How to Cook With Beer

Four Methods:Cooking with BeerBeer soupBeer pancakesRosemary beer bread

Cooking with beer is as old as drinking it, a practice enjoyed by many over the thousands of years of beer-making. In ancient Egypt, Sumerians believed that cooking with beer was a way to bring “healthy food” to the people. Today, beer lovers continue to infuse recipes with this intoxicating concoction of hops and barley in an effort to enhance and enrich everyday food.

Method 1
Cooking with Beer

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    Know your beer. There are three main types: these are ales, stouts and lagers. Ales and lagers tend to be best for using in cooking, although stout has its place too, such as in some versions of Christmas pudding.
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    Select a beer that complements and enhances the food. The right type of beer should be considered before you cook. One rule of thumb to follow is like wine––use dark beer for robust dishes and light beer for lighter fare.
    • Generally, pale ale beer complements nearly all recipes. Beer intensifies during cooking, so a lighter tasting beer may lend more of a blended flavor than a darker beer.
    • Nut brown beer is ideal for rich dishes such as stews or cheese dishes.
    • Strong Belgian ales can complement meat dishes. Most meat, especially red meat, dishes will require the use of dark brown ale rather than the lighter version.
    • Fruity beers work well with desserts.
    • Wheat ales can enhance seafood and poultry dishes.
    • Lager beer is works well for baking breads because it adds levity to the dough. Beer can be used instead of yeast in pancakes and some breads.
    • Adding beer to batters produces a light and crispy texture.
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    Evaluate the malt and hop levels. Malt and hops are the flavoring agents in beer. If the levels are higher, more beer flavor will come out in your dish.
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    Determine the role that the beer will play in your cooking. Enhancing the flavor of the food is not the only role beer can have in cooking. It is also a natural meat tenderizer, yeast enhancer that complements bread and pancakes. It is also a deglazing agent that can re-infuse a dish with cooked ingredients.
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    Choose a reputable brand. Never cook or use beer that you wouldn’t enjoy drinking. Remember that price doesn’t always dictate flavor, so if you're not already sure, sample the beer before adding it to your dish.
    • Don't be afraid of using stale beer though. Last night's unfinished beer, provided it was refrigerated, can be used to cook with. After all, it's probably flat and no good for drinking now!
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    Follow the directions in the recipe. Beer is meant to enhance and enliven the flavors of your food, so add this ingredient specifically according to directions. Overdoing the addition of beer could overwhelm the flavor of the food and cause it to be unpalatable.
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    Bring the beer to room temperature before cooking. Beer that is too cold or hot may compromise other ingredients in your dish. If your brew has been in the refrigerator, make sure you take it out and give it time to get to room temperature before adding it to your dish. Only do otherwise if a recipe overrides this specifically.
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    Remember to use a measuring device created for liquids. Some measuring cups are actually made for dry ingredients such as flour or sugar. Purchase a measuring cup system from the local home store that is designed specifically for liquids to obtain an accurate reading.
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    Start cooking. Below are some typical dishes made using beer. Experiment with a few to see what your favorites will be.

Method 2
Beer soup

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    Assemble the following ingredients:
    • 2 liters (0.5 US gal), 3½ pints, 9 cups chicken or vegetable stock
    • 300ml, ½ pint, 1 1/4 cups German beer
    • 250g, 9 oz stale bread (crusts removed)
    • Salt and pepper to season
    • Freshly grated nutmeg to season
    • 100ml, 4 fl oz, 7 tablespoons single (light) cream.
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    Pour the stock into a saucepan.
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    Add the German beer and stale bread.
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    Season to taste with salt and pepper.
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    Cover the saucepan. Cook over a very gentle heat for half an hour.
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    Remove from the heat. Allow to cool enough to blend.
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    Puree in the blender. Add a little grated nutmeg and the cream. Check the flavor.
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    Reheat. Serve scalding hot.

Method 3
Beer pancakes

The beer will provide the rising action needed to make the pancakes work.

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    Assemble the following ingredients:
    • 2 cups all-purpose/ plain flour
    • 2 cups beer
    • 2 eggs, slightly beaten
    • 2 tbsp honey or maple syrup
    • Some butter.
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    Pour the beer, eggs and syrup or honey into a mixing bowl. Mix well.
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    Sift the flour into the wet ingredients. Mix well with a whisk. Aim for a thin and lumpy mix.
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    Heat a little butter in a frying pan. Spoon in the batter and cook the pancake. Use medium heat.
    • Flip the pancake over when the bubbles appear on the surface and the pancake edge is firm.
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    • For fluffier, thicker pancakes, use a pancake ring.
    • Add things such as chocolate chips, berries or chopped bananas as wished.
    • A half cup of wholemeal flour can be substituted for a half cup of plain flour if desired.

Method 4
Rosemary beer bread

  1. 1
    Preheat oven to 375ºF/190ºC.
  2. 2
    Gather the ingredients. You will need:
    • 3 cups self-rising flour (self-raising flour)
    • ½ cup sugar
    • 12 ounces of pale or light beer
    • 1/3 cup fresh chopped rosemary
    • 2 tablespoons of melted butter
  3. 3
    Coat a loaf pan with butter and set aside.
  4. 4
    Combine the flour, sugar, rosemary and beer in a large bowl and mix well.
  5. 5
    Pour the mixture into a loaf pan.
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    Bake for about 55 minutes, or until the bread is risen and a knife inserted into the center comes out clean.
  7. 7
    About three minutes before the bread is finished, brush melted butter over the top.
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Some other delicious beer recipes

Try one of the following recipes listed separately on this site:


  • Tell diners or guests beforehand that you included beer as an ingredient to the dish. Some people have allergies to wheat or hops.
  • Consider serving a different type of beer with your beer-cooked dish to complement different flavors.
  • Try different beers to create an appreciation of different flavors and tastes


  • Although the alcohol level cooks down in most recipes, tell anyone who is avoiding alcohol that the dish contains beer.
  • Avoid using old or outdated beer in your recipes––like any ingredient, throw it away once it has expired.
  • Not all beer is vegetarian or vegan; be aware if you're following such a diet and using beer for cooking.

Sources and Citations

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