Beer Liqueur? Yes, Beer Liqueur!

Last night on my never-ending quest to secure new and exotic ingredients, I decided to experiment a little. Someone had recently asked me to come up with a recipe that involves beer, as they were doing an issue that was devoted to the cold brew. Well, always hoppy to help out a fellow bartender (I had to do it, sorry), I decided to give the matter some thought. Beer isn’t exactly a go-to ingredient for me when I think of cocktails, so I really had to put on my thinking cap for this one.

Surfing the web for illumination, (honestly, what did we do before the web?) I happened upon Jeffrey’s blog which provided me the inspiration that I was looking for. He had just been to an event called the Eugene Cocktail Summit (dammit, why doesn’t someone in Seattle organize something like this?) and had created a drink that called for a Verdejo syrup. Eureka! Inspiration found, I went about making beer syrup.

Choosing a beer for the syrup wasn’t that difficult as we have a large selection of Belgium beers on hand here at Vessel. I chose a Farmhouse Ale for its big fruit, moderate spice and minimal hops which, combined with the fact that I happened to have a surplus of this bottling, made the decision even that much easier.

After adding sugar and tasting, I instantly fell in love. If I had a sweet tooth, I would’ve downed my creation right there, as it tasted like a subtly honeyed beer candy.

Holding myself back, I grabbed the nearest rye to start experimenting. I figured since a whiskey mash wasn’t that far away from beer, this would be the best spirit to start with. Also, rye offers a spiciness and backbone that most Bourbons don’t have, and I needed something to counter the sweetness of the syrup.

A couple of experiments later, I realized that I had made one minor error. The beer syrup was tasty, but I had made it too sweet. In order to get enough of the beer taste in the cocktail, I had to add too much sweetness, thereby ending up with a dessert, instead of a bracing cocktail. I was also concerned for the longevity of my nectar as the base for the syrup was quite perishable.

The solution, in my mind, was to turn the syrup into a liqueur. Alcohol would help preserve the final product, and less time on the stove, with less sugar, would allow me to add more beer flavor into recipes, without giving my cocktail a diabetic coma.

…………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………….
BOUDREAU’S BEER LIQUEUR

1 bottle of flavorful Belgium beer (I chose Saison Dupont Farmhouse Ale)
20 oz sugar
10 oz vodka

place beer in a large pot and heat. Do not let the beer boil, as it gets messy.
add sugar, stirring until it is completely dissolved.
take off heat, and allow to cool somewhat.
strain syrup, to remove massive head that has developed.
add vodka, stirring thoroughly.
bottle and design a fancy label: hire PR firm and make millions.

…………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………….

Future beer liqueur recipes will play with different beers and sugars. How’s Maredsous 10 with demerara sugar sound?

*** UPDATE: Just purchased some Framboise Lambic, pumpkin ale and a bitter IPA. Let the experimentation begin! ***

The first cocktail designed went a little something like this:

…………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………….
DUPONT COCKTAIL
2 oz rye whiskey
¾ oz Campari
½ oz beer liqueur

stir and strain into cocktail glass.
…………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………….

I enjoyed the Dupont cocktail tremendously, the Campari bite easing the sweetness of the beer liqueur, but it happened that as I was putting away the Campari, I noticed the Cynar sitting on the shelf with a single tear running down its sad lonely label. Once again, I had forgotten about my old friend, and went running to Campari when a bittering agent was needed, without a single thought given to this artichoked wonder.

Grabbing the sniveling bottle by the neck, I gave it another shot, this time with the Cynar. Sipping and adjusting for Cynar’s subtle sweetness with a dash of bitters, I realized that I would have to order more Cynar, for this was a damn tasty cocktail, much smoother than its Campari brother, as it was missing that cochineal bite, but with enough bitterness to balance the honeyed sweetness of the beer liqueur.

…………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………….
LA FIN DU MONDE
2 oz rye whiskey
¾ oz Cynar
½ oz beer liqueur
dash of Angostura bitters

stir and strain into cocktail glass.
garnish with orange twist

…………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………….

Choosing which cocktail I enjoyed more would be like asking me which child I loved more. It would depend on my mood, and whether Campari had cleaned up his room like I had asked for the umpteenth time, and I don’t mean just pushing all your clothes under the bed either! (Holy flashback: sorry Mom.) Try both cocktails yourself, and let me know what you think.

Up next: Boudreau’s Amer Picon recipe. (For all of you that have been googling me for it, I apologize that it took so long)

Pictures and drinks by:
Jamie Boudreau
www.vesselseattle.com

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~ by Jamie Boudreau on September 7, 2007.

19 Responses to “Beer Liqueur? Yes, Beer Liqueur!”

  1. What size is the bottle of beer? 16 oz? 750 ml?

  2. The bottle was 375mL. Remember you are adding 10oz of vodka to the final batch, so that will thin out your solution.
    I will be doing more experiments (this time more accurately measured) on Sunday, so stay tuned.
    I also forgot to mention to strain the syrup, in order to remove the massive head that will develop.

  3. Great post and great idea! As you wanted to do initially a syrup the almost unhopped Belgium Ale was quite a good idea – however you could use a more hopped beer to get a distinctive bitterness in you new liqueur!

    I will definitely also give it a try – for the moment I’ve got a very small batch hibiscus infusion experiment resting on my shelf (first i wanted also to make a liqueur out of it – but it seems more interesting to leave it as infusion and use it as kind of flavored spirit).

    If (the beer liqueur) not made overly sweet it could be interesting to use just with a rye (without Campari or Cynar), or what first came into my mind: Scotch!

    Or a Mexican Beer liqueur fortified with Tequila (sweetened with Agave Syrup) could be also interesting…

  4. Ups… I forgot:

    AMAZING PICTURES JAMIE!!!

  5. Fantastic!

    I’m going to have to make a batch up tonight. I’d like try this with something really bitter and hoppy, would probably make a fantastic high ball, though that is a bit of recreating the beer itself.

    Is the picon recipe the one from Paul’s article in Imbibe, or a new one? I can’t seem to find the Ramazzotti Amaro anywhere here in Portland, Or.

  6. Tradertiki:
    The Amer Picon recipe to be posted is an update from the one I gave Paul. It is less sweet, and identical in profile to the real deal.
    I’ve heard a rumor that Ramazzotti might have just lost their distributor, let’s hope that it’s not true.

  7. Seattle cocktail summit!!! I’m in!

  8. Tradertiki,

    Uptown Liq. in PDX has Ramazzotti — just promise not to buy all of it.

    Kelley

  9. One more must-have syrup for my fridge. My girlfriend is going to kill me.

  10. There was supposed to be a “bierschanapps” from Essential Spirits at the GADF, but I didn’t see it. These sound like very interesting experiments.

  11. Of course, the hour after I post this, I head to uptown and it’s there. Apparently, I’d scanned over the bottle a few too many times and it just became background noise.

    Picked up that, some Yellow Chartreuse, some Luxardo Maraschino (to compare with the Marask), and got a chance to shop in the back room where they were hiding the Herbsaint. Oh yes, it was a good trip indeed.

  12. So I made this recipe twice this week. First time with a local SouthHampton Pumpkin Ale, tried it and was not impressed, beer wasn’t flavorful enough to begin with. So the next evening I tried using a Ommegang Abbey Ale, the result was a world a away from my first try. My girlfirend thinks it is quite tasty as well.

  13. Sounds like a good development.When I lived in Bavaria the Greisbrau (www.griesbraeu.de) made a bierliqueur. Ever since the first taste, I had to know a recipe for it.
    This wonderful Bavarian local’s brewery sells it in one and two litre flasches and is very similar to an aperitif. Like the authors taste, a little sweet although probably not as sweet as his concotion. I came across a recipe and have made it ever since, with a few of my own minor adjustments.

    2 litres dark beer
    3 cups sugar
    half a lemon rind
    3 vanilla beans (3 tsp extract also works, although not as good)
    1 dozen cloves
    1/2 dozen coffee beans (optional)
    1/2 litre vodka (or strong alcohol)

    Warm beer and sugar together (do not boil, boiling kills alcohol producing yeast which will be needed). Either squeeze rind to extract the rind juices or grate the outside into mixture (this neutralizes many enzymes). Add cloves, and vanilla beans and optional coffee beans. Keep warm for 15 minutes. Let it cool to room temperature. Add Alcohol. Let it sit for another 15 minutes. Strain out lemon rinds, cloves, vanilla beans and coffee.

    Fill into DARK bottles (original beer bottle are great or green wine bottles are what I typically use. Clear bottle collect light). I usually put vanilla beans and/or coffee beans in as well to add more flavor. Cork and place into cupboard for at least a month or two. Then taste periodically for flavor. The best results are usually 5+ months after bottling. To sanitize bottles, a small amount of bleach over night and a thorough rinsing is good.

    I have given it to friends that have grown up in Bavaria and they say it’s comparable to that of the Griesbrau. What ever it is, it’s damn good!
    Best of luck
    Scott C

  14. WOW! Generous spirit that you are — it would be great to meet you. Actually — I’m a Wina; however I MUST try some of your concoctions for the sheer science of it! Thank you;-)

  15. Thanks for this recipe. I made my own beer liqueur, and prepared a cocktail out of it. And here you have the:

    AZ’s Old Fashioned variation
    1 tablespoon AZ’s beer liqueur
    1 tablespoon Amer Picon
    2 dashes of Angostura bitters
    2 oz Ballantine’s blended scotch whisky
    Ice
    Put the beer sirup, Amer Picon and Angostura in an old fashioned glass. Add some ice and stir a little.
    Add whisky, and fill the glass with ice and stir a little again.

    AZ’s beer sirup
    300 mL Orval trappist ale
    250 g unrefined cane sugar
    300 mL Longueteau rum (62% Rhum Agricole de la Guadeloupe)
    Proceed as indicated by Mr Boudreau.

    Why AZ? Because A is the first letter in my first name, and Z is the first letter in my last name. The result was very tasty, but I can imagine it could be even better with different brands of spirits. In particular, I can imagine a bourbon would suit specially well. Also, I believe that I’ve put a bit too much rum in my liqueur. The resulting product is very strong and has an intense rum flavor, which may not be the goal when making a beer liqueur, I guess.

    BTW, I also made another beer liqueur, this time with a Kasteelbier Bruijn (330 mL), which is a strong sweet dark ale (11% BVA). I used vodka this time (40%, I could not find a stronger one – 330 mL). The result has a taste which resembles caramel, with an additional, slightly smoked flavour. It is very sweet, but would probably make an interesting marriage with a whisky or maybe an old rum and lime juice to balance the sweetness.

  16. Interesting you chose the name La Fin Du Monde; coincidentally, the Canadian brewery Unibroue make a very good Belgian-styled tripel by the same name ( http://www.unibroue.com/graphs_our_beers/fin_du_monde.html ).

  17. manhattanprojectdrinks:
    I named the drink that because I used La Fin du Monde in the beer liqueur for one variation of this drink.

  18. Haha! I suspected there would likely be a direct link. How did that compare to the Saison Dupont Farmhouse?

  19. manhattanprojectdrinks:
    As it was over two years ago, I’m afraid that I can’t recall. Too many drinks in between now and then, you know….

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