Its dark and cold out these days - which means people are more likely to be sitting down to heartier fare like soups, stews and casseroles for dinner. Beer makes a great addition to all of those. Beer provides body and rich flavours to dishes. You can make a very easy beer and cheese soup by just adding a bottle of beer to boiling stock, simmer it for an hour and then add some nice cheese just before you serve it. For a stew or casserole, just substitute beer for some of the liquid and you've upped the flavour content. If you're making pulled pork in the slow cooker, add beer! Marinade your meat in beer. Reduce the beer and use it in sauces and gravies.
If you want proper recipes of how to use beer in your cooking there are plenty floating around on the internet, including on beer websites such as craftbeer.com. They have soups, main dishes, desserts, you could make a whole beer themed dinner party out of their recipes. Or start your day with breakfast beer popovers...
My favourite beer recipes are the ones for beer brittle and beer caramels. So divine! I admit that I do not make the brittle and caramels, for that I have a friend who cooks and bakes. I just eat them! He often uses an ipa, because we are a hop-heads, but any beer style will do for those recipes. The only rule of thumb is to think of the properties of the particular beer you are using and the desired end flavour of the dish. If you think they'll match well, then go for it. I wouldn't use a chocolate mint beer in a stew, but it would be great in beer brittle.
In fact, if you have a bottle of beer that is past its best before date, cook with it! Just like cooking wine, you can use off-beer as cooking beer. Someone gifted you with a beer you know you don't like? Cook with it! Bought a six pack and weren't overly thrilled with it? Cook with it. Or in my case, brew a beer that's not quite right, cook with it!
CAMRA Vancouver is having its annual general meeting on Sunday January 13 at noon at what was formerly Smiley's pub at 911 West Pender Street. Now called the Butcher and Bullock they have some very nice craft beers on tap. The meeting is open only to CAMRA members, but there will be a membership table there so I encourage all interested beer enthusiasts to show up and buy a $25 membership, and all members to show up to vote on next year's executive and the future direction of CAMRA. It should be a very interesting year as rumour has it the Liberals are going to deregulate tied house and trade practice laws. Its an election year, so anything can happen, and in the beer world, it looks like its about to. Whether this will be a good thing for craft beer or not remains to be seen, but either way, its a great time to get involved in beer advocacy and CAMRA is a great way to do that.
I am currently doing a cleanse, so I have not been drinking beer. I think these beers are worth looking for though, and I'm going to get some to await me in February when I'm back to my usual beer drinking ways:
Brooklyn Black Ops - $37.25 at Legacy Liquor Store - stout aged in bourbon bottles for 4 months, bottled flat and re-fermented in the bottle with champagne yeast. Chocolate, coffee and vanilla-oak notes.
Hopworks Abominable Winter Ale - $9.75 at Legacy Liquor Store - its a hoppy winter ale, brewed with cascade, centennial and chinook hops.