Food and beer go together wonderfully, and even if you are new to pairing your pints with your meals, don’t worry! In her blog series “Beer and Food”, beer writer Hollie Stephens will help you to start discovering the fantastic ways that beer can complement food.
Throughout this blog series, you’ve hopefully learned a little about why beer can make such a wonderful accompaniment to food, so let’s look at how you can also use beer and brewing ingredients to help create the meals themselves!
We’ve all had the experience of opening a bottle or can and finding it at the end of the night not quite finished. Instead of pouring it down the drain, why not consider popping it in the fridge for use in creating a delicious meal the following day? If your recipe calls for water or stock, you could replace a little of the liquid with beer for extra flavor. In her book ‘The Beer Lover’s Kitchen’, beer sommelier Melissa Cole offers tips on how you can experiment with using beer similarly to how you would use seasoning. “Want to add a herbal note to a dish, how about a classic British bitter?” she suggests. “Want to add some lush tropical notes to a simple cheesecake? Add some Australian-style pale ale.” Melissa highlights that it is important to consider acidity when adding beer to food. Just like salt, acid intensifies flavor, and you might find that you don’t need that extra shake of salt after all.
At Equity Brewing Company, the team plans to explore baking with beer, as part of a new initiative launching this summer. The Equity brewers will make and sell bread made using their own beer and donate proceeds to paying off lunch debt for public school students. “Bread will be sold both in pre-made loaves (baked in collaboration with local bakers) and also in raw ingredients with one beer in order for the customer to make their own” explains Equity team member Hannah. By creating this extra commodity using their product, Equity will be able to directly support the local community. “We hope to sell bread in our taproom and from our mobile beer cart!” says Hannah.
This Equity initiative is one example of how brewers can make their beer part of a food chain that extends outside of their brewery. If you’re an avid homebrewer, you might even be able to contribute to the local food chain yourself, by using your leftover brewing grain at your local allotment. Spent grains contain high levels of nitrogen, which make them great for fertilizing, but take care to aerate well and add plenty of dry carbon matter to avoid a stinky compost heap. If you don’t have a green thumb, don’t worry, you can still turn your leftover grain into food! You could donate the grain to your local farm for them to use as livestock feed for animals such as cows and pigs. In the home kitchen, you can use wet grain to bake treats like flapjacks, brownies and cookies. Alternatively, you can dry it out and grind it into flour.
By thinking about the ways that we can support our local food systems using products and ingredients in innovative ways, we can work towards a more sustainable world together, and all whilst drinking great beer!