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Beer AssortmentWhen in Doubt...Use Beer

As someone who failed to steer down the chef road when the opportunity presented itself, and instead became rather successful as a pixel mechanic, food is now my #1 interest, outside the obvious (i.e. staying alive). Ale Johnson got me, and many others, interested in beer as something truly amazing and not just a liquid close to water with coloring and various levels of alcohol. It is a wondrous liquid that under odd disguises can be drunk at a variety of temperatures, in up-tempo and down tempo, with salty food, with savory foods. So my first attempt at something useful here on Scenic Brews will be the use of beers as marinades and sauce starters. And I will touch on beer's big brother, whiskey, as the brewing process for that is somewhat similar.

All "tough",and preferably dead, protein, i.e. fowl, quadrupeds, and fish can benefit greatly from some liquid wonder treatment. Beer especially has a lot of enzymes that help break down tissue, which makes it a good choice for the basis for a marinade. The rule of thumb on this is lighter beer for gentle meats, so don't throw Arrogant Bastard on a fillet of chicken. *

A good starter recipe for a marinade for beef using beer is one that packs a little heat and would be great on a grill. Use a beer with a little hop body, such as Sierra Nevada Pale Ale or Stone IPA.

For 3-4 steaks.
1 bottle of beer *pint
1/2 ts Cinnamon
2 tbl crushed red peppers
1 tbl whole mustard seeds
4 tbl of reasonably tasty whiskey
2 tbl honey or agave nectar
1 tbl crushed black pepper (if you want to get fancy, mix the whiskey
and black pepper a couple of hours before)

Marinate for at least 4 hours, and no longer than 24.

Use some of the marinade for your sauce, and you can take that in any direction you want, light or heavy. If you want light, use a simple flour roux with maybe finely chopped red onions and cilantro. If you want it a little heavy, use roux, but add some heavy cream,
and some tomato puree. And as always, taste what you're making and season it gently with salt.

Serve up with some fingerling potatoes and steamed veggies....What beer to serve, well, you can either stay true to the road you're on and enjoy a beer with a hoppy body. Or completely contrast it with a sturdy lager or pilsner.

*On the other side of the thumb is the fact that you can use heavy beers, but lighten up the marinade with lime, lemons, or grape juice.

Bon appetit

--Tom Granberg