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College Kitchen: Beer-lympics Special

The College Kitchenista brings food and drink together in a boozy baked good, a hops-y hen, and ale-ish appetizers.
Chicken covered in a light beer sauce enhances the flavors of garlic, lemon and a spice rub that coats the dish.
Image by Marisa Wojcik
Chicken covered in a light beer sauce enhances the flavors of garlic, lemon and a spice rub that coats the dish.


College students drink beer like it’s an Olympic sport. Shotgunning a beer? Five points! Drinking warm, flat brew from red plastic cups? Two points! Celeb shot in beer pong? Fifty points! Cooking with beer? Silent stares from the judges …

If we stepped away from the kegs for a moment, we’d realize we can do much more with our favorite malted beverage than chug it. Beer has unique ingredients that make it a major player on the flavor field.

Roasted malted barley adds sweetness. When the barley is roasted for a longer period of time, it gives the brew a darker color. These dark beers give different dishes rich, nutty flavors.

Hops (a grain specific to beer making) add bitterness and intensity to food.

Yeast brings the alcohol and carbon dioxide (aka the fizz). The fizziness makes dishes lighter and fluffier. Usually, air is added to batters or doughs by hand-mixing, which can be exhausting and time-consuming. Using beer eliminates the need for this chore but results in equally airy products.

Beer is the perfect ingredient for the college kitchen. It’s always on hand, relatively cheap and you can drink the leftovers.

Try these recipes to expand your love of the brewskis, and show your mother you acquired more suds skills at school than the ability to drink beer out of a funnel.


Beer Batter


Minnesotans love anything deep-fried on a stick, so why not have a state fair preview in your very own home? Batter up anything from shrimp to candy bars, and have one more “Treat Yo Self” day of summer with this beer-aerated batter. If you’re sticking to the healthier side of the deep-fried spectrum, go for a mix of vegetables.


1/2 head yellow cauliflower

1 carrot

1 onion

1 egg

3/4 cup flour

1 cup light beer

Oil for frying



Wash produce. Then cut into pieces of the same size so they cook at the same rate. Let the veggies dry for about half-an-hour. If they’re wet the batter will turn into a gooey mess instead of a crispy coating.

Mix the egg and beer together, adding flour a little at a time, until a lumpy batter forms. Heat about an 1 1/2 inch of oil in a deep pan. This is the trickiest step. The oil should be hot but not so hot that your battered items cook too quickly. To test the heat, flick a drop of batter into the oil. If the drop floats immediately, the oil is too hot. It should sink first then rise quickly to the surface. Keep adjusting until you get it right.

Coat your veggies in the batter, then drop them directly into the oil. When brown on all sides and floating at the top, they are done. Drain on paper towels, salt and serve for a perfect starter course.


Beer Chicken


In this recipe, the beer keeps the chicken moist while subtly enhancing the stars of this dish — garlic, lemon and spices.


1 pound light or dark chicken with skin

1 cup light beer

1 tablespoon butter

4 cloves garlic

1 lemon

1 teaspoon paprika




Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Rinse and dry your chicken pieces. In a pan, arrange your pieces on a bed of sliced lemon. Sprinkle the chicken with finely minced garlic and spices. Mix melted butter with the beer. Pour half of the butter-beer mixture around the edges of the pan to not disturb the spice rub.

Bake the chicken for 35 to 40 minutes. Pour the rest of the liquid directly on the chicken about halfway through or when the pan gets dry. Serve with a garnish of the cooked lemon.


Beer Cake


Cake is for kids. Beer is not. Make this rich, very grown-up cake with a little help from some dark chocolate and dark beer.


1 cup dark beer

1 stick salted butter

3/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder

1 cup brown sugar

1/2 cup honey

2 eggs

1 tablespoon vanilla extract

2 cups flour

1 tablespoon baking soda

3/4 cup sour cream

1/2 cup dark chocolate chips


Beer Caramel Sauce

1/2 cup cream

1/2 cup sugar

1/2 cup light beer

1 tablespoon butter

1/4 teaspoon vanilla


Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Whisk the eggs, vanilla and sour cream together in a small bowl. In a small sauce pan over low heat, melt the butter in with the beer, cocoa, sugar and honey. Once cool, add the egg mixture. Finally, add the flour and baking soda. Fold in the chocolate chips. Grease and flour a cake pan. Bake for 45 minutes.

For the caramel sauce, heat the sugar and the beer in a large sauce pan until it starts to turn a beautiful light brown. Remove from heat and stir in cream, butter, vanilla and salt. Cool slightly, and pour over the top of the cake. Cut and serve.

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