Hints and Tips

 

 

Why use beer in cooking?

A few rules of thumb

Thickening dishes

Does cooking drive off the alcohol?

Beer and Health

Designing your own recipes

There is no such thing as a culinary disaster!

 

Why use beer in cooking?

We are not trying to say that beer is ideal for every dish – some ingredients do not mix well with beer – and it is important not to allow the flavour of the beer to overwhelm the other ingredients. 
 

While a glass of beer is a great accompaniment to a meal, it is not always necessary to serve the same beer which has been used in a recipe along with the finished dish.  Sometimes using the same beer can complement the recipe; on other occasions you may prefer a contrast.
 

It may take time and much testing to find out how best to use beer as an ingredient in your cooking style but we are convinced that if you try some of the recipes here, making your own adaptations, you will come to value beer as a versatile companion in the kitchen – at the very least the occasional mouthful can be most refreshing while slaving over a hot stove!
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A few rules of thumb

 

Thickening dishes

 

When you cook with beer you are adding liquid to your recipe and there can be a dilemma – how do you get those extra flavours without ending up with a runny mess?  The answer is to have a range of thickening techniques at your disposal.

 

When making a soup or stew, adding too much beer at the beginning can make the stew watery. Worse still, if you try to boil off the liquid to reduce the stew volume, it is likely to become too bitter.  The answer is to stir in a few handfuls of dried potato flakes (Cadburys ‘Smash’ works very well!), or take a small amount of the watery broth, mix it with corn flour, then stir that mixture back into the stew pot.  Keep stirring for a few minutes while simmering gently and it will thicken up nicely.
 

When making a sweet dessert or confection that will be chilled, use unflavoured gelatine.  The key is to mix the gelatine with just two tablespoons of water for a few minutes, until softened and not grainy.  That's because alcohol can make the gelatine gummy and coarse, rather than dissolving smoothly.  Then add the softened gelatine to the beer which should be at room temperature - if it is too cold, the gelatine will become lumpy.

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Does cooking drive off the alcohol?

 

Many people think that cooking destroys the alcohol content of beer (or wine) used in cooking but this is not necessarily true.   It is a fact that alcohol is sensitive to heat, and the longer you cook a dish and the higher the cooking temperature, the smaller the amount of alcohol that will remain in the finished dish.  The U.S. Department of Agriculture compiled the chart below which gives some insights.  The tests on which the chart was based used wine but the effect with beer will be broadly similar.
 

Alcohol Burn-off Chart
 Preparation Method  Percent Retained
alcohol added to boiling liquid & removed from heat 85%
alcohol flamed - only applies to spirits, might be difficult with beer!!! 75%
no heat, stored overnight 70%
baked, 25 minutes, alcohol not stirred into mixture 45%
Baked/simmered dishes with alcohol stirred into mixture:
15 minutes cooking time 40%
30 minutes cooking time 35%
1 hour cooking time 25%
1.5 hours cooking time 20%
2 hours cooking time 10%
2.5 hours cooking time 5%

 

So, taking as an example an Irish stew made with a whole bottle of Black William:  The bottle contains 500ml of beer of which 5%, or 25ml, is alcohol.  The stew would be slowly simmered for at least one and a half hours and the chart shows that only 20% of the alcohol would remain in the finished dish.  20% of 25ml is 5ml - which is about a teaspoon, and as the recipe makes two portions each person would get half a teaspoon of alcohol.

As we can see, some alcohol may remain in the finished dish, but the amount is not likely to concern most people. However, the considerate host should advise guests that dishes have been prepared with beer just in case small amounts of alcohol could prove to be a problem for some.
 

 If you want to do your own calculations for other recipes, here's where to find the alcohol contents of all the Adur Brewery Beers

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Beer and Health


Taken in moderation, beer can be a very healthy food. It's full of vitamins and minerals which are good for nerve production, help you concentrate, increase blood circulation, and stimulate the metabolism. The hops, low alcohol content, and carbonation help relax the body.

A glass of beer has fewer calories than the equivalent amount of whole milk or apple juice, and far fewer calories than in spirits which have little if any compensatory benefits.  Alcohol is said to raise the levels of HDL (good cholesterol) thus benefiting the heart and circulatory system - see the report by the BBC on an article which appeared in the Lancet.  

If you are interested in the health aspect a Google search on 'beer and health' will bring up hundreds of articles.  Bear in mind that most of them are produced by people with some vested interest, whether for or against, and anyone who quotes the health benefits also adds the vital phrase "in moderation"!  So don't think that this gives you an excuse to head for the pub and sink several gallons while claiming it's benefiting your health!

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Designing Your Own Recipes

 

All beers: mustard, roasted root vegetables and just about every member of the allium (onion) family which includes onions, shallots, leeks, scallions and herbs such as garlic and chives.

 

Ropetackle Gold: chicken, fish, ham, mango, honey, pineapple, vanilla, cinnamon, roasted sweet corn, chèvre (goats cheese), paprika, shallots, tarragon, basil, curry, lemon

 

Black William: with lamb in genuine Irish stews, with resinous spices such as rosemary, cloves, also garlic; strong meaty and smoky flavours such as bacon, grilled portabella mushrooms, caramel flavours such as sun dried tomatoes, and in desserts, ginger, chocolate and walnuts - or even ice cream (check out the stout-chocolate float!) Try lamb chops marinated in Black William with rosemary and a bit of garlic.

 

Velocity: chilli, cumin, red currants, Worcestershire sauce, toasted pine nuts, grated Cheddar, and in any kind of batter

 

Merry Andrew: most game but especially venison, in carbonnades and stews, with wild mushrooms, browned butter, caramelised onions, pistachios, cashews, thyme, nutmeg and grated Parmesan cheese

 

St Cuthmans: coriander, mint, melon, orange, brown sugar, pomegranate juice, oven-dried plums, raisins, some varieties of peppers, soft ripened cheeses

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There is no such thing as a culinary disaster!

 

Even if you’ve kept a beer too long, or left a bottle open and it’s ‘gone off’, it may still have a use in cooking.  If it’s flat, as long as no off-flavours have developed, it will be useable in most recipes as a flavouring.  And if the beer has acquired vinegar tastes, it may still lend itself to salad dressings and vinaigrettes, or marinades. 

If, during cooking you have problems – too thin, too bitter etc – look through the list of tips above for ways to rescue a dish, and, who knows, it may even improve on the original.  Many great dishes of the world were developed by accident!
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So get to know the capabilities of your beers in different roles,
don’t be afraid to experiment,
and above all

have fun Cooking with Adur Brewery Beers!

John & Jeannette Simpson

 

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