For many, dessert and beer should never be used in the same sentence.   This week on Beer Notes, we are discussing why craft brewers are defying this idea.

Dessert is the sweet course eaten at the end of a meal  and a nightcap, originally meaning a cap worn to bed to keep one warm, euphemistically came to mean an alcoholic drink taken before bed which also had a warming effect. Many brewers and breweries are combining these ideas and experimenting with sweet beers that are high in alcohol content to create the perfect choice after dinner.  

Dessert beers usually start with porters, stouts and barley wines because they have a  high alcohol content and are already sweeter. When brewers add ingredients from a favorite confection, they become known as a pastry beer. Some breweries are aging these dessert beers in bourbon and rum barrels to add interest and complexity of flavor.

According to the beer style guide, there is no actual category called “dessert beer” or “pastry beer.”   For brewers and breweries, however, this genre falls under the catch-all category of specialty beer.  

According to Beer & Brewing, While self-proclaimed purists might decry this trend, brewers know that having on offer a beer that satisfies a sweet tooth is a sure-fire moneymaker and a way to draw new customers into the larger fold.  


If you feel like dessert or a nightcap, or both,  try one of your local brewery’s dessert beers.  For beer Notes, this is Ann McGinnis Hillyer



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