beer column

Everyone knows that beer tastes great with all things bbq and picnic, but did you also know that you can make bbq and picnic foods with beer?  

Oh, friends, you can!  
Let me count the ways for you!

You can poacha sausage in beer;
Or make marinade for your deer;
You don’t have to have skills
To add chills and thrills
Your chili will pop
Your potato salad’s the tops
Beer soaked chickpeas for hummus
Taste so good with hops like Columbus!

Seriously though, beer is a great flavour enhancer in cooking and lends itself well to barbeque fare and summer side dishes.  The possibilities are endless, really.

Let’s start with the mains:

Beer poached sausages – For vegetarians and meat eaters alike there are plenty of recipes available online.  The very simple premise though is that you take your favourite sausage, poke holes in it, then poach it in beer before grilling it.  This adds even more flavour to your sausage and halves the grilling time required!

And then you could serve the same beer as you poached the sausages in for an easy pairing.  I have listed some great beer choices for poaching the sausages in (and drinking with them) below.  Now, before anyone calls me on it, yes, I’m a vegetarian!  Because I'm swell, I did check with meat eating folks to confirm that meat sausages as well as veggie sausages pair with these beers!  

For spicy sausages, a crisp wit beer like Powell Street’s award-winning Witbier with ginger and cardamom is a nice pairing.  A regular old frank pairs nicely with a cream ale like Phillips’ Slipstream Cream Ale, a sweet Italian sausage pairs well with a saison like Four Winds’, Kielbasa goes hand in hand with a pilsner, chorizo and lager pair well.  A turkey or chicken sausage pairs nicely with a gose... but really, you can’t go wrong with beer and sausages.  The beer’s acidity and carbonation cut through the fats in the sausage, cleansing your palate between bites so that you can taste every single mouthful of juicy sausage.

Beer poached fish - You can also poach fish on the grill with beer – just make a trough out of your bottom layer of tin foil to hold the liquid inside.  Add butter and seasonings as usual, then pour beer over the top of the fish and seal up the foil pocket.  IPAs with citrusy hops are ideal for this recipe.

And then there are side dishes!  Which is where I think the most fun comes in – you can pretty much use beer anywhere you’d be adding a liquid in a recipe.  

Use beer as part of your soupstock, as part of the liquid you cook rice, risotto or quinoa in, for bakedbeans and the like, you would put the beer in the slow cooker.  You can add stout to mac and cheese.  A friend of mine even soaks chickpeas in ipa when making hummus. 

While there are no hard and fast rules for which beer to use in a recipe, you might want to consider the flavour you are looking to boost to decide which style of beer to use.  For the baked beans you are probably looking to increase the rich sweetness, so a maltier beer would be preferable, like a stout or a Belgian dubbel.  If you’re putting bacon in the beans and want to emphasize that flavour, use a smoked beer.

If you’re serving salad, you can replace the vinegar in the vinaigrette dressing with sour beer.  Sour beer can also give a kick to a bbq sauce or marinade.

I'm no whiz in the kitchen, so believe me when I tell you that anyone can cook with beer!
But if you're still not confident to just start experimenting, click on the links above to take you to some tried and true recipes.


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