The Secret Ingredient? Beer

These chefs are breaking out the brewskies—not to chug, but to cook

We all love drinking a good beer. But for the great chefs of the world, the beverage is also a damn fine cooking ingredient. Here are a few places that are using beer in their recipes and creating intoxicating dishes.

Barley’s chef Gene Benzel has your ribs and brews. | Photo by Krystal Ramirez

Barley’s chef Gene Benzel has your ribs and brews. | Photo by Krystal Ramirez

Brewer’s Café

Few things go together as well as beer and barbecue. When Barley’s Casino chef Gene Benzel was putting together his barbecue chicken and ribs, he turned to the casino’s brewmaster, Jeffrey “Bubba” Amas, to help him with the sauce. The pair opted to use Amas’ Black Mountain Beer. Benzel says it complements the flavors they get from their in-house smoker. Black Mountain is a German dunkel lager with a “lighter-bodied mouthfeel,” but it still has robust chocolate and roasted flavors. Those work well with the smoky nature of the barbecue, adding beer flavor components to the dish without letting the meat drown out the beer. If you want to experiment with this beer at your next home barbecue, you can pick up a growler of Black Mountain at either Barley’s or Total Wine & More. Barley’s Casino, 4500 E. Sunset Rd., 702-458-2739,

Rí Rá  Irish Pub

The idea of an Irish pub cooking with Guinness isn’t terribly original, but Rí Rá’s beer and barbecue chicken wings are definitely worth a visit. Chef Rachel Seib says the stout is “not just a gimmick, because it’s Guinness and it’s Irish, but it’s actually the flavor of it that’s good to cook with because it brings out a certain bite.” That bite lends itself well to the sauce she uses on her wings, which has a touch of spice thanks to cumin, paprika and cayenne peppers. And the beer in the sauce infuses itself well into the chicken meat, which literally falls off the bone as you indulge. Mandalay Place, 702-632-7111,

Pub 1842

At Pub 1842, Michael Mina’s head chef Tony Schutz offers pretzels with an addictive cheese, beer and bacon dipping sauce. To complement the American cheese, he uses the Calico Amber Ale from San Diego’s Ballast Point Brewing Co. The chef says he likes it because it resembles an English ale, but is still very “hop forward.” He’s careful to keep the temperature low during the cooking process so as not to burn off the alcohol, but insists it’s family-friendly and you don’t have to worry about catching a buzz from it. To top it off, Schutz adds an egg, perfectly poached in an immersion circulator so the yolk is always wet and runny when you cut into it. MGM Grand, 702-891-3922,

Pub 1842’s pretzel with beer and bacon cheese  | Photo by Krystal Ramirez

Pub 1842’s pretzel with beer and bacon cheese | Photo by Anthony Schulz

Isabela’s Seafood, Tapas & Grill

Beer-battered fish and chips might seem like an English dish because, well, it is. But Beni Valazquez gives it a Latin flair at Isabela’s. To do that, he relies in part on Palma Louca, a pilsner from Brazil. “When we make the batter, we add our seasonings, we add the beer and then we blend it all,” he says. “The batter is really thick, but the flavor of the beer is more intense. Then we take the cod and flour it with our seasoned flour, dip it into the batter and then take off as much batter as possible so you don’t bite into too much of it.” Completing the dish, Valazquez offers a house-made spicy ketchup, mojo tartar sauce and jicama slaw. If you want to try the Palma Louca on its own, you can get it for $5 a bottle during Isabela’s happy hour. 2620 Regatta Dr., 702-925-8333,

Yusho’s Logan Poser ramen. | Photo by Krystal Ramirez

Yusho’s Logan Poser ramen. | Photo by Krystal Ramirez


There’s no shortage of ramen offerings at Yusho. But the one that has consistently garnered the most praise and awards is the Logan Poser variety: tonkotsu broth with pork, egg and Thai chilies. The pork shoulder croquette is braised for 12 hours, comes topped with a house-made beer mustard made from scratch with whole brown and yellow mustard seeds, allspice and beer, then aged for two weeks. The chef says his first choice in beers for this particular dish is Coedo Shiro from Japan. But he often uses backups when availability and price get in the way. So if you want to try this at home, you should also feel free to work with Whitaker or Stella Artois, which are the restaurant’s more reliable go-to brews. Monte Carlo, 702-730-6888,

Looking to incorporate more beer into your weekly meals? Check out The Foodie’s Beer Book: The Art of Pairing and Cooking With Beer for Any Occasion by Brooke & Luther Fedora. $25, Skyhorse, 2014.


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