Coast Cooking

Beer is suddenly upscale and perfect for food pairings

Beer battered tempura shrimp and simple and delicious.
Beer battered tempura shrimp and simple and delicious. Special to the Sun Herald

The craft beer industry has seen a recent surge in popularity, and people are seeing beer as a more sophisticated drink in general.

It wasn’t too long ago that beer was viewed as a blue-collar beverage (at least in the South) or at best a drink reserved for backyard barbeques.

How things have changed.

There are thousands of craft breweries in the United States today, and you might be surprised to know there are more than a dozen in Mississippi and their number is growing.

With the laws governing brew pubs and the consumption of beer on premises about to change in July, expect the avalanche to speed up.

Craft beer is a complicated subject, and if you want to learn more about how to enjoy beer or the multitude of types and styles, I suggest you talk to local expert Scott Hixson, owner of Hops and Growlers, 14100 Cook Road, Biloxi.

Beer isn’t just a cold drink on a hot day anymore. Pairing food and beer is now almost as popular as pairing food and wine.

The basics are simple: pair food and beer by “matching strength to strength” (as suggested by the Brewers Association).

What that means is to pair strong beers with strongly flavored foods and vice versa. The Brewers Association also suggests that you find similarities in the food and beer, “the nutty flavors of an English-style brown ale and a handmade cheddar cheese.”

There are thousands of pairings you might want to try, but here are a few basics. Try an IPA with a spicy curry, a classic German Plisner with a bratwurst and spicy mustard, or even a pale ale with a good burger.

But cooking with beer is also a great option. I include here two simple recipes you might like.

Turnip greens and beer

1 bunch stemmed turnip greens

2/3 cup chopped ham

1-2 cups chicken stock

1-2 cups Lazy Magnolia Southern Pecan Nut Brown Ale

Red pepper flakes

Brown the ham in oil, add the beer and water, season with red pepper flakes and simmer for 30 minutes. Add the greens, bring back to a low simmer, cover and cook until tender, about 20 minutes.

Beer-battered shrimp

1 pound large, shelled shrimp

1 package tempura powder

1 can Yuengling beer

Tony Chachere’s Creole seasoning

Fill a deep pot only half full of oil, heat to 375 degrees. Place the tempera in a large bowl, whisk in the beer slowly, until you have a very thick, but smooth batter. Season the shrimp aggressively, then toss in the batter. Remove the shrimp, shake off excess batter and fry in small batches, just until well-browned. Please do not overcook, max 2 minutes. As with all fried foods, serve immediately.