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Beer, but better? | Butterbeer Old vs New!



Butterbeer - the magic beverage created by J.K. Rowling and loved by witches and wizards of Hogwarts when visiting the Hogsmeade village… right? Well, not exactly. Butterbeer was popularized by the Harry Potter universe, but the original recipe dates back to at least the 16th century! I’ll make the original first, then I’ll show you my take on this fan-favorite from The Wizarding World of Harry Potter. In the process I’ll show you how to make spiced butter syrup, butterscotch foam, and end up with a butterbeer that even Madam Rosmerta from the Three Broomsticks would be proud of. It’s Cocktail Time!


J.K. Rowling has mentioned that she made up what butterbeer would taste like, but there’s a historical reference dating all the way back to the Tudor period in England. A 1588 edition of “the Good Huswifes Handmaide for the Kitchin’” has a recipe for the Buttered Beere, with three pints of beer it makes a pretty big batch, but all the ingredients are well laid out. Speaking of, here’s what you’ll need.



Original 1588 Butterbeer

● 1500mL (50oz) good quality British ale

● 5 egg yolks

● 200g demerara sugar

● ½ tsp ground nutmeg

● ½ tsp ground cloves

● ¼ tsp ground ginger

● 100g unsalted butter


Take the egg yolks and beat them with the sugar until light and frothy, then set them aside while you add your beer into a saucepan and place over medium heat. Now stir in the spices and bring the mixture to a boil, then turn down to low and simmer for 2 minutes (also, for a non-alcoholic version, leave at medium heat and boil for 15-20 minutes). Remove the pot from the heat and stir in the egg and sugar mixture, then return it to the heat, stirring constantly, until the liquid starts to thicken slightly - be careful not to let the saucepan get too hot or the eggs will scramble!


After 2 minutes, remove the pan from the heat and whisk in the butter until it melts. Then froth the buttered beer with a hand whisk, or you can also follow the original Tudor recipe advice and pour the Butterbeer from one jug to another, to froth it up. Once it’s nice and frothy, serve in the oldest beer jug you can find and give it a taste. As weird as the combination of beer and butter might sound, it’s really surprisingly good.



It’s a hearty sip for sure, but the spices and sugar make it really pleasant. I imagine this would be a perfect drink for a weary traveler after a long, rainy day of riding through the English countryside. Definitely not bad for something that’s over 400 years old, but let’s see how we can make this into a modern version, starting with a delicious Spiced Butter Syrup.


Spiced Butter Syrup

● 230g water

● 0,4g cloves crushed

● 0,1g nutmeg crushed

● 0,8g allspice crushed

● 0,15g Ceylon cinnamon crushed

● 2,7g gum arabic

● 0,3g xanthan

● 150g melted butter

● 200g demerara sugar


This recipe is based on Dave Arnold’s Liquid Intelligence but I’m adding a few extra spices, so start by bringing water to a boil and in the meantime crush the spices with a mortar and pestle. Add them to the water, cover and let infuse for 5 minutes. Now filter out the spices and measure 200 grams of our infused water. We need to use xanthan gum and gum arabic as emulsifiers so that the butter is incorporated in the syrup, so add them to the water and blend with a hand blender.


Once the emulsifiers are fully dissolved, add in the melted butter, constantly mixing with an immersion blender. Lastly, stir in the sugar until it’s fully dissolved and if the mixture isn’t hot enough you can blend that in as well. With that our spiced butter syrup is done! If you see minor separation just give it a quick shake and it will be in solution again. This can be stored at room temperature if you’re using it the same day, or in the fridge for several days.


Let’s now move onto the crown of our cocktail: the Butterscotch Foam. You’ll need butter, brown sugar, salt, heavy cream, vanilla extract, and some scotch. The original butterscotch recipe doesn’t use any alcohol, despite the name, but it’s a great addition. Once we have our butterscotch sauce we’ll mix it with water and egg whites, then foam it up in a cream whipper.


Butterscotch Foam

● 80g butter

● 160g brown sugar

● 4g salt

● 180g heavy cream

● 4g vanilla extract

● 30mL (1oz) Scotch

● 120g water

● 60mL (2oz) krema

● 3 egg yolks


Start with melting the butter in a saucepan over medium heat. Then add the sugar, salt and heavy cream and stir the mixture with a rubber spatula until it's well blended. Bring the mixture to a boil, scraping down the sides constantly, and boil it for 4 to 5 minutes. Now remove the mixture from the heat and stir in the vanilla extract and the scotch - we won’t use all of the butterscotch sauce for the foam, so you’ll be able to top your desserts with this delicious cream.



Let it cool slightly and in the meantime separate 3 eggs. We’ll need the egg yolks for the butterbeer so using the egg whites as the foaming agent is a less wasteful option, which is something we’re always going for, although gelatine would be my other option as I’ve done in the past with other foams. So combine the egg whites with 2 oz, or 60 ml of our butterscotch sauce, and 4 oz or 120 ml of water. Whisk up to combine with a milk frother, then strain everything into a chilled isi siphon through a fine mesh strainer. Charge it with a N2O cartridge, shake to help it froth up, then place in the fridge to chill.


With that you have all the ingredients and we’re ready to make the elevated Butterbeer.


Modern Butterbeer

● 600mL (20oz) IPA beer

● 270mL (9oz) Spiced Butter Syrup

● 3 egg yolks

● 10 drops saline solution

● Top with Butterscotch Foam


Same as before, add everything to a pot, starting with the IPA, which became widespread in England by 1815 as an export beer shipped to India and elsewhere. Follow that with the Spiced Butter Syrup - another cocktail you can make with this is Dave Arnold’s Cold Buttered Rum found in Liquid Intelligence! Now add in the egg yolks and saline solution and place on medium heat. Slowly bring up to a simmer while whisking constantly and in the process you’ll get a creamy mixture, which should foam up slightly.


Again, we don’t want to cook the eggs so once you see it simmer, take it off the heat and pour into a mug of choice. To give it a rich frothy head, top it off with our Butterscotch Foam and top with a sprinkle of grated nutmeg - beautiful! From Diagon Alley to the Hog's Head, I think this Butterbeer will be unlike any other out there, so let’s give it a try. The grated nutmeg and butterscotch hit your nose first and you know you can expect something rich and decadent.


As the cold foam and hot butterbeer mix in your mouth you get a creamy, buttery harmony of flavors that are perfectly spiced, sweet and hoppy. Probably not suitable for Hogwarts students, but perfect for grown-up muggles watching a Harry Potter movie. This is similar, but still very different from Šeto, the hot wine, eggs & sugar cocktail I learned from my grandma, but both really hit the spot on a cold winter day.


So try the unusual combination of beer and butter and let me know how you like it. Cheers, Friends of Cocktails.


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