Cooking with Beer at Missoula’s Good Food Store


In honor of Father’s Day, the Good Food Store offered a cooking class last week that put two of my favorite things on the same plate – meat and beer. Lucky to snag one of the remaining seats before last Thursday’s class, I was treated to a two-hour presentation by the GFS Deli Manager, Rebecca Canfield-Perkowski, and Emily Seitz, the GFS Cooking School coordinator.

These girls certainly knew what they were doing, and they prepared a spread fit for a king, with each dish prominently pulling fine attributes from a variety of Montana beers. While crafting our five-course meal, Rebecca and Emily answered our questions, taught us unique points about different foods, and they entertained.

Beer can be a true workhorse in the kitchen!

What I left the classroom knowing that I did not fully understand before, was that beer can be a true workhorse in the kitchen. From brining to basting to sauce bases and marinades, as well as glazing and sweetening and bittering and hydrating – beer can do it all. And given that Montana not only produces great beer, but the grains and some of the hops that go into it too, using locally-made beer to prepare locally-made and grown foods seemed too good to be true. But, alas, Montana has it all, and the Good Food Store proved it to me.

Our menu for the evening looked a little something like this:

  • Sweet & Spicy Amber-brined Jerk Chicken Wings
  • Panzanella
  • Beer & Cheese Chowder with Roasted Sausage & Rye Croutons
  • BeerBQ Braised Beef Short Ribs with Pale Ale Corn Bread
  • Moose Drool Brownies with Bittersweet Chocolate Sauce

Beer & Cheese Chowder with Roasted Sausage & Rye Croutons

What makes cooking with beer special goes beyond being able to sip a little from the bottle before adding it to the recipe, or as Rebecca stated, “I try not to include a full bottle of beer in any recipe so I have some to drink,” but beer is acidic and its flavors can range from bitter (from hops) to sweet (from malt) and its viscosity can be light like a Pale Ale or rich and thick like an Imperial Stout.

Rebecca expertly picked out five different beers to showcase throughout the meal, each offering something different than the other. They were: Bayern’s Amber lager, Kettlehouse’s Eddy Out, Madison River Brewing’s Hopper Pale Ale, Bayern’s Dragon’s Breath Dark Hefe and Big Sky Brewing’s popular Moose Drool.

BeerBQ Braised Beef Short Ribs with Pale Ale Corn Bread

Each recipe presented was “something you can make easily at home,” explained Rebecca, not just on special occasions. Each of us left that night full and delighted, and I was excited to expand my at-home menu to include a wider variety of beer-based dishes, which means I’ll need to buy more beer – for “cooking purposes” I’ll tell my wife.

And not to leave you, my dear readers, empty-handed and drooling, the Good Food Store kindly gave me permission to include my favorite recipe from our night’s fare. If you are curious about any of the Good Food Store’s upcoming cooking classes, you can sign up for their newsletter in-store or find their schedule online.

Enjoy and drink responsibly!

Amber Beer-Brined Jerk Chicken Wings Recipe

Sweet & Spicy Amber-brined Jerk Chicken Wings

1/3 c. brown sugar
1/3 c. kosher salt
18 oz. Bayern Amber Lager
4 lbs. chicken wings, cut into three sections, tips removed

1. In a large bowl, whisk the brine ingredients together until the salt and sugar have dissolved.
2. Place the wings into brine and toss to coat evenly. Cover and refrigerate for two hours.
3. Preheat oven to 450 degrees.
4. Drain wings from the brine, pat dry. Spray sheet pan with cooking spray. Lay wings out on sheet pan with space in between, may take two pans. Bake for 30 minutes. Remove from oven.
5. In a thick bottomed kettle, heat ½” of cooking oil to 350 degrees.
6. Fry par-baked wings skin side down until skin is brown and crisping. Turn wings over and cook two minutes more. Remove to sheet pan.
7. Return wings to oven for 15 minutes more. Internal temperature of wings must be 165 degrees.

Moose Drool Brownies with Bittersweet Chocolate Sauce

Jerk Seasoning:
1 Tbl. Onion powder
1 Tbl. Brown sugar, packed
1 Tbl. Dried thyme, crushed
1 ½ tsp. salt
1 ½ tsp. ground allspice
1 tsp. cracked black pepper
½ tsp. ground nutmeg
½ tsp. ground cinnamon
½ tsp. ground cloves
¼ tsp. cayenne pepper

1. In a bowl, stir together all ingredients.
2. Store in a glass jar with a tight fitting lid.
Yields about 1/3 cup.

Sweet & Spicy Jerk Sauce:
¼ c. butter
2 Tbl. Garlic, minced
¼ c. red bell pepper, minced


Like this Drink It blog?  Chances are you’ll like these blogs by Missoula’s Drink It expert, Ryan Newhouse:  Flathead Lake Brewing Company – Beer Pairing,  Tamarack Brewing Company, Montana Whiskey and Vodka.  And check out our Missoula Restaurants and Dining and Missoula Nightlife sections.

Click here to see Ryan’s “Drink It” archive.


Ryan Newhouse has lived in Missoula since 2002 and has tipped his glass in most of the town’s establishments. He is a full-time writer, husband and parent (in no particular order) and a part-time zymurgist. He makes a mean hard cider and pairs his cocktails with dishes from his blog, Cooked Animals: Recipes for Wild Game.