Got a vicious sweet tooth? Pastry beers can take care of that for you. This type of beer doesn’t have a set definition beyond being a sweet IPA, but does maintain one key element; the flavor profile reminds us of baked goods. From caramel malts to adding glazed donuts to the mix, pastry beer recipes depend on what you’re going for, everything from the malt you choose to the flavor additions and yeast.
When you craft your recipe, start with what standard beer ingredients already offer. Natural malt flavors like the sweet honey of Melanoidin malts, to Amber malt’s toffee, baked bread, and nutty flavors, to the dry cocoa-mocha of Roasted Barley can all be used to influence the goal pastry of your recipe. Choosing crystal malts can help increase the sweetness.
Adding fruit flavors and aromas with the use of hops complements the bready-pastry aspects of your recipe. For example, if you’re going for a lemon pound cake IPA, throwing in hops like Sorachi Ace and Cascade with their prominent lemon and citrus flavors and aromas adds a whole other level to your beer.
Still looking to sweeten up your blend? Lactose and vanilla can help. Lactose adds sweetness without being cloying to the beer, with an added bonus of smooth mouthfeel. Vanilla creates an impression of sweetness that doesn’t spoil the taste, and is an extremely popular agent in many regular pastry ingredients, so it aids in the “pastry” impression you’re aiming for in your beer.
With this, know that like most beers, the goal of Pastry beers isn’t a high ABV. Flavor precedes alcohol content on the priority list for most Pastry beer recipes. Go with how you want your beer to taste, or what you want it to taste like; the possibilities are endless!