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Skagit Brew Corner: Barley Wine Stew

Zbawdybarley_001We find ourselves in the thick of winter: sweatered and ready to warm up with some tasty brews. Enter the seasonal barley wines. A step up from the rich winter warmer seasonal beers of the past few months, these high quality strong ales are a perfect companion to a crisp winter’s eve.

Barley wine has ancient roots and denotes a class of beers that are aged for a longer time than freshly brewed beer, sometimes up to several years. This type of beer often has a higher alcohol content (usually 8%-12%) and can be ideal for enjoying in moderation or aging in a cellar, similar to a good wine. American barley wines are typically more bitter than traditional English barley wines. Ranging from a rusty amber color to dark mahogany, barley wines provide spicy, complex flavors that can work wonders in the kitchen.

Pike Brewing’s Old Bawdy Barley Wine: 10% Alcohol by volume, 90 IBU – This brew sends forth a caramel malt aroma and offers hint of tart cherry and loads of citrus pine-like hops.  Buy one to drink now and one to age for later enjoyment. From one of Seattle’s premier microbreweries, this orange-ruby colored American style barley wine packs a punch and pairs nicely with spicy foods, blue cheese and big, meaty smoky flavored meals.

Recipe for Beef & Barley Wine Stew

Try this zippy variation on classic beef and barley stew, with the added bitter-sweetness of barley wine. Makes use of seasonal winter produce and yields a satisfying winter meal.


  • 1 lb london broil steak, cubed
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 1 carrot, chopped
  • 3/4 cup hulled barley, rinsed and drained
  • 4 cups chicken broth or stock
  • 4 cloves of garlic, minced garlic
  • 1 1/2 cup Pike’s Old Bawdy Barley Wine
  • 8 oz. button or crimini mushrooms, sliced thinly
  • 2 tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil
  • 2 tbsp. tomato paste
  • 2 1/2 cups water
  • 1/4 cup parsley, coarsely chopped
  • horseradish, freshly grated or use Bubbie’s Horseradish
  • sea salt, coarse
  • freshly ground pepper


Heat 1 tbsp. oil in a large pot or Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Season beef with 1 tsp. salt and 1/4 tsp. pepper, and brown on all sides, 5 to 7 minutes. Then transfer to a bowl with a slotted spoon.

Reduce heat to medium. Add remaining oil to the pot, and cook onion, carrot, and mushrooms until golden brown, 12 to 15 minutes. Stir occasionally and season with 1/2 tsp. salt.

Add garlic and tomato paste, and stir together for 2-3 minutes until caramelized. Remove from heat and add barley wine. Return to heat, and bring to a boil, scraping up the browned bits from the bottom with a wooden spoon. Cook on high heat until reduced by half, about 5 minutes.

Return the beef to pot, and add stock and water. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat to low and simmer, covered, for 1 hour. Stir occasionally.

Add barley, and simmer the stew, covered, for 20 minutes. Uncover, and cook until beef and barley are tender for an additional 20 to 25 minutes. Stir in parsley. Serve and garnish with horseradish, to taste.

By: Claire

ClaireClaire Harlock Garber loves to eat and drink and write about it. She has worked in the food industry for nearly a decade and was on staff at the Skagit Valley Co-op from 2010-2018, writing the regular columns Skagit Brew Corner, The Cheese Whisperer, The Bounty of Bulk, and What's Dippin' in the Well for the Co-op's blog, as well as articles for the Natural Enquirer newsletter.