Chances are Guinness isn't your go-to for cooking or drinking beer at any other time of year than St. Patrick's Day. But now that the Irish holiday is once again here and we've got stout on the mind, we turned to Guinness Storehouse executive chef Justin O'Connor for the best ways to enjoy the bitter brew. Short answer? All the ways. Long answer? Read on.
"It really cleanses the palate. If you're having seafood, a little drink of the extra stout lifts your palate. It's like readying for the next bite and cleanses the palate," O'Connor said. "After a thick bite of stew, it loosens up the mouth for the next spoonful."
His favorite pairings for the bitter beer, other than classic stews and fish and chips, are raw oysters and blue cheese.
"It's a real connoisseur's experience drinking Guinness with strong cheeses, especially blue," he said. "And the classic is oysters-the delicate, salty flavors are enhanced by the strong roast flavors of Guinness. It's world-famous and a match made in heaven."
As for cooking with the brew, O'Connor suggests substituting Guinness for any recipe that calls for beer.
"When you cook a Guinness, the alcohol tones down to a sweet sugar, but then you have the bitterness of the hops, so it's a sweet and sharp balance. The best of both worlds, but not too overpowering," he said. "When you're cooking with any other beer, the lingering taste just doesn't last with an ale. But Guinness gives it that body. Toward the end of cooking, I add a little bit and it just brings everything back to life."
O'Connor has even recently started experimenting with swapping in Guinness when an Asian-inspired recipe calls for soy sauce.
"Sometimes I need to reduce the Guinness first to bring back the more intense flavor [that soy sauce provides]," he advises.
To get started cooking with Guinness, try any of these traditional and more modern Irish recipes below. And the best part? Drinking the leftovers. Slainte!