When it comes to cooking with beer, everyone seems to have a different preference for the level of beer flavor in the final product. Some people love to be punched in the mouth with as much bold beer flavor as possible, and some people just like the rebellious idea of adding a pint to their pot more than the actual taste.
While it’s hard to know the exact level of beer flavor in the end result of your beer cooking adventure, a little number called the IBU is a great place to start. IBU stands for International Bitterness Units. It measures a beer’s bitterness, which correlates to the amount of hops added to the beer. The higher the number, the more bitter the beer. For instance, a Bud Light has an IBU rating of about 6, while a Stone Brewing Co. IPA is rated at 77.
As you can probably guess, the higher a beer’s IBU rating, the more beer flavor will come across in your final dish, giving you some control in the matter. If you want a bigger beer flavor, grab an IPA with a higher IBU rating. If you want a whisper of beer, grab a lighter beer with a lower IBU rating. It’s your call.
Whatever your preference, a big bowl of creamy cheesy pasta that can be made in less than 30 minutes is a great place to start experimenting.
Stovetop Beer Mac and Cheese
- 2 cups elbow macaroni
- ½ cup sour cream
- 1 large egg
- ⅔ cup pale ale beer
- 1 Tbsp cornstarch
- 4 Tbsp unsalted butter
- 2 Tbsp flour
- 8 oz cheddar cheese, fresh grated (pre-shredded has additives that prevents it from melting properly)
- ½ tsp black pepper
- ½ tsp smoked paprika
- pinch cayenne pepper
- ¼ tsp salt
Cook the macaroni in a pot of lightly salted water until almost al dente (about 3 minutes before package directions state). Drain and set aside.
In a small bowl, stir together the sour cream, egg, beer, and cornstarch until well combined. Set aside.
Melt the butter in a large pot over medium heat. Sprinkle with flour and whisk until well combined. Add the beer mixture and bring to a mild simmer (do not boil). Add the cheese ¼ cup at a time, stirring until well combined between additions.
Once all the cheese has been added, add the noodles into the sauce and simmer until sauce thickens and the noodles are cooked through, about 5 minutes. Stir in black pepper, smoked paprika, cayenne and salt.