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Cooking with beer

Good to see Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall giving some recipes that use beer in the Guardian today. As I discovered when my son Will and I wrote our book An Appetite for Ale last year, beer makes a great addition to many recipes and is often just as good a match for a meal as wine.

The only point on which I wouldn’t agree with Hugh is that beer is good for de-glazing. In fact we found it accentuates its bitterness if you pour it into a hot pan. It’s better to pour in a splash of stock first to reduce the heat then add the beer.

Here are my pairings for the three recipes he gives. For more beer matches enter 'beer' or 'ale' into this site’s search engine or you could, of course, buy the book which is available on Amazon or from the publisher CAMRA (the Campaign for Real Ale) ;-)

Pollack in beer batter
Hugh recommends making the batter with ‘good beer’ ("anything but cheap lager") but I’d be more specific and suggest a classic English bitter or pale ale which is the beer I’d choose to drink with it. Something like Coniston Bluebird or Harveys Blue Label (the bottled version of Harveys Traditional Draught Sussex Bitter. )

Beef in Ale stew with dumplings
Again Hugh suggests making this with a ‘good ale’. I’d be looking for a full-flavoured example such as Adnams Broadside which would also be a great accompaniment. Sensibly he doesn’t suggest that more than half the liquid in the stew should be beer. Any more than that makes it bitter.

Guinness and walnut chocolate brownies
A dash of stout is good in a chocolate cake - we included some in our Chocolate and Cherry Roulade. But although some people advocate drinking stout with chocolate-flavoured puddings and cakes I find it too dry. Frankly I don’t think you can beat a good cup of black coffee to which you could add half a shot of coffee-flavoured liqueur like Kahlua if you were feeling adventurous. Or, more adventurous still, sip a shot of Frangelico hazelnut-flavoured liqueur.

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