How beer makes summer condiments and sauces better

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Give hot-weather meals a little kick with help from your favourite lagers, sours, radlers and more

It’s no secret: One of the best parts about summer eating is all those sauces and condiments. We love to slather them, dunk foods into them and lick them off our fingers. But before you reach for your go-to ketchup, barbecue sauce or salad dressing, think about upping the ante this season with a little make-your-own magic.

What’s the secret ingredient? Beer, of course. With 800-plus varieties, The Beer Store’s got you covered. Let’s get started.

  • Marinades

    • Use crisp, flavourful fruity lagers and amber ales to add intense taste to poultry.

    • Beers — especially porters, stouts and brown ales — can help tenderize beef and lamb, yielding extra-juicy results. Try one of these next time you’re prepping a mouth-watering steak.

    • Go with a lime or grapefruit radler as the base for a citrusy marinade for pork chops or tenderloin. It won’t overpower the rich yet delicate taste of the meat.

    • Do the same for seafood. Since shrimp, scallops and fish beg for a squeeze of citrus juice to bring out their delicate flavours, radlers are a solid choice in marinades. Test drive this idea in our Grilled Shrimp Tacos with Smoky Beer Marinade, or branch out and sub halibut cubes for the shrimp.

  • Dips and spreads

    • Try a mix of nutty brown ale and Worcestershire sauce to play up umami flavours, or add an aromatic pale ale or wheat beer to pump up fruity notes.

    • It’s hard to make cheese better, but a hoppy, bitter-edged India pale ale will do the job. Try this combo in our 5-Ingredient Beer & Cheese Dip with tortilla chips, crunchy red peppers or cherry tomatoes, or cubed baguette (hello, quickie fondue!). If you’re looking for a less hoppy but still super-cheesy topper, our Nachos with Lager, Cheddar & Jack Cheese Sauce recipe is just what your chips are crying out for.

    • How about a ranch dip that’s not #basic? Stir in some crisp, refreshing lager, and serve with super-crunchy kettle chips.

  • Sauces

    • Pass on fancy store-bought rib-basting sauces and make your own. Start with a toasty, nutty malt beer — or a honey or red beer with hints of caramel — and then add your preferred blend of ketchup, chili powder, garlic, cayenne pepper, cider vinegar and brown sugar.

    • If you’re not in a recipe-creating mood, try our tried-and-true fave: homemade barbecue sauce laced with Asian seasonings and stout, which offers coffee and chocolate notes.

    • Add a bit of chocolate stout to a quick, tangy mole sauce to slather over grilled chicken and ribs, tamales or even a scoop of vanilla ice cream!

    • We designed our IPA aioli to go with sheet-pan home fries for brunch, but it’s also a knockout on grilled zucchini, asparagus and eggplant.

    • Need a go-to summer sauce for everything from sausages to crudités? Our Spicy German Lager Mustard Sauce is it. Toss some with steamed potatoes for a fresh, ultra-simple take on potato salad.

    • This one’s so easy it should be illegal: Just stir a spoonful of your favourite brew into whatever store-bought sauce you have in the fridge. It’s just that easy to add extra zip.

  • Toppers and sides

    • Cooked to deep-brown perfection, our meltingly tender Caramelized Onions with American Pale Ale go well with, well, everything.

    • Pump up the flavour of corn on the cob by boiling it in beer-infused water. Then garnish it with our Mexican-style mayo-and-cheese topper.

    • Give applesauce a kick with a little malt beer and serve with grilled pork chops.

    • Add a splash of citrusy beer or radler to summer fruit salads to give them a sweet-tart snap.

  • Salad dressings

    • Belgian-style wheat beers are super refreshing alongside summer greens. But they’re even better when they’re part of the dressing. Try our recipe with a beet- or carrot-based salad, too.

    • For a quick Waldorf-inspired salad, toss walnuts and cubed apple with a Dijonnaise-style dressing enhanced with a splash of malt beer. The brew’s caramel, toffee and nutty notes will intensify the flavours of the fruit and nuts.

    • Try a snappy, hoppy everyday pilsner in our Crunchy Snap Pea, Red Cabbage & Pilsner Slaw.

    • Don’t forget to serve a little something alongside. Some of our fave matchups with warm-weather salads are light lagers, tangy saisons and refreshing sour ales.

  • Desserts

    • If you’re thinking chocolate cake, think stout-laced frosting: This brew’s chocolate and espresso flavours enhance anything fudgy.

    • Rather drink your sweets? For javaheads, serve up Stout Affogatos or stir up one of our brew-infused takes on the classic ice-cream float.

    • If you’re enjoying assorted cheeses after a meal, match lighter, fruitier ales or cream ales with mild Fontina or Brie. Serve strong ales, stouts or porters with aged Parmesan or sharp cheddar, and sour beers with goat or blue cheese.

    • Get saucy! Set up a sundae bar featuring our yummy ale-infused caramel sauce. You can also drizzle it over brownies or cake, or serve it as a dip with peach or apple slices.

    • For a hit of sunshiny brightness, serve our Lemon, Poppyseed & Radler Pound Cake, or toss together fresh strawberries and blackberries, and drizzle with a strawberry fruit beer.

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