Article

Beer That

Byg Brewski’s Head Chef Sandeep Sadanandan on how cooking can beer can elevate a dish from good, great to something special - one crazy dish at a time.

By Madhulika Dash
For most of us, beer is the very definition of this casual, easy on the palate, happy tippler. It is a mug of joy! But beneath all that frothy cheeriness, beer is a serious master flavorant. In fact, in the world of culinary spirits, beer is one of those amazing challenge that can produce some soul gratifying outcome.

Take the good old beer bread for instance. One of the few popular beer-based dishes of the ancient world, beer breads were so loved that they were often called the “morsel of a good life.”

Romans loved it, Egyptian favoured it as their favourite food showcase and the port cities used it as the single most important element that could forge a deal, friendship and alliances that lasted a good decade. It is said that during the Silk Route era, one of the perks of a general who would protect the trade highway was 40 gallons of beer – and a chef who could make beer bread (and a few things more).

With the turn of the history, the ancient brew did lose some of its charm as a culinary ingredient, but for a few chefs like Chef Sandeep Sadanandan, beer is slowly turning into a fascinating tastemaker – “one that can make gift you flavour wonders when done right, and pay miserably when not.”

The reason, adds the beer aficionado, is unlike wine, beer has a complex personality —with its differing levels of hops, malt, yeast, and other flavor builders—and that complexity only intensifies when cooked. Thus, pairing of beer while holds no set rules like wine, cooking needs a little more intimacy with the brew. TORQUE TRICKS Chef Sadanandan who began working with beer on a cue says, "the years I have worked with IPAs, larger and now fresh beer that our brewery produces, I have realised that it works better when you began taking risk with it – just as you do while drinking it and you realise when and how far you can push the brew to add more flavour layers for you.” But to reach to that level needs a good amount of working, so here’s a few tricks that would help kick start the beer obsession in the kitchen.

Start, adds the chef, “with a simple rule of appearance: light looking beers for lighter cooking like fritters, pancakes; stout and malt-based beers for slightly heavy-duty adventure like a beer bath for sausages, or adding taste to red meat or stewing.”

Beer is a spirit which unlike other alcohol not only burns out but also leaves a ruinous bitter aftertaste thanks to the hops content in the beer. While most beer work better at deglazing (slowly) and as finishing, malt beer or heavy body beer work beautiful when lightly bubbled to add flavour to a dish including a pudding or a chicken dish.”

Lastly, have fun. An opened can is as good as you want to make it.

LET'S GET COOKING
Here we get some of Chef Sadanadan favourite recipe that could put the zing into your cooking – or as he puts it “would beer that”:

ROUCH BEER CHICKEN WINGS WITH SPICY HABANERA CHILLY DIP
 BYG Rauch Beer An in-house made elegant, clean and malty dark lager displaying a smooth, rich smoky malt character with subtle sweetness on the palate, medium bodied and moderate-high carbonation. A perfect combination for spicy dishes, The Rouch Beer elevates the spice levels and brings in balance to the sauce.

GRILLED COLD WATER SCALLOPS WITH ELLA BEER TOSSED WITH LINGUINI PASTA
 BYG ELLA: An amber ale with a moderate nutty and biscuity malt character in balance with the tropical hop flavour, medium bodied, well rounded hop bitterness and moderate carbonation. Ella beer has strong hoppy flavor and adds bitterness into the dish, this is cut down by the pesto sauce and the basil flavor compliments well with hop bitterness.

STOUT AND DATE PUDDING
 Byg Stout: An ale with the emphasis on moderate coffee and chocolate notes from the malt and moderate-low roasty bitterness towards the finish, medium fruitiness and moderate carbonation. All-time favourite, the coffee and chocolate flavors create a unique bond with the dates by helping it plump up.