Avoid using the usual suspects, such as onions and carrots, in your recipe for corned beef if you want to change it up. Beer is the secret to tender, flavorful meat that will impress your dinner guests.
Your recipe for corned beef can be improved by including beer. Patrick’s Day banquet to new heights of deliciousness. But don’t worry, with so many beer flavors and styles to choose from, how do you know which one to use?
In this article, we’ll give you advice on selecting the ideal beer for cooking your corned beef and offer suggestions and hints to make sure your dish is a success. So let’s explore the wonderful world of beer cooking and get ready to raise a pitcher for your new favorite recipe.
What Is Corned Beef?
A traditional Irish dish that has gained popularity all over the world is corned beef. It is a beef brisket that has been “corned,” or salt-cured, meaning that it has been preserved in seasonings such as salt and other ingredients.
Despite the fact that Ireland is well known for its corned beef, it is extremely unlikely to be found on a pub menu there. Think of Irish stew or gammon with cabbage to get an idea of how much the Irish in Dublin prefer their pork, bacon, or lamb. Why do we perceive it as being so Irish in this instance?
The term “corned beef” was actually created by the British in the late 17th century to describe the size of the large salt crystals that were used to cure the beef, which were nearly the size of corn kernels.
Political and economic factors led to the Irish becoming known for the quality of their corned beef; previously, they preferred eating pigs or lamb because they believed beef was too expensive for them.
However, the Cattle Acts of 1663 and 1667 forbade the export of live cattle to England, which led to an oversupply of cattle on the Irish market and a decrease in the price of meat suitable for salting.
Additionally, Ireland’s salt tax was about one-tenth that of England, allowing the Irish to import salts of higher quality at a lower cost. Ireland became a center for corned beef thanks to the increased availability of less expensive meats and those high-quality salts.
Irish immigrants to America quickly began to “corn” their own beef using Jewish butchers’ kosher cuts of brisket. Brisket is a tougher cut of beef, so during the cooking and salting processes, it would become the incredibly flavorful and tender corned beef that everyone is familiar with and loves today.
A Corn Beef Reuben Sandwich is now available in every American Irish bar worth its salt (pardon the pun!).
Beef’s natural myoglobin is transformed into nitroso myoglobin by the nitrates in the curing spices, giving the meat its pink hue. By inhibiting the development of Clostridium botulinum bacteria spores, the nitrates and nitrites also lessen the possibility of fatal botulism during the curing process.
However, nitrates have also recently been linked to cancer in mice, so if nitrates were used in the curing process of your corned beef, it is advised that you thoroughly rinse it before cooking and then pat it dry with some kitchen towel.
There is corned beef available that has been pickled with spices and salts without nitrates. This is frequently referred to as New England corned beef and has a more greyish hue.
What Is the Best Beer for Corned Beef?
Dark beers typically work better when cooking corned beef. Like the old saying goes, red wine goes with beef and other dark meats, white wine goes with chicken and fish.
A beer that can withstand the potent flavors of a brined or pickled brisket of beef will be necessary. Something is required to counteract the strong salty flavor of the cured meat and bring out its sweet flavor.
The cooking liquid is one of the secrets to a delicious corned beef. While most people cook with water or beef broth, adding beer to the recipe can elevate the dish to new heights.
In addition to giving the meat flavor, beer also helps to tenderize it. Beer should be added to the pot when cooking corned beef along with the other ingredients, and the meat should be cooked thoroughly and tenderly for several hours.
If you’re going to cook corned beef with beer, make sure it’s a beer you like. You should pick a beer that you enjoy the taste of because it will flavor the meat and vegetables.
Using a beer that enhances the flavors of the other ingredients in the dish is also crucial. Although any of the beers listed below can be used to prepare corned beef, it’s always a good idea to try various kinds of beer to find your ideal flavor combination.
The Top 6 Beer Styles for Corned Beef
Given that Irish stout originated in Ireland, it makes sense to use it to prepare corned beef. The saltiness of the corned beef pairs well with the deep, rich flavor of an Irish stout.
Additionally, the stout’s bitterness aids in balancing the sweetness of some vegetables that are frequently cooked with corned beef.
Brown ale is another great choice for cooking corned beef. The salty flavors of the corned beef are mitigated by the nutty, caramel flavor of a brown ale.
The beer’s sweetness also helps to counteract any bitterness that may occasionally be present in root vegetables.
A versatile beer, amber ale can be used in a variety of dishes, including the preparation of corned beef.
Once more, the sweetness of an amber ale aids in balancing the corned beef’s saltiness, and the bitterness from hops deepens the flavor.
Because of their distinctive flavor profiles, Belgian ales are a great choice for cooking corned beef.
While the carbonation helps to tenderize the meat, the fruity and spicy notes in Belgian ales can add contrasting flavors to the corned beef’s saltiness.
Corned beef can be prepared using wheat beer, a light and refreshing beer.
Wheat beers’ citrusy flavors go well with the corned beef’s salty and pickled flavors, and the beer’s fizz helps the meat become more tender.
A crisp dry cider like Strongbow or Magners is a good substitute for those who don’t like (God forbid!) beer, despite it appearing to be the odd one out.
It will be much lighter than some of the hearty darker beers because the cider’s slightly sweeter or fruitier flavor complements the salty flavor of the beef.
Our 10 Favorite Beers for Cooking Corned Beef
Stick with Guinness if you want to keep things traditional; its rich, roasted flavors pair beautifully with the corned beef’s more savory flavors.
The resulting sauce is rich, dark, and flavorful.
Harp Lager – Ireland
Compared to a darker beer like a stout, a European pale lager can give your corned beef a much lighter flavor.
A light beer like Harp lager can help cut through the corned beef’s richness and bring out the natural flavors of the meat.
Belhaven Scottish Ale – Scotland
Belhaven is an amber ale with a nutty, biscuit-like flavor that pairs well with corned beef.
Additionally, a Scotch ale-style beer’s moderate levels of carbonation can assist in clearing your palate in between bites of corned beef.
Smithwick’s Red Ale – Ireland
This traditional Irish Red Ale has a distinctive Ruby red hue and a taste that is refreshingly well-balanced thanks to a combination of mild hops, sweet malt, and roasted barley.
The beef’s slightly sweet flavor pairs well with its salty flavor, and the beer’s caramel notes go well with carrots and any other root vegetables you might be using.
Magners Cider – Ireland
Cider pairs well with corned beef for those who don’t like beer. Try a delicious apple-braised corned beef with apple and fennel this fall instead of cabbage and potato if you think corned beef is only for St. Patrick’s Day.
The mild sweetness and fruity flavors of a cider like Magners will complement the beef’s sharp, salty, and pickled flavors.
Deschutes Obsidian Stout – USA
We don’t have to only drink Irish beers because we consider corned beef to be an Irish dish.
Rich chocolate and distinct espresso notes in Obsidian Stout’s flavor make it richer than your typical Guinness, adding to the complexity of the flavors of corned beef and the resulting sweet sauce.
Caffery’s Irish Cream Ale – Ireland
Without making the sauce appear too dark, a straightforward, light-colored beer like Caffrey’s creamy ale can add sweetness to the sauce that goes well with the carrots and other vegetables served.
If you don’t like high-carbonation beers, which frequently make the cabbage taste fizzy, creamy ales like Caffrey’s are a good alternative.
Old Rasputin Russian Imperial Stout – USA
Why not use what many consider to be the finest stout on the planet if you’re feeling extravagant?
You only need one bottle of this flavorful brew for most types of corned beef, and you should mix it with water to avoid overpowering the corned beef’s natural flavors.
Try to cook your cabbage separately because the 5 IBUs of bitterness can frequently make the cabbage taste bitter, even though the strong bitterness can deepen the flavor of the cooking sauce.
Jack’s Abby Smoke & Dagger Black Lager – USA
A smoked Schwarzbier, such as this excellent example from Jack’s Abby, can add the sweetness you need to counteract that salty flavor with just a hint of smoke if you like a little bit of smoke in your corned beef.
Semi-sweet chocolate and coffee add complexity to the flavors.
Kilkenny Irish Cream Ale – Ireland
This is a nitrogenated beer made by the same company that makes Guinness, and the nitrogen has a very fine bead that makes the beer taste smooth.
The low bitterness of this creamy ale won’t overpower the more delicate flavors of the meat, and the sweetness complements the root vegetables that are cooked with the corned beef.
What Beer Is Best for Cooking Brisket?
Similar to cooking corned beef, braising brisket with craft beer involves infusing the meat with a brew’s flavors to give it a delicious roasty flavor.
The roasty maltiness of a beer can help improve flavor as the moist heat of the braising liquid begins to gently break down the connective tissues in the beef and the collagen responsible for its toughness.
Because a brisket won’t be as salty as corned beef, you don’t need to drink sweet beer with it. Low-alcohol beers, however, should be avoided because they might not have much flavor.
The top choices for cooking brisket with beer would be:
- My favorite beer is a porter, which is typically brewed with roasted malt.
- A stout is typically brewed with some roasted but unmalted barley.
- Brown ales can be slightly sweeter but still contain roasted malt in their grain bill.
- Use a German dark lager like Schwarzbier, Dunkel, or Bock to give the brisket a fresh, light flavor.
Does Beer Tenderize Beef?
The best thing about using beer in cooking is that it has tannins and acids that help to tenderize and break down meat while also adding a ton of flavor.
While the tannins transform the collagen into softer gelatin, the acids disintegrate the connective tissues of less expensive cuts of meat. It’s comparable to marinating with citrus, wine, or vinegar.
The typical cooking time for corned beef is over an hour per pound, but using a braising mixture with beer can frequently reduce this to only 45 minutes per pound. Additionally, the beef itself and all the delicious beer in the braising space are included.
What Is the Best Beer for Beef and Cabbage?
Avoid beers that are overly bitter, hoppy, or sweet if you’re making a one-pot beef and cabbage or other root vegetable dish.
If you choose an ale that is too strong in sweetness or bitterness, the vegetables may become overly sweet or bitter. If you select an ale with an excessive amount of assertive hops, they may also impart a disagreeable earthy, almost floral flavor to the beef.
If unsure, stick to a straightforward draught stout or a pale beer, such as a lager or pilsner. On rare occasions, I’ve even been known to use a Coors Light, which, while excellent for tenderizing the meat, won’t have flavors so potent that they overpower the flavors of the corned beef.
When cooking corned beef, be careful not to add the vegetables too early because doing so will cause the vegetables to become mushy.
The Best Beer to Cook Corned Beef – Final thoughts
Finally, a fantastic way to elevate this traditional dish is to cook corned beef with beer added to the cooking liquid.
Brown ale, amber ale, Belgian ale, wheat beer, and Irish stout are all excellent options that can give the dish more complexity and depth of flavor.
Whether you’re cooking corned beef for St. Using beer as an ingredient can help you make a delicious and memorable meal for St. Patrick’s Day or any other occasion. Try experimenting and see which you prefer!.
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