She sometimes uses it for the contrast of bitter and sweet, but also exploits its notes of coffee and chocolate to layer flavors. Exhibit No. 1? Her stout float with chocolate ice cream, chocolate syrup and Kahlua.
“It’s building the flavors,” says Medrich, author most recently of “Sinfully Easy Delicious Desserts” (Artisan, 2012). “There’s a lot of chocolate-coffee-malty things going on in the Guinness. The Kahlua picks up on the coffee notes in the Guinness. So everything’s working together.”
Carbonation makes beer a natural friend of salty, fatty cheese, says Janet Fletcher, author of the upcoming “Cheese & Beer”. Stout, in particular, she says, offers elements of caramel that complement varieties such as Gouda, and creaminess that boosts triple-cream cheeses.
That creaminess also makes it a good match for mild blue cheeses, Fletcher says, such as Ireland’s soft, supple Cashel Blue. And though she says she prefers hoppier beers with cheddar, she admires the historic pairing.
“It’s been the cornerstone of many a pub lunch for centuries,” she says. “There’s the pleasure of knowing you’re having a classic.”
The possibilities are seemingly endless. In its “100 ways to cook.” column, the food blog Endless Simmer showcased recipes such as onion soup with a Guinness-based broth, mashed potatoes with Guinness gravy and even Guinness lasagna.
“In recent years people are cooking a lot more creatively with Guinness than they used to,” says the site’s editor Brendan Spiegel, pointing to the lasagna — which incorporated Guinness into a salsa verde topping — as the funkiest recipe. “I don’t know what it wouldn’t go with. It’s definitely a wintery flavor, which is why it works for St. Patrick’s Day. You wouldn’t mix it with fruit or something you’re trying to make light and summery. It’s for hearty cuisine.”