Barbecuing With Beer: Tips and Recipes from Top Chef Alum, Brian Huskey

Nicholas Gingold / Craft Media Solutions

Beer and barbeque are longtime partners in American culture, and they really come out to shine on summer weekends.

Brian Huskey, alum of Bravo’s Top Chef season 11 and owner of Tackle Box in Newport Beach, California, wants to help home chefs and grilling novices reaching their meat-, cheese- and beer-pairing potential. He teamed up with Four Peaks Brewing brewmaster Andy Ingram, and using Four Peaks’ Kilt Lifter Scottish-style Ale, came up with four beer-boosted recipes that the everyday chef can incorporate into their summer BBQs — from beery apps and condiments to beer-glazed meats, all the way to a beer and chocolate dessert.

“Barbecue and beer is classic pairing,” Huskey told Men’s Journal. For the recipes, he used Four Peaks’ Kilt Lifter because the Scottish-style ale “is very versatile [and] approachable,” he said. “The sweet maltiness and full-bodied caramel notes and roasted barley flavors all made sense [with these recipes].”

If you can’t find this particular beer, Huskey recommends any Scottish-style ale or another dark ale like New Castle. “One thing great about cooking is at the end of the day, it’s very subjective,” he said. “It’s all about your story.”

Folks, do try this at home — and yes, drinking along the way is encouraged—just be careful when you get to the ganache.

Beer + BBQ Recipes from Brian Huskey

Beer Compound Butter

The Kilt Lifter Compound Butter may sound intimidating, but it’s one of the easiest and most versatile recipes on the list. “You don’t want to over reduce the beer; you get more caramel and coffee notes in the reduction process, but at same time there is that fine line [that when crossed] the coffee note turns into a bitter not. That’s what you don’t want.”

Huskey recommends reducing the beer ⅔-¾ at most. “After that is when it gets bitter,” he said.

Huskey’s serving suggestions include on bread, on vegetables like corn or broccolini over a hot grill, and “obviously, it goes great with a nice ribeye.”

What You’ll Need

Yields: 16-oz.

2 12-oz. bottles Four Peaks Brewing Co. Kilt Lifter Scottish-style Ale (recommended, or other Scottish ale)

1 tablespoon (½ oz.) brown sugar

16-oz. of unsalted butter

2 teaspoons (4g) fresh thyme, chopped

2 teaspoons (6g) fresh chives, chopped

1 ½ teaspoons (6g) Maldon sea salt

What to Do

1. In small pot boil beer and brown sugar till volume is reduced by ¾

2. Cool beer reduction

3. Use electric mixer to whip butter

4. Set electric mixer to medium speed and slowly add beer reduction into butter

5. Once incorporated, add thyme, chives and salt

6. Whip until all ingredients are mixed well

7. Spread on your favorite BBQ food!

How to Store It

1. Use parchment / wax paper or plastic wrap to shape butter into logs

2. Store in refrigerator until needed; freeze for a couple months

Beer Cheese Appetizer

Huskey created this Kilt Lifter Beer Cheese using cubed cheddar and raclette, minced garlic, Worcestershire sauce, dijon mustard and a dash of hot sauce, along with Four Peaks’ Kilt Lifter Scottish-style Ale. The result is a creamy, savory cheese with the beer adding some sweet and slightly bitter notes.

What You’ll Need

Yield: approximately 32 oz.

8 oz. mild Cheddar cheese (small cubes)

6 oz. Raclette cheese (small cubes)

2 cloves of garlic, minced

1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce

½ tablespoon dijon mustard

1 dash hot sauce

10 oz. Four Peaks Brewing Co. Kilt Lifter Scottish-style Ale (recommended, or other Scottish ale)

What to Do

1. In a food processor, process both cheeses until fine

2. Add minced garlic to cheese mixture and process

3. In a small sauce pot bring the beer to a simmer (heating the beer until it’s flat)

4. While pulsing the food processor, slowly pour hot beer in

5. Continue to pulse cheese, garlic, and beer mixture until desired consistency is reached

6. Season with mustard, Worcestershire sauce, hot sauce

Serve with whatever foods you desire (vegetables crudite, bread, pretzels, etc.). Cheese may be kept in a fondue pot to ensure temperature is maintained or reheated in a small pot on low heat or in the microwave. Can be frozen airtight for up to a month.

Backyard Burger with Caramelized Kilt Lifter Braised Onions

Top your burgers with sweet and savory Scottish-ale soaked caramelized onions. “I’m actually quite excited to start incorporating caramelized beer onions on a burger as a special [at Tackle Box],” Huskey said.

What You’ll Need

Yield: 6 servings

6 hamburger patties (6-8 oz.)

6 burger buns (desired)

6-12 lettuce leafs

Ketchup (desired)

Garlic aioli (desired)

6 slices aged Cheddar cheese

Salt & pepper (as needed)

Bacon, cooked (optional)

Kilt Lifter Caramelized Onions

4 large yellow onions, sliced / julienne

3 tablespoons canola oil

1 teaspoon brown sugar

2 teaspoons Kosher salt

8 oz. (⅔ 12-oz. bottle) Four Peaks Brewing Co. Kilt Lifter Scottish-style Ale (recommended, or other Scottish ale)

What to Do

1. Bring a large pot to high heat and add oil and onion

2. Stir oil and onions and let cook over high heat for 10-15 minutes to start caramelization

3. Add sugar and salt and lower heat to medium. Cook for 8 minutes, stirring occasionally

4. Open Kilt Lifter beer and pour ⅔ of the bottle (deglaze) into the pot; lower the heat to low

* Drink the remaining ⅓ of the beer or pour the rest in with the onions

5. Cook the onion, oil and beer on low heat until soft and caramelized

This should take at least 40 minutes, however, it’s well worth it!

6. Season burger with salt and pepper and place on a hot grill

7. Cook burger to medium rare / medium with melted cheese

8. Toast bun on grill

9. Dress bottom bun with aioli and top bun with ketchup

10. Add lettuce to bottom bun then add burger

11. On top of burger add generous portion of Kilt Lifter onions

12. Add bacon (optional)

13. Finish with top bun

Molten Chocolate Cake with Kilt Lifter Ganache

Naturally, beer buttered bread and veggies, beer cheese and beer-caramelized onion-topped burgers can only be followed by a chocolate cake that also incorporates beer. For this dessert, Huskey recommends making an ale reduction and folding it into a mixture of melted cream, chocolate, and sugar for an extra-decadent ganache.

Disclaimer: this cake is no easy feat. Start with the beer butter, cheese and onions, and attempt this only if you haven’t gotten too drunk on Scottish ale to successfully flip a cake over. (You will be sipping the beer the whole time, you know.)  

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