A Short History Of Cooking Beer
Before the days of bottling and refrigeration, fresh beer had a very limited shelf life and having to waste any brought a tear to many peoples eyes. So like any food item on its way out, people tried to find ways to get just a couple more uses out it. I’m sure you do this all the time. Strawberries are starting to get soft, make a smoothie. Worried about your gigantic bag of onions getting too old, make French onion soup. There are lots of things you can do before food turns and during the 17th century cooking beer with honey and spices was one way to mask the flavor of a beer going bad.
Earlier forms of the hot ale flip we simple hot ale and honey drinks and if you want to find these recipes you’ll need to look in old cookbooks. One such recipe from the 1669 book “The Closet” by Sir Kenelme Digbie is an ale with honey recipe specifically for beer that is about to go bad. Sir Kenelme Digbie described cooking old beer with honey would would help the turned old beer and “set the whole a working a fresh, and casting out foulness”
Some very old books had tips and tricks for old food but with the invention of commercial refrigeration in the mid 1800s that kinda stopped being such a big problem. Most of those recipes either got lost to time but many still live on as things you eat normally. Fruit pies, jellies, alcohol, pickles, hell even banana bread. Hence why most recipes specifically call for nasty old soft brown bananas no one wants to eat. It’s for flavor but it comes from much older tradition. Old meat was a little harder to repurpose and was something you needed to persevere before it started to turn. Although old meat could be used at bait to catch fresh meat or go fishing and once food went really bad it could just be composted.
What Does It Taste Like
Depending on the beer you use, these can be really really good, or really really bad. To make it more difficult its almost impossible to know which beers are good as a flip and which are not, without actually trying them. A beer you think would be good warmed with spices, whiskey, and sugar, like a super cool peanut butter stout, are awful. The really flavorful beers just seem to turn too bitter, but lighter more drinkable beers like boston lager and Budweiser are amazing. The only way to know is to try. I started doing a whole YouTube series on which beers taste good hot and which taste bad and my goal is to try every beer I can get my hands on hot. I have hot beer tier list on my website and so far my favorite one is hot fat tire. I like fat tire to begin with but hot it was amazing.
Keeping in mind that this is a way of making old beers taste good again. I opened a bottle of beer, poured it, set it on the counter for a day, and it made a better flip than a fresh bottle of the same beer. The fresh beer taste better cold but the old beer taste better flipped. My mind was blown. No of these results were expected. In fact I believed the opposite to be true of what the actual results ended up being. I only tried it with this one beer (boston lager since I really liked it flipped to begin with) but I feel I should do the same experiment for others. Doing this will likely make me gain quite few pounds in the next year but I think it will be fun.
What Is A Flip
No one really knows where the term flip came from. Some guesses are that it was used to describe the bubbles leaving the drink. Like the bubbles flipped from the inside to the outside, or the drink was so strong it would make you flip out of your chair. No one really knows but I have my own idea. Some 18th century and earlier books provided ways to repurpose food that was going bad or loosing its freshness. I wrote a bit about that in the paragraphs above. It is often referred to as the food or drinks turning. My guess is the term flip was a cleaver play on words to describe making a turned beer taste good again. Again I have no evidence of this. Its just a feeling.
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