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Food and Beer

Happy Halloween from Drink Beer Think Beer!

Our gift to you? A tasty beer-based recipe, of course!

These cupcakes dressed in Halloween colors are designed to accent the creamy malty character of Bodington’s Pub Ale with chocolate, citrus, and carrot (admittedly that one was mostly for color). I happen to love making beer cupcakes, because the beer adds excellent flavor and creates a unique pillow-like texture in the final product that you simply cannot recreate with other ingredients. These Scary Good Bodington’s Cupcakes are an excellent way for you to experience harmonious union of beer and cupcakes for yourself.

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Drink Beer Eat Beer: Cooking with Pumpkin Ales

The time of year is upon us when pumpkin makes its way into all types of food and beverages, including beer. To take advantage of this seasonal culinary trend, I’ve collaborated with a fellow foodie and beer lover to create this rather tasty recipe for a uniquely-braised pork shoulder featuring some easy-to-come-by pumpkin ales.

To select the beers for this recipe, we used a mix-and-match approach with pumpkin ales from Wasatch and Buffalo Bill’s Brewery along with a Woodchuck pear cider. There is great flexibility with choosing beer for braising, which is why we chose to include a spread of beers for the recipe. The Wasatch offered the classic appeal of a balanced pumpkin ale; Woodchuck’s pear cider brought some sweetness to the mix, and Buffalo Bill’s pumpkin ale gave the braising liquid a kick of distinctive pumpkin flavor that makes this beer a better choice for cooking than drinking in my humble opinion.

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Beer: You Can Do So Much More Than Just Drink It

When you truly embrace beer as the amazingly diverse elixir that it is, you might find (much like I have) that drinking beer is not always enough to satisfy a craving for malty, hoppy goodness. As an answer to this problem, I have found many uses for beer as an ingredient in the foods I love to cook.

If you are anything like me, the idea of putting craft beer and food together in a union deeper than a simple pairing will drive your imagination wild, because the possibilities are truly endless. Still, you’ll have to start somewhere, so here are some basic techniques.

  • Bake with beer: Beer batter is an idea that has so much more potential than it gets credit for. All too often, I see beer batter confined to the world of fried foods, which, while delicious, are seriously lacking in creativity. Instead of viewing beer batter as a coating for fried finger foods, I see it as a flexible base for cupcakes, pancakes, and pretty much any other word with cake in it. Once you master a simple batter with a nice, light beer like hefeweizen, try some classic flavor combinations like stout and chocolate.  The secret to successfully incorporating beer into such goodies is by folding it in at the end of the mixing process after the fat and sugar in the recipe have been creamed together and incorporated into the flour. Beer bread is another excellent opportunity to get beer in the oven, and the final result will take on whatever flavor is present in the beer you use for the recipe.
  • Braise with beer: Any newcomer to the kitchen can braise, and braising is always made better with beer. Braising is a cooking method in which food is submerged into liquid and slowly cooked on a low temperature that allows the liquid to bubble gently. My favorite beer braised item is pork shoulder, but you can literally braise anything. Just brown it, submerge it in your favorite beer, and let it cook while covered so that none of the beery goodness can escape the pot.
  • Baste with beer: Say you have a roast in the oven and it looks a little dry. My solution? Pour some beer on it. This works equally well with items on the grill, as the beer adds a little flavor while locking in some moisture to whatever you are cooking. You can also tenderize and flavor any meat or vegetable with a beer-based marinade that can be prepared up to 24 hours ahead of time.

As you try your hand bringing beer into your kitchen, check back with Drink Beer Think Beer each week to find new cooking-with-beer recipes, commentaries, and ideas.