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Brewers' Perspectives: Making Pastry Stouts and Beers

In beer circles these days, ask about a "pastry beer" and get ready to receive an earful. It's a style that's not actually a style and includes beers that either don't contain pastry ingredients or mimic pastry. Still, there's no denying the popularity.

John Holl Feb 26, 2018 - 7 min read

Brewers' Perspectives: Making Pastry Stouts and Beers Primary Image

Photo courtesy of Coronado Brewing Co.

At the Village Idiot Brewing Company in Mount Holly, New Jersey, Vince Masciandaro has a system to his tap handles. The majority of the beers are solid, traditional, by-the-book BJCP styles such as blond ale, pale ale, and bitter. Then there are the three taps at the end that he calls “the dessert corner,” where you’ll find beers such as his Monkey’s Breath Banana Bread ale, which has a permanent nitro tap.

“I haven’t been able to get away from it because people expect it to be on tap,” he says. The brewery serves Monkey’s Breath in a cinnamon sugar–rimmed glass. There was a time when beer tasted like, well, beer. Then brewers took off the restraints and started adding all sorts of ingredients into ales and lagers; soon enough they were trying to make beers that mimicked foods. That’s where we are today, especially in the dessert category. 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.


“There’s definitely a trend toward beers inspired by other things that aren’t drinks,” says Mark Theisen, the head brewer at Coronado Brewing Company. “It’s Darwinism, where you have to evolve and make interesting things and become known for original beers and have something unique that allows you to be at the forefront of people’s minds.”

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John Holl is the author of Drink Beer, Think Beer: Getting to the Bottom of Every Pint, and has worked for both Craft Beer & Brewing Magazine® and All About Beer Magazine.