Love Lager? Adore Ale? Get Creative in the Kitchen Using your Favorite Brew
It’s National American Craft Beer Week, and barely any week goes by in which a small brewery is not founded somewhere across the U.S. and the world. Craft beer has become a phenomenon, and to this modern brewing renaissance culture, cooking with these beers is a natural next step. Learning which beers to use and how to cook with beer—making the most of the flavor profiles of particular beer types, including pale ale, pilsner, and lager varieties—is a fun and delicious way to celebrate this old/new ingredient in a diverse range of recipes. Try a few and I’m sure they’ll become your new favorites.
So what makes a so-called “craft” beer? According to the Brewers Association, there are three attributes that define craft brewing — craft brewers are, by definition, small, independent, and traditional. An American craft brewer is a small and independent brewer who has an annual production of six million barrels of beer or less (approximately 3% of U.S. annual sales).
Celebrating National American Craft Beer Week is as easy as going out to a pub that serves a local brew and enjoying some beer with your friends. There are loads of good reasons to enjoy craft beers any time of year, but here are 4 we think might be the best:
Craft beer has more taste –
Craft breweries usually put a lot more effort into their beer recipes, giving their beers unique tastes and properties.
Alcohol content –
Some craft beers can have lower alcohol content than regular beer, but the vast majority of craft beers have it the other way round.
More variety –
Craft beers are very unique in their taste compared to most regular beers, giving you a new experience every time you try different kinds of craft beers.
Pairing with food –
It has become more and more popular to enjoy craft beer with quality three-course meals, just like you would an expensive red or white wine. Bellisari’s includes wine and beer pairing suggestions with our sauces and spreads, guiding cooks and hosts to the best flavor results.
Let’s face it, beer is fun! Beer is one of the few things that bond people all over the world. In addition, National American Craft Beer Week is something that promotes and encourages local breweries, which gives the average person who wants to brew beer in their backyard or garage a chance to make a name for themselves. The more we support local brands, the more the dependency on foreign goods will be reduced.
Buying locally is beneficial for many reasons, but just like Bellisari’s and our gourmet spreads and sauces, local breweries are more personal and the beers are made with a lot more love. That’s why the taste is far superior to factory-made branded international beers (and sauces and spreads). It’s the love. You can taste it! 😉💖 In National American Craft Beer Week, it’s fun to explore these new flavors.
When you’re cooking with beer, which beer should you use? Sometimes, it’s right there in the name. When you’re making a Stout and Shiitake Pot Roast or a Malted Chocolate and Stout Layer Cake, there’s no question about it. But what if the recipe you’ve picked out just says “beer”? There are so many different kinds of beer out there—how do you choose? And what happens if you choose wrong?
The good news is that with a few exceptions, it’s hard to go completely off the rails, as long as you follow one simple rule—don’t cook with a beer you wouldn’t want to drink. Think about it this way: You add beer to add flavor. Why add a flavor you don’t like? If, when you sip a beer, you wrinkle up your nose, don’t save it for cooking! It doesn’t matter if it’s flat, either; leftover beer is fine for cooking, as long as it was refrigerated. But if the flavor wasn’t pleasing in the bottle, it’s not going to be pleasing in your stew. Once past that first hurdle, however, there’s a lot of flexibility for a recipe being improved by a solid choice of beer.
With the recent explosion in small-scale and craft brewers, there are more beers than ever before on store shelves. To make sense of the bewildering array of choices, break beer down into categories. The two main groups are lagers and ales, which are differentiated mostly by brewing methods. (Lagers are cold-fermented; ales are fermented at warmer temperatures.) An easy generalization is that lagers are crisp, light and dry, while ales are heavier and more complex.
There are some always-safe options when choosing your beer. Relatively lighter ales (pale ale, amber, or light brown ale) will complement nearly all beer-recipes and so are a great default choice. That said, it’s also safe to stay away from IPAs (India Pale Ales) in your cooking. IPAs were designed to be hoppy (translation: bitter), and a lot of American brewers are having fun taking that hoppy-ness to extremes. That bitterness won’t go away with cooking time, but will actually intensify as the liquid reduces. So, unless you know exactly the effect you’re going for, it’s best to leave IPAs in the fridge for drinking.
Many recipes that call for wine could easily use beer instead, and you can make some safe assumptions based on the type of wine you’re replacing. Lighter ales can replace white wine, with wheat beers especially making a nice trade. (Try using a light beer or lager in place of wine when steaming mussels!) Dark ales, porters and stouts stand in nicely for rich, robust red wines.
Ready to start celebrating National American Craft Beer Week?!? These recipes are sure to be hits with your friends and family for a party or even a weekday meal. Combining Bellisari’s and craft beer is sure to make any week a celebration!
Have you been experimenting with Bellisari’s and beer? We’d love to hear about your experiments and what you may have particularly enjoyed. Happy National American Craft Beer Week from all of us at Bellisari’s!