How to braise beer brisket plus tips on most suitable beer styles to use.
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Beer Braised Brisket
In this recipe brisket and beer work together harmoniously to create richly flavored tender beef encased in dramatic dark bark.
As much as we like a traditional smoked beef brisket, our beer braised version is not to underestimate. It delivers heaps of flavor, it is much easier to execute and by far less messy.
The ingredients we use are quite simple on their own, but once brought together create a luxurious barbecue sauce like braising liquid which really uplifts the strong beefy flavor of the brisket.
TIP: This beer brisket recipe is for a 4 to 5 lbs flat cut to serve about six people. Should you want to braise a bigger piece consider if you can (1) split it for ease of handling, (2) increase the rest of the ingredients so you will have plenty of braising liquid and (3) select appropriately sized cookware.
What You Will Need to Cook Beer Braised Brisket
Because braising is a combination technique of high dry heat heat and low moist heat you will begin cooking your beer brisket on the stove top and transition to the oven or a crock pot.
To do this you can use any of the following:
- Braiser – the ideal solution – you can both sear and braise the brisket in the same pot.
- Large, deep skillet + roasting pan – start with the skillet then cook low and slow, tightly sealed with foil in the roasting pan.
- Large, deep skillet + large crock pot – start with the skillet then transfer to the crock pot to braise.
The ingredients you will need are:
- Brisket. Use flat brisket with the fat cap only. (Braising flat and point together results in uneven cooking.) Trim excess fat, about 1/4 inch uniform thickness is ideal. The typical flat brisket weighs about 6 to 8 pounds. Divide an 8 pounder in two (you can always parallel cook both pieces) or carve out as much as fits in your braising equipment (hopefully 4-5 pounds) and save the rest for beef brisket stew.
- Dry rub. We use a simple mix of salt, pepper, garlic, onion powder and paprika. Feel free to use your favorite dry rub or mix your own.
- Cooking oil. Vegetable or olive oil to sear the brisket in.
- Onion. Use whatever you have on hand. Red, yellow, sweet onions all work well.
- Garlic. No braising liquid is complete without it.
- Beer. The backbone of the braising liquid – adds roasty, toasty notes. See below for tips on what style to choose (besides a stout).
- Beef stock. The other key component of the braising liquid – deep umami.
- Brown sugar. Balances the savory and acidic ingredients and lends caramel like sweetness.
- Balsamic vinegar. Contributes a sophisticated earthy tanginess.
- Worcestershire sauce. Adds umami depth and tanginess. Alternatively use soy sauce, Maggi liquid seasoning or Bragg’s liquid aminos).
- Bay leaf and thyme. Both are very complementary when beef and beer are concerned.
What Kind of Beer for Brisket
Cooking with craft beer is all about leveraging the brew’s flavor and when it comes to braising brisket the role of beer is to infuse the meat with pleasant roasty flavors. As the moist heat of the braising liquid gently breaks down the connective tissues in the brisket and the collagen that makes it tough transforms into gelatin the robust, roasty maltiness of the beer helps drive the ultimate flavor.
To that end select one of the following:
- porter – typically brewed with roasted malt, our top choice
- stout – typically brewed with some roasted barley (not malted)
- brown ale – also with roasted malt in the grain bill
- German dark lager such as Schwarzbier, dunkel, bock
How to Braise Beef Brisket in Beer
- Dry rub the brisket. Mix our simple dry rub or use your favorite one and apply generously all over the brisket. Cover and refrigerate for at least two hours, ideally overnight or even a bit longer. Bring to room temperature before you start cooking and preheat your oven to 300 F (or set up a slow cooker).
- Sear the brisket. Heat cooking oil in a large skillet or directly in a braiser. Brown the brisket fat cap side down first. Set aside.
- Make the braising liquid. Saute a chopped onion and a couple of smashed garlic cloves. Deglaze with porter ale (or other suitable beer such as stout). Scrape off brown bits, add the rest of the beer and the other braising liquid ingredients.
- Braise. Bring the braising liquid to boil. If using a braiser simply place the brisket in the middle, cover and move to the oven to braise. Otherwise, transfer the braising liquid to a warm roasting pan or slow cooker, place the brisket inside, cover (use foil for a roasting pan) and braise.
- Rest and slice. Once the brisket is tender remove it from the braising liquid and let it rest for about 10 minutes before slicing.
TIP: After the first 2 hours of braising check on the brisket and if needed add a cup of water or beef stock to ensure that there is plenty of moisture to complete the cooking process. The formation of a really dark bark is normal.
How Long to Braise Brisket?
The short answer is – until it’s done.
Brisket is one of the toughest beef cuts and during the braising process its connective tissue breaks down, the collagen that makes it tough slowly melts into gelatin and in result the meat finishes incredibly tender.
You will know that the brisket is done when it is fork tender but still holds its shape, after about 3-3/1/2 hours of braising in the oven or 7-8 hours in a slow cooker.
The exact time depends on the strength of your oven or slow cooker and the size and thickness of the brisket.
Serve Beer Brisket
- Once the brisket has cooled down enough to handle thinly slice it against the grain. Serve warm.
- While the brisket is resting you could skim the fat floating on top of the braising liquid and strain the liquid through a sieve. Simmer it in a small sauce pan until a bit reduced and serve instead of barbecue sauce.
Other Recipes You Might Like
- 4 lbs beef brisket, flat*
- 1/3 cup + 1 tbsp dry rub (use your favorite or mix 3 tbsp kosher salt, 1 tbsp garlic powder, 1 tbsp onion powder, 1 tbsp paprika and 3 tsp black pepper)
- 3 tbsp vegetable or olive oil
- 1 onion, chopped
- 4 cloves garlic, smashed or rough chop
- 12 oz porter
- 2 cups beef broth**
- 1/4 cup dark brown sugar
- 1 tbsp + 1 tsp balsamic vinegar
- 1 tbsp Worcestershire sauce
- 4-5 sprigs thyme
- 2 bay leaves
1. Prepare the dry rub by mixing all the ingredients listed or measure out your favorite dry rub. Generously season the brisket all over, cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 2 hours, ideally overnight or even a bit longer.
2. Bring the seasoned brisket to room temperature (takes about an hour) before you begin cooking. Preheat oven to 300 F or set a slow cooker and warm the bowl.
3. Heat a large skillet or a large braiser over medium-high. Add cooking oil and sear the brisket fat cap side down first. About 5 minutes per side. Set aside and lower the heat.
4. Saute the onion and garlic cloves and deglaze with a bit of porter. Scrape off brown bits from bottom of pan. Add the rest of the porter. Add the brown sugar, balsamic, Worcestershire, thyme, bay leaves and beef stock. Stir and bring to boil.
5. If using a braiser - place the brisket in the boiling liquid, cover and transfer to the oven.
If using a roasting pan transfer the braising liquid to it, place the brisket in it, tightly seal with foil and transfer to the oven.
If using a slow cooker transfer the braising liquid to the bowl, place the brisket in it, cover and cook on low.
6. After about 2 hours check the level of braising liquid (5 hours for slow cooker). Add an extra cup of beef stock or some water if needed. Braise until the meat is very tender when pierced with a fork. Generally about 3 to 3 1/2 hours in the oven and about 7-8 in slow cooker. Adjust time as necessary.
7. When brisket is done remove and let it cool down a bit. Slice against the grain and serve warm.
OPTIONAL: To convert the braising liquid into a delicious barbecue tasting sauce first skim the fat floating on top. Strain through a sieve into a sauce pan and discard the solids. Simmer the liquid for a few minutes until it thickens a bit.
*Do bot braise a flat and point brisket cut as this will result in uneven cooking.
**You may need an additional cup of broth or water to add during braising, depending on how tightly sealed the braising vessel you use is.
Nutrition Information:Yield: 6 Serving Size: 1
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 976Total Fat: 58gSaturated Fat: 22gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 28gCholesterol: 321mgSodium: 478mgCarbohydrates: 12gFiber: 1gSugar: 9gProtein: 89g
The nutritional values above include the braising liquid.