In my mind two kinds of cookbooks exist, a simple go to recipe book that covers a whole bunch of basic recipes and a technique of cooking cookbook with a few highly modifiable recipes used to demonstrate a technique. The latter is covered by twon of my favorites Alton Brown's, “I'm Just Here for the Food” or Tom Colichio's, “Think Like a Chef”. The former is covered by John Schlimm in “The Ultimate Beer Lover's Cookbook”.
Every recipe in “Beer Lover's” includes beer. I admit sometimes it seems a little forced in the book, but for many recipes the addition of beer takes a dish to another level. I've been substituting beer for wine or stock in many of the things I cook at home for years now, ever since Emeril was cool (I guess it's been a long time since that was true). This book takes some of that guesswork out of that equation because the beer is an actual ingredient.
One criticism of the book is in every recipe the ingredient is listed as “beer”. Beer comes in all sorts of flavor profiles and can affect the taste of the dish is beneficial or harmful ways. I wouldn't suggest using a hefeweizen in the cheesesteak recipe, it probably would be best to use a brown or stout with cheesesteak. But, I only would know that because I know beer and cooking. For the novice, this might not be apparent. In the introduction to the book, Schlimm (or Schlimmy as someone called him on his Facebook page) explains that he uses his family's beer, Straub (a fairly well know regional PA beer), a lager, in the recipes. But, he encourages the reader/user to use their favorite brew to experiment.
For years, I have been using a book, “The USA Cookbook” as kind of my base for any new food I might try to cook. I have modified the southern style fried chicken and Tabasco steaks from that cookbook and made them my own (as they might say on “Top Chef”) and I always consult it for tips. The great thing about that book is that it recommends a drink to accompany each recipe. This would have also been a great addition to “Beer Lover's”.
A couple of really interesting sections in the book are the wild game and cocktail sections. In another post, I put Schlimmy's (I can't resist using it) squirrel recipe. I don't know who in the hell is going to go out to their front yard and trap squirrels to cook* but at least you know have a recipe. Any hunter might actually enjoy some of the recipes for deer or elk. I do my game hunting at Hen House so I prolly won't get to test out those recipes.
*Actually, I do know, meth heads in Independence looking for something to do at 3 A.M. besides shooting at passing cars.
I'm also not one for beer cocktails because I love beer straight up with no accoutrement. But for dudes looking to do a little Grapefruit, Juicy Fruit, Schlimmy has provided some fine cocktails that will help you convince the ladies it's too cold outside to go home (I love me some Mannilow).
Also in the book is a chapter on sandwiches, sauces, desserts and every type of meat. You should be able to find nearly every basic recipe you're looking for in this book.
Overall I find little to fault in “Beer Lover's” and a lot to like, it might be a good gift to give as a wedding, college graduation or Father's Day present for your beer loving friends. It is a fine basic cookbook to learn how to incorporate beer into some of your favorite foods, just don't expect to learn a classic foie gras preparation. It will be my go to book to find out the basics to make something new.
Just as a disclaimer, Schlimmy did send me the book free of charge. He had emailed me a couple of times about the book including an email about the article in The Hill. I liked the squirrel recipe, it made me laugh, and he and I exchanged a couple of emails. He may be a little misguided and delusional because he called me “influential” but I don't hold it against him. I'm not swayed by getting the book free, but felt that I should disclose that nonetheless. But, do go out and buy the book so I can get more free stuff.