This Summer, Avoid Cooking With These Types Of Beers

There's just something about the heat and humidity of the summertime that have us reaching for a frosty beer more often than we tend to in other seasons. On long summer afternoons, as the mercury climbs and we might find ourselves at a backyard cookout, neighborhood pool party, or the beach, an icy-cold brew often feels like the perfect sipper for the occasion.

Since many of us tend to keep the fridge stocked with beer throughout the summertime months, this is also a great time of year to experiment with cooking with some of those ales and porters that we already have on hand. Cooking with beer is a great way to add acidity and depth of flavor to many dishes ranging from soup to stew and even to dessert, according to the Food Network — think of classic, heady Irish beef stew featuring a dark, bitter stout, or a surprisingly tasty beer-soaked tiramisu, whose sweetness and creaminess is balanced by a chocolate porter.

Because we're feeling in the mood to cook with beer this summer and wanted some fresh ideas, we checked in with Michael Murdi, founder of the food science website Robust Kitchen, who provided some tips on cooking with beer overall, as well as pairing it with specific summer flavors.

BBQ is an excellent way to incorporate beer into summertime dishes

When we asked Robust Kitchen's Michael Murdi about cooking with beer, he provided a wide range of ideas. "Every beer has its place in the kitchen," he told us. But with summertime cooking specifically, Murdi suggested using that seasonal classic — barbecuing — as a starting point. "If you've never cooked with beer, then barbecue is an awesome place to start," he explained.

Because BBQ sauces lean towards sweetness, adding an intensely flavored beer — like a Stout, IPA, or Porter — is a great way to balance the taste in a preparation such as baby back ribs, Murdi said. However, he made it clear that many styles of beer will simply get drowned out by the strong flavors of barbecue. Murdi recommends avoiding using beers such as Pilsner, Helles Lager, and Kolsch in BBQ dishes, as these lighter, crisper styles will "get smothered by BBQ's rich flavors."

Murdi also cautioned about the willy-nilly use of bitter IPAs, in spite of the popularity of these heavily-hopped beers, warning that their intensity can be "an absolute dish killer." While an IPA might work well incorporated into a strongly-flavored dish such as a stew or a heavily-spiced carrot cake, it will obliterate the more nuanced flavors of delicate summer produce, for example. Murdi's overall advice for cooking with beer? "Start with beers of more subtle character, then progress to beers with higher ABVs and more complexity."