Recipes with Beer: Tapping into Microbrew Mania

Recipes with Beer: From Entrées to Dessert

The booming microbrewery business has flooded markets with new brands and kitchens with new possibilities; recipes with beer are the new craze. For chef Pano Stathakis, this is a golden opportunity to create recipes that will appeal to America’s transitioning tastes.

When ELYSIAN asked Stathakis to explore recipes with craft beers, he enlisted longtime friends Bill and Sabra Nickas. The Nickas are owners of the nationally noted Sullivan’s Metropolitan Grill in Anderson, South Carolina. Lauded in the Wall Street Journal and Southern Living magazine, the restaurant became the test site where the three gourmet chefs pulled out the stops. In fact, they experimented with appetizers, entrées, and even a dessert using beer.

Award-Winning Recipes with Beer from South Carolina

To start, the Nikas and Stathakis chose ales from an upstart microbrewery in Charleston, South Carolina, that’s quickly building a regional reputation: Cooper River Brewing Company. Founded in 2015 by friends Jamie Martin, Michael Gates and Dustin Pait, Cooper River Brewing has distinguished itself in the exploding microbrewery business thanks to brewmaster Mark Fesche.

In brief, Fesche is a former lawyer who chucked the legal profession long ago and switched to beermaking before beermaking was cool. His expertise (Deschutes Brewery in Bend, Oregon, Siebel Institute of Technology in Chicago — “the Harvard of brewing schools” as Jamie Martin puts it — and more training in Europe) helped Cooper River refine its 14 varieties, all based on traditional European ales.

Of those 14, Stathakis and the Nickas’s worked with six for this beer-pairing project and zeroed in on four. Subsequently, the results, showcased at a tasting in April at Sullivan’s, were delicious.

Wine Bars, Microbreweries, and Craft Beers

“You used to see a lot of wine bars; now you are seeing microbreweries,” he said. “And microbrewers know that you have to have hand-in-hand food and alcohol together. So the chefs are getting it. You’ll start seeing that more. Some microbrews are going be put in the best restaurants. I mean, I see that … it is definitely coming.”

In fact, Sullivan’s has a reputation for its wine list, but owner Bill Nickas has seen the growing interest in craft beers for several years. So he has been adding them to his restaurant’s drink list.

“At first it was like, ‘Whoa,’ because beer, just like wine, has a complexity of flavors,” he said. “Once you do the research and understand the flavors … we start brainstorming, and here we are.”

Now the trio will generously pass on their recipes to our culinarily competent ELYSIAN readers. As times and tastes continue moving in the direction of crafts beers, Stathakis says there will be many more recipes with beer to come.

Check out these recipes with beer and get cooking!

recipes with beer

Appetizer Recipe with Beer: Sweet Vidalia Onion Dip

A cheesy recipe with beer that everyone will love


2 large Vidalia onions

¾ cup mayonnaise

1 tbsp unsalted butter

1 tsp Worcestershire

1 tsp fresh garlic

½ cup of Asiago cheese

2 cups of Gruyere cheese

½ cup Cooper River Brewing Red Ale

½ cup of Panko bread crumbs

Salt and pepper to taste


First, slice onions, add butter to a sauce pan at medium-high heat, and caramelize the onions until soft and golden brown. Then add fresh garlic and sauté for 30 seconds.

After, de-glaze the pan with Worcestershire and beer and reduce until all the liquid is gone. Remove and place in a mixing bowl.

Next, add ¾ of the cheese and mayonnaise, and season with salt and pepper. Mix thoroughly.

Then, spray a 9 x 13 Pyrex with nonstick pan spray. Add mixture. Top with remaining cheese. Finally, finish with Japanese breadcrumbs and bake at 350 degrees for 45 minutes until golden brown and bubbling.

recipes with beer

Dessert Recipe with Beer: Chocolate Caramel Beer Brownies

The best of sweet and salty

For brownie layer:


¾ cup melted butter

1 cup of brown sugar

½ cup of granulated sugar

2 eggs

2 tsp of vanilla extract

2 ¼ cup of all purpose flour

½ tsp of baking soda

Pinch of salt


First, spray an 8 x 8 baking pan. Then, preheat oven to 350 degrees. Next, whisk together the melted butter and sugars, add eggs and vanilla. After, fold in the flour, soda, salt. Then, stir in the chocolate chips. After, spread in prepared pan and bake 25 to 30 minutes. Finally, cool on wire rack.

For caramel layer

1 cup of semi-sweet chocolate chips1 14-oz bag of soft caramels


½ cup Cooper River Brewing IPA

½ cup of heavy cream

2 cups of salted butter snap pretzels


First, combine the beer, cream and caramels in a sauce pan over medium heat. Next, stir until the caramels have been melted completely. Then, cook for 5 to 10 minutes. Finally, spread over the brownies and top with pretzels.


recipes with beer

Entree Recipe with Beer: Orange-Rosemary Glazed Chicken Breast

Copper River beer recipe

For chicken breasts:


Brining liquid

½ cup kosher salt

¼ cup sugar

1 tsp whole black peppercorn

3 bay leaves

2 qt. water

2 cups ice cubes

2 bone-in chicken breasts (airline cut if available)


First, bring all ingredients except ice to boil and allow salt and sugar to dissolve. Then transfer to an ice bath and add ice cubes to brining solution. When completely cooled, cover chicken breasts with brining solution and allow to brine for at least 4 hours, up to overnight in a cooler.

Next, remove chicken from brine and pat dry with paper towels, discard the brining solution.
Season lightly with salt and pepper and drizzle with olive oil over the breast.

Finally, roast in a pre-heated 375-degree (convection) oven until internal temperature reaches 165 degrees Fahrenheit, approximately 10-15 minutes, depending on size of breasts.

NOTE: The same application is used for the chicken wings, except they will cook for 45 minutes in the oven.

Orange-rosemary-honey Glaze


2 cups orange juice

1 cup orange marmalade

2 oz raw honey

1 tbsp minced fresh rosemary

2 tbsp brown sugar

2 tsp chipotle Tabasco

5 oz Cooper River brewing Orange Infused Blonde Ale

Salt and white pepper


First, in a medium saucepan, combine orange juice, beer and orange marmalade. Next, heat slowly on medium-low heat until marmalade is dissolved, stirring frequently.

After, add honey and brown sugar, stir well and continue to reduce liquid at medium heat until liquid begins to thicken (approximately 15 minutes), stirring frequently. Then, add Tabasco, a pinch of salt and white pepper, and fresh rosemary. Finally, stir well and transfer to an ice bath to cool quickly.

These recipes with beer include ales such as:

Golden Ale  Cooper River Brewing’s Golden Ale is patterned after lighter English ales, or what’s called  “blonde ale” in the U.S.  Not too complex or bitter, this ale is noted for a balanced, refreshing flavor.

Orange Infused Blonde Ale  Sliced oranges are added to the fermentation process of this light American blonde ale.

India Pale Ale  This is Cooper River’s take on a West Coast IPA. With a tropical flavor, the citrus-peach aroma derives from the particular hops sourced from Washington state.

Scottish Red Ale  This beer relies on malts over hops in the tradition of Scottish brewing. Cooper River calls it a “malt-forward ale” with an alcoholic aroma and sweet finish.

By Phil Randall
Photographs by Josh Norris


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