"It’s not a bad idea to go to a homebrew shop and just start tasting the malt varieties."
Food and booze have long been best friends. However, while many of us have picked up tips for how to cook with wine or deglaze with spirits, there has been much less focus on the best ways to use beer in the kitchen, besides for drinking while cooking, of course. The team behind the soon-to-open Austin beer-focused restaurant The Brewer's Table is working to change that. Here are five tips for cooking with beer.
1. Get familiar with beer's ingredients.
We tend to think of beer's flavor in terms of its hop content, but malt has a tremendous effect as well, says head brewer Drew Durish. "It’s not a bad idea to go to a home-brew shop and just start tasting the malt varieties. As you run the spectrum, and get into the toastier malts, you can go from coffee flavor to burnt flavor to chocolate flavor." Beers made with different types of malt will all contribute different flavors to finished dishes.
2. Appreciate bitterness.
"One thing I think a lot of people forget is that the word ‘bitter’ has a negative connotation a lot of the time, but it is one of the senses you need most when you taste food," says executive chef Zach Hunter. "Sweet, spicy, salty, sour, bitter is that fifth one and you kind of need it to balance everything else. I find that I can push the boundaries of those other flavors by adding beer as a bitter component at the end. That makes for a really rounded dish."
3. Cook with beer's components.
"We pickle a ton of vegetables with wort, like cucumbers, carrots, cauliflower and string beans. They all work great with it," says founder Jake Maddux. "Dried yeast pepper (black pepper combined with brewing yeast) and hop salt are also simple ways to add beer flavor without getting overly complicated in the kitchen."
4. Use beer to balance out fat.
"I like to use raw beer to finish sauces, especially for a dish where I'm using crème fraîche or buttermilk or something similar," says Hunter. "Adding a bit of beer at the end to loosen everything up is great."