Beer cheese, beer-poached shrimp and 'beer-garitas': Recipes for National Beer Day

Mackensy Lunsford
Southern Kitchen

April 7 marks National Beer Day which, like most food-based holidays, doesn't mean a heck of a lot. If nothing else, it's a decent excuse to knock back a frosty beer or two.

We say make a party of it. With that in mind, we have a few recipes to go with your beer spread. Invite some friends over and have some beer cheese and pretzels with beer mustard and spout some weird but solid beer facts. 

For example, did you know Anchor Liberty Ale was the first American IPA? Now you can't throw a beer cap at a menu without hitting a furiously hopped brew.

Also, beer has been around for quite some time — around 3400 BC, say beer archaeologists, who also have the coolest job ever.

Not a cool job: whoever had to clean up after the ancient Romans, who liked to party pretty hard. Despite everything you learned at your fraternity's toga party, however, Romans actually thought beer was a bit lowbrow to serve at their extravagant gatherings. They preferred wine.

But in modern times, beer is the most commonly consumed alcoholic beverage. But you can cook with it too. Here's how:

Pimento Beer Cheese

Pimento beer cheese

A party staple in Kentucky, beer cheese can either be served as a cold spread or as a warm fondue. For this recipe, we’ve given beer cheese even more of a Southern accent.

For the best results, grate your own cheese from the block instead of buying cheese that’s already shredded. The packaged stuff is coated in a food starch that does not melt as smoothly as freshly grated.

Serves: 6

Total Time: 20 minutes

Ingredients

1 pound sharp cheddar cheese, grated

4 teaspoons cornstarch

1 (12-ounce) bottle beer, preferably a light-bodied ale or lager

1 jar diced pimentos, drained

1 tablespoon Dijon mustard

2 teaspoons Worcestershire sauce

2 teaspoons hot sauce

Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

Instructions

In a medium bowl, toss the cheese with the cornstarch. In a medium saucepan over medium heat, combine the beer, pimentos, mustard and Worcestershire sauce. While whisking, heat until simmering, 5 to 7 minutes. Whisk in the cheese mixture, and continue to whisk until the cheese is melted and smooth. Remove from the heat and whisk in the hot sauce. Season to taste with salt and pepper and serve hot.

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Shrimp in Beer

Beer poached shrimp

We recommend large, fresh sweet shrimp with heads on and lots of French bread for sopping up broth. The longer the shrimp are left in the broth, the more flavor the shellfish will absorb. 

Serves: 8

Total time: 25 minutes

Ingredients

Remoulade Dipping Sauce

1/2 cup finely chopped celery

1/2 cup finely chopped parsley

1/2 cup white vinegar

1/4 cup ketchup

1/4 cup yellow mustard

1/4 cup creole mustard

2 tablespoons paprika

1 teaspoon cayenne

1 teaspoon salt

1/2 bunch green onions, chopped, white and green

1 teaspoon Tabasco, or to taste

2 cloves garlic, very finely chopped

1 1/3 cups canola or vegetable oil

Beer Poached Shrimp

3 quarts cheap beer, more if needed

3 lemons, halved and squeezed, plus more for serving

1 large white onion, coarsely chopped

1/4 cup celery tops

2 tablespoons salt

3 cloves garlic

1 tablespoon red pepper flakes, or to taste

4 to 5 pounds large shrimp, preferably head on, deveined

Instructions

To make the remoulade dipping sauce: In the jar of a blender or bowl of a food processor fitted with the blade attachment, combine the celery, parsley, vinegar, ketchup, mustards, paprika, cayenne, salt, onion, Tabasco and garlic. Pulse to combine. Add oil in a slow steady stream. Pulse until smooth and combined. Sauce can be stored in an air-tight container in the fridge for 2-3 days if not using the same day. 

To make the shrimp: In a large pot over medium heat, bring the beer to a boil. Add lemons, onion, celery, salt, garlic and red pepper flakes. Continue to boil until flavorful, an additional 5 minutes.

Add shrimp to the pot and return to a boil. Cook on high at a rapid boil until shrimp is pink, 3 to 4 minutes. Remove from the heat. Let shrimp rest in cooking liquid for 5 to 10 minutes. Drain shrimp and do not rinse, discard cooking liquid; remove to a tray lined with newspapers.

Serve shrimp with sliced lemons, remoulade dipping sauce, French bread and lots of napkins.

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Beergaritas

Yes, these are margaritas made with beer, which is perfect if you have a lot of beer on hand for a crowd but you're hosting a few people who don't like the taste. You can reduce the tequila to your preference if you'd like a lower-grade drink. To make a frozen beergarita, reduce the total number of beers to two, and combine the limeade concentrate and tequila in a blender with crushed ice.

Serves: 8

Total time: 5 minutes

Ingredients

1 (12-ounce) can frozen limeade concentrate

6 to 12 ounces tequila

3 (12-ounce) Mexican-style beers, such as Corona

Ice

Lime slices for garnish

Instructions

In a pitcher, stir together the limeade and tequila until well-combined. Add the beers. Pour into individual glasses over ice; garnish with lime slices.

Mackensy Lunsford is the food and culture storyteller for USA TODAY Network's South region and the editor of Southern Kitchen.

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Reach me: mlunsford@southernkitchen.com