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best beer for chili?

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?

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  1. 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.

    1. 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

        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. 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. 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. 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. 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. re: GH1618

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

                  1. re: randyjl

                    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

                      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

                        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

                          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

                        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

                          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

                            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. ;)

                          2. re: Perilagu Khan

                            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

                              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: Perilagu Khan

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

                                1. re: coll

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

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

                                  1. re: sunshine842

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

                                    1. re: coll

                                      I admire your dedication to quality control :D

                          3. I generally use Yeungling Lager for cooking and for ANKB.

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

                              1 Reply
                              1. re: rob133

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

                              2. 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. 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. 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

                                      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

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

                                        1. re: paulj

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

                                          1. re: TroyTempest

                                            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

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

                                              1. re: TroyTempest

                                                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

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