The rich flavor of beer can intensify during cooking, giving the usual run-of-the-mill recipes a hearty flavor. Cooking isn’t just for wine anymore! Your favorite Beer of the Month Clubencourages you to start by pairing the flavor of a favorite beer with the flavors in one of your go-to recipes. A hint: Heavier beers pair well with heartier dishes; lighter brews are perfect with more delicate tastes. Read on!

Citrus-like Belgian-style wheat beer has a sweetness that’s perfect when used as a glaze. It’s an able partner for smoked meats, pork, seafood and even chicken dishes. The brew’s orange fruit flavors and nuances of coriander can make a huge taste difference when used instead of water-based glazes made with sugars, syrups or honey. Why not substitute beer the next time you cook kielbasa or smoked sausage? (Any white Belgian, white ale or even witbier will work well.)

Stouts, when used as a marinade or basting liquid for beef, not only tenderize the cut of meat, but may impart a bold coffee taste. Next time you break out the slow cooker, reach for stout instead of water for the liquid in the recipe. And stouts, with their varied flavors ranging from velvet sweetness to bold sharpness, make awesome chili and barbecue sauces.

Want to soften up a batter so the comforting flavors of cheese and corn shine through when deep-fried? For that you’d want to use a light lager. Bubbly beer makes a batter that is lacy and thinly crisp, and doesn’t compete with the other ingredients. The high level of carbonation makes a great addition in piping pots of chili, or for cooking sausages or links.

Another winner is using brown ale as a braising liquid when slow cooking winter soups and stews. You’ll find the meat and veggies super-tender, and the old “liquid” in the pot will be a velvet sauce with flavors ranging from caramel to molasses.

Whether you use beer as a component in a marinade, a braising liquid, a batter or a glaze, the results can be amazing. Experiment!

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