My household adopted beernog as a tradition about a decade ago—we usually make it twice a year: once when we deck the tree and again on Christmas Eve. But credit where due: We first got the idea from Randy Mosher.
His book Tasting Beer has a final chapter entitled, “A Sip Beyond,” and crambambull, aka beernog, is in there among a selection of other old-fashioned mixed ale drinks, such as “flip” and “sack posset.”
“While the idea of adding beer to eggnog may seem strange to us,” Mosher writes, “strong ale would have been pretty much essential to all such early drinks.” (For more from Mosher on those kinds of festive libations, see Wassailing Through the Holidays.)
Our recipe began with his description and has evolved a bit over the years. We weren’t perennial noggers until we started making the stuff fresh, which we did just so we could try mixing it with beer. Once you start making it yourself—it’s easy—you’ll forget about any of those pre-mixed nogs you can buy at the supermarket. (As Mosher writes, they are “beneath consideration.”)
We’ve also found that making this for friends and family tends to produce eggnog converts—with or without the beer. In fact, a nice way to go—especially if you have kids who dig the nog, like ours—is to set out a fresh, non-boozed batch next to a few strong beers and liquors. That way the kids can have some, while the grown-ups get to choose their own nog destinies.
You’ll want to add beer though, once you try it. Its carbonation and comparatively lighter body lighten the mixture’s thick, noggy texture, much in the same way root beer transforms ice cream to make a float. It’s also fun to try different beers in there. I’m partial to a nice strong, dark Belgian ale, with that combination of dark-fruit-and-spice flavor profile and lively carbonation. Doppelbocks, barleywines, and imperial stouts also tend to work well—but don’t be afraid to try more hop-forward IPAs, either.
The Base Nog
½ cup sugar
12 oz (355 ml) whole milk (1½ cups)
8 oz (237 ml) heavy whipping cream (1 cup)
Freshly ground nutmeg
Separate the eggs. Using a whisk, beat the sugar into the egg yolks until smooth, then stir in the milk, cream, and fresh nutmeg. With a mixer, beat the egg whites until stiff peaks form, then fold into the nog mixture. Optionally, whip some of the cream for topping off each glass. Sprinkle some cinnamon on top.
That’s it. Easy. Next comes the fun part.
Booze: Just about anything goes here—brandy, rum, whiskey. I like a half-shot or so of bourbon or dark rum per serving—I like the taste and warmth, but don’t want to overwhelm other flavors. If you’re not pre-mixing, it’s easy to add it to your glass and give it a little stir.
Beernog: Just add a couple of ounces of beer to your glass before adding the nog. Your mileage may vary, but we think a 1:3 beer:nog volume ratio is just about right.
The next day: The nog will keep overnight in the fridge (and arguably improves that way). It’s delicious when mixed with some cold-brew coffee… and, maybe, a splash of bourbon. It is the holidays, after all.