Sun King Brewery’s yearly CANvitational is just around the corner—and we had a minute to ask a few questions of Chef Steven. He has been using Sun King beer in recipes for some time now and last year he became the brewery’s culinary director.

Rachel: CANvitational is almost here, which gets us thinking about beer, of course. I know in the past you’ve worked with Sun King—I saw you make some chicken wings once with Tracy Forner on Indy Style! —how did you come to know and cook with Sun King beer?

Chef Steven: My first Sun King beer was their Oktoberfest almost 8 years ago. Finding out that the place that made this great beer was only six blocks from where I was having it was eye opening. Ever since then, I had always tried my best to work with them as much as possible. From beer dinners to special events, we would always work alongside each other. Fast forward to January 2016, I was hired as culinary director for the brewery. My dream job now entails writing recipes, making beer cocktails and feeding 70 full-time Sun King employees four days a week. (So you could say things are pretty serious.)

Rachel: What style of Sun King beer do you like to use in recipes most?

Chef Steven: We really try to use all of our beer styles in as many recipes as possible—that way Sun King blog readers can always find something for them. Not a fan of IPAs? No problem, there are many other recipes for stouts, sours and lagers. That being said, the spirit barrel aged and sour beers are the most fun to use. There are so many unique flavors to play up and pair with.

Rachel: In terms of pairing beer with food, what is your favorite style of beer to pair with savory dishes and you favorite beer style for desserts?

Chef Steven: Most of my favorite savory dishes are from across the globe, so a citrusy IPA is hard to beat. The fruity finish not only provides some heat relief, but it can also pair great with complex spice blends and intricate Asian dishes. For dessert, while most would lean in the direction of big stouts and barrel aged beers, I like my desserts a little lighter, so a sour beer is where I would land. From creamy panna cotta, to even something as simple as a well made cookie, the light fruity notes of a sour are a lot like finishing dinner with a nice sparkling wine.

Rachel: Oftentimes I wonder—does it matter if the beer is room temperature or from the fridge when it comes to cooking and baking with it?

Chef Steven: That truly depends on the recipe. For things like soups, breads and braises, straight off the shelf or “room temperature” is totally fine. For recipes like tempura, marinades and ice creams, cold is best.

Rachel: What is your favorite Sun King beer and what food do you like to eat with it?

Chef Steven: This year held a clear winner in my fridge and it was Pachanga (Mexican lager). Not only was it the cure for a hot day, it seemed to go with pretty much anything I was eating. It also makes a great beer margarita for parties.

Rachel: At the Sun King CANvitational there will be 65 breweries featured—what breweries are you looking most forward to trying?

Chef Steven: This is trying to pick a favorite child, pet or friend. Sun King such an amazing job of bringing in some of the best breweries in the country it is hard to pick a top 5, but what the heck! I’m looking forward to seeing what great beers Urban Chestnut, Revolution (SKB is doing a collaboration beer with them), Firestone Walker, Melvin and Shorts all have up their sleeves!

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