We break down how to cook with craft beer and infuse those flavors into your cabin meals

Over the years, Americans have developed a refined palate for beer. In the last few years, the number of craft breweries in the U.S. has skyrocketed to more than 5,000.
Just head to your local grocery or convenience store, and you’ll find a cornucopia of beer brands, styles and intricate flavors to choose from. And just like a fine wine, a good craft beer can elevate your cooking and enhance the overall taste of a dish.

The recipes reprinted here come from “The Craft Beer Cookbook” by Jacquelyn Dodd, a recipe developer and food photographer who also happens to have a culinary passion for beer. Dodd has even launched a website dedicated to the art of cooking with beer: thebeeroness.com.

See also Crack Open a Cold One: 3 Porter Beers Great for Cool Nights

Here are a few of Dodd’s tips for cooking with beer:

Choose the right craft beer.

Dark beers like stouts and porters tend to blend well with heavier ingredients like chocolate and red meat (see the Pig Newton Beer Burger, right), while light beers like pilsners and blonde ales go better with lighter ingredients (e.g., citrus, vanilla, fish). In general, the flavor notes of the beer should match or complement the recipe’s other ingredients.

Use brews to tenderize meat.

Alcohol is a natural meat tenderizer, and the perfect liquid-to-alcohol ratio in beer means the beer’s flavor won’t oversaturate meat. It also works well for braising, as in the Porter-Braised Pulled Pork Sandwiches.

Bake with beer.

The ingredients in beer are similar to those in bread, so it works great as a leavening agent to increase the rise of bread dough and cakes. The recipe for Pumpkin IPA Scones (page 63) is a great example!

Expect the alcohol to intensify spice.

If using beer in a spicy sauce or entrée, use smaller amounts of spices until you know how the beer will affect your dish.
Reduce with caution. The longer beer reduces (cooks down), the more intense and bitter it becomes. You can also tame some of the bitterness by adding a touch of sweetness (honey, molasses, fruit juice). IPAs are typically bitter to begin with, so you may not want to use them in recipes that call for reduction of the beer.

Don’t be afraid to experiment.

If your dish turns out too bitter, try using a less hoppy beer or reducing it less the next time around. For stronger beer flavor, use a larger amount of beer, reduce it longer, or try a hoppier beer like an IPA.

See also Delectable Fresh Fish Recipes

I hope these recipes inspire you to try cooking with craft beer. Whatever dish you make, don’t forget to pair it with your favorite brew. Remember: It’s always happy hour at the cabin! Cheers!


Get the Craft Beer Recipes