Best craft-beer-based dishes: A round-up, part 1

Local beers at George and the Dragon's bar are also in their recipes
Local beers at George and the Dragon's bar are also in their recipes

Benjamin Carter Grimes

With our local beer scene booming and more people catching the home brewing bug every day, it makes sense that just about every decent Twin Cities restaurant seems to understand the importance of curating a respectable beer list. But we've seen a wonderful growing trend of restaurants showcasing those local beers in a unique way by using them as the base or inspiration for everything from pot pies to puddings. 

Here's a roundup of just a few of the best sweet (savories will be published tomorrow) offerings that local restaurants are serving up, using local and regional beers.

Bender creme brûlée at the Happy Gnome
The notes of coffee, vanilla, cocoa, and caramel in Surly's Bender, an American-style brown ale, lend themselves well to sweeter pairings, so it makes perfect sense in the custard base of this classic dessert. There's a slight bitterness to the dish that helps balance the layer of glassy sugar on top.

Honey wheat ale cheesecake at Northbound Smokehouse Brewpub
The new brewpub's cheesecake offering changes frequently, but our favorite for fall is the version with caramel and apple reduction and the subtly sweet, malty notes of their honey wheat ale, which is brewed right on the premises.

Stout chocolate pudding at Pig and Fiddle
This rich chocolate pudding is made with Summit oatmeal stout, finished with a layer of creme anglaise, and served in a miniature pint glass, so it has the look and proportion of a beer that an American Girl doll could drink if she was legal ... or real. The massive punch of flavor and rich, velvety texture to this dessert make it a standout.

Tallgrass stout cake at Red Stag Supper Club
This Kansas-based brewery produces several beers that are ubiquitous at our local better beer bars, including their 8-bit pale ale and Buffalo Sweat, the sweet milk stout that makes up the base of this moist chocolate cake. It's finished with a Bailey's milk chocolate mousse and a thin layer of shiny ganache. 

Summit EPA sweet potato spice cake at the Happy Gnome
Yes, Happy Gnome is already on the list, but it's nice to see a dessert that uses a non-stout beer too. In this case it's local classic Summit extra pale ale, and it's blended into a carrot cake-like batter made with warm pumpkin pie spices and sweet potatoes. Like Thanksgiving and your office birthday party and a beer all in one.

What are some of your favorites?

Use Current Location

Related Locations

The Happy Gnome

498 Selby Ave.
St. Paul, MN 55102


Pig & Fiddle

3808 W. 50th St.
Minneapolis, MN 55410


Red Stag Supper Club

509 1st Ave. NE
Minneapolis, MN 55413


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