David Ort's Butter Beer

A sweet, boozy and aromatic drink is exactly what you need on cold winter nights

Butter Beer Recipe

This is a convivial drink for those of us who don’t belong to the eggnog fan club. It needs to be served warm, straight from the pot. More than four centuries before J. K. Rowling devised her band of child wizards, the Brits made butter beer to warm frosty winter evenings. In true Tudor fashion, it was spelled inconsistently, often with an extra “e” on the end. The Tudors were comparatively strict about the distinction between unhopped ale and hopped beer. Historical recipes are clear about the recipe always being made with ale very low in hops.

For another take on Butter'd Beer without spices, try chef Darren MacLean's recipe from Calgary's downtownfood restaurant. 

Butter Beer

4 cups scotch ale
3/4 tsp nutmeg, freshly grated
1/2 tsp ground ginger
1/4 tsp ground cloves
4 egg yolks
1/2 cup sugar
2 tbsp unsalted butter, cut into four cubes

Pour the beer into a medium saucepan and set it over medium-low heat. Use a probe or candy thermometer to monitor the temperature. Add the nutmeg, ginger and cloves to the pan.

Meanwhile, with a hand-held mixer, beat the egg yolks and sugar until the colour and texture are noticeably lighter. When you turn off the mixer and lift the beaters, the mixture should fall off the beaters in ribbons.

When the beer reaches 120°F (50°C) remove the pan from the heat. While whisking the beer constantly with one hand, pour the egg yolk and sugar mixture into the pan with the other hand. Return the pan to the burner and boost the heat to medium. Continue to stir the butter beer constantly until it thickens slightly, about 2 minutes, maintaining its temperature between 160°F and 170°F (71°C and 77°C). If it climbs above this range, you’ll likely end up with a pot of scrambled eggs floating in beer, that taste vaguely of Christmas.

Off the heat, give the drink another minute of vigorous whisking to froth the surface.

Serve in festive cups or mugs, dropping a cube of butter into each at the end and giving it a gentle stir.

Serves 4
Cook Time:
15 minutes