Pale Ale Mac ‘n Cheese

Craft beer and Mac ‘n Cheese in one dish? It must be the ultimate hipster food! 😱

Admittedly, the original recipe is contributed to the August 2016 edition of BBC Good Food Magazine by Emma Freud, their New York correspondent, citing it as the ultimate comfort food and a staple in Manhattan’s East Village. It can indeed be safely coined as hipster food then. 😉

I had several tries at Mac ‘n Cheeses before (see my earlier posts Mac ‘n Cheese with Black Beans and Chipotle and Mac ‘n Cheese by Marco Pierre White), but I hadn’t come across a one-pot variety, so the decision to make this one was made instantly.

I actually had to look hard to get my hands on a regular Pale Ale; everything seems to be Indian Pale Ales nowadays… I had to settle on Scottish brewer BrewDog’s Dead Pony Club. A nice and hoppy – low alcohol at 3.8% ABV – Pale Ale with great citrus aromas, which was still distinguishable in the dish.

The Recipe (adjusted)

  • 50g / 4 tbsp butter
  • 3 garlic cloves, grated
  • 250g / ½ lbs spinach leaves
  • 500ml / 2 cups milk (full fat or semi-skimmed)
  • 330ml / 12oz bottle of Pale Ale
  • 300g / 7½ oz macaroni
  • 125g / 4oz mature cheddar, grated
  • 200g / 6oz mozzarella, grated
  1. In a flameproof casserole dish (or ovenproof frying pan), melt the butter and fry the garlic for 2 minutes
  2. Add the spinach and cook until wilted (about 2 more minutes)
  3. Pour in the milk and beer the pan and bring it gently to a simmer
  4. Add the macaroni and stir frequently for around 20 minutes until the pasta is cooked
  5. In the meantime preheat your broiler/grill on high
  6. Stir in the cheddar and half of the mozzarella. When the cheeses start to melt, season to taste (it can use quite a bit of freshly ground black pepper!), sprinkle the remaining mozzarella on top and put the pan under the grill for about 7-10 mins until browned and bubbling all over

What worked and what didn’t:
This one-pot recipe worked brilliantly! As there was no cream or roux involved – only milk and cheese – it was relatively light, but still had a great ooziness due to the use of mozzarella.


However, due to the use of mozzarella, do make sure to use a mature cheddar as regular cheddar does not have sufficient flavor of its own to compensate for the rather bland taste of the mozzarella.

Recipe accuracy:
The recipe is accurate, easy to follow, and indeed serves 4 persons.

Suggested tweaks:
Besides changing the original quantities a bit – I needed more macaroni as using a full bottle of beer – I also added some more garlic (to add some more punch) and multiplied the original spinach content by 5 (to give the dish a slightly healthier appearance), using a mature cheddar or other sharp cheese is the only improvement I could think of.

Verdict: 9/10; Will definitely be made again

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