The most recent issue of Beer Advocate Magazine features five "brew chefs" from around the country who have been experimenting with beer as an culinary ingredient for years.
In "Out of the Bottle and Into the Pan," these chefs are finally getting recognized for their efforts. They're out to prove that beer's not just for drinking anymore!
Here's what they have to say:
Beer Tip #1
"It's a natural match to serve seasonal food with seasonal styles of beer." -Chef David Larkworthy, 5 Seasons Brewing
Beers have their seasons just like fruits and veggies! And chances are that the flavors in the beers will reflect the flavors of the season--spring and summer wheat beer is a good match to for all the fresh food and fresh dishes we crave this time of year. Look for the small-batch seasonal beers from local breweries.
Beer Tip #2
"There's potential to infuse flavor beyond what the natural brewing process brings to the table." -Chef Ben Sheagren, Hopleaf Bar
This was an interesting concept for us. It reverses our thinking about starting with a dish and then enhancing it with beer, and instead asks us to think about the beer first.
It also makes us think of beers as having individual characters. Not every stout will work the same in a given dish. It's good to taste the beer first (ooh, tough job!) and then begin to imagine a dish that would work with the flavors of that particular beer.
Beer Tip #3
"Beer doesn't forgive. You cook it too long, it bites back...And keep some in the bottle." -Chef Jill Oman, Bethlehem Brew Works
Similar to cooking with wine, the flavors of beer are concentrated as they reduce. Unlike red wine, these flavors aren't always favorable. Especially if the beer has a lot of hops, it will taste increasingly bitter as it cooks.
And by "keep some in the bottle," Chef Oman means that a little goes a long way. You don't necessarily need the whole bottle to bring out the flavors that you're looking for.
The real advice here--and indeed from all these chefs--seems to be "Be ready to experiment and taste a lot as you go!"
We might have a few flops, but the more we play around with beer-cuisine, the more we'll learn. We're excited...are you?!
(Image: Beer Advocate.com)