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8 Ways Beer Makes Brunch Better

Leave the mimosas to restaurants and try beer for your next brunch. Aside from making refreshingly low-alcohol drinks to start the day, it's terrific in both sweet and savory recipes that are absolute classics for the brunch menu. When cooking with beer, the main thing to remember is that its flavor will concentrate and it's important to choose wisely. Stout and porter are great for adding chocolate-y, molasses-like depth without extra fat; nutty ambers or pale ales can be a great contrast with fruit, while lager brings a pleasant toastiness. Many IPAs and ESBs get unpleasantly bitter during cooking, so as a general rule, reserve them for your glass.

1. Beer Batter Waffles

Light, crisp and a bit malty from the beer, these waffles have an old-fashioned flavor like the kind made overnight with yeast. A classic American lager is the right beer to choose here; anything too unfiltered or too dark can make them a little dense and chewy.

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2. Beer Muffins

It's hard to find a faster muffin recipe than this one, based on buttermilk baking mix plus a few quick mix-ins. A wheat ale will add extra flavor to the muffin batter; you can even pair a fruit-flavored wheat ale with the dried fruit — like apricot hefeweizen with chopped, dried apricots.

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3. Chef John's "Sunset" Michelada

Along the lines of a Bloody Mary but much lower in alcohol and less filling to drink, a Michelada is the right choice during hot weather or when you have a busy afternoon in the works. An IPA can work wonderfully here, or your favorite lager or pilsner.

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4. Guinness Bread

This quick bread is a great alternative to zucchini or pumpkin bread; it holds up well in the freezer if you like to bake ahead. Serve instead of a coffee cake, and use your favorite porter or stout. A milk stout will add an extra creaminess without actually adding to the fat content.

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5. Beer Batter Crepes

This is a non-traditional, low-effort way to make wonderfully airy crepes with crisp, delicate edges. A nutty brown ale or hefeweizen are beers that will complement either sweet or savory fillings.

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6. Steak and Irish Stout Pie

This savory pie is a terrific centerpiece for brunch — who needs quiche when you can have meat pie? A classic porter or stout will add the right dry, minerally depth. Avoid chocolate, coffee or milk stouts, as they're too sweet for the beef filling.

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7. No Knead Beer Bread

One of the most popular recipes that uses beer, this homemade loaf has a rustic crust that will up your toast game considerably, for not too much effort. Your favorite ale, lager or pilsner will be just right, although the beer flavor is hard to detect in the fresh loaf. If the bread sits on the counter for a couple days, the beer flavor will be more noticeable; slice and freeze to minimize.

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8. Beer Cake

This is a great place to experiment with your beer of choice to complement the flavor of cake and pudding mixes you use. Brown ale will add a touch of richness; American lager will be quite neutral (making the cake go great with berries).

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9. Beermosa

There's no simpler cocktail, and you might even like it better than a traditional mimosa! Light beer, pilsner or lager are what you want to use; nothing too dark and nothing too bitter or hoppy. The exception is a craft IPA with citrus hop overtones, which can play nicely with the juice.

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10. Beer Syrup

This brunch accessory makes an original hostess gift and a fun kitchen experiment. Be very particular about which beer you choose, as its flavor becomes highly concentrated and any bitterness will go over the top. Try any style that's more about the malt than the hops, like milk stout, porter or a brown ale, and consider adding a sprinkle of brown sugar once it's cooked down.

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