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best beer for chili?

Lady_Tenar Jan 22, 2012 03:38 PM

I've made chili before with red wine (I know some people will think that's sacrilege but it was always delicious!) but never before with beer. It's something I want to try though, for variety. Anyone have any advice on what kind of beer is best to use for chili? I thought of a stout or porter, because I usually add a bit of chocolate to my chili but I wonder if that will be too assertive or too Irish stew-y (although all the different smoked peppers and other seasonings I add aren't exactly evocative of Irish cooking lol.) Thoughts?

  1. h
    hawkeyeui93 Feb 13, 2012 07:24 PM

    I used an unfiltered wheat beer with good success and another that I think would work well is Hoegaarden, which is a Belgian White Ale flavored with coriander ....

    7 Replies
    1. re: hawkeyeui93
      suburban_mom Feb 13, 2012 08:06 PM

      I just made chili today with Shock Top which is also a Belgian White ale with coriander and citrus. It made a really tasty chili.

      1. re: suburban_mom
        paulj Feb 13, 2012 08:45 PM

        I'd be worried that a lightly flavored beer like that would get lost among the stronger flavors of the chili.

        1. re: paulj
          TroyTempest Feb 14, 2012 08:01 AM

          I would hope that it would. I really don't think the citrus notes belong in chili.

          1. re: TroyTempest
            hawkeyeui93 Feb 14, 2012 08:18 AM

            The argument for adding beer is that it is great for adding sugars and the maltier flavors. The sugars aren't precisely 'sweeter' but rather add depth of flavor.

            1. re: hawkeyeui93
              TroyTempest Feb 14, 2012 10:18 AM

              my point was that i wouldn't add a citrus flavored beer (or citrus flavored anything for that matter) to chili.

              1. re: TroyTempest
                hawkeyeui93 Feb 14, 2012 10:24 AM

                Having not tried Shock Top in chili, I have no opinion. With that being said, I could also see it working. After all, a good tequila is peppery and citrus works magic with it.

          2. re: paulj
            hawkeyeui93 Feb 14, 2012 08:10 AM

            I don't do it, but several professional cooks I know swear by it ....

      2. JuniorBalloon Jan 23, 2012 03:47 PM

        I don't have a lot of experience cooking chili with beer, but have been experimenting with a Texas Brisket Chili recipe that calls for a bottle of cheap mexican beer. I couldn't even tell you the brand I used nor could I tell you exactly what it added to teh chili. Would have to make it with and without and haven't bothered.

        When do most of you add the beer? I add it after I've sweated the aromatics. I add the bottle of beer and some apple cider vinegar and let that cook down till it's syrupy and starting to stick to the bottom of the pan. That's when the chilies and meats get added.


        1. porker Jan 23, 2012 03:32 PM

          I don't know anything about cooking w/ beer. However, reading the post title, Cave Creek Chili beer came to mind. Besides the beer component, It'll add some spicy kick.


          1. rob133 Jan 23, 2012 02:02 PM

            I only buy Newcastle Brown for one reason - cook chili with it

            1 Reply
            1. re: rob133
              paulj Jan 23, 2012 03:35 PM

              A brown ale is probably a good choice for this role - enough of the complexity of the dark ales, but not heavily hopped.

            2. monavano Jan 23, 2012 01:56 PM

              I generally use Yeungling Lager for cooking and for ANKB.

              1. g
                GH1618 Jan 23, 2012 10:53 AM

                Negra Modelo

                16 Replies
                1. re: GH1618
                  randyjl Jan 23, 2012 11:35 AM

                  I do not like beer to drink. What is the purpose of beer in chili instead of other liquid?

                  1. re: randyjl
                    sunshine842 Jan 23, 2012 11:38 AM

                    The added flavor and liquid from the beer itself -- and there are lots and lots of flavor compounds that are alcohol-soluble, rather than fat- or water-soluble. Using a little alcohol in your cooking unlocks these flavor compounds -- that's why people add wine, beer, or liquors to dishes while they're cooking.

                    1. re: randyjl
                      GH1618 Jan 23, 2012 11:41 AM

                      Just added flavor. It should be a strong enough flavored beer to add some character, but not something which would dominate it. But if you don't like it, it's certainly not essential. The only essential ingredient in chili is chiles.

                      1. re: GH1618
                        TroyTempest Jan 23, 2012 12:30 PM

                        Hmm. I don't think so. Sure chiles are necessary, but i think the defining spice is cumin. Without Cumin, it really isn't chili.
                        I mean curry has chiles in it, as do plenty of things.

                        1. re: TroyTempest
                          paulj Jan 23, 2012 12:46 PM

                          Cumin is one of the top ingredients in bottled curry powders.

                          The use of cumin does separate Texas style chili from Mexican meat stews that use similar dried chiles (carne con chile colorado). But the mild dried chiles like ancho and New Mexico that form the backbone of chili (at least in Texas) are virtually unknown in India.

                      2. re: randyjl
                        Perilagu Khan Jan 23, 2012 12:31 PM

                        Most competition chili cooks won't put beer in chili because they say it gives the chili a funky scent. Other alcoholic beverages (wine, whisky, tequila, vodka, etc.) are more frequently used. I put zinfandel in one of my chili recipes.

                        1. re: Perilagu Khan
                          sunshine842 Jan 23, 2012 12:36 PM

                          and whisky or tequila would arguably be more "authentic" (whatever authentic means...) -- only because I have a hard time imagining (in the Western that plays in my mind) Cookie making a big pot of Texas red for the cowpokes and tipping a bottle of wine into it....

                          1. re: sunshine842
                            Perilagu Khan Jan 23, 2012 02:26 PM

                            The earliest chili recipes were extremely basic. Not much more than beef and peppers. I figure Cookie and the pokes would've poured that whisky and tequila directly into their open mouths long before it got the chance to make it into the chili pot. ;)

                            1. re: Perilagu Khan
                              sunshine842 Jan 23, 2012 03:22 PM


                          2. re: Perilagu Khan
                            Lady_Tenar Jan 23, 2012 12:41 PM

                            I'm not cooking for a competition, I'm cooking for myself and I just want to try different things. As I said, I frequently use wine for chili, and I've used whiskey too (and a smoky, peety scotch is nice too!). To me, one of the best things about chili is that there are so many "right" ways to make it. As far as I know, there isn't a single ingredient that can possibly be used for chili--ground meat, tomatoes, beans, wine, beer, etc.--that somebody somewhere doesn't howl objection to. The thing, is I like all those things and I think they can all be successfully incorporated into chili. I've made it a lot of different ways and I just want to try another one.

                            1. re: Lady_Tenar
                              sunshine842 Jan 23, 2012 12:43 PM

                              somebody once said that there are as many chili recipes as there are chili cooks...and I think that still underestimates the number of recipes out there.

                              Use what you like and what tastes good to you...and you'll end up with chili that YOU like (which is the objective, I think....)

                              1. re: Lady_Tenar
                                Perilagu Khan Jan 23, 2012 02:24 PM

                                Who's howling?

                              2. re: Perilagu Khan
                                coll Jan 23, 2012 12:53 PM

                                Besides the beer, I do put a nice shot of tequila too. That goes straight into the pot.

                                1. re: coll
                                  sunshine842 Jan 23, 2012 01:49 PM

                                  the one on the stove, or the one under your belt? :)

                                  (no offense intended -- but couldn't resist a straight line)

                                  1. re: sunshine842
                                    coll Jan 23, 2012 01:53 PM

                                    Both, to tell the truth. Gotta make sure it didn't go bad!

                                    1. re: coll
                                      sunshine842 Jan 23, 2012 01:56 PM

                                      I admire your dedication to quality control :D

                          3. k
                            katecm Jan 23, 2012 10:05 AM

                            If I have it handy, I stick with Texas and use Shiner Bock - which is also lovely to drink with your chili, as well!

                            1. b
                              benbenberi Jan 23, 2012 07:18 AM

                              I usually just add whatever beer I have on hand the day I'm cooking the chili. Made a turkey chili this weekend with some Long Trail Ale (an amber ale) - very tasty, adds a subtle background to the chili without competing/overpowering the other components.

                              1. j
                                Jzone Jan 23, 2012 12:51 AM

                                I usually use smithwicks for cooking anytime I add beer to a recipe. It works amazing in beer cheddar soup and chili's I make.

                                1. sunshine842 Jan 23, 2012 12:47 AM

                                  I've always made it with whatever pilsner I had on hand -- depending on my location, that's ranged from Bud or PBR to Warsteiner to Paulaner to the generic cheap-ass pils I keep on hand for boiling sausages and making chili.

                                  There are so many other things going on in chili, both flavor-wise and texture-wise, that I agree with you that a stout or porter would just add more noise to the commotion than you'd really want.

                                  1. paulj Jan 22, 2012 07:07 PM

                                    Use what ever the chuck wagon cook had on hand (none?).

                                    What role should the hops bitterness have, or not have?

                                    1 Reply
                                    1. re: paulj
                                      coll Jan 23, 2012 03:53 AM

                                      I always put either cocoa or coffee in mine too, along with the beer....I'm not so much into pure heat. Not that it's not blistering spicy anyway. The beer I use to pressure cook the meat before adding to the pot. If it was just all hot peppers, don't know if it would be as well received, even by chiliheads, too one dimensional.

                                    2. coll Jan 22, 2012 03:41 PM

                                      Just made a pot o' chili myself, and I always use Modelo Negra. I always cook with dark beer and this is not only Mexican and dark, but cheap (ish) too.

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