Chances are when you think of classic comfort foods, macaroni and cheese comes to mind. I was pleasantly surprised to find craft breweries across the U.S. are serving a twist on the staple by using their own beers in their unique recipes. As a lover of both food and beer, nothing is more satisfying when they’re combined to make a distinctive, unique dish.
This cheesy innovation from craft brewers inspired my cookbook, Mac n’ Cheese to the Rescue, which features 101 ways to spice up ordinary mac n’ cheese. While writing the book, I traveled to various regions to visit these sought-after breweries, which gave me a chance to experience fantastic local dishes you can’t get anywhere else. My love of travel and craft beer inspired many of the recipes in my book, including my St. Patty’s Day Twist Mac (recipe below).
Here are some of my favorite breweries that use their beer to make a traditional mac n’ cheese even better:
CooperSmith’s Pub & Brewing | Fort Collins, CO
Coopersmith’s Brewers Macaroni & Cheese is made with a creamy beer, bacon, and cheese sauce, all topped with Parmesan bread crumbs.
Dogfish Head Craft Brewed Ales | Milton, DE
Mushroom Mac & Cheese is filled with tender porcini and wild mushrooms, truffle oils, sharp white cheddar, local Firefly Farm’s goat cheese, and made even more delicious with the addition of their famous 60 Minute IPA.
Emmett’s Tavern & Brewing Co. | Illinois (3 locations)
Emmett’s Baked Macaroni & Cheese is filled with broccoli, tomato and bacon and smothered in a cheddar ale sauce.
Granite City Food & Brewery | Midwest (28 locations)
Adult Mac and Cheese is a creamy Alfredo sauce made with Brothers Benedict’s Bock, pepper jack and cheddar cheese, all tossed with rigatoni, chicken, red pepper, bacon and topped with toasted breadcrumbs.
Great Dane Pub & Brewing Co. | Wisconsin (4 locations)
The spicy Buffalo Mac and Cheese consists of rigatoni noodles and grilled chicken covered in a Gorgonzola cheese sauce made with their German Pilsner, 3 alarm wing sauce and topped with tomatoes and scallions.
Potosi Brewing Co. | Potosi, WI
The Brewery Mac n’ Cheese is made with a combination of Potosi Pure Malt Cave Ale (amber) and Good Old Potosi (golden ale), and topped with Parmesan, smoked Gouda, roasted red pepper and crisp bacon.
Pumphouse Brewery & Restaurant | Longmont, CO
Chicken Mac & Cheese is made with penne pasta, Gorgonzola, mozzarella, Parmesan, white cheddar, grilled chicken, drunken applewood smoked bacon, mushrooms, Flashpoint IPA and Shockwave Scotch Ale, all topped with crushed homemade croutons.
Shipwrecked Restaurant and Brewery | Egg Harbor, WI
Smokehouse Mac n’ Beer Cheese is made by tossing cavatappi pasta, smoked chicken and pork belly with Bayside Blonde Fondue.
Stone Cellar Brewpub | Appleton, WI
The Mac n’ Beer Cheese consists of noodles swimming in an artisan four cheese beer sauce, bacon and andouille sausage.
The Village Vintner Winery & Brewery | Algonquin, IL
The Western Mac is cavatappi pasta with Merkts Ale sauce, beef brisket, jalapenos and roasted red pepper.
St. Patty’s Day Twist Mac from Mac n’ Cheese to the Rescue
1 tablespoon olive oil
2 medium onions, thinly sliced
1 box sharp cheddar mac n’ cheese (or an equivalent amount of homemade mac)
1 cup dry stout
2 cups chopped, cooked corned beef
1 cup shredded Irish cheddar cheese
Heat the olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the onion and cook, stirring frequently, until soft and translucent, about 10 minutes. In the meantime, start cooking the mac n’ cheese as directed. Once the onions are cooked, add your favorite dry stout, bring to a boil, then reduce the heat to low and continue to cook an additional 10 minutes. Heat up your corned beef and once heated through, combine with hot mac n’ cheese, beer and onion mixture and sharp cheddar cheese. Stir until well blended and the cheese is melted. You can find this and other inspired recipes in my book, Mac n’ Cheese to the Rescue.
Kristen Kuchar, author of Mac n’ Cheese to the Rescue, is a writer and editor that is fortunate enough to cover her greatest interests: travel, food, and craft beer. The Chicago native recently returned from a twenty-one state culinary and beer road trip where her passion in both increased even more. She is also a member of the Pink Boots Society.