Baking with beer is nothing revolutionary, but it’s definitely something that I have seldom experimented with. After a few personal kitchen failures, I began comparing recipes to distinguish where I was going wrong. What turned out was that I overestimated how much beer is actually needed for whatever you’re baking to carry that beer flavor. While it might be called for in some recipes, an entire 12 oz. bottle is not necessary. In fact, recipes typically call for less than half a bottle (read: plenty left to sip on while the bread or brownies are doing their thing in the oven).
I also learned that not all beers are created equal when it comes to baking. Just like most things in the kitchen, there are complimentary flavor profiles that should be taken into consideration. For example, porters and malts enhance chocolate, while IPAs and other hoppy beers are used when you want that very distinct beer flavor.
A few other notes:
- Beer is a natural leavening agent; meaning it helps whatever your baked good is rise high.
- Substituting a liquid for beer works best when it’s replacing water; when using beer in lieu of milk or cream, add oil or an egg yolk to make up for the loss in fat (Yes, beer is fat free).
- When using a beer that’s on the bitter side (hoppy), add a bit more sugar than normal for balance.
- Mix with care. One of my biggest mistakes was over mixing, which created a not very appealing beer brick.