If you believe that beer is food, then you’ll make space on your kitchen bookshelf for John Holl’s new work, The American Craft Beer Cookbook. It’s a collection of more than 150 recipes from craft breweries, brewpubs, brewers and chefs at beer-centric restaurants around the country. The book by Holl (the editor of All About Beer Magazine) is sure to inspire your culinary exploration of craft beer at home.
Certainly, America is now blessed with the richest, most diverse offering of craft beer made on the planet. Holl (whom I’ve worked with on many projects) has discovered many more restaurants and breweries championing creative cuisine inspired by the flavors of craft beer. So, while there are simple sandwiches, burgers and salads for beginning cooks included in his compilation, there are also more challenging and intriguing recipes. Beer is an occasional ingredient, and Holl includes recipes prepared with wine and distilled spirits as well.
Easy and delicious recipes include the Asparagus Risotto from the Barley Creek Brewing Co.; the Roasted Chipotle Stout Burger from Bolero Snort Brewery; Kilt-Lifter Mac and Cheese from the Pike Brewing Co., Chocolate-Covered Strawberries from Crow Peak Brewing Co., and the Nashville Hot Chicken Sandwich from Yazoo Brewing Co.
More elaborate recipes include the Reuben Salad with Sweet Sauerkraut Dressing; the He’Brew Origin Pomegranate Cheesecake, with the Shmaltz Brewing Co.’s own pomegranate ale used as a syrupy glaze and fresh pomegranate seeds baked into the cheesecake batter; and the Pork Belly Corn Dogs with Truffle Mustard from Dogfish Head.
For this review, I tested three recipes: the Asparagus Risotto, which was perfect, and two other recipes that yielded both tasty yet slightly troublesome results. First up, the Asparagus Risotto was elegant, creamy and rich with Parmesan cheese and butter. It tasted wonderful paired with a sparkling glass of Berliner Weisse, the Hottenroth from the Bruery.
The Pork and Porter Hand Pies are scrumptious, but the crust yielded enough short pastry for only six of the eight promised hand pies, using double crusts of 5 inches diameter and 1/8-inch thickness. There was an elegant sufficiency of filling.
Next, I cooked the Duck Chiles Rellenos, a delectable dish from the Karl Strauss Brewing Co., featuring three subrecipes: ancho chile sauce, roasted duck legs and charred chiles. The entire recipe yields two servings, with 1 1/2 cups sauce left over. After straining the sauce as directed, I wound up with 3 1/2 cups sauce, almost twice the stated yield. I used the leftover sauce as a base for a spicy black bean chili the next day. You could also double the measures for the duck and chile subrecipes to make four servings.
Beyond the recipes, there are resources to help food enthusiasts discover craft beer, from a roundup of festivals, a list of must-visit breweries and suggested road trips (including my hometown of Milwaukee).
I recommend reading Holl’s entire cookbook, marking pages as you go, for there is inspiration for every season of craft beer and cuisine. This is a cookbook you’ll use often and enjoy exploring, glass in hand. You’ll have fun with The American Craft Beer Cookbook!