Cooking with beer is nothing new, but the trend does seem to be taking flight as of late. I have occasionally cringed to see recipes that use a beer that would be better put to use by drinking it -- say, making an ice cream sauce from Deschutes Abyss. But the recent event that made today's rant inevitable was Beer Advocate's Thanksgiving installment of the Homebrew Chef, which counseled readers to brine their turkeys with 4 (four) 750 ml bottles of Allagash Tripel, and serve it up with cranberry sauce made from an even rarer Deschutes beer than Abyss: The Dissident.
Beer can chicken is one thing, but soaking a turkey in $40-$50 worth of beer which then has to be dumped down the drain is just sick. And no matter what your opinion is on extremely sour American takes on Belgian ales, can you see opening a bottle which is nearly impossible to get hold of right now, and pouring it into cranberry sauce?
Look, if you find that beer adds a flavorful dimension to your cooking, that's great. But suppose a recipe calls for red wine. Are you going to add 2 cups of Châteauneuf-du-Pape to it? No, because it's an insult to a wine of that quality, not to mention a silly waste of money. You'll use a good-enough table wine, and your food won't be any worse for it.
I'm not the first person to inveigh against the evils of cooking with rare beer Here's a year-old blog post from across the pond that gets it about right: "Sometimes, it seems the point is to impress with big beer names. Regardless of the impact it actually has on the dish’s flavour." There are also a couple of quasi-sensible comments about it on the Beer Advocate turkey-brining fiasco mentioned above.
Respect beer: don't cook with the rare stuff!