Beer Syrup

I’ve made pancakes substituting beer for the water, I’ve enjoyed Kentucky Breakfast Stout, once with beer pancakes. And I’ve had beer that tasted rather sweet, like maple syrup, too. But it never occurred to me you could make the pancake syrup with beer. And it looks fairly easy. I recently ran across an article about The Art of Making Beer Syrup in Outside magazine, and apparently bartenders have been making them for years to use in special cocktails. Given that the only cocktail I almost ever order is a gin & tonic, hopefully you’ll forgive my cocktail ignorance. Apparently it’s just water (or any liquid) reduced, sugar added.

Outside’s recipe is so simple, even I could probably make it:

For best results, pour your favorite beer into a pan and slowly simmer over low heat until it reduces to two-thirds of its initial volume. Then add in an equal proportion of raw brown sugar and stir until the sugar dissolves completely. Pour liberally over your favorite breakfast food and wait for your insulin levels to spike.

The Good Booze blog suggests adding “a few whole cardamom pods” and “one small vanilla bean, split” to give it a little more flavor. It looks like any beer could work, although malt-forward beers seem better suited than hoppier ones, but certainly some experimentation is in order.

Allrecipes also has their own recipe, and a bar in San Francisco, The Fifth Floor (which is closed now, and reborn as Dirty Habit) used to make a drink they called Hops & Dreams, using a syrup made from Anchor Steam Beer.

And one entrepreneurial soul is trying to start the Beer Syrup Company to make commercial beer syrups.


Patent No. 132574A: Improvement In The Manufacture Of Beer (a.k.a. “California Pop Beer”)

Today in 1872, US Patent 132574 A was issued, an invention of Charles C. Haley, for his “Improvement In The Manufacture Of Beer, which in the application he names his improved beverage “California Pop Beer.” There’s no Abstract, although this is such an interesting one that I’m showing the entire application below, which also includes a recipe of sorts.


I think someone could probably make this beer, assuming homebrewers haven’t already taken up the challenge, even though it appears there is some general instruction, it seems like educated guesses would have to be made to fill in the unknowns.

This invention consists in a compound of the ingredients hereinafter named, used in the manner and in the proportions substantially as described, to form an improved beverage which I have denominated California Pop Beer.

In the manufacture of beer according to my invention, I first prepare the yeast as follows: For one hundred and five gallons of beer, I take of wheat flour three-quarters of a pound and dissolve it in one quart of cold water, and one ounce of hops steeped one hour in two quarts of water, and afterward strained. The dissolved wheat flour and the steeped hops are then mixed together, and the mixture is steeped for half an hour. It is then allowed to cool to the temperature of 88 Fahrenheit, after which three ounces of ground malt and one half an ounce of pure spirits are added, and the mixture allowed to stand for twelve hours.

The essence is next prepared as follows: To five ounces of alcohol I add one-half an ounce of oil of Wintergreen, one-third of an ounce of oil of Sassafras, and one-third of an ounce of oil of spruce, roughly mixed.

The yeast and essence having been thus prepared, the manufacture of the beer is proceeded with as follows: I take one-half a pound of hops, fourteen ounces of chemically prepared cream of tartar, and one-half pound of African ginger-root. These are placed in a suitable tub and steeped with ten gallons of water one hour, after which seventy pounds of granulated sugar are added. The essence prepared as above stated is now added to the mixture in the tub, and the con tents are brought to a heat of about 90; and, at this point, the yeast first prepared is poured in and the mixture allowed to stand for four hours. It is then bottled, and after standing for three days it is ready for use. The beer thus prepared is a superior and harmless beverage.

It also appears that it was sold commercially, and must have been popular enough, since it’s often referred to as “Haley’s Celebrated California Pop Beer.”


Of course, that could be an early form of advertising puffery. Haley himself was apparently from Troy, New York and so it seems likely his brewery, “C. Haley & Co.” was located there as well, although I’m on the road and don’t have my American Breweries II book for reference and nothing’s coming up online in a cursory search. There are, however, several examples of the name appearing on bottles, generally in the northeast, primarily from New York and New Jersey.


It seems curious that something not from California was named “California Pop Beer.” Was there some reputation California would have had at that time period that made naming the beer this way make sense?


Some bottles even include the date that the patent was approved.


And seems clear that multiple breweries made “California Pop Beer,” as here’s one from Brooklyn. It was brewed by G.B. Selmers, located at “104 & 106 So. 8th St. Brooklyn, ED.”


So who wants to step up and brew “California Pop Beer?” Maybe it should be someone actually in California this time?

Dinner In The Beer Garden: A New Cookbook Needs Your Support

My good friend Lucy Saunders, the beer cook, has a new cookbook on beer and food, Dinner In The Beer Garden, that’s she hoping to publish through Kickstarter. Like everything she does, it looks awesome. For as little as $15, you can get a copy of it as an e-book, and for a mere $25, you can be one of the very first on planet beer to put her recipes to the test with your favorite beers, using your own paperback copy of the book. For higher pledges, there’s even more cool stuff you can get, like t-shirts, signed copies, hoodies, and for the Pièce de résistance pledge, she’ll come and cook five of the recipes in the book for you and 12 guests.

[The book itself is] about pairing craft beer with plant-based recipes, enjoyed outdoors in gardens and other social spaces. This isn’t about traditional biergarten food like ham hocks and bratwurst. It’s a cookbook for people who like carrots and kale — as well as butter, fish, cheese and chocolate! Profiles of gorgeous brewery gardens, a chapter on the history and design of beer gardens, and juicy color photographs of recipes turn the book into a tasty read. Recipes are both original and contributed by home cooks and chefs in the craft brewing community.

Most of the hard work is already done; most of the recipes have been created and tested, photographs taken, and discussions with the printer — one she’s used for previous projects — have begun. All she needs is a little help from her friends to make her new cookbook appear in all of our hands, and the recipes inside filling our stomachs with deliciousness. If you love great food and beer, please consider pledging to become a backer of Lucy’s book at whatever level you feel comfortable.

Lucy showing off one of her other cookbooks, “The Best of American Beer & Food” during GABF in 2007.

George Washington’s Small Beer

Today is the day we celebrate the birthday of George Washington, though he probably celebrated it on the 11th, because that’s what day the calendar read when he was born. That’s because when Washington was born in 1731, the British government still used the Julian calendar, but the British Calendar (New Style) Act of 1750, implemented the Gregorian calendar in 1752, and that’s the calendar system we still use today in the U.S. When it was adjusted, eleven days were added, and George went from having a birthday of February 11, 1731 to February 22, 1732, which is the one we use today.

I did a column several years ago for the San Francisco Chronicle, before I started working for rival Bay Area Newsgroup, about Washington’s love of Porter and his efforts making small beer. Washington’s handwritten recipe has famously survived and can be seen at the New York Public Library. It was in his “Notebook as a Virginia Colonel,” from 1757. And below it what it looks like.


Luckily, his penmanship has been translated:

To make Small Beer

Take a large Sifter full of Bran Hops to your Taste. “” Boil these 3 hours. Then strain out 30 Gallons into a Cooler, put in 3 Gallons Molasses while the Beer is scalding hot or rather drain the molasses into the Cooler & strain the Beer on it while boiling Hot. Let this stand till it is little more than Blood warm. Then put in a quart of Yeast if the weather is very cold, cover it over with a Blanket & let it work in the Cooler 24 hours. Then put it into the Cask “” leave the Bung[hole] open till it is almost done working “” Bottle it that day Week it was Brewed.

Most people agree it probably wasn’t the best tasting beer, and I believe that there were efforts a few years ago to recreate it faithfully, but I don’t recall hearing those experiments turned out. Still, it’s nice to remember that our founding fathers were beer drinkers and, in some cases, brewers, as well.

I love this illustration of Washington throwing back a cold one, by Canadian artist Scott McKowen, which he did for a Wired article about Tom Kehoe, at Yards Brewing in Philadelphia, recreating some colonial beer recipes.

Guinness Chocolate Cheesecake

My sister-in-law sent me this delicious looking recipe for a chocolate cheesecake made with Guinness, though I suspect any Irish dry stout would work. The recipe comes from Closet Cooking, a food blog by a man named Kevin in Ontario, Canada.


This recipe for the Guinness chocolate cheesecake is a pretty basic chocolate cheesecake recipe with the addition of the Guinness but the similarities stop there. The addition of the Guinness changes the texture and properties of the cheesecake making it more souffle like. Normally you can tell when a cheesecake is done by shaking it a bit and if only the center wiggles it is done but the entire surface of this cheesecake will wiggle the whole time, even after 2 hours of baking. You pretty much just have to trust the recipe and the results are certainly worth it!


The Guinness chocolate cheesecake is a moist one as might be expected with all of the extra liquid provided by the Guinness but it is also nice and light and creamy. This cheesecake has a texture that seems to be like a cross between a souffle and fudge and it is simply amazing! The Guinness flavour is very subtle but it seems to enhance the overall chocolate flavour which is quite welcome. In all honesty, this cheese cake does not need any garnishes but feel free to top it with some Bailey whipped cream if you like.

Here’s the recipe, but without the blockquotes for ease of reading:

Guinness Chocolate Cheesecake
(makes 6+ servings)
Printable Recipe


1 cup graham cracker crumbs
2 tablespoons cocoa powder
1 tablespoon sugar
2 tablespoons butter, melted
12 ounces dark chocolate, chopped
2 tablespoons heavy cream
3 (8 ounce) packages cream cheese
1 cup sugar
1/2 cup sour cream
3 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
3/4 cup Guinness


1. Mix the graham cracker crumbs, cocoa powder, sugar, and butter and press into the bottom of a 9 inch spring form pan.
2. Melt the chocolate in the cream in a double boiler.
3. Cream the cream cheese.
4. Mix in the sugar, chocolate, sour cream, eggs, vanilla, and Guinness.
5. Pour the mixture into the spring form pans.
6. Bake in a preheated 350F oven for 60 minutes.
7. Turn off heat and leave cheesecake in the oven with the door slightly ajar for 60 minutes.
8. Let it cool completely.
9. Chill the cheesecake in the fridge overnight.


Boy that looks tasty. I’m hungry.