Save Your Leftover Beer For A Hoppy, Boozy Pan Sauce

Cooking with leftover alcohol is a quick way to pep up a variety of dishes, whether you're braising meat for a homemade steak and ale casserole, or adding a pop of flavor to a risotto. But leftover beer can be equally as versatile in the kitchen. And a range of flavors in beer — from hops, barley, and yeast to warm spices or fruit — means you can cook with pretty much any type.

One of the quickest, easiest, and most delicious ways to use leftover beer is to make a pan sauce. The alcohol in beer makes it ideal for deglazing a pan when you've cooked a piece of meat, releasing all the little brown bits from the pan (known as fond), which melt into the sauce to make it extra-tasty.

Whether you've got some leftover lager after a barbecue, or half a bottle of dark ale or stout that needs using up, different beers add rich flavor to pan sauces — whether it's a light creamy sauce or a dark glossy gravy. For beer lovers, it's an easy way to add those much-loved flavors into your favorite everyday meals.

Try different beers to make a variety of flavorful sauces

When it comes to cooking with beer, the huge amount of variety makes it endlessly versatile, with various beers pairing well with different sorts of dishes. Try a pale wheat beer — or a slightly salty German Gose beer with notes of coriander — to make a buttery pan sauce with cream, butter, and a touch of lime zest. It goes perfectly with salmon.

Lager or an IPA can enhance a sauce with chicken stock, mushrooms, onions, garlic, and fresh herbs to go with chicken cutlets. A darker beer or stout, such as Guinness, works especially well with rich, beefy dishes. Try deglazing the pan you've cooked a steak in with stout before whisking in cold butter and herbs for a simple but punchy pan sauce.

Try adding a deep, sweet porter to an onion gravy to go with grilled meat or sausages. Or for something creamier, try a beer cheese sauce to pour over burgers, or as a warm dip for pretzels. Just whisk some lager or IPA into a roux of flour and butter, then add your favorite sharp, shredded cheese to make a thick, rich sauce that's instantly comforting.

Freeze leftover beer for a quick and easy pan sauce

If you've got any leftover beer that you don't want to use right away, then there's no need to throw it out and waste it. Leftover beer can be frozen ready to use for a future sauce, but it's important to follow a few key steps to freeze it safely and effectively.

Whole cans of beer should not be frozen. Liquids expand when frozen, and the pressure on the can of beer can cause an explosion. As with wine, the best way to freeze leftover beer is to pour it into an ice cube tray. Using a container without a lid will mean there is ample space for the liquid to expand as it freezes.

While beer loses its fizz when frozen, this does not matter when it comes to making sauces. And the beer ice cubes do not need to be defrosted before you use them; they can simply be popped in a hot pan where they will melt in the heat and add a burst of rich flavor. Another advantage of using an ice cube tray is that you can have a ready supply of beer cubes, ready-portioned to be used when required; they should last for around three months in the freezer.