After canning all winter in Vermont, former archeologist and avid canner Nancy Warner ran out of fresh and frozen fruit. “I really wanted to make more jelly,” Warner said. “So I looked in my cabinets and found beer, wine, coffee, and vinegar, and I started turning them into jelly.” Beer jelly was a foreign concept for Nancy but she knew of wine jelly, an old Colonial favorite. “I like beer and I figured if I can make wine jelly, why can’t I make beer jelly?” Her first two batches were made with Sierra Nevada Celebration Ale (left over from a holiday party) and a friend’s home-brewed vanilla porter. So, what does beer jelly tastes like? “It tastes like the beer it’s made with, but rather than the bitter front taste, you get the fruitier flavors from the hops,” says Warner. The beer jellies were huge hits, and when Warner and her husband founded Potlicker Kitchen in 2012, they stocked a dozen or so beer-flavored jellies, including oatmeal stout, raspberry Hefeweizen, a seasonal pumpkin ale, and their bestseller, an IPA.
Similar sudsy inspiration hit farmer and chef Caroline Radice on the opposite coast at Black Dog Farm in Redwood Valley, California. “I was drinking beer on St. Patrick’s Day and decided that it would be a good idea to make a batch of jelly with some of it,” said Caroline, who shared her self-described “ridiculous recipe” on her website in 2011. The Black Dog Farm stout beer jelly is only available by special order, but you can try making it at home. “Dark beers work the best for this recipe, since their rich flavor seems to hold up well to cooking,” Caroline said. We suggest pairing it with a sharp cheddar, sausage, and mustard on pumpernickel.
Stout Beer Jelly Recipe
Makes: six half-pint jars
Cook Time: 1 hour
3 12-ounce bottles of stout beer — the higher quality, the better
¼ cup apple cider vinegar
2 ½ cups sugar
1 package Sure-Jell low-sugar pectin
Bring boiling water canner up to a boil; wash jars and lids in hot, soapy water and set aside.
Put beer and vinegar into a large pot (it will froth up more than you think.) In a separate small bowl, mix ½ cup sugar and the package of powdered pectin. Stir the mixture into the beer and vinegar and bring to a boil. Once it’s boiling, add the remaining two cups of sugar and return to a boil. Cook it at a rolling boil for one minute, then remove from the heat.
Ladle hot jam into hot, clean jars, leaving ¼-inch headspace. Wipe rims and attach lids, and then process in a boiling water bath for 10 minutes.
Pair the stout beer jelly with sharp cheddar cheese, a grainy mustard, pumpernickel, rye, cornichons, and summer sausage.
Additional tip: The beer jelly also makes a delectable glaze for pork chops, steak, or chicken. Season the meat with salt and pepper, cook part way through, then spread on a bit of the jelly (too early and it will burn), then finish cooking.