Warm Spiced Beer

December 15, 2015

Warm Spiced Beer | Fake Food Free

I find that beer temperatures vary by the location. When we lived in Brazil, the beer was so cold that ice was often inside the bottle. In Europe, it’s always been on the warmer side. Cold beer somewhere in between these two was the standard in the States for years. Then came the craft beer boom, and with it, the understanding that some beers are best served at warmer temperatures. 

 But until we made it Poland, I had never had hot beer. 

It may sound odd to you at first. That’s what I thought when I saw it on a menu in Krakow when we visited the Christmas Markets there a couple years ago. Given my adventurous nature when it comes to food and drink, you can probably guess that it was just odd enough to me to enthusiastically give it a try. 

Warm Spiced Beer | Fake Food Free

One would expect bitterness due to the heat or excess sweetness to cover it up, but no. It’s a delicious balance of sweet and bitter with seasonal spices. And like most hot alcoholic beverages, it warms you up immediately. 

Last year in Berlin we tried something similar, but what is called Glühbier there is different than the Polish version. There, it was a warm cherry beer. Equally as good, but the mulled or spiced aspect of the Polish version is what I wanted to recreate. I’ve learned a few lessons along the way. 

  1. Choose a lager, perhaps something on the sweeter side. The best version I made was actually with a Mexican-style Lager, 21st Amendment’s El Sully. 
  2. Do NOT let it boil! You must watch it like a hawk, keep the heat on low and let it warm, not boil. As soon as it gets close to boiling, it will turn bitter. 
  3. Save the citrus for the garnish, not the warming. When it warms with the beer the rind adds some bitter notes that aren’t appealing. 

Warm Spiced Beer | Fake Food Free

If you follow those rules, you should be well on your way to comforting mug of spiced beer. Give the cider and wine a break this holiday and embrace the idea of warming up your brew. 

Warm Spiced Beer
Makes: 1 to 2 servings
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  1. 1 (12 oz.) lager
  2. 1 1/2 teaspoons honey
  3. 1 cinnamon stick
  4. 1/2 inch piece fresh ginger, peeled and sliced
  5. 1/2 teaspoon whole cloves
  6. 2 whole star anise
  7. Orange slices for serving
  1. Pour the beer into a small saucepan and let it settle. Turn to low heat and stir in the honey. Add the cinnamon stick, ginger, cloves and star anise.
  2. Let warm for 5 to 10 minutes, gently stirring often. Do not let the beer come to a simmer or boil. Once the beer is hot, strain out the spices and pour into heat-safe glasses. Garnish with an orange slice before serving.
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  • suki December 15, 2015 at 10:24 am

    never thought to warm up beer. this is INTERESTING. not sure if i’ll be able to replicate it. 😉

    • Lori December 15, 2015 at 11:59 am

      Try it! The key is to warm it slowly and the honey takes some of the natural bitterness out of the beer.

  • Kelli H (Made in Sonoma) December 15, 2015 at 10:31 am

    I’ve been having so much fun adding mulling spices to wine and bourbon lately. This looks like a good one, too. I learned the hard way about putting the citrus slices in with the liquid while it’s on a low simmer. It soaked up all my wine — haha.

    • Lori December 15, 2015 at 12:08 pm

      Mulled drinks are the best! I always love seeing the citrus slices in the pot, but they are challenging to work with!

  • Amy December 16, 2015 at 2:47 pm

    I have made warmed wine, never thought about beer, now we just need the cold weather.