Beersamic is exactly what it sounds like. Beer +
balsamic vinegar = beersamic. It is a delicious, creative spin on balsamic reduction in which the resulting flavors are much more complex, with a unique depth accompanied by elegant maltiness and subtle sweetness.
Chris has been making beersamic at work for many years. He always has it on his menus. Sometimes it is drizzled over the grilled peaches in a summer salad or the roasted beets in a winter one. Sometimes poultry or fish are marinated in it prior to any thermal interventions. Sometimes pounds of Brussels sprouts are tossed in it and then roasted.
Over the years I’ve eaten many of his dishes with beersamic and have always been impressed with the flavors it adds to a wide variety of food. Yet we don’t make it often enough at home.
This is about to change. Beersamic tastes so much richer than your regular store bought balsamic glaze that the 10-15 min that it took Chris to make the small quantity for this post were absolutely justified.
What Exactly is beersamic?
In one word – it is a reduction. This simply means that the volume of a liquid is reduced through evaporation and the flavors are concentrated and thus intensify. In this completely legitimate cooking with beer instance, a predominantly malty beer and balsamic vinegar are simmered until transformed into a thick, glossy, enticingly nostril tickling viscous liquid.
The acidity level of the resulting syrup is lower than that in balsamic vinegar because both the water and the acetic acid evaporate, while the boost in sweetness is due to the extra sugars contributed by the beer. The syrup is very versatile in its uses and can be used to add flavor to both savory and sweet dishes.
How to Make Beersamic at Home
The ratio of beer to balsamic vinegar that Chris recommends and always uses is 1:1. The starting liquid base needs to be reduced by half over medium heat (sometimes a little bit more, depending on the quality of the balsamic vinegar).
Typically the decision of how much of each ingredient to use hinges on how much beersamic you need. If you’ll be using it to drizzle over a party sized platter of bruschetta, you may need about two cups, in which case you’ll start with two cups of beer and an equal amount of balsamic vinegar.
Typically, a small(ish) sauce pan will be sufficient, but if you are making a larger batch choose a wider pan to leverage the increased surface area (faster evaporation, less time needed to reduce to the desired consistency). For this post Chris used a cup of beer and a cup of balsamic and with the resulting one cup of reduction was enough for us to use in two different recipes.
There is an extra thickening step you can employ if you need the beersamic for finishing purposes versus marinating/glazing. When you brush the syrup over vegetables you are roasting or marinating chicken, the naturally occurring consistency of the ingredients reduced by half is perfect. If you however want to drizzle it over grilled veggies or a caprese salad, you’ll need it to be extra thick and sticky. You can achieve that if you reduce the initial liquid base by more than a half or if you thicken the half reduced syrup by adding slurry (arrowroot/cornstarch/potato starch + cold water) and thicken its consistency. See the recipe for precise instructions.
Do not be tempted to thicken the syrup before you have reduced it by half and speed up the process. The taste of your beersamic is contingent on that concentration of flavors.
Beer Styles that work best for Beersamic
The beer style we used for this post was an American brown ale brewed by Avery Brewing Company. Ellie’s Brown Ale is very subtly hopped and loaded with brown sugar like maltiness. It is also not too boozy with ABV 5.5%. Similar profile ales are the best candidates for making beersamic. You’d also want to choose a darker beer so that the final color of your syrup is as dark an mysterious as possible:)
Other well suited styles with low bitterness and malty backbones with toasty, caramel or molasses like notes are:
- amber ales
- amber lagers such as Oktoberfest
- Vienna lager (Chris uses Sam Adams Boston lager currently)
Read this related post to learn How to Make Hop Salt.
Your creativity need not be contained to selecting a craft beer style. It is entirely possible to add even more layers of flavor to beersamic by simply simmering suitable ingredients in the beer and balsamic mixture. If you simmer garlic, shallots, peppercorns, bay leaf or rosemary, orange zest, figs, dates, raisins etc., your reduction will be infused with the corresponding tastes and aromas.
Chris suggests you start with a smaller quantity of the added ingredient and fine tune it to your taste preferences each consecutive time you make beersamic. You will need to strain the reduction through a fine mesh strainer before using it so as to remove the flavoring agent(s) from it. If you are thickening the syrup, do strain it before you begin to add the slurry.
How to Use Beersamic
Any limits to the uses of this delicious reduction can be imposed only by a crisis of imagination. Just in case, here are several tried and true ideas.
- grilled peaches & halloumi cheese summer salad (will publish Chris’ recipe this summer)
- antipasto platters
- tomato, basil and mozzarella bruschetta
- vanilla ice-cream
- pork chops
- grilled fish
- roasted cauliflower ‘steaks’
- you get the idea…
- salmon (here is a recipe for Beersamic Citrus Salmon)
- roasted carrots (here is a recipe)
- roasted sweet potatoes
- roasted romanesco
- roasted beets (like these, just sub for the recipe’s beer glaze)
- and so much more…
Use as an ingredient in vinaigrettes:
- olive oil, garlic and beersamic
- pureed strawberries, vegetable oil and beersamic
- citrus juice, walnut oil and beersamic
- many more…
How about this prosciutto wrapped burrata cheese and greens salad?
- 1 cup beer (brown ale or lager, amber ale or lager)
- 1 cup balsamic vinegar
- 1 tbsp arrowroot or cornstarch + 2 tbsp cold water (mixed for a slurry, to thicken sauce)
- minced garlic, rosemary, minced shallots, peppercorns etc, to infuse flavors in the beersamic reduction
- Combine the beer and balsamic vinegar in a small saucepan.
- Bring to simmer over medium heat. Watch it closely as even a small increase of temperature can cause the beer to foam up and overflow.
- Simmer until reduced by half and thickened (about 12-15 min). Remove from heat and let coo off (it will thicken some more while cooling off).
- *If you want an even thicker consistency after the liquid is reduced by half, add slurry while the pan is still over the heat. Add a bit of the slurry at a time and stir. Keep adding until you are satisfied with the consistency.
- **If you want to infuse the beersamic with extra flavors, add the ingredient before you bring the liquid base to simmer and remove once it has reduced by half. Strain before letting the syrup cool off and (if thickening) before you add any slurry.