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Craft Beer BuzzWhat was once called microbrew has now been termed craft beer. Why? Well, the size of the breweries now making craft beer have become larger than the legal definition allows. Also, several microbrew companies now distribute their craft beer nationally and are highly well-known throughout.

So what exactly is craft beer? It is a well-made, crafted, interesting beer that is usually a little more expensive than the large manufactured brands. Often, the companies that produce craft beer are relatively small. However, the term craft beer refers more to the brewer’s commitment to high quality rather than the size of the brewing company.

While drinking craft beer has become somewhat of a hobby for many, others are enjoying the art of brewing their own craft beer at home. You can find homebrewing kits online along with the same ingredients that the American craft brewing industry uses for their own craft beer.

And then there’s the craft beer cooking trend. Because craft beer has a wide array of flavors, it has begun replacing wine for cooking in many homes. The article below from the Honest Cooking online magazine explains.

Food Trend: Cooking With Craft Beer

In the past few years, American Craft Breweries have elevated the idea of beer [from] stereotypical images of frat parties and garage refrigerators, onto a level playing field with fine wines.

By Jackie Dodd

Craft Beer. What the majority of society once saw as no more than Poor Man’s Champagne, has recently become a growing trend amongst the Foodiest of crowds. Beer tastings, food and beer pairings, as well as [a] growing movement of recipes using craft beer have given a strong culinary authentication to Craft Beer.

Craft beer’s wide array of flavors make it an idea candidate for a cooking liquid. Wine has always been seen as a “go to” liquor when cooking, but craft beer provides similar cooking properties with an even larger database of flavors. Below are some tips to aid in using craft beer in your favorite recipes.

Tips for cooking with beer:

  1. Beer is a natural tenderizer. When most people think about cooking with beer, meat based recipes are usually the first to come to mind. Due in no small part the tenderizing that takes place when beer is used in a marinade or as a braising liquid.
  2. Beer is a mild leavening agent. As well as adding a slightly higher “puff” to your baked goods, it also adds a preservatives effect that helps them last a little longer.
  3. Light beers and high hop beers make poor cooking subjects. Because light beer tends to be very light in flavor, and because hops become even more bitter after being cooked, avoid these when cooking.
  4. Cook with quality. Because the flavors in beer intensify as they are cooked, low-quality beers won’t result in high flavor foods. Use a high quality craft beer for the best end result.
  5. When cooking with meat, use the rule “light for white and dark for red.” Of course, there is some room to move around, and exceptions to this rule, this is a good place to start. When cooking light meat such as fish or chicken, use a light colored beer such as a blonde style ale or other low hop pale ales (avoid high-hop ales such as IPAs). Beef pairs well with porters and stouts, especially in soups and stews.

Below is a recipe developed by The Beerones, a blog dedicated to the art of cooking and baking with craft beer.  Exploring  and celebrating the exceptional flavors of well made brews through cooking.  You can view this recipe, as well as many others featuring the use of Craft Beer in cooking and baking at http://thebeeroness.com. 

Ale Steamed Salmon With Belgian Wheat Beer Bearnaise 

4 Salmon Fillets, about 3 oz each

2, 12 oz bottles of Belgian Style Wheat Beer (such as Allagash White)

2 tbs vinegar

1 tbs finely chopped shallots

1/4 tsp white pepper

2 tbs fresh tarragon

1 tbs chervil

1 sprig fresh parsley

4 egg yolks

1/2 tsp salt

2 sticks unsalted butter

Rice or pasta for serving

Preheat oven to 350.

Place a wire rack over a rimmed baking sheet (or roasting pan). Pour one bottle of beer in the bottom of the baking sheet, making sure that the beer does not submerge the wire rack. You want at least 1/2 inch between the beer and the top of the wire rack.

Cover the baking sheet with aluminum foil, making sure to tent the foil over the salmon so that the foil does not touch the fish at all. Secure tightly, in order to trap the steam inside the foil.

Bake for 15-18 minutes or until the salmon flakes easily with a fork.

While the salmon is cooking, make the Béarnaise.

Add ½ cup of the remaining beer, the vinegar, shallots, pepper, tarragon, chervil, and parsley to a pan over medium heat. Allow to simmer and reduce until about 2 tbs of liquid remain, about ten minutes. Pour through a fine mesh strainer to remove the solids, allow to cool.

In a food processor add the 2 tbs of liquid, egg yolks and salt. Melt the butter in a sauce pan until very hot and just starting to bubble. Remove the stopper from the top of the food processor lid. Turn on the food processor, allowing to process for a few seconds before beginning to slowly pour the melted butter into the food processor while it is still running. Allow to process until well combined and frothy, about 3 minutes.

Plate the salmon over rice or pasta, pour about ¼ cup sauce over each plate.

So whether drinking craft beer casually, building a hobby around tastings and brewings, or adding it to your cooking repertoire, the bottom line for a growing craft population is that craft beer is simply downright flavorful with an endless variety to choose from.

Julio’s Liquors in Westborough, Massachusetts, carries a wide selection of craft beer as well as the big-branded beers. We carry the most highly acclaimed regional craft beers as well as the best local microbrewed beer. We also have an extremely knowledgeable staff along with hard to find, limited release, and vintage beers.

Stop by Julio’s Liquors to experience more than the beer, spirits and wines that are typical of most liquor stores. Julio’s is proud to have not only an entire beer shop, but also a wide selection of specialty foods, over 350 types of hot sauces, rubs and marinades, and a smoke shop among other events and items that our customers love.

Are you a fan of craft beer? Are you just dipping your toes into the water? Have you ever brewed your own beer? We and our readers would love to hear about it!