Tag Archives: cooking with beer

It comes in buns?

We don’t know about you, but ever since we heard about the #BrewBurger, the Honest Burgers and Brewdog collaboration, we’ve* been pretty darn excited about it.

(*by “we” we are obviously referring to Pip and Mr Pip, as D is a hardcore vegan.)

Beer candied bacon. Beer fried onions. Beer BBQ sauce. Even a bottle of beer specially brewed to pair with this magnificent meaty leviathan. This was just beer and burger food porn heaven. It became Mr Pip’s life goal to get one of these burgers, and insert it into his face by ANY MEANS POSSIBLE.

Sadly, we were not the only people excited about the #BrewBurger. Honest Burgers already have a reputation for churning out some pretty awesome food, and it’s not at all unusual to see people queuing out the door at their restaurants at the best of times. With the added draw of this special addition to the menu – getting publicity due to requiring ID just to order it – we didn’t fancy our chances of getting hold of one.

After several days of putting up with a husband with a face like a kicked, burger-starved puppy, Pip came up with one of her notoriously bright ideas – “why don’t we try to make our own?”

…oh yes, reader. We went there.


Step one: brioche bun.

This was to be one special burger. Special burgers do not come in those sad, flat little baps from Sainsburys. Oh no.

DSC_0084Rising questionably early on a Sunday morning, we rustled up some delicious buns to contain the awesomeness of our burger.

DSC_0096 DSC_0101 DSC_0111 DSC_0114Step two: beer BBQ sauce.

The #BrewBurger boasts a special BBQ reduction made with Brewdog’s Paradox, an imperial stout aged in whisky casks and ranging from 10-15% ABV. Sadly, we weren’t able to get hold of any Paradox, with Brewdog informing us that they had sent every last bottle they had out to Honest Burgers. Short of breaking into a restaurant to steal a bottle, we would need a plan B.

DSC_0103So, basically… we cheated. We needed a Paradox substitute, and the closest thing we could find was their delicious Tokyo*. This is an oak-aged imperial stout at a face-melting 18.2% ABV, and hopefully sharing some of the delicious characteristics of Paradox.

We made a punchy BBQ sauce with a dizzying array of ingredients, the Tokyo* adding some real richness and depth to the flavour.

DSC_0104DSC_0105 DSC_0108DSC_0109 Step three: baaaaaacon.

DSC_01135am Saint glazed candied bacon? Oh, go on then.

DSC_0117 DSC_0120 DSC_0125We didn’t think you could improve on perfection (i.e. bacon). Turns out we were wrong.

Step four: Punk IPA fried onions

Honest Burgers thought they had us here. “Our onions are fried in Punk IPA and beef dripping”, they boasted. Yeah, well we had some beef dripping in the fridge from a roast. So there.

DSC_0127 DSC_0130 DSC_0131 DSC_0134Step five: burger me.

Honest Burgers get their 35-day aged beef from The Ginger Pig. While we couldn’t quite scale such heights of meaty prestige, we did go to our local butchers to get something a bit special.

DSC_0137 DSC_0140 Step six: #BrewBurger… assemble!!

Time to bring it all together… Brioche. Gherkins. Burger. 5am Saint bacon. Comt√© cheese. Punk IPA and beef dripping onions. Paradox Tokyo* BBQ sauce. LID.

DSC_0143DSC_0144DSC_0145DSC_0146DSC_0148DSC_0150DSC_0153DSC_0156Step 7: insert into face. Wash down with Bourbon Baby.

DSC_0158DSC_0164The verdict?

Our taste-tester, Mr Pip, had this to say:

“It was delicious… the onions were the highlight, for me. You got the most beer out of the onions. The bacon tasted great but you didn’t necessarily taste the beer coming through. The Bourbon Baby was wonderful and complimented the burger well. Our BBQ sauce obviously wasn’t the same recipe as Honest Burgers’, and we were using a different beer, but I think having the Tokyo* in it added a depth and smokiness. I wasn’t getting alcoholic vibes from it, as it was cooked down for a while but it really brought the other elements together.”

While his hunger for burgers has been temporarily sated, Mr Pip is still keen to try and get hold of the real thing, if only to see how close we came to recreating it.

With the #BrewBurger currently being advertised as a limited edition, only being available until 2nd April, it’s encouraging to know we may be able to recreate a little of the magic once it disappears from Honest Burgers’ menus… but there’s still a little time left to join the queues.

Brewdog have been selling Bourbon Baby in their online shop, but at the time of writing they had none in stock. You might get lucky if you keep checking.

5 Honest Burgers restaurants can be found across London, and some Brewdog bars may also be serving the #BrewBurger… but you will have to be quick and get down there by 2nd April 2014.

– PS

Baking With Beer: Ale Bread

Beer and bread are natural bedfellows – they both need yeast to bring them to life. If you use a beer which still has dormant yeast in it, like many of the bottle-conditioned craft beers around today, you can make bread without additional baker’s yeast. But for our purposes, we went with a recipe which used a leavening agent. This freed us up to pick any beer we liked.

To mix things up a bit, we thought we would split the recipe and try two different beers to compare the flavours. After some deliberation we chose two ales by Bath Ales: Barnsey and Gem. Barnsey (4.5%) is a dark bitter with a distinctive toasted flavour, whereas Gem (4.8%) is an amber ale with more of a sweet/bitter balance. Both are made with English hops РBramlings Cross and Goldings respectively. So how would these two different ales differ when baked into bread?

DSC_0045We used a Paul Hollywood basic bread recipe from his How To Bake book.

We started by weighing out a mixture of white and wholemeal bread flours.


Add salt, yeast and butter, keeping the salt and yeast separate so the former doesn’t retard or kill the latter.


Next – time for the beer!



Add the beer to your mixture and work it into a dough.


Time to take out some aggression and knead that sucker!


Then prove for a couple of hours until it’s doubled in size.



Now you can knock it back and shape it. We made little tear-and-share rolls.



Those little rolls have to go through their second proving for about an hour. Then we’re ready for the oven!


A little tray of water in the oven to steam and crisp up our crust, and there you have it!


So which beer made the better bread? It has to be said, for us it was Barnsey all the way. The Barnsey dough got a noticeably better rise than the Gem on both proves and it had more flavour when it came out of the oven.


So there you have it – ale bread! We’re definitely going to try some other beers in our bread – seeing how well the darker beer worked we might try going even darker next time… maybe a stout? Worth a shot!

Have you baked bread with beer? What did you use and how did it turn out? Get in touch and let us know!


– PS

Baking With Beer: Chocolate Stout Cake

DSC_0008Everyone knows the gag “I love cooking with wine; sometimes I even put it in the food” – and we are familiar with sloshing glugs of red and white into our pasta sauces, casseroles and risottos. Supermarkets even sell specially-designated “cooking wine” for the purpose. But how often do you cook with beer? In this series we want to explore recipes which use beer in cooking and baking to see what interesting new flavours we can discover.

When we think of the flavours we typically associate with stouts and porters – chocolate, coffee, oatmeal, cream – it immediately becomes apparent why it makes a perfect ingredient in chocolate cake. I discovered this Gizzi Erskine Chocolate Guinness Cake recipe a couple of years ago after a tip off from a friend and it has been a firm favourite of my husband’s ever since. He requested it specially for his birthday over Bank Holiday weekend and I was only too happy to oblige. In the past I have made it with Bath Ales’ Dark Side stout (4%) which is very smooth and balances bitter and sweetness well without getting too heavy. But as it was a special occasion the hubby requested that I used one of his favourite beers – The Kernel Export Stout. This is much stronger at 7.8% and is richer as a result, carrying more dried fruit flavours. I figured this could only go down well in a chocolate cake.

To get started, heat stout on the hob with butter until it melts.


Next, add sugar, dark chocolate and cocoa powder.



Beat plain yoghurt with eggs and vanilla essence and add to to saucepan.

DSC_0023Finally add flour and bicarb and whisk in. DSC_0025DSC_0033DSC_0038The recipe says to cook the cake for 45mins to an hour – I went for the full hour as it’s a seriously wet mixture. After baking you need to cool it in the tin for a couple of hours before trying to turn it out so that it firms up a bit. It’s worth it to get such a moist and light texture.

DSC_0098 DSC_0118When the cake’s cool, you whisk cream, cream cheese and icing sugar to make the frosting. The idea is that it looks like a Guinness with a frothy top – not as relevant with Kernel Export Stout. But it tastes awesome.

DSC_0137 The great thing about this cake is that although it is chocolately, it isn’t too rich or too sweet. There’s about 100g of chocolate and 35g of cocoa in the whole cake, so it’s not too overpowering.

So there you have it! Chocolate stout cake. Have you tried baking with stout/porter and chocolate? What beers did you choose?

DSC_0142– PS