Alibi V.15 No.27 • July 6-12, 2006 

Hot Knives

Tapped Beer BBQ Sauce

A tasty end for your leftover Fourth of July keg

Use every last drop, you thrifty drunkards!
Use every last drop, you thrifty drunkards!
Alex Brown and Evan George

When you fail to finish off a keg, you’ve clearly shirked your responsibilities, and there is only one way to redeem yourself: turn it into to a thick and smoky barbecue sauce. Contrary to popular opinion, that brown sugar, hickory ooze is not such a mysterious undertaking. Here’s an intermediate recipe that will make use of those cups of keg beer and boost your self-esteem. The only problem is that once you’re going ape shit smothering everything in your fridge with this sauce, you’ll wish you had a keg of beer to go with it.

Beer BBQ Sauce

This recipe will work with the dregs from any keg, but it’s far tastier with a darker, more boozey beer like Stone’s Arrogant Bastard Ale.


4 cups keg beer
2 tablespoons butter or extra virgin olive oil
1/2 white onion, finely chopped
6 cloves garlic, minced
1 bunch celery leaves, finely chopped
1 shot bourbon whiskey
2 cups whole stewed tomatoes, undrained
2 cups vegetable or beef broth
3 tablespoons whole grain mustard
3 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
1 cup apple cider vinegar
1 tablespoon hot sauce
2 tablespoons smoked salt or hickory liquid smoke
1/4 cup brown sugar
3-4 tablespoons molasses
1/2 cup cold water
2 tablespoons corn starch

1. Tap what’s left of the keg and throw 4 cups of beer straight into a medium saucepan and onto the stove. Bring to a slow, rolling boil and reduce by half. Set aside.

2. Heat the butter or oil in a large pot over medium heat. Toss in the onion, garlic and celery leaves, and cook until fragrant, about 5 minutes. Pour in the shot of bourbon, cover and cook for 1 minute. Add the tomatoes and let cook for about 10 minutes, squishing with a slotted spoon.

3. Meanwhile, combine the broth, mustard, Worcestershire, vinegar, hot sauce and smoke in a small bowl. Add this to the hot tomato mixture on the stove. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to a simmer. Add the brown sugar and simmer it for one hour, covered, or until reduced by about an inch.

4. Increase the heat to medium-high and add the reduced keg beer and molasses. Cook off for about 30 minutes, stirring occasionally. Taste. If it seems too tart, add 1 tablespoon more of molasses.

5. Make a slurry to thicken. Fill a small bowl with the cold water, add the corn starch and stir until milky and clump-free. Bring the beer sauce up to a hard boil and add the slurry 1 teaspoon at a time, stirring vigorously. Set aside to cool slightly, where it will thicken considerably more. Use immediately, or store and use on everything for a week.

Beverage: Lagunitas Censored Ale

Soundtrack: Rolling Stones, Exile on Main Street