo and flank steak chili.

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+1 for using beer in chili. My favorite chili recipe is a steak chili that uses beer as it's main liquid. I think it works nicely. –  Al Crowley Jul 26 '10 at 16:48
    
@Al Crowley: which beer/steak combination do you use? –  mfg Jul 27 '10 at 12:15
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The marinade that I use for left-over crap beer is three cloves of garlic, one sprig of rosemary and one can beer into a gallon ziplock bag for about two hours if I'm in a hurry or over night if i'm thinking ahead (I never think ahead except the first time I made it). Then I either throw them on the grill with some squash or corn, or sear them in a pan and finish them off in the oven with a few onions.

You can also use it to make beer bread, which you then slice and toast for steak sandwiches.

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'Leftover crap beer' - Never thought I'd see those words together –  Tom Gullen Jul 26 '10 at 0:00
    
Is this for steak? Your first paragraph doesn't seem to say what it is you're marinating... –  GalacticCowboy Jul 26 '10 at 16:35
    
sorry, you can use the marinade on steak, pork or chicken but time is going vary according to aplication, about an hour and half for pork and about thirty minuted for chicken –  sarge_smith Jul 27 '10 at 22:49
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Beef in beer: Put steak on a large piece of foil in a baking dish. Tip a packet of dried French onion soup mix over it. Pour a bottle of beer over it. Wrap foil up loosely over steak. Bake in oven at low temperature (140 C) for 2 to 3 hours.

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I use beer in my shepherd pie. It gives it a really good ale taste. In terms of using beer I tend to use it for adding something of a bitter, warm taste. Goes well in bolognaise too. It is not an alternative to wine but it does add something really good and different.

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Pancakes with beer batter is one other example.

Also: belgian beer and food combinations link.

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There are some very good cheese fondue recipes that use beer for the main liquid instead of wine. You can find a number of them by searching for Cheese Fondue Beer.

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I made a sauce from what was left in the can after making beer butt chicken. It turned out delicious.

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The Hairy Bikers have made a Beer Sabayon before to serve with seafood. They had to be very delicate with the use of the beer because it is such a strong flavour. The link to the recipe is currently down but I'll post it again once it is working.

Edit

The link to the recipe is working. Dover sole and beer sabayon with seaweed and pommes noisettes

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Unfortunately, this site is not translated into English yet (Dutch). It contains a nice collection of different beers/recipes. Perhaps google translation and the likes can get you started.

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