8 Best Beers for Jerky Marinade

Beers for Jerky Marinade

Whenever there’s a beer to drink, there has to be a perfect beer snack that will go with it. And one of the best pairings for beer is beef jerky.  But do you know that a lot of people also use beer in creating this flavorful snack? Beer is widely used in Jerky marinade, a flavorful liquid mixture used to marinate meat before drying it to make jerky. It is usually made up of a combination of sweet, savory, acidic, and umami-rich ingredients that give the meat delicious flavors and help tenderize it.  

Many use beer in marinating because it can add depth to the flavor of your cooking, and it also contains enzymes that help break down the fibers in your meat to make it more tender. Here, we’ll help you get to know the different types of beers that will go well with your jerky marinade. The kind of beers that will not complement the taste of your marinade will also be discussed. 

What Beers Are Better for Jerky Marinades?

The kind of beer that will work well with your jerky marinade will depend on the flavor profile you want to achieve.  Here are some beer styles that are usually used and can blend well in making jerky marinades: 

1. Samuel Smith’s Nut Brown Ale

This brand of beer is an English brown ale that has a nutty and smooth character that can work well with marinades. The mild maltiness and bitterness of this beer can help enhance the overall flavor of the jerky. 

The malt and caramel-like flavor of brown ales adds a pleasant sweetness to the jerky marinade.  These flavors also contribute to the caramelization of the meat during the drying process, giving a visually appealing jerky with a rich color and glossy finish. 

Brown ales have a mild, malty flavor with hints of caramel and toffee. They can add a rich, slightly sweet taste to the jerky marinade.

2. Bell’s Kalamazoo Stout 

This beer’s dark chocolate and coffee notes can help give a deep and flavorful base for jerky marinade.

Stouts are rich, dark, and often have notes of roasted grains, chocolate, and coffee. They can enhance the overall flavor of the marinade and make the jerky more interesting to your palate.

3. Deschutes Black Butte Porter

This popular American porter is known for its balanced flavors of chocolate, roasted malt, and a touch of hop bitterness.  The complex taste of this beer can help enhance the flavor of jerky marinade. 

Porters have roasted malt flavors like stout. This flavor of porter can contribute a slightly chocolatey or nutty taste to the marinade.

4. Breckenridge Avalanche Amber Ale

This amber ale brand has a balanced blend of caramel and toasty malt flavors.  The taste of this beer can add pleasant sweetness and depth to the jerky marinade. 

Amber ales have a mix of malt sweetness and hop bitterness and a balanced profile. They can add a pleasant depth of flavor to the jerky without overpowering other ingredients.

5. Killian’s Irish Red 

This brand of beer is widely available in the US. It has balanced maltiness and a touch of caramel sweetness that can help enhance the flavor of jerky marinade. 

The moderate maltiness and touch of caramel sweetness of red ales can complement well with the savory flavors of jerky. 

6. Sierra Nevada Pale Ale

Sierra Nevada Pale ale is well known for its balanced hop bitterness with floral and citrus notes.  This beer can add a bright and flavorful element to the jerky marinade. 

Pale ales can add floral or citrus notes and subtle hoppy bitterness to the marinade because it has a hop-forward characteristic and balanced malt base.

7. Stone IPA (India Pale Ale)

This beer brand has a bold hop character and has citrus and piney flavors. This can infuse a robust and distinctive flavor into the marinade. 

IPA can be a good choice if you are looking for a more pronounced hoppy flavor in your jerky. You just have to be careful not to use an overly bitter IPA for it can overpower the other ingredients. 

8. Allagash White

This beer brand is not as widely available as the other brands but is known as wheat beer because of the flavors of orange peel and coriander in it. Using this kind of beer in your marinade can enhance the flavor. 

Light and refreshing wheat beers have a  slightly fruity or citrusy character that can add a subtle and bright flavor to the marinade.  

What Beers to Avoid for Jerky Marinades?

Remember that your goal in using beer in your marinade is to enhance the overall flavor and quality of jerky without overpowering its real flavor.  So the following are the types of beer that you should avoid or be more cautious when using them in jerky marinade:

1. Guinness Bitter Draft

This beer is an English Bitter beer with the taste of a blend of malt and hops with a trace of caramel.  It is a light-bodied beer with a soft, smooth mouthfeel and bitter finish. 

The extremely high bitterness levels of beers, like some double or triple IPAs, can overpower the other flavors in the marinade and make the jerky taste overly bitter.

2. Three Floyds Brewing Co., Zombie Dust

This beer brand is known for its bold and hop character and flavorful profile. It often exudes strong tropical and citrusy notes, which include grapefruit, mango, and orange. 

Heavily flavored beers like this brand or other beers with unusual ingredients have a very strong and dominant flavor that might clash with the other ingredients in the marinade, resulting in a less harmonious taste.

3. Bud Light

This light and watery beer brand has a mild and neutral flavor, making it not a good choice to add to your jerky marinade. 

The low flavor intensity of light or watery beers may not contribute that much to the marinade’s flavor profile and might not stand up well to the drying process.

4. Cascade Brewing

Known for its wide range of sour and barrel-aged beers that have strong and distinct sour flavors. The sourness in this type of beer might not give the desired flavor profile for jerky marinade, for it cannot blend well with the other flavors in it. 

5. Samuel Adams Utopias

This is a limited-release beer produced by Samuel Admas and is known for its very high alcohol content.  It has a complex and rich flavor, but its ABV reaches 25% or even more. 

The finished jerky might have an overly boozed taste because beers with very high alcohol content can excessively tenderize the meat. 

FAQs About the Best Beers for Jerky Marinade

Does the alcohol in beer cook off during the drying process?

Yes, the alcohol in beer will evaporate during the drying process. The alcohol content will decrease significantly as the jerky dries, but the flavors and other components of the beer will be left behind.

Can I combine different types of beer in the marinade?

Yes, you can experiment by mixing different types of beer to create a unique flavor. Just be careful with the different flavors and how they may blend with each other.

Can I marinate the meat for too long in beer?

It is recommended to marinate for a few hours or overnight. Marinating the meat more than what is recommended, especially in highly acidic liquids like beer, can result in overly soft or mushy jerky. 

Will the beer flavor be strong in the finished jerky?

As the meat dries, the flavors will intensify, but they won’t be as pronounced when the meat is marinating. The beer flavor in the finished jerky will be more subtle as compared to the marinade. 

How much beer should I use in the marinade?

Usually, ½ to 1 cup of beer can be used for a standard jerky marinade recipe.  You may also adjust the amount of beer you will use based on your personal taste preference and the recipe you are following. 

Do I need to adjust the amount of salt in the marinade if I’m using beer?

Since beer contains some salt, you may need to adjust the overall salt content in the marinade. To ensure the balance of flavors, you have to taste and adjust the marinade.

Can I use leftover beer for marinade? 

Flat or stale beer may not offer the same benefits as fresh beer. The newly opened beer has carbonation that can help tenderize the meat and add flavor to the overall marinade. 

Rounding up the Best Beers for Jerky Marinade

There you have it: a complete guide to finding the best beer to use for your jerky marinade. Don’t be afraid to experiment to find the perfect beer for your jerky product. You may try making small batches to test the flavor before deciding to make a larger batch of jerky.  Always remember that enhancing the overall flavor and quality of the jerky is your ultimate goal in using beer in your jerky marinade. Cheers to a yummy jerky! 

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