If there is anything I like as much as pizza, it just might be beer. Over the years, I Dream Of Pizza has rarely focused on the relationship between beer and pizza (did someone say yeast?). But ever since I began making pizza at home, I’ve always dreamed (no pun intended) of creating a beer-based pizza tasting menu. There are many establishments across the country which serve both beer and pizza, but to my knowledge no place exists that serves only beer inspired pizzas. Especially in New York City, where it seems that nearly every pizza trend has been exhausted, I’m surprised that nobody has done this. So I had little guidance when I recently decided to finally make some beer-based pizzas in my apartment.
I suppose the first question you might have is what exactly I mean by a “beer-based pizza.” When thinking about ways that I could incorporate beer into my homemade pizzas, three parts of the process came to mind:
1) Using beer in my crust instead of water
2) Battering the vegetables in beer for toppings
3) Using cheeses on the pizza that contain beer
I will dive into each of these steps below:
HOW TO MAKE A BEER BASED CRUST:
Here is the dough recipe that I used (it makes three pies), but if you have your own that you prefer, simply replace 1 cup of water with 1 cup of beer and you’ll be good to go!
3.5 cups of flour (either “00″ or all-purpose — I used King Arthur’s all-purpose for these particular pies)
0.5 cups of lukewarm water for proofing the yeast
1 cup of beer (ideally a dark beer like a porter or stout — I used Founders Porter)
1 packet of active dry yeast
1 tablespoon of extra virgin olive oil
1 tablespoon of salt
a pinch of sugar (for a quick rise… you can leave this out for an overnight rise)
First, proof the yeast by mixing it with the water. If the yeast gets a little foamy and smells like bread then you’re good to go. In a large mixing bowl, combine all the other ingredients and then add the water, slowly incorporating it with a fork. Once all the liquid is incorporated, you can begin to mix it with your hands. After a minute, remove it from the bowl and knead it on a table for 2-3 minutes. Divide mixture into three. Roll into a ball and place in an airtight container. Leave it on your counter for at least 30 minutes if you are planning on making pizza immediately. Otherwise, store it in your fridge for up to 48 hours or freeze it.
HOW TO BATTER VEGETABLES IN BEER
I’ve occasionally used beer in recipes before (like to make beer mac & cheese), but can’t recall having ever battered vegetables in beer. So I hit the internet for some good beer-based vegetable recipes and adapted them to my pizza making needs. I decided to use Brussels sprouts on one pie and mushrooms on another. Here’s how I prepared them.
BEER BATTERED BRUSSELS SPROUTS
1/2 pound Brussels sprouts (about 2 cups)
1/8 cup of olive oil
3 cloves garlic, minced
3/4 cup (6 ounces) of beer (I used Newcastle Brown Ale but any brown ale or pale ale will work well)
1) Put 1 to 2 inches of water in a pot and bring the water to a rolling boil. Add a pinch of salt. Put the Brussels sprouts in a strainer over the pot and cook until slightly tender, about 5 minutes. When tender, transfer the brussels sprouts to a large bowl of cold water to halt the cooking and preserve their bright green color. Let them cool for 1 minute, then drain. Pat dry with paper towel. Cut them in half vertically, right through the core.
2) In a cast-iron skillet, heat the oil over high heat until it begins to shimmer. Turn the heat down to medium. Stir in the garlic and cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Turn the heat up to high, add the brussels sprouts, and cook, stirring occasionally, until lightly browned, 4 to 5 minutes.
3) Add the beer and continue to cook over high heat until the liquid is mostly evaporated.
BEER SAUTEED MUSHROOMS
8 ounces of mushrooms, sliced
2 tablespoons of butter
1/2 cup of beer
1) In a medium saucepan, melt butter and add mushrooms. Add the beer to the mushrooms and cook over medium low heat. Add the salt and pepper.
2) Cook until the mushrooms are tender and have absorbed the liquid, about 30 minutes.
HOW TO FIND A BEER INFUSED CHEESE
Beer infused cheeses are more common than you might think.What I’d recommend is going to your local cheese shop and asking if they have any cheeses that were made using beer. Alternatively, you could contact breweries that you like and inquire as to whether their beer is used to make any cheeses that they are aware of. The two cheeses that I used were quite random, so it’s unlikely you’d be able to replicate them.
The first cheese I used is an Irish Porter cheese from a cheese shop I stumbled upon in Paris: Fromagerie Laurent Dubois (47 Ter Boulevard Saint-Germain). Yes, that’s right. I bought cheese in Paris and flew it back in my bag so I could make pizza with it.
The second cheese I used is called Bier Meck and I found it at the Ithaca Farmer’s Market in Ithaca, New York. It’s made by a purveyor called Finger Lakes Farmstead Cheese Company and is soaked in brine made from Ithaca Beer Company’s Smoked Porter Ale.
So with my crust rising, my vegetables battering, and my cheese ready to go, it was time to make some pizzas.
PIZZA 1 Featured:
Beer Battered Brussels Sprouts
Bier Meck Gouda
PIZZA 2 Featured:
Beer Battered Mushrooms
Irish Porter Cheese
PIZZA 3 Featured:
Bier Meck Gouda
Forrme De Rochefort (another cheese I brought back from France)
All three pies were delicious and each had distinct elements which made them stand out. My favorite was probably the mushroom pie. Cooking the mushrooms in beer for 30 minutes really infused them with the beer flavor. And then the Guinness (Irish Porter) cheese was combined with the mushrooms to create a creamy and heavy mix of a flavor I can’t quite describe. It didn’t taste like beer, but it had properties of it. And the beer crust on each pie was a pleasant addition too. Again, it didn’t taste like beer, but it added a subtle yeasty flavor to the pies.
The crust, in general, just had a really nice rise. So even the cheese pie, which didn’t really feature beer-based toppings, still tasted really good. I’d certainly love to continue to make beer based pizzas down the road. Especially because it’s not something you can get at any pizzerias in New York City (or anywhere for that matter). All the more reason to make pizza at home!