For my 31st birthday I decided I wanted to go on the Harry Potter tour. My older sister kindly took me as a birthday present and halfway through the tour bought me a glass of the butter beer I had so been looking forward to. I knew that it was a proper recipe, not just something that J.K. had invented for the books. And ever since that summer when I read four of the books in a row, and accompanied them with French beer, I have been very curious. I imagined it to be a warm, spicy, milky beer. But what me and my sister got on the Harry Potter tour was a sort of sugary diet coke (yes, I did mean that. None of the taste of proper coke and with lots of sugar added) with a sort of thick creamy sugary concoction that was served atop of the fizzy pop. Here’s a photo of me at Tom Riddle’s grave, grimacing through the sugar…
(How does no photo ever, ever look like me? Notice the frothy coke type drink I’m holding.)
This was a couple of weeks ago and I decided that I wasn’t going to stand for this sugary crap. I googled butter beer and mainly found recipes that are made with Harry Potter and kids in mind. They mainly involve cream soda, sugar, marshmallow cream and double cream. Basically they’re sickly soft drinks that mean to look like frothy beer… But are nowhere near being beer. And then I found this recipe on a proper historical recipe website, and I made it.
The recipe is very well written, and I recommend you using it if you give this a try. The beer itself is quite strong, and the cloves are ‘different’. But it’s warming and lovely and just like you imagined the kids drinking when they were down at the Leaky Cauldron in Hogsmeade. It’s not exactly for summer drinking, but the people who wrote this recipe also recommend chilling it and mixing it with milk. Which I shall be doing on 31st July to celebrate Harry and J.K.’s birthdays 🙂
*Update: A few days after writing this post I did try chilled butter beer. Unfortunately for me the butter had separated from the mixture and formed a thick fatty hard crust on top :-/. But thinking that this would be a good chance to remove some of the fat that I hadn’t really appreciated on first drinking, I removed the crust and whisked in the remaining hardened butter (as the recipe had suggested)… It wasn’t great. Despite the recipe saying you could mix the chilled beer with some milk I decided to drink it as it was. And what I ended up with was a very strongly spiced beer, with bits of butter floating in it :-(.
I made many attempts to filter out the remaining butter before giving in and heating the mixture back up in the microwave. The result was that I ended up with something that tasted better than the original beer I’d made some days earlier. This is because, as well as removing about half the butter I had also accidentally filtered out some of the spices, namely the cloves. So, if you are going to make this for yourselves I would consider; a). halving the amount of butter in the recipe, b). burning off some of the alcohol, as some of these dark ales are very strong, and c). halving the amount of cloves and maybe increasing the amount of ginger or nutmeg, depending on your taste.