Cooking with Beer: Smoke-Grilled Leg of Lamb with Stout-Braised Garbanzo Beans and Herbed Tzatziki

Cooking with the big, bold flavors of stouts requires a thoughtful approach, but the flavor potential is enormous. This recipe explores the savory and sweet potential of this favorite dark family of styles.

Justin Wright , Justin Kruger Dec 13, 2020 - 6 min read

Cooking with Beer: Smoke-Grilled Leg of Lamb with Stout-Braised Garbanzo Beans and Herbed Tzatziki Primary Image

Photo: Matt Graves

Serves: 6–8

Lamb Roast

3–5 lb (1.4–2.3 kg) boneless leg of lamb roast
Salt and pepper
2 sprigs fresh oregano, chopped

Mix the salt, pepper, and oregano and liberally coat the roast with the mixture. Marinate the roast in the refrigerator from 1 to 4 hours before cooking. Let the roast sit at room temperature for 20 minutes before grilling.

Set your propane or charcoal grill for two-zone cooking. Prep about 2" (5 cm) of pellets in a smoke tube or pan 20 minutes before you plan to grill. Light one end of the tube with a blow torch, let the pellets burn for 5 minutes, then blow out the flame. The pellets should smolder, creating constant smoke.


Sear the roast on all sides on the hot zone of the grill, turning as needed to avoid flare-ups and grease fire. After searing, move the roast to the warm zone, place the smoke tube in the hot zone, cover the grill, and cook for 20–30 minutes, or until an instant-read thermometer reads 140°F (60°C). Remove the roast from the grill and rest, tented with foil, for 20 minutes before slicing.

Stout-Braised Garbanzo Beans

1 Tbs canola oil
1 sweet onion, peeled and diced small
2–3 medium carrots, scrubbed and diced small
3 stalks celery, washed and diced small
Salt and pepper
3 cloves garlic, minced
2–3 sprigs oregano, picked and chopped
2 cans garbanzo beans, drained and rinsed
20 oz (591 ml) export stout

In a medium saucepan placed over medium heat, heat the oil. Add the vegetables and sweat until soft, 5–8 minutes, stirring frequently. Season with salt and pepper.

Add the garlic and oregano and cook until fragrant, 2–3 minutes. Add the garbanzo beans and stir for 5 minutes. Add the beer, bring the mixture to a low simmer, and cook until reduced by one third. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

Herbed Tzatziki

8 oz (227 g) plain Greek yogurt
3 sprigs mint, picked and chopped
3–4 chives, chopped
1 cucumber, peeled, seeded, and chopped
Zest and juice of one lemon
Salt and pepper

Mix all the ingredients and season to taste with salt and pepper.

Beer Tasting Notes: Export or extra stouts are an interesting category of stout that’s not widely known in the United States, but their great flavor and aroma are truly complementary for this dish. An extra stout is the middle sibling of a dry Irish stout and the heavier stouts such as Russian imperials or American versions. It will pour very dark brown to black, with a nice tan head. The aroma will be chocolate and coffee with a touch of bitter roasted notes, but you may get some sweet and spicy flavors, such as licorice or dried fruits. The hop aroma will be subtle to none. When you get that first glorious sip, the flavors will match the aroma, and there shouldn’t be any sharp bite. It should be moderately dry with medium to high bitterness from the hops. The roasted malt and the mouthfeel should be pretty smooth. The best classic example is Guinness Foreign Extra Stout, but others such as Ridgeway Foreign Export Stout and Coopers Best Extra Stout fit the bill as well. For more history and a recipe, see “Hiding in the Middle: The Tradition of Foreign Export Stout,”

What the Beer Does for the Dish: This dish has a lot of strong herb and vegetable notes, not to mention the delicious leg of lamb and refreshing tzatziki dressing. It can be difficult to pair with all the various flavors, but the extra stout complements it all. When you first take a bite of the lamb, you’re going to get a juicy piece of meat with some nice herbal oregano notes. As you sip the beer, those dark roast notes will complement the initial searing, and the oregano notes will help bring out mild hop character. You’re left with a rich piece of succulent lamb with a touch of roast and some herbal complements from the recipe and the beer.

When you dig into the beans, you’re going to get an enhanced version over the normal water or broth recipe. The roasted character from the beer will make it seem as if the veggies were initially grilled, charred, or roasted, providing another depth of character to the braise. The small amount of garlic and oregano will bring out the floral-hop aromas from the beer, meaning you get a roasted vegetable character with enhanced aromas, making it a deep yet light bite. When you add in the tzatziki and take a bite of lamb and beans at the same time, the magic happens—the sauce is the acidic, refreshing component the other two dishes lacked, but it ties everything together. When you add something light and refreshing to something dark and bitter, they can clash, but not here! The dark roast notes will be smoothed away with the bright acidity of tzatziki, the herbs will become much more prominent overall, and you’ll be tasting an herbaceous, rich piece of lamb, smoothed out by the creamy mouthfeel of the extra stout.