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Your Guide to Cooking with Beer

a plate of food with stew

As much as you like to drink beer on its own, it is not actually just for washing down chips, pretzels, and hotdogs on game day.  It can actually be used for cooking, similar to how you would cook with wine. Cooking with beer gives your food a deeper and earthier flavor.

It is perfect for dishes like soup, stew, chili, and even baked goods. You can use it in just about any cooking technique like braising, deglazing, marinating, simmering, baking, and more. Beer has many health benefits, so you would benefit from adding it to your food.

Using Beer as an Ingredient

Beer contains hops which gives the bitter nature. It also contains malt which gives it the natural sweetness which balances the bitter flavor perfectly. The bitterness balances the creaminess of cheese and the sugars in vegetables like onions, carrots, and corn.

Fried Foods

Dump the fizzy seltzer water in favor of light beer when frying onion rings or shrimp.  Lager, for instance, will make the batter light and airy. Do not use stout beer as it can result in gray-colored food.

A light lager will result in crispier and lighter fry. Beer works like sparkling water, and it makes the food crisp, light and airy. It’s perfect for fish, onion rings, calamari, and tempura. 

Soups and Stews

When making stews or soups, make sure to replace the stock with stout or ale. If you’re making a seafood soup or chicken soup, you can use wheat beer instead.

Baking with Beer

If you are planning to bake a classic quick bread, make sure to use beer along with baking powder to get the loaf to rise.  If you’re planning to bake a dark bitter bread, you may want to use light lager.  If you’re going to bake with chocolate, use a dark stout to bring out the flavors of the chocolate.

Marinades and Sauces

Beer tenderizes meat and caramelizes seared meat. It also helps create an earthy, smoky flavor to sauces. Throw a lager with ketchup and mustard will create a delicious marinade for beef cut.


Beers go well with onion soup. Let the onions cook for a long period and give it a boost by adding beer. This will bring out a richer and darker sweetness.

Which Beer Should You Use for Cooking?

Light and dark beers have distinctive flavors. But how do you know which beers go with which food? How do you cook with beer?

It’s simple really. Wheat beers are great for chicken and seafood. If you’re cooking pork, beef, and lamb, you will need ales, porters, and stouts. Hearty meat goes well with belgian ales. Stews pair well with ale. Cheese goes well with ale as well. If you’re cooking desserts, you need light fruity beers.

If you are unsure about what beer to use, go for pale ale. It’s fruity, rich, and hoppy, but it’s not overpowering.

You do not need to break the bank just to get a nice bottle of beer for cooking. Make sure to use beers that you would enjoy drinking. Remember that as you cook, the flavors of the beer will either intensify or diminish. So, it’s always best to bet on beers that you like.

If you want to learn more about beers so you would know how to choose the right ones for cooking, contact us and sign up for our brewery tours, and you’d be a beer expert in no time!