A Peach Cobbler with a Secret Ingredient (Beer!)

Cobbler, crisp, slump, grunt goes the familiar wave of summertime dessert confusion: What are all these things? How are they different? Which one should I make? Most importantly, why am I not eating one with a scoop of vanilla ice cream right now?

Photo by Posie Harwood

You can read up on the finer points of each dish. Or, you could skip that, accept that they are all some variation of ripe fruit topped with buttery, sugary baked goods, and go forth and make as many as you can while the market is abundant with berries and peaches.

Photo by Posie Harwood

This particular cobbler recipe uses an unconventional summer baking ingredient: beer. Crucial to a good barbecue and essential for hot nights around a campfire, a cold summer ale is one of life’s great pleasures and, it turns out, a clever ingredient for transforming a classic summer dessert. The recipe comes from Sam Adams and uses beer in two ways: drizzled over the filling and baked into the topping.

Photo by Posie Harwood

Cobblers can tend towards overly sweet, particularly if your fruit is quite ripe, but the addition of beer in the filling helps temper that sweetness. And you can really taste the beer, though it’s not overpowering. The hoppy, bitter undertones add nuance to the soft stewed peaches and blueberries. The taste isn't as present in the biscuit topping, but the beer acts similarly to buttermilk, yielding a wonderfully tender biscuit with a faint, almost sour flavor.

Photo by Posie Harwood

Bakers will love the novelty of this recipe. Beer drinkers will love the opportunity to crack open a summer ale at eleven in the morning while prepping for dinner ahead. And everyone else will love it for the sheer pleasure of tasting something so simple and seasonal and sweet.

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A note on the beer: Don’t feel limited to using a summer beer, although a lighter, fruiter beer does work nicely. Use anything you have on hand, but I would suggest avoiding anything too heavy or bitter like a stout.

How else do you bake with beer, or eat it as dessert? (Beer float, anyone?) Tell us in the comments.

See what other Food52 readers are saying.

I like warm homemade bread slathered with fresh raw milk butter, ice cream in all seasons, the smell of garlic in olive oil, and sugar snap peas fresh off the vine.