The Top 10 Things to Do With Leftover Beer

Take green living to the next level. Learn how to repurpose leftover beer!

July 18, 2013

Stop! Don't pour leftover beer down the drain!

By Jim Koch, brewer and founder of Sam Adams


If you have a surplus of beer—maybe leftovers from a BBQ or a summer party—here are some suggestions on how to take care of that beer (and ideas for creative consumption, if you need them!) so you, your family, and friends can enjoy it while it's still fresh.

Store It
1. Store leftover beer upright in your cooler or in the shelves on the door of your refrigerator, preferably not on its side. Storing beer on its side can expose more of the beer to oxygen and sunlight, causing it to go bad more quickly, and also keeps it in contact with the plastic liner inside the cap.

2. Don't be afraid to re-chill the beer. The cold-to-warm-to-cold-again temperature thing is a myth. The colder you keep your beer (38 to 42 degrees Fahrenheit is good), the longer it will stay fresh. If your beer gets to room temperature, chill it again. However, if your beer gets too hot—for example if you've left it in a hot car all day—that will speed up deterioration and the beer will oxidize, causing a "cardboard" taste.

3. Always store your beer inside a cooler with a lid rather than an ice bucket; the cooler will not only keep you beer cooler longer, but will also protect it from sunlight, which can cause skunking.

Cook It
4. Experiment with craft beer by adding it to any recipe (yes, any—don't be afraid). More and more, craft beers are being recognized as a unique culinary ingredient that can bring out hidden flavors and balance complex flavors. Little did you know that a craft beer could spice up a traditional recipe. For example, it can make pancakes and waffles fluffier when substituted for some of the milk in the recipe.

5. Replace your spice rack with a six-pack. The quality ingredients in craft beer provide a built-in spice packet that infuses dishes with exciting flavors we might not be able to achieve otherwise.

6. Leftover craft beer is great for quick, easy-to-make summer marinades for beef and pork. Samuel Adams Boston Lager's quality ingredients make it a great marinade that tenderizes meat while infusing it with flavor. A simple marinade recipe: Combine two bottles of Boston Lager, a pinch of sugar, and a pinch of salt.

7. Use leftover beer for all your summer seafood dishes. Summer craft beers like Samuel Adams Summer Ale are excellent flavor catalysts for traditional seafood recipes, infusing fish, shrimp, clams, mussels, and lobster with notes of bright citrus and spicy pepper. Summer beers make great salad dressings, as well.

Try this Summer Ale Clambake created by Food Network’s Chef Michelle Ragussis:

Samuel Adams® Summer Ale Urban Clambake
Recipe by Food Network Star’s Chef Michele Ragussis

Yields 6 to 8 servings

4 lobsters (1 pound each)
5 pounds steamer clams
3 yellow onions
4 cloves Garlic
6 ears of corn
12 small potatoes
1 pound Portuguese sausage (or chorizo)
1 pound hotdogs
2 lemons
3 bottles of Samuel Adams Summer Ale
½ teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
Rockweed seaweed (optional)

Make It:
• Before beginning, make sure all clams are scrubbed clean.
• On the stovetop, in a big pot, layer quartered onions, garlic, crushed red pepper flakes, 2½ bottles of Samuel Adams Summer Ale, and small potatoes.
• Cut the Portuguese sausage into 1-inch-thick pieces, and cut the hotdogs in half, lengthwise.
• Add the meat and the cleaned clams to the pot. Add the lobsters and cover tightly. Let cook for 15 to 20 minutes, until done.
• Layer on a platter, and save the remaining liquid for dipping. Serve with lemon wedges, and pair with a Samuel Adams Summer Ale.

Gift It
8. Gone are the days of just giving bottles of wine as gifts. Now folks are expanding their palates by experimenting with the wide range of flavors that craft beer offers. Repackage and repurpose leftover craft beer as the perfect gift for drinkers who appreciate craft beer in the same way others might a fine wine.

9. Use leftover beer to create an inexpensive DIY gift basket. Re-gift some of those leftover craft beers in a basket of fine cheeses, meats, or chocolates to create a unique, one-of-kind present. Include cards for tasting notes and finish it off with clear giftwrap and a festive bow.

10. Going to a dinner party? Or hosting one? Mix and match leftover beer to please everyone's taste buds. Craft beer comes in such a variety of styles that it can complement any meal, possibly more so than wine.