Jackie Dodd

The art of cooking with beer has far surpassed the days of your tipsy uncle spilling a light beer into his steak marinade. Given its wide flavor spectrum, refreshing carbonation, and helpful yeast, beer is an unparalleled cooking and baking liquid. If you appreciate the boost that wine can provide for your culinary creations -- just wait until you learn what beer has to offer.

1) Beer is a leavener.

A leavening agent is an ingredient that causes dough to rise. Thanks to the carbonation and yeast in beer, you get a little more rise in your rolls, puff in your muffins, and lift in your loafs. It can’t be employed by itself, but beer yeast is the perfect complement to active baker’s yeast, baking soda, or baking powder -- which explains those beer bread recipes everyone’s followed at least once.
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2) It’s a meat tenderizer.

The power that beer has to make meat tender and juicy explains why your friends are so excited to defile a chicken with a can of beer and stick it on the grill: that violated chicken is delicious! Replace the water in a basic wet brine with beer and it will bring an entirely new dimension of moistness to your meat.

3) It’s a mild preservative.

Your food won't last forever, but you will get a few more days of freshness in dishes made with beer instead of water! Before the world fell in love with the beautiful bitterness of hops, they were used primarily as a beer preservative. Those life-extending properties will translate into your food as well. Not that you’ll need it -- beer food is irresistible!

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4) It might even prevent cancer.

Ok, perhaps "prevent" is a bit of an exaggeration -- but some studies show that grilled food less likely to form potentially cancer-causing compounds if marinated in beer first. Good news for those of us looking for another reason to crack open a beer by the grill!

5) It's more flavorful.

Do we even need to mention this? Beer is delicious! Those flavors of citrusy hops, biscuity malt, cloves...we could go on and on. So we will! Figs, chocolate, lemons...ok, we’ll stop there. The point is, the many different styles of beer provide a seemingly limitless number of flavors to complement your cooking. Do you like chocolate mousse? How about a chocolate stout mousse?! Like marshmallows? Have some Belgian quad'mallows! I’ve already created a bunch of recipes at TheBeeroness.com that should inspire you further. Bon appetit!