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How to Cook with a Pale Ale, Wherever You Are

Make your next meal as adventurous as Sierra Nevada Pale Ale: try this easy seafood recipe that can be made at home, or in the great outdoors.

Faye Kahn
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No matter what your routine has looked like this past year, there’s a good chance that by now, you’re ready to break free. The pull of adventure and curiosity is strong after so many months indoors, and trying something new — whether in the kitchen or out on the trails — is a sure way to invite more excitement into your life.

Either way, no beer pairs better with this spirit of discovery than Sierra Nevada Pale Ale. The pioneering brew sparked the American craft beer movement when it launched more than 40 years ago, and today, it’s still beloved around the world.

The story of Sierra Nevada Pale Ale starts with the Cascade hop, a varietal bursting with lush aromas of grapefruit and pine. Named after the mountain range in the western US and Canada, the Cascade hop inspired the now-classic brew and kickstarted a whole industry of scrappy, upstart breweries across the country. The beer also helped popularize the bold, hoppy taste so many of us enjoy today.

And while we’re used to experiencing these flavors in a cold glass, they can also add depth and dimension to cooking. Sierra Nevada Pale Ale is an especially great choice for culinary adventures; the brewery’s executive chef, Jessie Massie, says the beer is a star in her kitchen thanks to its “citrusy, floral, and light malt notes” that pair well with many flavors and aren’t overly bitter when handled appropriately.

While the Pale Ale holds its own in a variety of recipes — chilis, stews, jams, barbecue sauces — it really shines “with seafood, creamy cheeses, and fatty dishes,” says Massie. It’s also an ideal choice for campfire meals, “Dutch oven-style cooking, or poaching brats over an open fire.”

“The key to success is adding your Pale Ale at the right moment, so you can harness the flavor without the bitterness,” she says.

Even if you’ve cooked with beer before, these beer-braised scallops with bacon are going to be a treat. The deceptively simple recipe can be made at home with an herby risotto or cooked over a campfire and served alongside a citrusy salad on your next outdoor excursion. Here, we’re using the versatile beer in a glaze for plump, tender scallops. While more elevated than your typical campsite dinner, scallops are nonetheless a great choice for the outdoors because — unlike mussels or other shellfish — they generally come pre-cleaned and pre-shucked. All you need is a good cooler and a hot pan for a quick, delicious seafood meal on the trails.

Take this recipe on your next car camping trip (just be sure to make the salad ahead of time) or try it at home with a rich, herby risotto. And don’t worry if you grabbed another beer, like an IPA, instead — even the hoppier beers can work in your dishes. Take Sierra Nevada’s new Summer Break Session Hazy IPA; the fruits that shine in the beer (mango and passionfruit) can highlight your dishes, like a citrusy, lemony salad.

However you cook with your beer, you’ll quickly learn one of the best things about cooking with Sierra Nevada: You still have five cans left to enjoy once you’re ready to eat.

And when you’ve made the dish and are ready to ‘gram it for the world to see? Tag @SierraNevada in your photos — because something this tasty deserves a photo round of applause.

Pan-Seared Scallops with Bacon and Beer Glaze

Serves 2


Step 1: Pat scallops dry with paper towels, and season with salt and pepper.

Step 2: Add bacon to the cast-iron skillet and heat over medium-high heat. Once there is plenty of bacon grease in the pan, and the bacon begins to get crispy (about 5 minutes), transfer the bacon and garlic to a plate and add half the scallops to skillet. Cook, flipping once, until golden brown and cooked through, about 3 minutes per side. Transfer to a plate.

Step 3: Repeat with remaining scallops, transfer to plate, and then add beer to pan. Cook until the mixture has thickened into a glaze (about 2 to 3 minutes). Add fresno or jalapeno chiles to the pan, let it cook for a minute, and then add lemon juice and butter. Return the scallops, bacon, and garlic to the pan and swirl around a bit to coat with sauce.

Step 4: Serve with lemon wedges and salad (if making outdoors) or with risotto, lemon wedges, and a sprinkle of fresh herbs (if making at home).

Note for cooking scallops on the grill or over a charcoal or wood fire: You’ll want to preheat your grill or coals to about 400 degrees. About 15 minutes before cooking, once your coals are ready, preheat your cast-iron skillet over the coals or on the grill.

Jess Damuck

Make Outdoors: Lemony Salad


Step 1: Make the salad in advance of your trip. Use a salad spinner or a large bowl of water to wash your separated lettuce leaves. Spin dry, or dry off on clean kitchen towels. Store in your favorite reusable produce bag, or wrap in damp paper towels and seal in a zip-top bag.

Step 2: Make your dressing by combining all ingredients in a glass jar with a tight fitting lid. Shake jar before serving.

Step 3: To serve, toss dressing and greens together in a large bowl, or just drizzle dressing directly (for fewer dirty dishes!).

Jess Damuck

Make at Home: Herby Risotto


Step 1: In a 4-quart pot, heat oil over medium-high. Add scallion whites, and cook until soft and translucent, about 2 minutes. Add rice, and cook, stirring, until the edge of the rice grains become translucent but the centers remain opaque, about 2 minutes.

Step 2: Add beer to the pan and cook, stirring, until almost all of the liquid is absorbed.

Step 3: Ladle or pour about ½ cup of hot chicken stock at a time, continuing to stir until about ¾ of the liquid is absorbed— the mixture should be thick, but not completely dry before adding more stock. Continue this process until the rice is al dente, but not crunchy (you may not need to use all of the stock), about 20 to 25 minutes.

Step 4: Stir in the butter, cheese, and herbs (reserving some for sprinkling on top), and serve with the scallops.

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