In the Kitchen with Ale Asylum
By Shannon Henry Kleiber | Photos By Jim Klousia 0
In the tiny kitchen connected to the cavernous brewing home of Ale Asylum, Food Director Chad Kersey is constantly experimenting. Recent creations include Bedlamn- Beef, Ballistic Ceviche and Beeramisu (yes, really).
These dishes, cooked with one or a combination of 16 house brews, might show up on the Ale Asylum Tasting Room menu depending on the season and the ingredients available. But the recipes are also being tested and curated for the at-home beer enthusiast, who may see the recipes on Ale Asylum’s website or in their newsletter and be inspired to re-create the dish with a bottle picked up at a local store.
Ale Asylum only recently opened its tasting room after moving its entire operation to a 45,000 square-foot building on five-acres near the Madison airport. There the beer is brewed, bottled and, of course, enjoyed by customers. It is also where beer is the key ingredient in Kersey’s creative kitchen. He and his staff are constantly pulling out different foods from the walk-in refrigerators (which feature photos of Christopher Walken, get it?) and adding a bit of this and more of that to create delicious dishes that highlight the unique flavors of their Ale Asylum beers.
Why cook with beer?
My wife and I started cooking with beer years ago. We do it to change the flavor profile. Beer offers endless amounts of flavor to use with your food.
Which beers are best to cook with and how do they convey different tastes?
I really like the Hopalicious and IPAs. They are harder to cook with because of the bitterness. Hopalicious adds citrusy notes. Porter is great in cakes. The yeast in Bedlam gives spicy notes [such as when used in a sauce over asparagus, among other dishes]. Ballistic has floral notes from the Texan hops we use in that beer.
What are the most popular beer-infused dishes? Have you had any failures?
Bedlam-n-Beef [in header above], an Italian beef sandwich, sold out. I saved some for my lunch today, it was so good. I had my first failure the other day. It was simply carrots with beer and sugar and was so bitter. I’ll move on from that one.
How do you get your inspirations and ideas?
I follow a lot of beer blogs. I home brew and develop my own recipes. We also have a lot of regulars who tell us what they think.
What ’s new for the warmer months?
We have a Tilapia Ceviche. We marinate fresh tilapia in lemon juice, and add Hopalicious, onions, jalapeños and cilantro. I’ve made beer ice cream—I was astounded at how great it was. I love that you encourag e customers to make these dishes in their home kitchens.
What’s an ideal Ale Asylum dinner party?
I’d start with a ceviche, then marinate some chicken in an IPA for fajitas. Dessert could be Beeramisu or sundaes with caramel sauce made with Nut Brown Ale and a Porter-Hot Fudge sauce. If I made this for a party at home, I’d have a build your own sundae station.
What are other ways we can use beer when cooking at home?
Try an IPA or Amber instead of water in a crock pot with pork. Soups are great, as is anything with broth. Cakes—I just made a bundt cake with Porter. I also just made a mac and cheese with Nut Brown Ale. It gives it a subtle, nutty flavor.
Thank you to Ale Asylum for providing these beer-alicious recipes to try at home.
Let us know what you think of them in the comments!