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When cooking with beer you can bet you'll be using a tough cut of meat and that it will be cooked well done. Tougher cuts, such as the legs and thighs of game birds, small game and the leg cuts of venison require low temperatures, added moisture and long cooking times. Most cuts of meat from bears, mountain lions, mountain goats and bighorn sheep are going to be tough, so you should use moist cooking methods such as braising, stewing, fricasseeing, cooking in a Crockpot, pressure-cooking or roasting with liquids.

Originally printed in the North American Hunter August 2002

Originally printed in North American Hunter, August 2002

This brings us to beer. Remember that when cooking with beer you need an assistant chef and twice the amount of beer on hand than what the recipe calls for because the chefs need to taste the beer  to ensure that it has the necessary flavor. Your assistant chef can relieve you if your palate becomes altered by tasting too much beer.

Here are some examples of how you can use beer in your recipes. Sauerbraten is prepared by marinating a tough cut of meat from the hind leg of a deer in red wine. For an interesting twist to this international dish, substitute a lager or ale for the red wine.

It's common to use beer batter on shrimp, but how about using it to deep-fry pheasant breast strips or rabbit loin? You can even add Cajun spices to the beer batter or dredge the breast strips or rabbit loin in Cajun spices and flour before dipping it into the batter. If you want a crispier beer batter, substitute one-third of the four with cornstarch.

Beer and cheese soup is great to enjoy in front of the fireplace during a cold, snowy winter day. The next time you're barbecuing a wild boar loin, make your barbecue sauce with beer instead of vinegar. Moose-beer chili is fabulous, as is corned elk round cooked in beer. 

Another favorite is beer bread, and there are many Irish recipes that utilize beer in puddings, breads and stews. To make the process of baking beer bread easier, you can purchase, "Beer Bread in a Bottle" (Avon Cafe, Hwy 12, Avon, MT 5971), which requires you to just add beer! Beer bread is great for dipping into a bacon, deer and cheese fondue.

In hunting camps, I've prepared everything from braised elk shanks in beer with bacon and caramelized onions to steamed shrimp and lobster in beer. We've also had boiled hot dogs or venison kielbasa in beer.

Other key points to remember"

  Beer-Bear Pot Roast
Cooking Method: Cut bacon into six pieces. Remove fat from outer surface and from between seams of muscles of the bear meat. Place bear meat into Crockpot along with bacon: add seasoning, sugar, beer and A-1 sauce. Cover and let cook for five hours, checking periodically to make sure there's still liquid remaining. Add vegetables and bay leaves, cover and let cook for another hour. The meat should be tender, flavorful and the liquid dark in color and robust in flavor. For a less stout flavor, substitute 1 pint of beef broth for one bottle of lager for Guinness. Serve dish with sweet butter and pumpernickel bread.
 Beer Batter
Cooking Method: Combine dry ingredients, add beer, mix and let sit for 15 minutes. Dredge meat in seasoned flour, shake off excess flour, dredge in a beer batter and deep-fry in 350-degree frying oil. This can be done in a turkey deep-fryer. When done, strain the fat, cool and store in a refrigerator and reuse.
If you want a more flavorful batter, add more spices. If you want a lighter batter, whip three egg whites to stiff peaks and fold into the batter.
 Originally printed in North American Hunter, August 2002. Visit for more recipes and to order my books, "The Art Of Cooking Venison", "The Art of Barbecuing and Grilling Game"  and the dvd, "The Art of Backyard Butchering".