Porter-Braised Pulled Pork with IPA-Jalapeno Cole Slaw and Brew Free! Chili, from a recipe from 21st Amendment Brewing, photographed in Walnut Creek,
Porter-Braised Pulled Pork with IPA-Jalapeno Cole Slaw and Brew Free! Chili, from a recipe from 21st Amendment Brewing, photographed in Walnut Creek, Calif., on Wednesday, Oct. 6, 2013. (Mark DuFrene/Bay Area News Group)

You've been happily sipping those IPAs, lambics and stouts. Now it's time to pour some in your favorite dishes. The locavore culinary trend and the craft beer revolution have collided -- deliciously -- in the kitchen.

The number of microbrewery-restaurants is soaring. Beer-pairing dinners, those "Beer Week" darlings, are popping up everywhere. Beer cookbooks have become a publishing niche of their own.

And Northern California is "the epicenter" of the movement, says John Holl, a New Jersey beer-and-travel writer and editor of All About Beer magazine. This is where the first wave of the craft beer movement began in the 1970s with the founding of the nation's first modern day microbreweries: Jack McAuliffe's New Albion in Sonoma and Fritz Maytag's Anchor Brewing in San Francisco.

The number of craft breweries has exploded during the second wave, reaching more than 2,500 in June.

The beer-food trend, Holl says, is the "third wave. People are focusing on good food along with good beer. It's not just burgers and nachos. It's seafood, duck."

Touring the country's microbrew pubs for his latest book, "The American Craft Beer Cookbook" (Storey, $19.95, 344 pages), Holl says he got to see just how much the beer world these days mirrors the food.

"People were drinking light lagers 40 years ago," he says. "We put a plastic tray in the microwave and whatever came out was dinner. Now it's all about farmers markets and locavore food, how it's being prepared and who's preparing it."

Whether it's San Francisco's 21st Amendment or San Leandro's Drake's Brewing, there's a new breed of beer-centric cuisine brewing. Dishes are paired with specific beers, or perhaps the beer becomes a major flavor component in the dish. Drake's Hopocalypse Ceviche, for example, gets its flavor from lime, habaneros and a hefty splash of double IPA. The Lemongrass Chicken at Santa Cruz's Uncommon Brewers is marinated in Siamese Twin Ale and fresh ginger, while the chef at 21st Amendment adds 24 ounces of Brew Free or Die IPA to the fiery chili.

All this can be done at home, with the 150+ recipes Holl collected from craft breweries from coast to coast, or by following the path laid out by Los Angeles' Beeroness. That would be Jackie Dodd, a beer and food writer whose blog -- and new "Craft Beer Cookbook" (Adams Media, $19.99, 224 pages) -- explores the culinary angle, from breakfast to dessert.

"I've always loved the idea of cooking with beer," Dodd says. But, he adds, there are tricks and twists when you cook with a carbonated, hoppy beverage -- and it's not just a flavor thing.

"You're adding a yeast-based beverage with bubbles to your baked goods. Adding stout to chocolate cake gives it this really awesome texture -- a transformative texture."

Beer in a slow-braised anything? Consider the hops. All that low, slow cooking reduces the liquid and intensifies the flavor. In the case of hops, that's a bitter flavor.

"If something is going to cook a long time, go with a lower hops beer," Dodd says, so complex flavors aren't overpowered.

There are many delicious ways to incorporate those flavors, from Orange Wheat Beer and Dark Chocolate Muffins to Porter-Braised Pulled-Pork Sandwiches, which taste even better the next day. But if you're new to the game, Dodd suggests starting with her Brown Ale-Brined Turkey.

"I make it every year for Thanksgiving," she says. "The alcohol in the beer has a tenderizing effect on the meat. And if you're going to brine, it adds a whole new dimension."

And don't be timid.

"I'm of the mindset, if you're going to cook with beer, cook with a lot of beer," Holl says. "Two tablespoons of lager isn't going to do anything. A carbonade? Use the entire six-pack. You want those flavors to pop up and show."