Eating and drinking with the seasons is as old as human existence, but when summer rolls around each year, our menus take a decided turn toward the light, the fresh, and the cool. Smaller, session-strength beers become staples for afternoon occasions, while we lean on flavorful but simple make-ahead delights.
This recipe captures that spirit of summer that we savor—classic flavors as comforting reminders—and are perfect for everything from backyard entertaining to August picnics in the park. Pair liberally with your favorite beers in each style or try a few of our suggestions.
Chicken Liver Pâté with Sour-Beer Cherry Compote
Chicken Liver Pâté
2 oz (57 g) butter, at room temperature and cubed
¼ cup (59 ml) garlic, minced
½ cup (118 ml) shallots, minced
2 lb (907 g) chicken livers, cleaned
2 cup (473 ml) port wine
1 cup (237 ml) brandy
1½ lb (680 g) butter, at room temperature and cubed
Kosher salt to taste
Sour-Beer Cherry Compote
4 oz (113 g) dried cherries
¾ cup (177 ml) sour beer
3 Tbs light corn syrup
In a medium saucepan, sweat the garlic and shallots in the 2 oz (57 g) of butter over medium heat, being careful not to color either the garlic or shallots. Add the liver and cook until well caramelized. Deglaze the pan with the port and brandy. Bring the liquid to a boil. Reduce the heat so that the liquid simmers and cook until the pot is almost dry. Remove from the heat.
With a buerre mixer or in a blender, purée the butter into the liver a little at a time until the purée is quite loose. Season with kosher salt (it is important to slightly over season with the salt, since the flavor will dissipate when served at cooler temperatures). Pour the pâté into ramekins or molds. If molding, make sure to line the mold with plastic wrap. Chill for 4 hours to allow the pâté to set.
For the compote, soak the cherries in the sour beer for 4 hours. Add to a small saucepan with the corn syrup and cook on low for about 1 hour. Cherry syrup should be thick. Remove and cool.
Serve the pâté with the compote and toasted bread or crackers.
Beer Tasting Notes: In any reduced syrup or compote such as this, avoid overly hop-forward beers. Here, choose a cherry sour beer with bright acidity and a bit of sweetness, but gentle bitterness and minimal phenolic or peppery notes. Quick-soured cherry beers are particularly good in this capacity for the generally low amounts of hops and no flavors of Brettanomyces.
Beer Suggestions: Untitled Art Cherry Sour à la Mode (Madison, Wisconsin), Creature Comforts Athena Paradiso (Athens, Georgia), New Glarus Wisconsin Belgian Red (New Glarus, Wisconsin), Odell Friek (Fort Collins, Colorado), Urban Artifact Chariot (Cincinnati, Ohio).