Bob Cannon loves to make beer and enjoys cooking, too. Naturally, some beer gets into his food as well as served alongside.
"I do like to cook with beer," said Cannon, who works as a craft beer maker Samuel Adams' research and development brewery in Massachusetts. "I like to cook what's in season, then try to match the flavors."
As a dad who likes beer, Cannon offered to share tips and recipes for potential Father's Day feasts, from breakfast to dessert.
"My mainstay is marinade," said Cannon, who studied professional brewing at UC Davis. "I use this marinade all summer for barbecues. It's so simple."
His recipe: One bottle of Boston Lager, a pinch of salt and a tablespoon of sugar. Put meat and marinade in a sealed plastic bag in the refrigerator overnight.
"It makes steaks so tender and juicy," he said. "The hop notes accentuate the flavor."
For Father's Day, Cannon plans to barbecue a tri-tip - a taste he acquired while in California - in salt, sugar and beer.
He also likes to mix it up.
"There are more than 2,000 flavor compounds in beer," he said. "It's easily as complex as wine. It really opened my eyes to cooking with beer."
Beer is a natural ingredient for barbecue sauces, chili and stews. It keeps burgers juicy. The acid in beer tenderizes meat in braises as well as marinades. For example, Cannon braised a pork loin in cherry ale.
"It created a nice glaze," he said. "I don't usually like fruit beers, but I like this one."
His favorite beer-based recipe is a simple Cajun shrimp: In a frying pan, melt 2 tablespoons butter, add 1 tablespoon chopped garlic and sauté until soft. Add half a bottle of beer ("drink the other half," Cannon suggested). Then, add a pound of shrimp with the shells on.
"Let it simmer just a couple of minutes while stirring, just so the shrimp turn pink," he continued. "Sprinkle on a little Old Bay Seasoning; add some ginger if you like. Then serve it straight from the frying pan with crusty bread. It's heavenly."
Baking with beer produces interesting results; beer helps the cake or bread rise while adding flavor.
Newcastle blogger Jacqueline Arnold, author of "Bake It With Booze," has easy beer bread recipes on her website ( www.bakeitwithbooze.com ) including a cheddar-mustard variation and spiced fig Honeymoon Ale cupcakes.
Chef David Burke developed some innovative recipes using Boston Lager for cupcakes (including the frosting) and potato-chip "mancakes."
"Those David Burke mancakes are excellent, especially topped with maple syrup," Cannon said. "I really liked it."
In his job, Cannon searches for new combinations using classic beer styles.
"We have a broad range of styles," he said. "We made about 50 brews last year. We do every brew with the exception of Boston Lager (which is made at three different breweries)."
Cannon and his colleagues often think about food when developing beers.
"Most of the people who work here are foodies," he said. "Beer is like making bread - it's about water, grain and yeast. Food is definitely part of the beer equation.
"We make some more unusual beers that go great with food," he added. "We have a real nice Triple Belgian that goes well with blue cheese. We have a new one - Grumpy Monk (not yet available outside Boston) - that's spicy with clove notes. It's a perfect pairing with blue cheese."
Sam Adams' summer lineup includes lemon-spiked PorchRocker and crisp Belgian Session, both designed to drink with summer foods. (The lemony summer beers make good marinades, too.)
"We imagine all of the beautiful things that are available during a season," Cannon said. "In Sacramento, you've got produce like nobody else. A lemony summer ale is meant to go with fresh fish; it's great with salmon. The Belgian Session is a little lighter than a typical Belgian. It's good with barbecue."
Cannon switches beers with his seasonal menus.
"I like spring and early summer foods with honey beer or the India Pale Ale 48 Latitude," he said. "Whitewater Belgian has these apricot-citrus notes that's perfect with Tex-Mex, Asian flavors, Cajun. For barbecue, I go with the Scotch Ale.
"That's my favorite thing about making beer - just the way it pairs with so many things," Cannon added.
"The craft market is less than 6 percent of the beer market. Most people think of beer as alcoholic soda pop with a hot dog. But it can be so much more. It complements food quite well."
Chef David Burke, Samuel Adams' official chef partner, developed several recipes using the brewery's flagship Boston Lager. Other beers could be substituted; it's up to the taste of the cook. But a heavier ale or a sweeter hefeweizen would give different results.
Most bottles contain more than 1 cup of beer. What to do with the rest? Drink it, suggests brewer Bob Cannon of Samuel Adams. And don't forget to toast the cook.
- Debbie Arrington