Beer is among the most popular drinks in the world, second only to tea, and consumed by more people around the globe than coffee. As such, it exists in a myriad of varieties, from dirt cheap versions to sophisticated craft beers, and with a price range from the cheapest to truly expensive. Currently, the most expensive commercial beer in the world is Samuel Adams’ “Utopias” that sells for about $150 for a 750ml (25 oz) bottle. Not counting, of course, the most expensive beer ever bottled – a bottle of Allsopp’s Arctic Ale was sold for a whopping $500,000 on eBay. Still, even though it is an incredibly nuanced category of drinks, beer is seen as something far less sophisticated than wine, for example. This is unfair with one of the oldest alcoholic drinks in history, of course. Aside from simply pairing a beer with a night out at a casino, a party, a grill party or something similar, beer can be paired incredibly well with food.
Thus, it does have a place not only in the kitchen but on the most sophisticated dining table as well.
Cooking with beer
For many, “cooking with beer” means nothing but sipping a cold one while waiting for the burgers and hot dogs to fry on the grill. Big mistake! The bitter, golden liquid is good for much more than just keeping your throat cool while you grill. Aside from the fact that beer is the key ingredient for the Fish & Chips batter, it can be used to cook an incredible variety of meat dishes.
Many food ingredients have components that are soluble in alcohol, and beer is the perfect additive to bring them out. Besides, it serves as a spice itself – it can give a rich, slightly bitter, sour, and sweet flavor to meats and vegetables (depending on the variety of beer you use) plus its acidity can help them break down more easily while cooking, making them even more tender and you should make a healthy dinner as well.
Pairing beer with food
Wine is not the only thing you can – and should – pair with food. Well, not every beer, of course. Most of the mass-produced commercial varieties are too bland and, for lack of a better word, “average” to be paired with foods. There are, in turn, more sophisticated varieties that will do the trick.
Certain beer styles go perfectly well with certain dishes. For example, a Bohemian-style lager (a burnished golden beer with soft maltiness and a hint of caramel) goes great with a creamy risotto, while an Irish-style black stout (slightly reminiscent of roasted coffee, with a hint of roasted malt) makes a perfect pairing with grilled vegetables. And the possibilities – just like the beer styles – are seemingly endless.