Around our house, the grilling season is about 50 weeks long. And given the thick snow and biting wind we’ve experienced lately, we’re officially in our off season. Even now, though, we try to find ways to recreate smoky flavors in the kitchen, without resorting to the the dreaded liquid smoke. Our most recent experiment involved braising short ribs with rauchbier, a smoked beer.

Traditional rauchbiers are made with malted barley that’s been smoked prior to the brewing process. One of our favorites is Smoked Pigasus, a smoked rye porter brewed with maple syrup, from 4 Hands Brewing Company in St. Louis, MO. The smoky malt flavors of Pigasus add another layer of flavor to an already-rich braising liquid while imparting a depth usually unattainable when cooking inside.

It’s safe to say that the rauchbier-based braise produced the best short ribs we’ve ever had.

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Rauchbier-Braised Short Ribs

Olive oil
Kosher salt
Freshly-cracked pepper
6 short ribs (about 4 pounds total)
4 carrots, chopped
3 celery stalks, chopped
1 onion, chopped
1 head garlic, cut in half
2 bay leaves
1 Tablespoon peppercorns (we use a mix of white, pink, and black)
1 22-ounce bottle 4 Hands Smoked Pigasus, or comparable smoke beer
Beef broth

Preheat the oven to 375º F.

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Warm a Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Drizzle the short ribs with olive oil and a coat each one with a generous amount of salt and pepper. Warm more olive oil in the pan and sear the short ribs, about 90 seconds per side. (It will probably work better if you do this step in two phases, searing three ribs at a time.)

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Remove the short ribs to a plate. Add the carrots, celery, and onion and another generous dash of a salt and pepper and allow the vegetables to soften for about 3 minutes. Add the beer, and use a wooden spoon to scrape yummy brown bits from the bottom of the Dutch oven. Add the short ribs back to the dutch oven with the garlic, peppercorns and bay leaves. Then, add enough beef broth to cover about 90% of the short ribs. Bring the liquid to a simmer, cover and transfer to the preheated oven.

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Allow the short ribs to cook for 2 hours and 30 minutes. Remove the lid and allow them to cook for 30 more minutes.

Serve with mashed potatoes, brussels sprouts, and carrots.