The Session #8: Beer and Food

The SessionThis month’s Session is brought to us by Captain Hops: Beer and Food.

I am looking for posts about pairing beer with food or using beer as an ingredient in food. I hope to see recipes, pictures, tasting notes, stories, menus, reviews or anything else that fits the bill of fare. Whether you write about which beer goes best with chili dogs or give your family’s secret recipe for vegan stout stew or post pictures of those ale braised lamb shanks you had last week, I want to know every mouth watering detail.

I have to confess, this isn’t a topic I’ve spent much time focusing on, beyond a casual interest. I’ve not attended any formal beer dinners, nor do I generally select a beer based on what food I’m eating.

So I was wondering what I’d be able to contribute this month when I realized that I did, in fact, cook recently with beer—not something I often do, either. So I’ll talk about the two recipes I made.

Ultimate Beer by Michael JacksonFirst, though, I have to mention Michael Jackson’s awesome Ultimate Beer, because it has an extensive section on beer and food pairings—it’s my go-to source on the subject (what I do know about it). He has style recommendations for most categories of food (smoked foods, fish, beef, pizza, desserts, etc.) and ones I wouldn’t have otherwise thought of (salads and starters, pickles and pâtés). It’s also just a beautiful book. Go buy it.

(I’ll give a plug to Garrett Oliver’s The Brewmaster’s Table, too, because I’ve heard good things about it—though I’ve not read it yet.)

Anyway, on to the recipes.

Beer cupcakeThe first of the two recipes was this one I blogged about: beer cupcakes. I followed the recipe verbatim, and they turned out to be delicious: rich and moist, the Guinness and the cocoa worked to give it a velvety, dark chocolate flavor, very decadent. I highly recommend this recipe; it’s easy to follow and I promise the cupcakes will be a hit.

Beer Pairing Suggestion: Stout or Porter, particularly a chocolate variety.

The second foray into beer cooking was Sunday dinner last week and I was thinking along the lines of an Oktoberfest flair, so I went with a pot roast—using Spaten Oktoberfest as the braising liquid.

I followed a basic recipe as a guideline, but I improvised a bit as well. Here’s what I did:

  • 3.25 lb. beef chuck roast, seasoned liberally with salt and pepper
  • Chopped onions, carrots, and celery—about 1/2 cup each
  • 1 cup beer
  • Seasonings (I used thyme, oregano, parsley, and a dash of sage
  • Several small whole onions, potatoes (cut into chunks), baby carrots

You’ll need a Dutch oven or other similarly heavy pot with a lid for this.

First I browned the beef over medium-high heat on all sides, about 10-15 minutes worth. Remove from heat, add several tablespoons of olive oil and sauté the chopped veggies for about 5 minutes, then add the beer and seasonings. Bring to a boil, add the beef back to the mixture. Cover the pot tightly, and turn the heat down to low. Now leave it for about 2 hours, then add the whole vegetables, cover and leave it for another hour. (Add more liquid as needed—do not let the pot dry out.)

When it’s done, take the roast out and let it rest for about 15 minutes, then slice it up. Serve with the whole vegetables. Additionally, you can make a gravy out of the remaining liquid in the pot, but I didn’t do that (this time).

Verdict: It was good—you can’t go wrong with pot roast!

Beer Pairing Suggestion: Well, an Oktoberfest goes well with this, obviously. But I think any malty, more-sweet-than-hoppy beer would pair well with this; it’s comfort food and deserves a "comfort beer."