How to Cook with Beer

Contributed by Kate Dowhan

The taste and flavor combinations of beer are seemingly endless. This makes it a perfect liquid to complement different cuisines and various cooking methods. Whether you are sipping from a flight on the patio or measuring out cups in the kitchen, beer offers a colourful and intriguing world of flavours to choose from.

Here are six basic guidelines to enhance your cooking with beer:

  1. Play matchmaker: Use light beer for light dishes and heavier beer for heavier dishes. Ales and lagers tend to be the best styles to cook with because they complement nearly all recipes. 
  2. Tread lightly: Overdoing the addition of beer in a recipe could overwhelm the flavor of the food…ruining all your hard work. 
  3. Use at room temperature: Beer that is too hot or cold could jeopardize the other components of the dish. Leave it out on the counter as you prep. Only do otherwise if a recipe calls for it. 
  4. Mind the malt and hops: The higher intensity of flavouring agents in your beer, the more hops or malt flavor will come through in your creation. 
  5. Remember it’s a multitasker: Beer is a natural meat tenderizer, yeast enhancer for baking and deglazing agent. You can also cook with it when it has been freshly opened or left out unfinished. 
  6. Be mindful of allergies: Be sure to tell your guests you included beer in a dish. Some people have allergies or abstain from alcohol for different reasons.

Here are three cooking with beer methods you can try right away.


Beer is such a great candidate for marinating because including beer in your recipe adds more flavor. The alcohol helps to carry the marinade’s flavor into the soaking meat. Beer also contains enzymes to help break down tough fibers, helping to make the meat tender. 

When choosing beer to use in a marinade, aim for a simple, smooth flavour profile. Not too hoppy or too light. A good choice is ale. In general, ale, has a bolder profile for bigger, bolder flavours. Choose an amber ale, or a wheat beer, but avoid pilsner or pale ales. They will not add much flavour.


A rich porter or stout style beer are ideal candidates for stews and roasting meats. They are perfect partners in a hearty dish, as they are complex and deep in flavour, matching the hardy style of cooking. When making a braised beef dish, substitute the typically called for red wine with a dark stout.


Battering fish in beer is a classic. A canned beer is a good choice when making beer batter because the carbonation helps to make the fish crisp, light and airy. 

You can make batter with a variety of styles from lagers to pilsners to amber ales. Try a sweet amber ale with apple fritters or battered zucchini. 

Let us know how you do using the hashtag #CheersCanada.