Truth: I love food, wine, craft cocktails and beer. For my birthday in 2011, my husband and I attended Cleveland’s Fabulous Food Show. I remember my two highlights: A fun food demo by Bobbie Flay, and a beer garden feature, which included a guided food and beer pairing. I was experienced in learning about pairing food with wine, but this was the first time I had ever experienced a food-beer pairing event. As with wine, food can change your palate for different styles of beer as well.
One of the beers we sampled was Hoegaarden, a white ale that mimics a “heffie” (or Hefeweizen, which is a German style of beer). We also sampled a lager and a stout. While wheat beers are not my favorite, I was intrigued that trying it with different foods, changed my perception. These beers were paired with simple foods – smoked sausage, cheese, and dark chocolate.
As someone who loves food expos and tastings, and summer beer festivals, (and is the the kind of person that excitedly reviews the menu of the restaurants I want to visit before I travel), I was excited to meet fellow foodie and beer lover Lori Rice last year when we both attended a farm tour. Lori is a photographer, writer, and has a degree in nutrition and exercise scientist. It’s always fun meeting a girl who enjoys craft beer, and Lori had just authored the book Food on Tap: Cooking with Craft Beer. She sent me a copy to review.
Enter – going even beyond pairing foods with beer, but also cooking and baking with beer. Mind. Blown.
There’s More to Beer than Drinking
If you think of “craft beer drinkers” and picture a snobby hipster sipping expensive beer from a chalice, this book may open you up to broader thoughts about beer, and craft beer consumers. If you’re a cook, you most likely have used wine in your cooking, but this book inspires you to incorporate more beer into your cooking.
Like anything food and beverage, it’s not about “this beer is better than that one”, it’s about your own palate, and what you like. As Lori points out in her Introduction, anyone who enjoys craft beer most likely enjoys new food experiences too. I love IPAs (India Pale Ale). The more hoppy and “citrusy” the better. Other folks love wheat beers (low on my list), and some like lagers or stouts.
Food on Tap isn’t just a cookbook; it includes a brief but thorough education about the different styles of beer. Chapter 2 offers up some beer basics, and you’ll learn how different types of beers work in different recipes (for instance, my citrusy IPA can work great in a vinaigrette dressing for a salad). The book is neatly divided into chapter, like most cookbooks, that include: Brunch, Starters, Mains, Sides, Dessert. Lori also encourages experimentation in her book.
I like to think that mistakes are just new recipes waiting to happen. ~ Lori Rice
Sure you may have baked a Guinness chocolate cake or added beer to a rich beef stew, but how about trying a sour beer to make Lori’s Sour Soaked Strawberry Muffins? Or her California Common Fig and Walnut Flatbread that incorporates a simple California common beer (or blonde ale) into it?
I’m pretty excited to try several of the recipes in this book. Since we always have IPA in the house, I definitely plan on making her salad and vegetable dressings with it (the Crispy Brussels Sprouts and Spinach Salad is definitely a winner). The brunch chapter really has me excited too because I love to host brunch. Our local microbrewery, Voodoo Brewery, offers up a “Met-mosa” which I’ve served at home for brunches, using their Gran Met mixed with orange juice. How about using some Gran Met for the Giant Witbier Egg Biscuit (a wheat style beer is incorporated into the biscuit) from Chapter 3? And, when you have zucchini coming out of your ears this summer, you will die for her Pilsner Battered Fried Summer Squash Slices with Creamy Ranch Beer Dip.
I always find the photos in a cookbook to be a huge inspiration for trying the recipe, and Lori is an amazing photographer, making this a lovely book to look at. This book also makes a great conversation starter when displayed on your coffee table.
Every beer and food lover I know will be thrilled to be able to open their favorite beer, pour out 3 ounces for cooking, and sip the rest. Grab a copy here, and enjoy some new experiences in the kitchen! Enjoy.
Remember, if you drink, drink in moderation (the recommended amount is one drink per day for women, one to two per day for men).