August 23, 2011

Smoke Your Beer, Not Your Butt!

In my efforts to keep up with the amount of beer I produce in comparison to the amount of beer I actually drink, often times a good amount of my home brew ends up in the food I cook. Some of my favorite food in the whole world is smoked pork and BBQ. Since my charcoal fired outdoor smoker has taken up residence in my parents garage, I decided to try and take a shortcut or two to produce some pulled pork sandwiches.

Although smoked beers are not the most common or well appreciated beer style, I happen to rank them near the top of my list of favorite beers. Since a rauchbier is traditionally made as a lager, I happened to brew my batch during the winter as a lot of home brewers typically do. While brainstorming recipes that would make good use of my remaining supply of rauchbier bottles, a summer time favorite of slow cooked BBQ pork sandwiches came to mind.

As busy as people are these days, it's more and more difficult to make great slow-cooked food. This is where I turn to crock pots for assistance! Crock pots are great for just throwing together a few simple ingredients before you head to work, then coming home to the smells of a nice, home cooked meal. The shredded "smoked" pork in the recipe is as simple as slicing an onion and a couple cloves of garlic, opening a bottle of beer and not much else.

In my former line of work as a chef, my mentor taught my many things about not only food, but how to be a good man and to treat yourself, your co-workers and your ingredients with respect. Working under Sandy was a life-changing experience. I learned how to produce wonderful food consistently, how to discipline my life and express myself creatively. The recipe for the BBQ sauce I made here is a slight variation on one of his recipes. It is slightly non-traditional for a BBQ sauce, but the twists and turns it takes along the way will provide some wonderfully unique flavors. If you don't happen to have the time to make your own sauce, simply pick up one of your bottled favorites.

"Smoked" Shredded Pork Butt

1 - 8-10 pound bone-in pork shoulder roast
1 - sweet Vidalia onion
3 - cloves garlic
2 - bay leaves
1 - 22 oz bottle Rauchbier (NB recipe, or a good German example such as Schlenkerla)

Peel and slice onion. Peel and slice garlic cloves. Combine all ingredients in crock pot, set to low temperature, and allow to cook for roughly eight hours or until meat starts to fall away from the bone. After meat has finished cooking, remove roast from crock pot very carefully to a large mixing bowl. Using some tongs or forks, shred the meat and remove the bone. If you like, you can mix in a few tabelspoons of the resulting cooking liquid for added moisture.

Spiced barbeque sauce

3 - 28 oz cans whole peeled tomatoes
8 oz sweet onion, peeled and sliced
4 cloves garlic, peeled and sliced
1/2 cup lemon juice
1/2 cup apple cider vinegar
2 Tbl Hungarian sweet paprika
1/4 tsp dried ground Chipotle chile
1 1/2 Tbl ground ginger
1/2 tsp ground allspice
1/4 tsp fresh ground nutmeg
1/2 tsp black pepper
1/4 tsp ground cloves
3 Tbl molasses
1/2 cup honey
2-3 Tbl olive oil
1 1/2 Tbl cornstarch

Gather your ingredients. Peel and slice the onion and garlic - set aside and keep seperate. Open the canned tomatoes and drain the liquid, then put the tomatoes in a large mixing bowl. Using an immersion blender, puree the whole tomatoes until smooth. Measure the dried spices together in a small bowl and set aside. If using fresh lemons, collect 1/2 cup of juice - or use a bottled lemon juice product. Measure the honey and molasses into seperate containers.

Heat a thick-bottom non-reactive sauce pan, preferably 4 to 6 quart capacity, over medium-high heat. When hot, add the olive oil, then add the onion. Saute the onion until lightly caramelized. When the onion is slightly browned, add the honey. Cook and boil the honey until it starts to caramelize and brown, this should take anywhere from 5 to 15 minutes. Be very careful not to burn the honey! When the honey has caramelized nicely, add the molasses and sliced garlic and cook just long enough to combine with the honey, or 1 to 2 minutes. Add the dried spices and stir just to combine and dissolve them, or about 30 sec to 1 minute. Add the lemon juice and cider vinegar - this will halt the caramelization process by cooling down the temperature in the pot. Be careful of vigorous foaming and bubbling due to the rapid change in temperature. When the mixture returns to the boil, add the pureed tomatoes. Return to a boil, then reduce heat to a low simmer.

Simmer the sauce uncovered for 60 to 90 minutes, stirring frequently to prevent scorching as it starts to reduce and thicken. When the sauce has reduced by about about a third, remove from heat. Using the immersion blender, carefully puree the sauce for 3 to 4 minutes right in the sauce pot. Be very, very careful when pureeing hot liquids - start slow at first so the hot liquid doesn't splash up and burn you. Return the pureed sauce to the heat and return to a simmer. Mix the cornstarch with a couple tablespoons of cold water to make a slurry, then add the slurry to the simmering sauce. Mix using a whisk, and simmer for a few more minutes to complete the thickening process. Season to taste with salt and pepper, if you like.

Mix the shredded pork with enough sauce to "dress" the meat, then pile a healthy amount onto sandwich buns. Serve with any number of sides from potato salad, pickles, mac n' cheese or a nice salad.


  1. That is making my mouth water. Thank you!

  2. Side notes from the author:

    The Rauchbier featured in the recipe recently won a silver medal at the Germanfest Homebrew Competition in Milwaukee.

    Thanks to my wonderful grandmother for making the German potato salad featured on the plate!

    Go Pack Go.

  3. can i still use a rub on the meat? also, can i just use the crock pot sauce, or do i have to make my own?

  4. Just finished cleaning up after using your recipe to make dinner. I had to take a moment to let you know that the consensus in these parts is that this is a pulled pork recipe (and sauce) for the ages. I now have this one on heavy rotation.

  5. If you can't find a smoked beer, can you use any style lager like an oktoberfest?

  6. just made this for a NCAA weekend of awesome football. It was a hit, appreciate the article in NB. Congrats on such a concoction. I added bout 8 cloves of garlic to the meat and whole dried anchos, cause that's how I roll. never enough garlic. otherwise stuck to recipe. beer I chose was the NB Smoked Amber Ale, and it was perfect! Thanks lots