How to Cook with Beer [Beer Newbie Mission #5]

April 13,2010 by 6 Comments

Beer and Cheese PairingBeer is a delicious ingredient. (Photo: icemn091)

Note: This is the 5th post in a 5-part series called Beer Newbie Missions, a guide on how to like beer.

Beer is food. Have I mentioned that?

Think about what’s in bread: grains, yeast, water, spices. Sound familiar? Beer is liquid bread! (Do I hear trumpets?)

So agreeing that beer is food, it’s time to use it as an ingredient to enhance a dish. We’re going to cook with beer.

Cooking with Beer

It’s not that crazy to think of cooking with beer if you consider that wine is very commonly used in recipes. They’re both just flavored liquids used to add flavor to a dish. This means you can substitute it for water or wine wherever they’re called for.  Sauces, marinades, and soups are all good candidates.

Just as there are guidelines for pairing beer and food, there are guidelines for cooking with it. Here are some rules of thumb:

  • Look for balance. Don’t overwhelm a delicate dish with a strong brew.
  • Keep in mind that cooking beer will concentrate the flavors. A hoppy beer will become hoppier.
  • Use similarities. A fruit beer goes well with a fruity dessert and a strong Belgian ale goes well with a rich meat dish.
  • Don’t cook with a beer you wouldn’t drink. If you love a beer on its own you’ll probably love it in a recipe too.

Tips for how to cook with beer:

  • Mix it into a stir-fry.
  • Add beer to a steak marinade.
  • Use it to steam up veggies, mussels, or even hot dogs.
  • Make beer cheese soup.
  • Pour it in a batch of chili.

Make Beer Chili

To start off cooking with beer we’re going to make something simple and delicious. This beer chili recipe is adapted from the fantastic book, “The Naked Pint” by Christini Perozzi and Hallie Beaune.


  • 1 lb.  ground beef
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 sweet onions, diced
  • 2 tablespoons garlic, chopped
  • 5 tablespoons chili powder
  • 4 tablespoons paprika
  • 3 tablespoons group cumin
  • 2 tablespoons dried oregano
  • 1 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 2 x 12 oz. of any craft made pale ale
  • 4 cups diced tomatoes with liquid
  • 2 cans black beans, drained
  • 2 cans kidney beans, drained
  • salt and pepper to taste


  1. Brown the beef in a large stock pot over medium-high heat.
  2. Add the garlic and onions, and cook until they’re translucent.
  3. Stir in all of the herbs and spices.
  4. Add the beer, bring to a boil, then reduce to a simmer.
  5. Add the tomatoes and beans, and simmer for 2 hours.


Beers to Buy

You’ve reached the end! Congratulations on coming so far. If you’ve tried all the beer styles up until now you’re ahead of 97% of the country with your beer experience. These last brews represent some of the biggest and baddest in existence. If you can handle them you can handle anything.

As we wrap up, keep in mind that there are dozens more styles out there and it was difficult to decide on which few to feature. I urge you to keep trying new styles and the beer epiphanies will keep on coming. You’re off to a great start.

Leave a comment down below with your thoughts on cooking with beer or any of the styles listed.

Congrats again for completing the beer missions. You are officially beer geeks ; )

About Billy Broas

He is the founder of The Homebrew Academy, a BJCP beer judge, and the homebrewing expert on the Rocky Mountain PBS television show Colorado Brews. He lives in the fine beer town of Denver, Colorado.

6 responses to “How to Cook with Beer [Beer Newbie Mission #5]”

  1. Kate says:

    My personal favorite is Cheddar and Ale soup… more to eat than to make. I’ve tried making it at home a few times, but it just hasn’t quite been the same. Good choices above, by the way… I’ve had all the Stouts and for Barleywine, I’ve had the Sierra Nevada Bigfoot and I believe I’ve had the Weyerbacher Blithering Idiot. I don’t think I’ve tried any of the Belgian Quadruples you’ve listed though… I’ll have to keep my eye out!
    .-= Kate´s last blog ..Wally Lamb Speaking on Mark Twain =-.

  2. Awesome article Billy. I love cooking with beer and pairing food up with beer.
    .-= Mike –´s last blog ..Dale’s Pale Ale BBQ Chicken Breast =-.

  3. Billy Broas says:

    @Kate Good point and something I didn’t even think about when writing this. If you go out to a restaurant, look for a beer dish! You get the benefits without having to do the dirty work.

    The Bigfoot is my favorite barleywine up there. Of the quads, I’ve only had the Three Philosophers. That will change soon though. Let us know if you get to try any of them.

    @Mike Thanks Mike. If you have any good recipes you know where to find me ; ) I pair with beer more than I cook with it but will do more cooking this summer when I can grill.

  4. debraleitl says:

    Great Article, on beer and food.

    Your tip to never cook with something you would not drink is 100% spot on.

    Have you tried:
    1. Poaching spicy shell on shrimp in Trappistes Rochefort 10 – Chill and eat
    2. Alaskan Salmon marinated in Sierra Nevada Bigfoot Barleywine and brown sugar – Grill
    3. Hot-fudge sauce made w/Old Rasputin Fun to use on Ben & Jerry’s Black & Tan sundaes

    I would also throw in the thought of using the mash left when you are making your wort to make actual bread. It makes a great loaf to go with the cheddar ale soup.

    Classically trained in Beer Culture.

  5. Billy Broas says:

    Thanks Debra. It sounds like you are indeed well trained in beer culture. Those dishes sound mouthwatering. I’m especially interesting in making bread from the leftover grains. Please email me if you can point me towards a simple recipe. I’m still fairly new to cooking with beer and need to start small. Thanks!

  6. Evan B says:

    You can also make a really yummy Beer Bread to go with chili’s or anything else for that matter. It is ridiculously simple- the beer acts as the leavening agent and leaves a subtle yet distinct beer flavor in every bite!

    I’ve also used beer as the base for wings..pour a beer in a ziplock, add some spices, brown sugar and some butter, marinate wings over night and you’ve got yourself some delicious wings to grill up on a fine summer evening!
    .-= Evan B´s last blog ..Mango Raspberry Upside Down Cake =-.

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