Beer has a long distinguished culinary tradition. Dishes like Carbonnades, Fondues and Welsh Rarebit all owe their unique character to various types of beer. Two properties of beer particularly excite chefs, the first is that unlike wine, beer as a marinating or braising medium does not mask the flavour of the main ingredient.Once the alcohol in beer has evaporated during cooking only a delicate piquant trace of barley and hops ois left behind.
Its second great advantage is a natural bubbly character – capable of injecting humour and levity in to the most stolid of food, hence its use in puddings, batters, breads, cakes and even whipped cream. But, beer has a third, endearing characteristic – its versatility. It spans a whole spectrum of tastes and consistencies, from subtle lightness through to heavy darker beers. Beer lends itself to many dishes, it can be used to tenderise as in marinated raw fish or braised meat, to add depth to a soup or colour and piquancy to a sauce. It can be used as an alternative to vinegar in a salad dressing, add it to cooking water when curing ham, pour it over fruit or try it in a succulent chocolate dish.
Beer can be an essential ingredient for a sauce to accompany duck. It has the quality to heighten the flavour of Thai spices. Beer and beer are natural soul mates but beer can also provide lightness to the simplest of soups. Beer is a sublime ingredient with a gigot of lamb, lapin and syllabub too. But remember too, that a carefully chosen beer is the equal and often the better of any wine as an accompaniment to food.
From Brewers of Europe