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Beer-based culinary delights for advanced aficionados

Last week, I introduced you to my friend Clarissa, who as a hobby brewer and a qualified Beer Sommelière is a big fan of culinary experiments. She regularly makes her experiments (especially the successful ones) available to the general public on her blog. And her love of beer shines through in her cooking, too. The combination of beer and gourmet cooking fascinates her. Right in line with her commitment to sustainability, her recipes are entirely vegan, and she also incorporates leftovers from brewing – either the beer raw materials themselves or spent grains. In our conversation, she told me which tips and recipes are her favourites – and I’d like to share them with you.

Cooking with beer is (particularly in Bavarian cuisine) often very meat-centred – it’s great in roast-pork gravy, for example. But beer is much more versatile. We’ve already presented some recipes for you here on the blog. Clarissa’s absolute favourite is her chocolate/dark-beer cake: you take some porter or stout, flour, sugar, cocoa powder and vegetable oil, and shortly afterwards this tasty cake is ready to serve. And thanks to the beer it’s also particularly moist and flavoursome. One of Clarissa’s savoury favourites is her jackfruit-dark-beer goulash, where the fibrous structure of the jackfruit replaces the meat and the beer provides the roasty, malty aromas. To return to Bavarian cuisine, this also works with beer for vegans – in Clarissa’s case in the shape of a vegan cheese spread, which also ranks among her favourites when it comes to beer-based culinary delights.

When Clarissa is purchasing the raw materials she needs for brewing, she pays special attention to quality and sustainability. And when you’ve already got such valuable, special raw materials at home – why not cook with them as well? The hobby brewer uses them to create sweet temptations, for instance: “I’ve often caramelised fresh wheat malt like burned malt grains. I then use the caramelised wheat malt grains for desserts”. Soon we can look forward to the culinary utilisation of hops. This is something Clarissa is trying out at the moment – and I’m sure she’ll soon have come up with a new creation. Or perhaps one of you has an idea as well? Then feel free to post a comment!

And as really every (hobby) brewer knows: the young beer is bubbling happily away to itself in the fermenting tub – but what’s left over is several kilos of spent grains. Throwing these away is not an option for Clarissa, of course. “That would be such a waste, there’s still so much goodness in there!” Like many others, she sometimes uses them to bake traditional-type breads, but she’s already created something of her own that she’s rather pleased with, and has published: spent-grain-coconut biscuits. “I see this as one of the best processing methods so far. Because the biscuits can be baked to be very crisp, rather like oatmeal biscuits, the fibres of the spent grains are not in the slightest offputting. And if you add oat flakes, for example, you can also use the same recipe to make a crunchy muesli.” Often, of course, even the recipes do not suffice to completely use up the several kilos of spent-grain residues. Clarissa then gives the rest to feed a friend’s horses. She’s even found a good option for processing the few litres of yeast that she still has available after fermentation, though this time more of a cosmetic one –  namely a face mask: “I mix the harvested beer yeast with healing earth – creating a paste that’s easy to apply and allow to dry”.

So whether it’s cooking with beer, brewing residues or beer raw materials – as Clarissa is proving, everything’s possible. And it’s precisely this versatility that makes beer so special for her: “That you can brew such a huge bandwidth of types, flavours and beer styles with so few ingredients! There are simply so many beer styles, you’ll never finish trying all of them.” Could there be a better ending than this declaration of love? I don’t think so. In this sprit, see you soon!

And there’s some not entirely unimportant, helpful information I must still give you: if you’d like to know more about Clarissa’s recipes, take a look at her blog. And everything to do with beer and brewing is additionally documented on her Instagram profile. She also told me something about her future plans and projects, and one thing I can promise you: it’ll be well worthwhile following her!

Photo: Lena Graef

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