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Cooking and Pairing with Beer: Flavor, Texture, Harmony, Balance

How do you pair your favorite beer and your favorite dish for maximum enjoyment? Tired Hands Brewery Executive Chef Bill Braun shares some guidelines on how to use beer in your cooking and how to pair those dishes with your favorite beers.

Libby Murphy Dec 3, 2016 - 7 min read

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A lot goes in to creating the perfect meal. The event, the time of day you’re preparing the dish for, the people, and the ingredients are all details you’ll want to get just right. And then there’s the beer that will be paired with the dish. Do you go with something that complements or contrasts or stands on its own? Or do you go with what your friends like to drink, despite the dish? And that’s not even to mention the beer you’re cooking with.

To help you get a better handle on choosing beer to go with the dishes you’re cooking, we asked Bill Braun, executive chef at Tired Hands Brewing Company in Ardmore, Pennsylvania, for some tips. Tired Hands brews and experiments with flavor-forward, dry, expressive beers, and their two flagship beers—HopHands APA and SaisonHands—are at the core of most of their recipes. (To learn more about Tired Hands and their brewing philosophy, see their Breakout Brewer profile in the April/May 2016 issue of Craft Beer & Brewing Magazine®.)

Cooking with Beer

Choosing the type of beer to cook with can be tricky—after spending an Alexander Hamilton (or more) on a bomber or six pack, it’s a big leap of faith to commit 12 ounces or more of that liquid gold to your recipe (even if you know the beer will add interesting flavors). But Braun offers a tip that restaurant pros everywhere will echo—ignore the urgings of the cooking shows to only cook with the best beer and wine, and go ahead and use that slightly-out-of-date bottle in the back of the fridge that you’ve been meaning to open for months but just haven’t gotten around to.

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