“Beer Bites: Tasty Recipes and Perfect Pairings for Beer Lovers.” By Christian DeBenedetti and Andrea Slonecker. Photography by John Lee. Chronicle Books. $24.95.Everyone knows that beer and pizza go together, and it’s great to have a bowl of something salty in front of you when tossing a few back. But after that, commonly known culinary pairings for America’s favorite adult beverage drop off pretty quickly.

The newfound, seemingly insatiable demand for craft beer is changing that. High-end beer dinners and suggestions for food pairings on bottle labels still aren’t as common as with wine, but they aren’t hard to come by either.

It’s no surprise then, there is a steadily expanding catalog of cookbooks focused on connecting the best things to eat with a galaxy of beer styles.

“Beer Bites” is a solid, if slightly intimidating, entry in the category. Recipes lean heavily toward finger foods meant to be shared, broken into six themed chapters like “hoppy and herbal” and “malty rich and sweet.” Each recipe is paired with a specific style of brew and a handful of suggested pairings.

While the book has a few entries that are instantly recognizable – fish and chips, bratwurst, Bavarian soft pretzels – many had me scratching my head wondering where to even buy the ingredients – fried burrata sandwiches with blood-orange tomato soup, for example.

I ended up choosing gougere beef sliders with a dry Irish stout because it seemed to match the bitterly cold near-solstice evening I cooked. The gougeres, tiny cheese puffs made with eggs, butter, milk and gruyere, came out a little flat, but the tiny burgers were delicious nonetheless, especially topped with quick-pickled shallots and mayo. And, unsurprisingly, a Guinness Foreign Export washed them down easily.

The dish was fine, but in the future, I plan to experiment with the book the way the authors suggest – picking a few recipes, grabbing some friends and cracking open some nice bottles or cans to share.


Gougère Beef Sliders


Makes 4 to 6 servings


1/4 cup milk, plus more for brushing

1/4 cup water

3 tablespoons unsalted butter cut into cubes

1/4 teaspoon fine sea salt

Pinch of ground pepper

1/2 cup all-purpose flour

2 large eggs, room temperature

3 ounces gruyere cheese, shredded


2 large shallots, thinly sliced

3/4 cup red wine vinegar

1 teaspoon sugar

1/2 teaspoon fine sea salt


11/2 pounds ground beef

2 teaspoons fine sea salt

1 teaspoon ground pepper

Dash of Worcestershire sauce

2 tablespoons peanut or vegetable oil

Dijon mustard, finely shredded iceberg lettuce and mayonnaise for serving

1. To make the gougeres: Position racks in the upper and lower third of the oven and preheat to 400 degrees F. Lightly butter two rimmed baking sheets.

2. Combine the milk, water, butter, salt and pepper in a medium saucepan and bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Remove the pan from the heat and stir in the flour using a wooden spoon. Return the pan to the stove top and turn the heat to medium. Beat the dough vigorously with the spoon until it is smooth and glossy and pulls away from the sides of the pan, about one minute. Remove the pan from the heat and beat in one of the eggs. When the first egg is completely incorporated, add the second egg, along with half the cheese. Stir vigorously to combine.

3. Drop tablespoonfuls of the dough on the prepared baking sheets, spacing them at least 11/2 inches apart. You should have 12 mounds. Brush the tops lightly with milk and sprinkle with the remaining cheese. Bake until puffy and golden brown, about 25 minutes, rotating the pans top to bottom and front to back in the oven halfway through.

4. To make the pickled shallots: Put the shallots in a small bowl. Add the vinegar, sugar and salt and stir well to mix. Set aside at room temperature to marinate until pickled, about 30 minutes.

5. To make the beef patties: Combine the beef, salt, pepper and Worcestershire sauce in a large bowl and stir gently to combine; do not over-mix. Form the mixture into 12 small patties, again being careful not to handle too much. Heat the peanut oil in a large skillet, preferably cast iron, just until it begins to smoke. Add half of the burger patties and cook, turning once, until browned and crispy on both sides, about 2 minutes per side. Transfer to a plate lined with paper towels to drain. Repeat to fry the remaining patties.

6. Cut the gougeres in half horizontally and spread the bottoms with mustard. Position the burger patties over the mustard and top each with a big pinch of lettuce and pickled shallots. Spread the top halves lightly with mayonnaise and place over the sliders. Serve immediately.