Get Cooking with Beer

Simple ways to take your brew from the can to the kitchen table

instead of getting boozy on brew, why not try cooking with it? It’s common practice in parts of Europe—particularly Belgium, where it’s referred to as cuisine à la bière—and can work wonders with an array of foods. Read on for easy tips and tricks that’ll make for a delicious holiday and beyond.

Why Beer Works
“Beer is as versatile, if not more versatile, than wine,” says Alison Boteler, chef and author of The Gourmet’s Guide to Cooking with Beer. In America, it’s only been in the past few years that beer’s been viewed as an artisan product the way wine is. “Our friends in the wine industry got the jump on us,” says Samuel Adams brewmaster Grant Wood. “In some ways [the beer industry] shot themselves in the foot because they got paired with chips and dip and hot dogs. But…we can deliver flavor to the white tablecloth just as well as wine can. Beer is typically lower in alcohol and lighter in flavor, and it has spices that can really complement food.”

Light vs. Dark Brews
If you’ve ever come across a recipe asking for beer, it probably said just that: beer. And if you never cooked with it before, you most likely grabbed whatever you had in the fridge and felt disappointed with the results. But it’s important to know that, just like white and red wine, light and dark beers have distinct flavors and aromas, and you need to pair the right type with the right dish. As a general rule, use wheat beers and lambics for chicken and seafood; choose ale, porter or stout when cooking pork, beef or lamb. Believe it or not, beer also works for dessert. Use light, fruity varieties, such as a raspberry lambic, with sorbet or in trifles; Imperial stout, which has notes of coffee and chocolate, pairs well with chocolate and ice cream desserts.

Ideas to Get You Started

1. Fried Foods: Firing up the fryer for shrimp or onion rings? Replace the seltzer with light beer (lager is best) for a better, more tempura-like batter. “The beer is used because of the carbonation,” says Garrett Oliver, brewmaster for the Brooklyn Brewery and author of The Brewmaster’s Table: Discovering the Pleasures of Real Beer with Real Food. “The carbonation, along with the sugars, allows the batter to brown better and faster. It opens it up, essentially making the batter more airy.”

2. Stews: Beer is a fantastic replacement for stock or wine in a recipe, “anything where you can use liquid in a reduction,” Boteler says. “It’s great when you don’t have a can of chicken stock in the cabinet.” It’s especially delicious in beef stew. Use something robust with punch, such as Guinness (a stout) or an ale. In a similar vein, you can replace the wine used in Boeuf Bourguignon with beer—essentially, you’ll have the Belgian favorite, Carbonnade Flamande. If you’d rather try a lighter stew, Oliver recommends using a wheat beer with fish or chicken to create Waterzooi, a Belgian recipe similar to bouillabaisse.

3. Beer Bread: Beer bread is an Irish classic that uses beer instead of yeast (which can also work for some pizza dough recipes). It’s a snap to make and results in a very dense, moist, chewy loaf. Unless you’re craving a dark, tart bread, shy away from beers like Guinness and use a light-styled lager.

4. Marinades: This is the easiest way to use beer. Oliver likes to marinate lamb overnight in a combination of dark beer, onions and lots of black pepper (just don’t use the mix for cooking; discard it after marinating). Grant Wood also encourages cooks to use beer for marinating. “The great thing about beer is you really don’t have to worry about the timer. Beer doesn’t have as much acidity as wine, so you can marinate it for longer,” he says. “I’ve heard professional chefs talk about putting beef in beer for a couple of days.” He adds that beer is terrific for steaks because it helps caramelize and brown the outside.

5. Mussels: Traditionally mussels are steamed with white wine, but a light beer, such as a non-fruit lambic, is an ideal substitute.

6. Beer Floats: It doesn’t get any more straightforward than this. Oliver suggests pairing cold stout with a scoop of ice cream. “I’ve done it with everything from vanilla to mint chocolate chip,” he says.

7. Other Uses: In spaghetti sauce (Boteler mixes it with canned sauce that she then reduces); chili (pick a porter to enhance the smoky flavor); cheese soup or French onion soup (instead of the wine); fondue; or barbecue sauce (try a fruity ale).

How Low Should You Go? 
When cooking, let flavor—not price—guide you. American-style lagers (Budweiser, Coors, Miller) are the most common beer in the U.S., and are mild and lower in alcohol. They get a bad rap for being cheap, but they can have their place when cooking certain foods. “I always vote for a little more flavor,” Woods says, “but if you’re making biscuits, you might want to use something lighter with less flavor.” Lagers are good for breads, beer batter and the ultimate grill classic: beer-can chicken. When you want the beer to make a stronger statement—for example, in a beef soup or dessert—go for a variety with more gusto (and yes, a slightly higher price tag).

What Not To Do

1. Think all beers are the same. Know what you’re cooking with and don’t interchange beers if the recipe calls for something specific. “With wine you have acidity and tannins; with beer you have bitterness and hops,” explains Oliver. “If you have a very bitter beer, you have to allow time for the bitterness to break down or you’re going to end up with that taste in your dish or sauce, which you may not want.” If this happens, Woods has some helpful advice: Add a touch of sugar, brown sugar or honey to balance out the flavors.

2. Use bad beer. Boteler recalls an interview with Julia Child, who put it perfectly: “If you put rotgut in, you’re going to get rotgut out.” In other words, if it’s not something you’d drink, then don’t cook with it.

3. Use beer to deglaze a dish.

4. Play around with baking recipes. “Beer acts as a leavening agent,” Boteler says. “It will change the chemistry. If you just throw beer in, you could be very surprised that you baked a volcano in the oven. Baking is an exact science; cooking is more of a forgiving science.” She adds that flat beer is sometimes better to use, because it’s not as foamy and unstable as a new bottle.

Breakfast beer: six beers made with cereal

Let your inner six-year-old rejoice: From the astounding popularity of Milk Bar chain’s cereal milk-flavored fro-yo, shakes, cream soda and cookies to the ever-growing number of actual restaurants that serve nothing but bowls of cereal, Saturday mornings are back, baby. Get your portion of a balanced breakfast with these six beers made with and designed to taste like breakfast cereal. It is the most important meal of the day, after all.

Somerville Saturday Morning
People freaked when Massachusetts-based Somerville launched this Belgian tripel with Cap’n Crunch Crunch Berries in March, and it’s easy to see why: The nostalgia is real. Crunch Berries pop in the aroma, a sugar-dusted fruitiness that floats above the base bouquet of dried banana, pear, circus peanuts and corn flakes in a bowl of almond milk. Sips are slightly more fruit-forward, with rich pear and regular old Cap’n up top; alcoholic warmth enhances the toasted almond notes at the swallow. And it doesn’t even scratch the roof of your mouth.

Brew Rebellion Saturday Morning Cartoons
Is there a more delightful substance on this earth than the pool of unicorn-colored milk left over after you’ve finished a bowl of fruit-flavored cereal?  Brew Rebellion’s 5.8% milk stout made with Fruity Pebbles captures this flavor perfectly, pairing it with soft, smoky cocoa, cola and toast. Head brewer Andy Sutfin rotates the cereal used in the stout regularly; previous batches have incorporated Cinnamon Toast Crunch, Apple Jacks and Cocoa Pebbles. And lest you forget which one you’re drinking, each bottle is dipped in wax and pasted with actual pieces of cereal.

Black Bottle Cerealiously
In 2014, Black Bottle pissed off just about every kid in Fort Collins when it bought out the entire Count Chocula supply from several of the town’s grocery stores in order to make this 6.4% ABV milk stout. The brewery’s since struck up an informal relationship with General Mills that helps avoid such dilemmas; the cereal maker occasionally sends Black Bottle the hundreds of pounds of cereal needed for a week of steeping in the beer. More than a dozen different cereals have gone into Cerealiously, including Lucky Charms, Golden Grahams, Reese’s Puffs and Sugar Cookie Toast Crunch.

Big Time Breakfast Cereal Killer
That name is pretty accurate: Not only do Big Time’s brewers throw every cereal grain they can find into imperial stout; they also mash in with a mixture of Corn Flakes, Rice Krispies, Cocoa Puffs and Cinnamon Toast Crunch. Steeping with coffee and cocoa nibs makes the beer even more coocoo. It’ll be available at Big Time’s Seattle brewpub on draft and in hand-filled bottles this fall.

Ballast Point Victory at Cereal
Each December, San Diego-based Ballast Point observes Victory at Sea Day—a celebration of its beloved imperial porter made with vanilla beans and cold-brew coffee, Victory at Sea—by releasing various treatments of the beer. The years have seen versions made with pumpkin spice, gingerbread, peppermint, coconut and even ghost peppers. But none (at least to our palates) has been better than Victory At Cereal, made by dry-hopping the beer with Cap’n Crunch. The cereal infuses the flavor with sugary, bready notes that fuse with whole milk, coffee, toast, cocoa and french vanilla—and it even has that Cap’n Crunch film that coats your tongue.

Noble Rey Baracus Gets Super Cereal
There’s no telling which cereal you might experience during a visit to Noble Rey’s Dallas taproom; throughout the year, the brewery releases small batches of its American brown ale, Baracus, spiked with a rotating selection of breakfast boxes from Count Chocula to Reese’s Puffs. Also keep an eye out for Cereal Killa, a witbier dry-hopped with Fruity Pebbles, if you need a second helping.



6 holiday beer cocktails

Don’t bring the usual winter-warmer six-pack to your next holiday get-together; show your enthusiasm for all things boozy with a festive holiday beer cocktail.


Claire Smith, head of spirit creation and mixology, Belvedere Vodka

This fruity, flavor-packed cocktail puts the traditional fruitcake to shame. Perfect for any party or a nontraditional dessert after a holiday meal, “It’s a sophisticated and refreshing twist on a traditional beer cocktail, with a hint of passionfruit and Campari,” says Smith.

1 ounce Belvedere Pink Grapefruit vodka

1/2 ounce passionfruit syrup

dash simple syrup

½ ounces lemon juice

egg white

½ ounces Campari

2 ounces Blue Moon

Combine the vodka, syrups, lemon juice, egg white and Campari in a cocktail shaker and shake. Strain into a cocktail glass and top with Blue Moon.



Mathias Simonis, mixologist, DISTIL Milwaukee

Getting stuck making Old Fashioneds at grandma’s house on Christmas Eve as a kid inspired Simonis to spice up the traditional drink by substituting traditional brandy for maple-flavored rum and pumpkin whiskey, creating homemade cinnamon simple syrup and adding beer. Pair it with the usual party spread of nuts, chocolate and firm cheeses like Manchego and parmesan.

3 maraschino cherries

2 orange slices

1 ounce homemade cinnamon simple syrup* or store-bought Monin cinnamon syrup

2 dashes Angostura bitters

1 squeeze of lemon

1 ounce Great Lakes Distillery Pumpkin Whiskey

1 ounce Great Lakes Distillery Maple Rum

Miller High Life

Muddle cherries, orange slices, cinnamon simple syrup, bitters and lemon in a shaker, and add the rum and whiskey. Add ice and shake well for 15 to 20 seconds. Strain into a highball glass and top off with the beer. Stir with a spoon and garnish with orange peel.

*Cinnamon simple syrup: Bring 2 cups sugar, 2 cups water and 4 4-inch-long cinnamon sticks to a boil, remove from heat, cover and let cool.



Jonathan Pogash, cocktail consultant

Known as the “Cocktail Guru,” Pogash puts a wintry twist on one of his favorite drinks, the Mai Tai, with splashes of beer and Cognac. “By the time you finish the drink, you’ll feel warm enough to beat the cold outside,” he says. “The fresh fruit and spice notes from the rum and almond syrup remind me of cool nights and blustery days.”

3/4 ounces almond syrup

3/4 ounces fresh lime juice

1 ounce Appleton Estate Reserve Rum

dash Angostura bitters

Brooklyn Lager

lime wheel and mint leaf, for garnish

Set aside beer, and shake all remaining ingredients together with ice. Strain into a chilled pilsner glass, top off with the beer and garnish with a lime wheel and mint.



Christine Sismondo, author, “Mondo Cocktail: A Shaken and Stirred History” and “America Walks Into a bar: A Spirited History of Taverns and Saloon, Speakeasies and Grog Shops”

Sismondo channels holiday desserts with this cocktail full of cranberry, nutmeg and cinnamon flavors and splashed with a white beer, sweet Chambord and a kick of rum. “If you pour carefully, you can get a nice little white foam on top of the light pink drink,” she says.

1 ounce Flor de Cana 5-year-old rum

1/2 ounces Chambord

1 ounce cranberry juice

2 ounces Unibroue Blanche de Chambly

fresh grated nutmeg and cinnamon, for garnish

Shake the rum, Chambord and juice together with ice and strain into small tulip glass. Top with the white ale and, using a microplane, add a dusting of nutmeg and cinnamon to the top.



Jill Schulster, owner and mixologist, Joe Doe, New York City

“It really looks like a snowman jumped into a beer and started to melt,” says Schulster, who suggests a seasonal winter beer for this dessertlike cocktail. Although the drink resembles the slush outside, the creamy coconut taste mixed with the strong flavor of the black lager, rich chocolate and hazelnut make this a highbrow dram that’s an ideal after-hours snack.

cocoa nibs and chopped hazelnuts, for garnish

1/2 ounces simple syrup

1 teaspoon cocoa nibs

1 ¼ ounces Cognac

1 to 3 ounces Magic Hat Howl

splash coconut milk

Use simple syrup to rim a pilsner glass with crushed hazelnuts and cocoa nibs. In a pint glass, muddle 1 teaspoon cocoa nibs and the simple syrup. Add the Cognac and shake with ice. Strain into the rimmed pilsner glass, add ice and top with beer. Float a splash of coconut milk on top.


LADY IN WHITE [pictured]

Onyx Bar & Lounge at The Four Seasons Resort, Scottsdale, Ariz.

A beery take on a mimosa, this cocktail’s the secret to a brew-lover’s holiday brunch, and a veritable vacation in a glass with its sunny vibe.

1/2 ounces St. Germain Elderflower liqueur

1/2 ounces Grand Marnier

1 ounce any hefeweizen

orange and lemon twists, for garnish

Shake together the St. Germain Elderflower liqueur and Grand Marnier and pour into a Champagne glass. Top off with hefeweizen, and garnish with orange and lemon twists.

Recipe: Texas Breakfast Beer Bread


  • 5 strips bacon
  • 2 to 3 jalapeños (depending on heat level — ours are pretty hot right now so I used 2)
  • 3 cups self-rising flour
  • 1 cup finely shredded sharp cheddar
  • 1/4 cup maple syrup (preferably grade B)
  • 1 beer (I used Abita Amber which gave it a nice but not overpowering beer flavor)
  • 4 ounces cream cheese
  • 4 tablespoons melted unsalted butter
  • 2 tablespoons maple sugar


  1. Heat the oven to 350° F. Crisp the bacon in a skillet. When the bacon is cooked, drain it on paper towels and pour 3 tablespoons of bacon fat into a loaf pan (to be honest, I didn’t measure, I just dumped. Five strips center-cut bacon produced what looked like about 3 tablespoons of fat). This bread is not for the faint of heart: Did I mention that? Roughly chop the bacon.
  2. Remove the stems and seeds from the jalapeños and roughly chop them.
  3. Put the flour into a mixing bowl. Mix in the cheddar cheese.
  4. Now make a well in the middle and pour in the maple syrup and the beer.
  5. Mix together until everything is moistened and combined (a few lumps are okay).
  6. Break the cream cheese into small chunks (I just pulled it apart by hand, but you can also cut the block into smaller pieces) and drop them into the dough. Add the jalapeños and bacon and fold them in until everything is uniformly mixed.
  7. Now scoop the dough into the loaf pan and spread it evenly. Pour the melted butter on top (yeah, I know) and put the pan on a baking sheet and into the oven. Set the time for 20 minutes.
  8. At 20 minutes, sprinkle the sugar on top of the loaf, then bake the bread for another 40 minutes, or until a toothpick test comes out clean.
  9. Allow the bread to cool for about 10 minutes before turning it out of the pan.

Meatballs with Stout BBQ Sauce

Serve these meatballs with Stout BBQ sauce alone, or sandwich them in slider buns with pickled onions and melted cheddar cheese.

Makes: 4 dozen meatballs


  • ½ cup fine breadcrumbs
  • ¼ cup grated onion
  • ¼ cup finely chopped parsley
  • 1 large egg
  • 2 cloves garlic, grated
  • 1½ teaspoons salt
  • ½ teaspoon ground pepper
  • 1 lb. ground beef
  • 1 lb. ground pork
  • 1 tablespoon canola oil
  • 1 cup onion, finely chopped
  • 4 cloves garlic, finely chopped
  • 12 oz. stout
  • 2 cups ketchup
  • 1 tablespoon ground mustard
  • ½ cup cider vinegar
  • salt and pepper to taste



1. Preheat oven to 400°.

2. In a large bowl, whisk breadcrumbs, grated onion, parsley, egg, garlic, salt and pepper. Add beef and pork; gently mix to combine. Using about 2 tablespoons of the mixture for each, form into about 48 meatballs. Place on a baking sheet. Bake until just cooked through, 25 to 28 minutes.

In a large skillet over medium heat, heat oil. Add chopped onion and cook, stirring occasionally, for 5 minutes. Add chopped garlic and cook, stirring constantly, for 30 seconds. Pour in stout and bring to a boil over high heat. Boil for 5 minutes. Stir in ketchup, mustard and vinegar. Reduce heat to a gentle simmer and cook, stirring occasionally, for 10 minutes. Add the meatballs and turn to coat in the sauce.

Tips for Pairing Beer with Dessert

After dinner tonight you don’t have to choose between kicking back and relaxing with an ice cold beer OR a delicious dessert. You can have BOTH! You can have your cake and drink it too. Let us be your guide to the delightful world of beer and dessert pairings.

  • Chocolate:
    • We will start here because this one is easy. A sweet Stout or a Porter is what you want to reach for with a chocolate dessert. The chocolatey flavors imparted by these dark-roasted malts will complement your dessert very nicely. Just be sure to avoid a ‘dry stout’ in this situation.
    • Bonus: If your having a slice of rich chocolate cake, a fruit beer or a Lambic will add another dimension and act like a fruity topping.
  • Fruity Desserts:
    • A Belgium will give you a clean, crisp compliment to the acidity in the fruit and enhance the flavor of any crust. The orange, lemon, and lime notes of a Witbier can also enhance the fresh fruit flavor.
  • Cheesecake:
    • Try pairing a sour beer with cheesecake. The rich, creaminess of the cheesecake will balance out the tartness of a sour beer. You can also try a Brown Ale to add a level of nuttiness to your cheesecake experience.
  • Ice Cream:
    • For every flavor of ice cream is a different potential beer pairing. Start with these guidelines, use a Stout to add chocolate or coffee flavors, Brown Ale to add nuttiness, Pilsner to add maltiness, or add a fruit beer for you guessed it – fruity flavor.

What are your favorite dessert and beer pairings? Do you prefer to add like flavor to like flavor or do you appreciate a good contrast? When in doubt, consult this great graphic from Shari’s Berries for the perfect pairing.


Let us know what you think or share your favorite beer and dessert pairings.





    • 1 ½ oz Bacardi Oakheart Spiced Rum
    • 12 oz Goose Island IPA
    • lime
    1. Build in a 16 oz Pint Glass.
    2. Garnish with lime.

    • 1 ½ oz Bacardi Oakheart Spiced Rum
    • 12 oz Goose Island Honkers Ale
    • lime
    1. Build in a 16 oz Pint Glass.
    2. Garnish with lime.
  • OAK N’ ALE

    • 1 ½ oz Bacardi Oakheart Spiced Rum
    • 12 oz Goose Island 312 Pale Ale
    • lime
    1. Build in a 16 oz Pint Glass.
    2. Garnish with lime.

    • 1 ½ oz Bacardi Limon Rum
    • 12 oz Goose Island 312 Urban Wheat Ale
    • lemon
    1. Build in a 16 oz Pint Glass.
    2. Garnish with lemon.


Beer is an ideal complement to food for a variety of reasons. The wide array of beers available offer excellent pairings for an incredible range of cuisines, from American classics to Asian fusion.


The ABCs are a simple way of explaining how beer and food pairings hit our taste buds and create memorable—and shareable—experiences. The ABCs are easy for consumers to understand and immediately challenge their desire to explore options and create unique food and beer pairings. Another way to easily pair beer and food is to match lighter beer with lighter flavored foods and darker beer with bolder foods.

  • A stands for Accentuate

    To create an easy pairing, match the flavors in the food and beer. For example, try pairing Stella Artois with fish. The light flavors in both will work together.

  • B stands for Bridge

    To create a more advanced pairing, choose a beer and food whose flavors are similar, but not part of the same flavor family. For example, try pairing Budweiser with a hamburger. The light flavor in the beer will be complemented by the savory flavor of the burger.

  • C stands for Contrast

    The most advanced pairing combines two flavors that are essentially opposites. While risky, this pairing has the most potential to blow diners away. For example, try pairing Stella Artois with a bowl of hearty chili. The light flavor of the Stella Artois will be offset by the robust flavors in the chili.

For specific beer and food pairing recommendations select a type of food below.

  • Beer + Cheese

    Consider flavor and texture when pairing beer with cheese. The endless varieties of both translate to unlimited pairing possibilities.

  • Beer + Desserts

    Desserts with chocolate, coffee, or roasted flavors are a natural pairing for beer with similar flavor notes, such as a stout.

  • Beer + Grilled, Seared Food

    There’s nothing better than a cold beer when you’re grilling on a hot day, and varieties with big flavors are a great match for bold grilled meats.

  • Beer + Hearty, Savory Food

    Warm, cozy foods like these are well suited for robust, heavy beers that add to the rich flavors of the dish.

  • Beer + Hot, Spicy Food

    A crisp, cold beer can counter the heat in spicy foods to create a nicely balanced flavor.

  • Beer + Tart, Citrusy Food

    Clean, crisp beers like American lagers are a natural pair for lighter dishes infused with citrus.

Written by:

Fresh Draught

An outstanding beer using a hop/malt combination set to delight the most discerning draught lovers, palate cleansing freshness to the last glass.


  • 1 x 1.7kg Coopers Draught
  • 1 x 1.5kg Thomas Coopers Light Malt Extract
  • 1 x 12g US Cascade Hop Pellets
  • 1 x 11.5g Fermentis W-34/70 Lager yeast
  • 1 x 250g Coopers Carbonation Drops
  • Colour: Gold
  • Body: Medium
  • Bitterness: Medium
  • Approx. Alcohol Level: 4.6% ABV
  • Naturally Carbonated: Natural
  • STEP  1: Mix

    Add the US Cascade hop pellets to 500ml of boiled water and leave to infuse for about 15mins (this works well in a large coffee plunger or similar).

    Place the Light Malt Extract in a sanitised, well drained fermenter.

    Add 2 litres of hot water, immediately pick the fermenter up and swirl the contents until dissolved (about 15 secs) – this minimises lumps.

    Add the contents of the Draught extract and the strained hop infusion then stir to dissolve.

    Add cold water up to the 20 litre mark and stir vigorously.

    Check the temperature and top up to the 23 litre mark with warm or cold water to achieve 22C.

    Sprinkle the W-34/70 yeast and fit the lid.


  • STEP 2: Brew

    Try to start the ferment at 22C and allow the brew temperature to drop down to 13C – 15C over the period of 12 to 24hrs.

    Fermentation has finished once the specific gravity is stable over 2 days.


    Some physical differences when fermenting with Lager yeast:

    • Less foam and barely noticeable scum ring.
    • Less CO2 produced and longer ferment time.
    • Ferments more thoroughly – Lower FG achieved.
    • May produce an eggy smell (this will dissipate with bottle age)
    • Due to lower temperature and longer ferment time cleanliness and sanitation is even more important when making Lager beer.

  • STEP 3: Bottle

    The brew is ready to bottle once the SG has stabilised over a couple of days,

    Gently fill clean PET bottles to about 3cm from the top.

    Add 2 carbonation drops per bottle and secure the caps (use only one carbonation drop for bottles intended to be stored for a longer period).

    Store the bottles upright in a location out of direct sunlight at or above 18C.

  • STEP 4: Enjoy!

    While we recommend leaving your bottles to condition at or above 18C for at least 2 weeks – Lagers generally benefit from further conditioning. Any slight sulphur aroma should dissipate with further conditioning.

    When ready to drink, chill the bottles upright.

    The chilled beer may be poured into clean glassware, leaving the sediment behind.

    Expect the alcohol content to be approximately 4.6% ABV.