How to make a succulent pot roast with dark ale. Tips on the best cuts of beef and styles of beer.
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The affinity between a well chosen brew and beef goes beyond pairing the two to amplify each others flavor base. In our cooking with beer escapades we tend to fall on the combination again and again to create flavor packed, tender meat. A pot roast braised in beer is a perfect example.
Whether a classic Dutch oven pot roast or a crock pot version, cooking beef low and slow in a flavorful beer infused liquid never disappoints – tender texture and amazing flavors are guaranteed.
To demonstrate this recipe we are using rump and porter ale. We also list the most suitable beef cuts and beer styles you can call upon to recreate the dish.
Best Cuts of Beef for Beer Braised Pot Roast
By definition a pot roast is a sizable piece of beef that is first browned and then simmered covered, for prolonged time, in a flavorful liquid, such as beer/and or stock.
During the process the connective tissue breaks down, the collagen that makes the meat tough slowly melts into gelatin and in result the beef finishes juicy and tender.
To that effect what makes a cut of beef perfect for a pot roast is tough meat with well exercised connective tissue.
In fact, the tougher the cut, the better the pot roast will turn out. Select one of the following:
- Rump (also known as bottom round)
- Top round (very similar to rump, but a bit more tender, both come from the same rear part of the cow known as round primal)
- Chuck (versions include chuck eye roast, shoulder roast, clod roast or arm roast)
- Brisket (the most expensive option, cut from the lower chest portion of the animal, under the chuck)
Best Beer for Pot Roast
Our most favorite brew to braise a pot roast with is porter ale. We prefer English style porters (ex. Black Jack Porter by Left Hand Brewing, or Mayflower Porter from Mayflower Brewing), which are typically dominated by a robust, roasty maltiness and have low to no hop aroma.
Other excellent beer styles to use with pot roast are:
- brown ales
- bock or doppelbock dark lager
- Munich dunkel dark lager
- amber lagers such as Marzen or Vienna lager
- Belgian dark ales (such as abbey or dubbels, Flanders red-brown)
- Rump. As one of the leanest cuts of beef it is truly perfect for a beer braise. See section above for more recommendations.
- Flour, salt and pepper. Mixed together to season the beef before browning it. The flour also helps thicken the braising liquid.
- Cooking oil. To sear the beef in.
- Onion. For savory flavor. Even if you make the roast without veggies, you need the onion for flavor.
- Garlic. Same as above. Use garlic powder as replacement.
- Tomato paste. Adds a bit of acidity to balance everything else.
- Beer. We used a robust, sweetish porter (Graham Cracker Porter from Denver Beer Co.) See section above for more ideas.
- Beef stock. Works in combination with the porter to create a rich braising liquid.
- Brown sugar. Boosts the flavor base of the beer and contributes caramel notes.
- Thyme. The perfect herb to use with porter and onions. Reserve a few sprigs for garnish.
- Root vegetables. We used gold potatoes and carrots. Consider parsnips, turnips, various sweet potatoes etc.
Workflow for Pot Roast with Ale
- Sear the beef. Mix together flour, salt and pepper. Dust over the room temperature beef and pat it to coat nicely. Brown on all sides in cooking oil over medium-high heat in Dutch oven.
- Prepare the braising liquid. Lower the heat and temporarily remove the beef. Saute the onions for a couple of minutes. Stir in the tomato paste and garlic and add the porter. Scrape off brown bits from the bottom. Add the beef broth, brown sugar and thyme.
- Bring to boil and transfer to the oven. Place the rump roast back into the pot and surround with the potatoes and carrots. Bring to boil, cover and place in a 275 -300 F oven.
TIP: During braising check on the pot roast from time to time to make sure that there is plenty of moisture. You may need to add a bit of porter or stock or even just water if you notice that the braising liquid reduces significantly.
How Long to Braise a Beer Pot Roast?
The short answer is – until it is fall-apart-tender.
Time will vary based on the specific cut of beef, its size and your oven’s temperature/calibration.
As a general rule of thumb, budget about an hour per pound of beef. The longer you cook it slowly, the better.
Even though per food safety standards beef is done and safe to eat at 145 F, this should not be your guideline. Braise until the beef is tender enough to be easily shredded with a fork.
TIP: If your pot roast is still a little tough after the number of hours you estimated – it simply needs more time. The only way to make it very tender is to continue braising it, low and slow, until the meat easily falls apart. That being said, do not over cook it. Simply continue cooking and check it every 20 minutes until you are satisfied with the results.
Plate It Up
Family Style. To serve as a complete meal, family style:
- First, scoop out the vegetables and transfer them to a serving platter.
- Next, break up the beef into chunks and transfer it next to the veggies.
- Finally spoon the delicious braising liquid left in the Dutch oven over the meat. Garnish with fresh thyme or a bit of chopped parsley.
Because the rump is quite lean you won’t need to skim fat from the braising liquid. It is a precious flavor bomb that will keep the broken up beef moist and will also give it an appetizing, rich gloss.
Tacos, Nachos, Sliders, Sandwiches. This is our preferred method to enjoy the beer braised roast when we cook it only with onions.
- Shred the beef while still in the Dutch oven (smaller than the chunks you serve family style) and let it soak up the delicious braising liquid.
- Transfer to a serving platter, buffet style and let everyone assemble their own taco or sandwich. This presentation is great for low key nachos, tacos or sliders bars.
Other Recipes You Might Like
- 3 lbs beef roast (rump (aka bottom round), top round, chuck or brisket)
- 1 tbsp flour
- salt (to taste, but use generously)
- pepper (to taste, but use generously)
- 2 tbsp cooking oil
- 1 onion, rough chop
- 3 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 tbsp (heaping) tomato paste
- 12 oz porter ale*
- 2 cups beef stock
- 1 tbsp dark brown sugar
- 8 sprigs thyme, leaves picked + more for garnish
- 1 lbs small gold potatoes or red potatoes, cleaned
- 4 carrots, sliced in diagonal chunks
- Bring the beef to room temperature before you handle it.
- Mix flour, salt and pepper and coat the beef all over.
- Preheat the oven to 275-300 F (depending on your oven's calibration).
- Heat a Dutch oven or similar heavy duty oven safe pot with a lid over medium-high heat. Add cooking oil and sear beef on all sides until nicely browned. Remove temporarily and lower the heat to medium.
- Saute the onions briefly, add the tomato paste and minced garlic and give everything a nice stir, cook about 1 minute. Deglaze with some porter and scrape brown bits from the bottom of the pot. Add the rest of the porter, then the beef broth, brown sugar and thyme. Stir.
- Add back the beef and surround with the potatoes and carrots. Bring to boil. Cover and transfer to the oven.
- Check after 2 hours to make sure that there is sufficient liquid remaining. If needed add a bit more ale or stock or water. Continue braising until the beef is very tender** and can easily be broken up with a fork.
* Other suitable styles: brown ale, stout, bock, doppelbock, Munich dunkel, Marzen, Vienna lager (aka Mexican dark lager), Belgian abbey ale, Belgian dubbels, Flanders red-brown.
**Typically you need to budget for an hour per pound of beef. However, depending on the type of beef, size of your roast, and your oven's strength time will vary. If after 3 hours a 3 pound roast is not yet very tender, continue braising until fork tender. Check every 20 minutes.
Nutrition Information:Yield: 6 Serving Size: 1
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 999Total Fat: 51gSaturated Fat: 19gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 26gCholesterol: 299mgSodium: 422mgCarbohydrates: 38gFiber: 4gSugar: 6gProtein: 83g