When you really love beer, drinking it just isn’t enough. Beer and meat are natural allies and there are plenty of ways to pair your favorite brews with your favorite meals. Just follow a few simple guidelines and you can’t go wrong.
Beer is not Wine
You might put aside a cheap bottle of wine for cooking, but don’t bother trying to cook with Pabst or Miller or any cheapies you can buy by the 24. Their weak, watery flavor will do about as much for your dish as a can of seltzer. If you really want to taste it, you’ve got to go for a beer with big flavor like an IPA, Stout or malty English Ale. If the flavor blasts your taste buds in the bottle, it’ll hang around long enough to perk up a recipe.
Be Wary of “Beer”
A good way to find a recipe for beer BBQ sauce or marinades is to simply look on the Internet. But Internet recipes can be hit or miss. A good way to avoid a dud is to skip over any recipes that call for “beer”. Guinness and Hoegaarden don’t taste anything alike. Don’t cook a recipe crafted by someone who cares so little about their ingredients. Stick to recipes that mention a style or brand of beer and you’ll know that the author knows something about his flavor profiles.
Beer makes a great marinade that imparts a surprising amount of flavor. The general rule for beer marinades is: the lighter the meat, the lighter the beer. The fruity flavor of white beer makes an ideal marinade for seafood. IPAs are great for pork and chicken. You can’t go wrong with Craft Beer’s recipe for Drake’s Hopocalypse Shake n’ Bake Hop Fried Chicken. For red meats, you need heavy flavor. Stick with stouts and dark beers. After the liquid burns off you’ll still be able to taste the malt and grains in the meat.
A Note on Sauce
BBQ sauce is a great place for beer flavor to shine. Dead Guy Ale has big, orange-malt flavor that’s almost a little too much and too sweet in the brew itself. But those big flavors really perk up a sweet and tangy sauce. For darker, smoky sauces, try a flavorful oatmeal stout or another malty dark beer to add some weight to the mix.
Beer-Boiled Hot Dogs
I had to throw this in here. If you think boiling hot dogs is sacrilege you’ve clearly never had a Bill’s hot dog at three o’clock in the morning. Fill a pot with enough of your favorite white beer to cover the dogs. Quarter a white onion. Add a tablespoon of cloves, a tablespoon of whole peppercorns and a few cloves of garlic. Slow boil the hot dog until it splits, put it on a buttered toasted bun and tell me that’s not delicious. If you have to BBQ your dogs, simply parboil them first. Feel free to go crazy with the toppings. Sauerkraut really seals the deal.