A few mornings ago I woke up with a seriously mean hankering for Mac and Cheese, which could have been the result of either two things: the fact that over the course of the night we accumulated a couple inches of snow fall and I desired something warm and cozy to eat that evening OR that my body was running on a seriously low carb intake from traveling in and out of my mountain home a couple of times this past week.
Either way, it was only 8:30am and I wanted Mac and Cheese.
Fortunately for me, I had stopped into Ron’s Market in Farmington earlier that week to pick up some beer on my way back up to the Valley. I currently have a small collection of brews accumulating in my fridge, each labeled with food items that I am eagerly awaiting to make with them. So I grabbed my bottle of “Zoe” labeled “M.cheese”, packed my bag, threw on my hiking boots and set off down the mountain.
So what’s cool about Maine Beer Company is their dedication and commitment to sustainability within their brewing practices and their investment in giving back to the planet. By using renewable energy forms, such as solar energy and donating 1% of their gross sales each year to environmental and conservation based non-profit organizations, they are making a big difference in the world, one beer at a time. This beer in particular spotlights the Allied Whale Project, which is based out of Bar Harbor Maine, in affiliation with the College of the Atlantic. I encourage everyone to consider adopting-a-whale this holiday season in support of keeping their program moving in a positive direction.
As I was driving in and out of the valley that afternoon I realized that I have never witnessed such winter splendor before. Laugh if you would like, but this truly will be my first winter spent in the woods. I will reluctantly admit that I have been a city girl much of my whole life, and have spent each winter encased by the tall cement structures of office buildings and highly decorated retail spaces.
Anyway back to that Mac and Cheese.
“Zoe” being an amber ale, was a great addition to my mac and cheese. It was not only rich in color, but held a smooth caramel flavor. Notes of citrus and pine came through, along with a quick but not to bitter hop. I chose to mix a smoked cheddar into my cheese sauce, which only enhanced the robust flavor of this beer. It’s easy to say that the combination of flavors were incredible.
So here is my first recipe! Myself and a few of my dear friends (my official Beer blog “guinea pigs”) were really happy with the success of this recipe and I hope that you enjoy it as much as we did!
Beer’s Mac and Cheese
- 3 tbs. of butter, softened
- 4 tbs. of flour
- 1/2 cup of Half n’ Half
- 2 cups of shredded cheddar
- 1 cup of shredded smoked cheddar
- 1/4 cup of shredded parmesan
- 1/2 cup of amber ale – or beer of choice.
- 1 box of medium shells
- Salt and Pepper to taste
- Thick cut slab bacon
- Chopped scallions
- 1 clove of minced garlic
If making bacon, set your oven to anywhere from 350-375 degrees, and bake on a cookie sheet until desired crunch. I usually bake my bacon for roughly 10-15 minutes. Each oven and cut is different, so baking methods and times may vary.
Next start by melting your butter in a small sized pot over the stove, all while bringing water in a separate pan to boil for your pasta.
Once butter is melted, whisk in flour until well combined. Quickly add your half and half, followed by a slow pour of beer. Continue on whisking. Your flour may clump a little, but it will loosen as you go.
Next I added the cheese, cheddar followed by parmesan. Add the minced garlic, and a dash of salt and pepper to taste. Keep on stirring your sauce until all of the cheese is melted. If need to, you can thicken your sauce by adding a little more flour; I usually work in a tablespoon at a time.
Once your water has come to a boil, cook your pasta based on box given directions. Combine your sauce with your cooked pasta, and top each bowl with chopped scallions and cut bacon. Serve immediately if possible. I like to add extra cheese as I bowl my pasta, that way it has a stringy-melted-cheese effect with each bite.
If you have any questions, or inquiries on recipe or photo use, please do not hesitate to reach out and send me an email! You can find my contact info here. I’d love to be in touch.
Lastly, a special thank you to my kind and supportive friends for making this whole experience not only rewarding and enjoyable but funny as hell.