Stewin’ with Stout
Stouts are perfect for winter. When the temperature turns to the single-digits — as they have been as of late — all you want to do is curl up by a fire wrapped in a blanket with one of these high-ABV brews and forget about the world around you.
We know. We do it, too.
The next best thing to drinking a hearty stout is cooking with it, and some of the sharpest minds at the brewery all tend to agree that it’s excellent in a beef stew. And there’s no better stout to use than Concrete Ship.
We asked Head Brewer Brian Hink, Lab Tech Lauren Appleman, and Culinary Ops and Soda Guru JP Thomas their opinions on cooking with stouts.
Why they Work
“Well it all depends on what you’re cooking with,” Brian said. “For hearty stews or desserts, stouts work great with them. They work great in stews because during the extended braising time the lower pH of the beer helps cut through the fat of the beef. If you’re making a chocolate ganache let’s say, the rich malt complexity of a stout really shines through, and being on the roasty/slightly bitter end of the spectrum, the sweetness from the rest of the dessert really adds a nice balance.”
“Dark beers are good to bake with or hearty stews or soups,” JP says. “Stouts have a bitter finish which is not good with most foods, but the nutty chocolate finish that stouts have accent desserts very well. Stews or a rich cheese soup — dishes that have that a high-fat content — help smooth out the finish.”
The Science at Work
“Scientifically, there is something called a Maillard reaction,” Lauren explains. “This is a chemical reaction between sugars and amino acids that result in browning at high temperatures. Maillard reactions in beer occur during malting of barley and sometimes during the kettle portion of brewing. The malt that goes into a stout is kilned at a higher temperature for a longer time, which makes the malt darker with a more chocolate/caramel/roasty character. The Maillard reaction is responsible for the color and flavor of seared or grilled meats as well as a number of other foods.”
So, essentially, since the beer and a roasted beef go through the same chemical process, they end up tasting great together.
And that’s why we’ve always loved this recipe for Irish Stew.
It was originally from some website somewhere, but it’s since been modified from its original version quite a bit. Originally, it included a rather famous stout from St. James Gate in Ireland, but Concrete Ship is so much better.
It is so good. Like… so freakin’ good. It’s perfect to make on a snowed-in day because it takes about three hours and your entire house will smell wonderful. Seriously wonderful.
This makes enough to feed a small army. Or, it will be just enough to feed one person snowed in for about a week. You can cut it in half for a normal family of four.
Irish Russian Stew
- 1/3 cup olive oil
- 2 pounds well-marbled chuck beef stew meat, cut into 1-inch pieces (NOT extra-lean)
- 8 large garlic cloves, minced
- 8 cups (2 pkgs) Emeril’s beef stock
- 32 oz of Concrete Ship, Russian Imperial Stout
- 1 1/3 cup of fine red wine
- 2 cans tomato paste
- 4 teaspoons sugar
- 4 teaspoons dried thyme
- 1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
- 4 bay leaves
- 16 russet potatoes, peeled, cut into 1/2-inch pieces (about 9-10 cups)
- 1 1/2 large onions, chopped
- 8 carrots, peeled and cut into 1/2-inch pieces
- Kosher salt and Pepper
- 3 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley
- Heat olive oil in a heavy large pot over medium-high heat. Lightly salt the beef pieces. Working in batches if necessary, add the beef (do not crowd the pan, or the meat will steam and not brown) and cook, without stirring, until nicely browned on one side, then use tongs to turn the pieces over. Continue to cook in this manner until all sides are browned, about 5 minutes.
- Deglaze the pot with the red wine. Bring to a boil and add garlic, and sauté 1 minute
- Add beef stock, beer, red wine, tomato paste, sugar, thyme, Worcestershire sauce, vegetables, and bay leaves. Stir to combine. Bring mixture to boil. Reduce heat to medium-low, then cover and simmer until vegetables are tender and beef is falling apart — at least 1:40 — stirring occasionally.
- Add salt and pepper to taste. Sprinkle with parsley and serve.
(Can be prepared up to 2 days ahead. Cool slightly. Refrigerate uncovered until cold, then cover and refrigerate. Bring to simmer before serving.)
Definitely, give this one a try and let us know what you think in the comments!