Beer marinated steak is something we highly recommend you try at least once.
Especially if your plans include hanging out in the backyard, grilling, playing corn hole and then sinking your teeth into a juicy, flavorful steak sandwich.
How to Make a Beer Marinade for Steak
Simply whisk together the dry spices of your choice with a flavorful craft beer (see below for suggestions), add any fresh herbs you’d like to use and submerge the steak. Use a gallon plastic bag or an appropriate container and let marinade refrigerated.
Why make beer marinated steak – flavoring vs tenderizing
Beer is used in marinades mostly to flavor the surface of the meat. As to tenderizing the meat, contrary to what many of us assume ( I know I did until a few years ago) it does not do much of that.
The reason is that beer does not penetrate deeper into the meat than the surface, since meat is almost 75% water already. Neither do wine, lemon juice and vinegar for that matter. Actually the high acidity in wine and vinegar can often make the surface of meat even tougher or too mushy (depending on the meat).
The meat denaturation (unwinding of coiled up protein molecules) agent that really penetrates deep is salt. And we all know that a marinade containing salt is in essence a flavored brine, so getting into a whole different aspect of tenderizing meat here. (There was no salt added to my marinade, we salted the steak while and after grilling it.)
More reasons to use beer in marinades
What beer and other liquids in marinades do well besides flavoring is prevent the surface of the meat from excessive drying while on the grill, resulting in a moister meat = juicier beer marinated steak.
Best Beer to Marinate Steak
So keeping in mind that you are after flavoring the surface, when choosing a brew for your beer marinated steak, be sure you go with either
- a flavorful ale such as a stout, porter, brown. If brewed with roasted barley, they can impart coffee like flavors to your marinade.
- a flavorful lager such as Schwarzbier, Doppelbock, Dunkel or Vienna style lager (I used Weldwerks Brewing Co Puesta del Sol Vienna style lager)
Another reason to use beer in marinades for meat that will end up on the grill is that it can prevent the formation of potentially carcinogenic polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAH). These chemical substances are naturally found in charcoal and crude oil and also in cigarette smoke¹ .
Not too long ago, researches found that beer marinades can stop the formation of the harmful substances on the surfaces of meat cooked over high temperatures such as with grilling².
I was planning on writing about Vienna lagers here, but will probably dedicate a whole post to them and give them the attention they deserve. Chris and I are both huge fans and there is just such a cool story about this lager style (including why Mexico is the major brewer of it). Update – the Vienna lager post is live.
Want to know what else besides Vienna lager we used to create this flavorful beer marinated steak sandwich? See below.
- 1. 5 lbs piece flat iron steak
- 1 12 oz Vienna lager substitute with stout, porter, brown, Dunkel, Schwarzbier
- ciabatta bread if you can find baguette shaped or any bread you want
- 1 bunch green onions cleaned
- 1 tsp honey powder
- 1 tsp smoked paprika
- 1 tsp cumin
- 1 tsp garlic powder
- 1 tsp onion powder
- 1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil + more to coat the green onions
- fresh thyme optional
- pinch of salt to flavor steak and onions while grilling or after grilled
- In a glass or plastic container large enough to contain the steak add all the spices, olive oil and beer and mix well.
- Submerge the steak in the marinade and let sit in the fridge for at least an hour, but not much longer than 3 hours.
- Grill using your preferred grilling method and to desired temperature (we recommend medium, internal temp of 145°F ).
- Let rest for 5 min before carving.
- Cut bread in half length wise and then in pieces for individual sandwiches.
- With a small brush coat onions and bread with olive oil and place them on the grill until the onions are nicely charred and tender and the bread gets a good char.
- Slice steak, assemble sandwiches and open a beer.
PS. I have to share something with you about corn hole. If you frequent craft breweries you must have noticed that corn hole games are an almost mandatory fixture. The fact does not escape the attention of toddlers/young kids either.
Over the last few years we’ve visited well over a hundred breweries and on most of the visits our son was with us. In result we’ve been playing many of a brewery game – from board games to giant Jenga. But you know you have been taking your child to too many breweries when after you open a brand new bean bag toss game at home he exclaims “Now our yard is going to be like a real brewery!”.
We were totally lost for words:) and he was so cute saying it.