Lets start by begging for forgiveness.
Yes, the idea of dads and beer is a shameful stereotype. An obvious assumption. A cliché as heinous as, well, assuming that all men like beer.
And yet, we can present evidence. First, beer consumption by gender has remained consistent for years. Gallup numbers show that 55 percent of men who drink prefer beer, while 52 percent of women prefer wine.
Second, Fathers Day is the fourth-highest holiday in beer sales, according to the Nielsen Co. That would be after the Fourth of July, Labor Day and Memorial Day, and a lot higher on the charts than No. 8 the Super Bowl.
Unless theres one guy in Texas buying enough to tilt the whole country, there are a lot of people out there buying beer for the dads.
Still, when we thought about putting together a Fathers Day menu featuring beer, we hesitated. Isnt cooking with beer something for fall and winter?
Thats another stereotype.
When I picture beer as food in summer, I picture standing over the grill with a beer, admitted Sean Lilly Wilson of Fullsteam Brewing in Durham. You could call Wilson the father of the North Carolina craft beer movement: He headed Pop the Cap, the campaign that raised the states limit on alcohol by volume and made the current explosion in brewing possible.
Wilson has held cooking contests with his beers. Last years winner was a sorbet made with his Rocket Science IPA. And hes been brewing smoked beers like Hogwash, his hickory smoked porter. Hes heard of people using it to marinate pork or brisket.
Chad Henderson, head brewer of NoDa Brewing in Charlotte, says cooking with beer is a natural for him his refrigerator is always stuffed with it.
I almost always put beer into everything, especially if Im going to grill. I have access to so much.
Henderson doesnt eat beef, but hell marinate chicken in something robust, like a porter or brown ale, something that gives more caramelizing. Or hell use a hoppy beer to match with something that has spice, like peppers.
Mashing grain lowers the pH, he says, so beer is acidic. But it isnt as acidic as a vinegar-based marinade, so you can still use it on something like fish.
With craft beers so prevalent now, you can get very specific with flavors, whether you want citrus notes for steaming mussels or chocolate stout for a cake.
Just be gentle with the beer so you dont lose its characteristics, says Wilson.
If you have heat too high, like a sauce, the bittering components of the hops can lose its floral and citrus. On a slow simmer, it can be done very well.
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