Craft Beer’s for More Than Braising

By Michael Ludwig

When I first started homebrewing in my garage six years ago, I remember thinking that it was a lot like cooking in my kitchen. Brewing, just like cooking, is a matter of taking raw ingredients that have unique attributes and combining them. Both take a bit of art, a bit of science and a whole lot of cleaning! It’s no surprise then that I would join these hobbies into a new, wonderful outlet—cooking with craft beer.

Beer has many different properties that can be used in the kitchen. Dark, roasty beers lend themselves particularly well to desserts and meats, while paler beers tend to shine in seafood and chicken dishes. Every time I cook with craft beer, I’m inspired to try new recipes in both my kitchen and home brewery.

The recipes below are some of my favorites, as each utilizes a different flavor compound from the beer used. The stout gives the zucchini bread an even deeper chocolatey flavor; the smokiness of the porter soaks deep into the flavor of the pork shoulder; and the funky dark saison gives an added kick to the tartness of the sauerkraut in the salad.

Give these recipes a shot, or check out the CraftBeer.com recipe database for hundreds of options to bring craft beer to your dinner table.

Stone Smoked Porter Spicy Slow Cooked Pork Shoulder

This pork is spicy and smoky, slow cooked until it falls apart. It’s a delicious recipe, and the meat can be used for any number of dishes: tacos (as I’ve done below), in macaroni and cheese, on pizza, with eggs or just with vegetables and rice. This is sure to be a crowd pleaser, and takes slow cooking with beer to a whole new level. The smokiness of the porter and spices gives the tender meat an irresistible flavor.

Stone Smoked Porter Spicy Slow Cooked Pork ShoulderIngredients

2 pounds pork shoulder, quartered and trimmed
16.9 oz bottle Stone Smoked Porter
1 Tbsp smoked black peppercorns
1 1/2 Tbsp salt
1 1/2 tsp fresh cilantro, chopped
1 tsp ground cayenne
1/2 tsp cumin
1/2 tsp oregano
1/2 tsp smoked paprika
1/2 tsp chilli powder
3 cloves garlic, chopped
1/2 white onion, chopped coarsely
2 Tbsp white sugar
2 Tbsp grape jelly
1 bay leaf
1/2 can (7 oz) chipotle peppers in adobo sauce

Directions

Mix all spices, salt and garlic in a bowl.

In another (large) bowl, combine Stone Smoked Porter, onions, sugar, grape jelly, bay leaf and chipotle peppers in adobo sauce. Mix well.

Take each of the four pieces of pork and lightly dust with spice mixture. Place in large bowl.

Place pork pieces in the beer/pepper mixture. Cover and refrigerate overnight.

Put the pork and all liquid into your slow cooker. Make sure all the meat is covered by liquid.

Cook slowly. Every slow cooker is a bit different; I cooked mine on high for 10 hours and it turned out perfectly. The pork should fall apart with a fork when finished.

Remove meat from the liquid, keeping all remaining spices in the liquid.

Pork Shoulder Tacos

Pork Shoulder Tacos with Bam Noir Braised Sauerkraut and Vegetable Salad

Making tacos is one of my favorite ways to enjoy this pork. Below are my favorite additions to pork shoulder tacos, including a delicious Bam Noir-braised sauerkraut and veggie salad that can be added to the top.

Pork (recipe above)
Avocado, sliced
Cooked white rice
Fresh salsa (to taste)
Corn or flour tortillas
Grated cheese
Sour cream
Bam Noir-Braised Sauerkraut and Roasted Vegetable Salad (recipe below)

Bam Noir-Braised Sauerkraut and Vegetable Salad

This is a completely unique salad that will blast your tastebuds out of your head. The Jolly Pumpkin Bam Noir accentuates the acidity of the sauerkraut. Warm, filling and very healthy, this meal is beautifully framed by the earthiness of the roasted vegetables. In addition to using on the tacos as I’ve done, this dish also makes a great addition to lentils, quinoa and other healthy grains!

Ingredients

1/2 bottle Jolly Pumpkin Bam Noir
1 large beet, chopped small
1/2 white onion, chopped
2 carrots, coined or diced
2 cups sauerkraut
2 Tbsp butter
2 cups chopped raw kale
olive oil
coarse sea salt (to taste)

Directions

Preheat oven to 415°F.

In a large bowl, combine beet, onion and carrots. Drizzle with oil and sea salt, toss in bowl until veggies are lightly coated with oil.

Place veggies in glass baking dish. Put in preheated oven on bottom or middle shelf.

In a saucepan, combine butter, sauerkraut, a pinch of salt and Bam Noir. Cook for 20 minutes, stirring occasionally. Set aside when done.

After 30 minutes in the oven, add kale to roasting vegetables, tossing lightly.

After kale has been added, wait 10 minutes, add beer braised sauerkraut (with remaining liquid) to the vegetables.

Bake for 5-10 minutes and remove.

Dark Chocolate Chipotle Zucchini Bread Featuring Left Hand Nitro Stout

Dark Chocolate Chipotle Zucchini Bread Featuring Left Hand Nitro Stout

This is a delicious breakfast bread, best served heated with a pat of butter. The bitter dark chocolate is perfectly offset by a touch of sweetness from the zucchini, semi-sweet chocolate and a bit of sugar. The spiciness from the chipotle peppers, cayenne and adobo sauce work perfectly to compliment the chocolate sweetness.

This recipe features Left Hand Nitro Stout, which densifies the treat, making the finished product a high-energy treat that pairs perfectly with a dark roast coffee (in the mornings) or a robust dark ale (in the evening).

For fans of a spicy breakfast, try making the pork (recipe above), and serve on a grilled and buttered slice of dark chocolate chipotle zucchini bread with a poached egg, jalapeños and a drop of sour cream!

Ingredients

12 oz Left Hand Nitro Stout
3.5 cups all-purpose flour
1/4 cup unsweetened dark cocoa powder
2 Tbsp ground cinnamon
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp salt
1 cup white sugar
3 eggs
2 chipotle peppers from canned chipotle peppers in adobo sauce
3 Tbsp adobo sauce from can
3 Tbsp ground cayenne
1/2 cup vegetable oil
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 large zucchini, shredded
1 cup walnuts, chopped
1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips

Directions

Preheat oven to 350°F.

In a bowl, mix flour, cocoa, baking soda, baking powder, salt, cinnamon and cayenne.

In a different bowl, mix eggs, sugar, vanilla and oil. Mix well.

Finely chop chipotle peppers.

Add chipotle peppers, zucchini and adobo sauce to the egg/sugar mixture.

Add flour mixture to egg/sugar mixture. Slowly pour beer into mixture. Stir in nuts and chocolate chips.

Pour into lightly greased 9×5 loaf pans.

Bake in preheated oven for 45 minutes, or until finished (to check, stick a toothpick in the middle, if it comes out clean, the bread is done).

Cool for 20 minutes in pan, remove and allow bread to finish cooling on a cooling rack.

Photos © LooseEnds, Ayngelina & LexnGer via Flickr CC

Michael LudwigMichael Ludwig is a Cicerone® Certified Beer Server, with four+ years homebrewing experience. He holds a journalism degree from Michigan State University, and has completed the Siebel Institute’s Concise Course to Brewing Technology, a 4-month brewery internship. He currently writes the blog Man Beer School for a blog for the Chicago organization Man B Que.