Since 2003, Metuchen-based journalist John Holl has covered the American beer industry. With a handful of books already under her belt, Holl’s newest addition, The Craft Brewery Cookbook: Recipes to pair with your favorite beerstakes a contemporary look at beer and food as natural partners.
Including two New Jersey breweries – Cape May Brewing (Rio Grande) and Carton Brewing (Atlantic Highlands), both of which manufactured New Jersey Monthly’s list of the best breweries in the state – the book guides readers to pair beers from the best independent breweries in the country with homemade dishes.
Since leaving The American Craft Beer Cookbook in 2013, Holl noted that breweries were diversifying their offerings with 100-calorie beers, low-alcohol beers, and even non-alcoholic beers, which “still taste great”.
“The [new] book reflects these trends,” he says. “I wanted to highlight the strong points of the brewers. I wanted the recipes to reflect that too.
The Craft Brewery Cookbook slated for release on May 10. Readers can purchase the cookbook wherever books are sold, although Holl encourages readers to support their local booksellers when purchasing a copy.
“There are things in the book that you wouldn’t necessarily think of as potential beer pairings,” says Holl. “But that’s kind of the beauty of it, how versatile beer can be.”
What inspired this book?
John Holl: In 2013, when The American Craft Beer Cookbook came out, we were trying to tell the story of beer and food in America through recipes. There was plenty of pub food featured. Since then, the beer industry in America has grown tremendously. I thought it was time to review where things stand.
How is the cookbook organized?
In stores these days, beers are often categorized by style, so the book is organized by style. I thought if anyone was craving an imperial stout or a saison or whatever, they could find recipes for it in the book, rather than looking for dishes that fit your beer preferences. In some cases, beer is an ingredient, which can be a lot of fun, but this book is much more about the pairing.
How did you go about pairing beers and food?
It’s hard to make sure you have a good balance. I wanted versatility in the book and made sure I had vegetarian recipes, breakfast recipes, soups, stews, sandwiches, covering the main food categories and as many different styles of beer as possible. There are so many breweries in the United States doing amazing things. The conversations I had with the brewers and chefs were great fun.
Which New Jersey Breweries Are Featured?
Augie Carton from Carton Brewing and I have been hosting a podcast together for seven years now, “Steal This Beer”. I probably had to include him or he could have been mad at me!
Plus, Cape May Brewing is in there. They do some really fun things with shandies, which are part juice, part beer, really refreshing and great for drinking on the Shore. In the book there is a very good recipe for berry compote with which you can use their beer for a good brunch at home.
Any tips on which flavors pair well with specific beers?
Lagers and pilsners are certainly versatile, but most of the time, savory dishes can accompany them, such as a deviled egg or a traditional fish and chips. The sours are really interesting. Much of this has to do with their level of acidity or acidity. Something like a fish would go well with the sour feature. Smoked foods can pair well with fruity, tart beers.
The book has some great pairings to guide people around, but a lot of the fun is tasting for yourself. There are so many breweries and brewery restaurants. The great adventure is the endless possibilities of pairing. Experimentation is part of the fun and always looking for something that speaks to your palate.
Did you draw inspiration from your old cookbooks?
No. I wanted to start fresh by asking questions, interviewing, and finding out where the beer and food are in America right now. I kind of used the old book as a sort of roadmap, but I like looking to the future. It was kind of fun capturing where we are now. Ten years from now, if I do another cookbook, it will be fun to see where we are then versus where we are now.
What do you hope readers take away from this book?
I hope it will bring the opportunity to get together with friends and family for a good meal, a good drink and a good conversation. We’ve been missing it for a few years. Food brings us together; it sparks conversation and creativity. I hope people will find beers and recipes in this book that speak to them.
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