Think about more than just drinking this beer when preparing your Independence Day meal, but also pouring it into the pot.
While there is a lot to love about drinking a beer, there is a lot more to love about adding it to the main course. Just ask the management of Witch’s Hat Brewing Company in southern Lyon, which expanded and added a kitchen last year.
âEveryone knows us for beer. And they don’t know that we have a great chef who does really wonderful things, âsaid Ryan Cottongim, co-owner of the 601 S. Lafayette brewery. “We try to make beer harmonious with the food. It should be an overall experience.”
When it comes to cooking in summer or winter, there are options to use beer not only as a complement to a good dish, but also as an ingredient of it.
It’s not used as often as other alcoholic drinks like wine, but it definitely has its place in the kitchen with all its variety, said Brian Beland, chair of the culinary department at Schoolcraft College in Livonia.
âBeer is no different from wine. You have to taste so many different wines to know all the nuances and flavors,â he said. “Beer is the same. Every brewer is a craftsman.”
Along with summer grilling, this is the perfect opportunity to create a great beer brine for chicken or maybe use a bottle of beer for dressing or other sauces. In other seasons, Beland said it was common to use beer in braising dishes such as lamb shanks. Even in desserts, beer can bring out unique flavors in dishes like cookies or cakes.
Cooking with beer varies greatly depending on what is being done. But using craft beer, which is flowing freely in the western suburbs of Detroit, really enhances the flavors of the dishes compared to what a chef might see.
Getting this opportunity is a big deal for ChÃ© Foster, Executive Chef of Witch’s Hat. A chef for 20 years, he said he worked, among others, at Social Kitchen in Birmingham and Little Caesars Arena in Detroit. When offered the job in southern Lyon at the brasserie, he said he saw an opportunity to perfect a different kind of cuisine. Bringing in the flavors of Witch’s Hat beers such as Blueberry Lemonade gose and Night Fury Imperial stout is just one way to make the brewery stand out.
So far, that’s exactly what they’ve done: The Night Fury burger is served with a stout-based bacon jam. Other sauces and dishes are also created from beers, including mustard, made from Edward’s Portly Brown beer.
âThere is always something for something,â he said. “You just have to understand the taste and what you’re going to do with it.”
While it’s not as common to see beer end up on the dinner table in the United States, it’s not the same in other parts of the world, said Corps member Annette May. Professor in the Brewing and Distilling Technology Program at Schoolcraft College.
May focuses a lot on pairing beers with food, and said it’s incredibly crucial in making sure flavors don’t clash.
âYou can enjoy that feeling, but if you don’t like it, it will be an unpleasant feeling for you,â she said. âSo you have to consider a lot of things. “
Someone who has thought of many factors is Daniel Pudwill, Chef de Cuisine at SuperNatural Brewing and Spirits in Livonia. The chef started his job at the brewery just before the COVID-19 pandemic, cooking with SuperNatural’s own beers.
During his interview at the restaurant, he said he brought out a few dishes made with the brewery’s products, which hadn’t really been done before when working with new chefs.
Seeing the initiative to incorporate their products into the dishes was something that impressed the leadership of the brewery, said Ernie Pacsai, co-owner of the brewery.
âIt was a big deal. We didn’t need it, but we liked it,â he said. “We asked them to do it, but no one has ever done this as part of their job application.”
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This mentality has spread to the dishes now served at the brasserie at 36685 Plymouth Road: Pudwill has started incorporating it into more dishes, including aioli and even desserts.
One of the most popular items on the menu is the buttermilk donut holes, made from scratch in the kitchen and topped with a salted caramel sauce made from SuperNatural’s Shadow Realm stout. It started on the brunch menu and made the jump to the everyday dessert menu.
After finding out how beer can be used in cooking, Pudwill said he started using it all the time.
âAll of a sudden I started to look back and I could see that I felt comfortable cooking with beer now,â he said. “I could put it in any soup, I could put it in almost any sauce.
“I was just putting beer in everything for a while.”
Finding the right flavors to mix with a dish can be difficult and requires a lot of trial and error. Know how to use a bottle or can of beer and how much can make or break or prepare a dish.
âThe part that I like is the part that you experiment with,â Foster said. “It won’t be a home run every time.”
Having a drinking palate is also crucial, said Tom Block, director of brewing and distillation technology at Schoolcraft College.
A brewer who also enjoys cooking, Block said he had previously worked with chefs at craft breweries who didn’t have much experience with craft beer. When that happens and a boss asks him for advice, he only says one thing.
âA chef might not be a craft beer drinker. So they’re like, âHey, what beer should I put in this dish? I’m like ‘taste the beer’, “Block said.” That was the first thing I always said to guys: taste the beer. “