Whether served with a creamy head and a decorative shamrock or used in sweet and savoury recipes, this dark and malty beer is worth raising a toast to.
Thanks to ubiquitous Guinness, stout is primarily associated with Ireland. However, this full-flavoured ale is made the world over, with new craft breweries taking the traditional blueprint and running with it to create some modern, inventive versions.
Whichever stout you choose – and there are many to choose from, with styles such as oyster, imperial and milk – expect a roasted flavour, with typical notes being chocolate and coffee. These bold characteristics mean not only does stout pair perfectly with richly-flavoured sweet and savoury food, it can also be used for cooking.
Our top 10 ways with stout
With the calorie count of one Guinness rumoured to be tantamount to a full roast dinner (don’t panic, this isn’t actually true - it’s more like 210 calories a pint, while our one-pan roast dinner clocks in at 845) it goes without saying that stout makes for some indulgence in the kitchen. When added to a chocolate cake batter the result is an extremely moist cake with a distinct, but not overbearing, beery tang. Top with contrasting frosting as a nod to stout’s traditional white head.
Like all beer, the sugar content of stout is high. This means it can be reduced to a syrup, ideal for making into a glaze for meat. We use our Guinness and honey glaze on a loin of pork, but the concoction would also work on pork or beef ribs too. Combine it with the meat juices and a little wine to make a foreboding gravy like no other.
There are few better ways to use up a few glugs of stout than in a steak and ale pie. But if you fancy venturing beyond the comfort food realm, pick up some more unusual cuts of steak and experiment with cooking methods. Try using stout as a marinade for beef cheeks, or to deglaze the pan after browning shin steaks. Then, slow cook the meat in the oven with stock, herbs and flavourings – horseradish and mustard work well. The end result will be worth the wait – a glossy sauce, buttersoft meat and bags of flavour.
Soaking dried fruit in a liquid is a clever way to plump it up and unlock the flavour. Fruit juice, wine or even plain water work well, but if you want a deep base for a pudding, add some stout along with citrus peel and apples. You can use this mixture in a traditional basin pudding, or sprinkle the boozy fruit into bread and butter pudding, use for mincemeat, or in currant buns.
The traditional method of adding oatmeal to stout gives it a smooth texture and rounded finish. Try to source an authentic Scottish version and use it in this rich beef stew. If you’re keen to discover new stouts, it's worth exploring milk stouts, too. The lactose gives the beer a delicious sweet flavour and creamy body, making it ideal for use in cake recipes.
A traditional rarebit topping is made from cheese, mustard and beer, combined to make a spreadable mixture to add to bread, before being grilled until golden. This umami-rich spread can be used to top large, flat mushrooms or fish as well.
The not-so-secret technique of using something bubbly to achieve a light and crunchy batter usually involves soda water, lager or pale ale, but a lightly carbonated stout can also be used. Try it in a batter for fish such as pollack, for onion rings or even oysters.
Throw a new slant on a French classic by replacing white wine with dark beer to give this classic bistro soup a heady kick. Replace the Gruyère toasts with herby Lincolnshire poacher croutons.
This recipe doesn’t require cooking, but we couldn’t leave out the ultimate stout cocktail. If you have your mixologist head on, try layering the Champagne and stout for a two-tone finish. Pour the Champagne to fill half the glass and then use a downturned teaspoon to slowly pour the stout onto the surface – the difference in viscosity should allow the stout to ‘float’. You’ll need to keep a steady hand though…
Go classic with a beef stew. This version contains a whole can of Guinness, but you can adjust the liquid levels to taste – add more stock if you don’t want such a boozy hit, although the alcohol evaporates during cooking. Venison would work just as well in this carrot-filled casserole.
Do you ever cook with stout or any other beer? We’d love to hear your recipe suggestions…