Porter Barbecue Sauce By: Beer Bitty

Ketchup and soy sauce should be bought. Barbecue sauce should be made. Few, if any, barbecue sauces off the grocery store shelf taste as good as one from your own kitchen. If this were a tricky sauce to make, I would fully endorse the prepackaged variety, but it is not, and it will keep. A few ingredients, most of which are hiding out in your pantry, and you’re ready to go for Summer grilling season.

The key to a beer based barbecue sauce is to avoid anything bitter, that means most stouts are out of the question. A barleywine will work, but adjust the sweetness accordingly (as in you likely won’t need as much brown sugar). I prefer a porter as it contributes the desired robust malt flavor, but without any lingering burnt or bitter characteristics. A brown ale or doppelbock would also work well.

This sauce also lends well to variations. Pineapple juice and habanero? Chipotle and fire roasted tomatoes? Bourbon and molasses? Soy sauce and ginger? Spicy mustard? The possibilities truly know no bounds. Have fun with it.

Note: This is not a grilling sauce as the high sugar content will cause caramelization to occur much too quickly over an open flame. Instead, slather it on your choice of meat during the last few minutes on the grill to add flavor or serve on the side. I like to mix into pulled pork and pile onto a toasted bun topped with coleslaw for a tasty sandwich.


  1. 2 strips smoked bacon, sliced into strips*
  2. 1 small red onion, finely chopped
  3. 3 cloves garlic, minced
  4. 1 ½ cups ketchup
  5. 2 tbs. worcestershire sauce
  6. ⅓ molasses
  7. 8 oz. porter
  8. ¼ cup dark brown sugar
  9. ½ to ¾ cup cider vinegar**
  10. 1 ½ tbs. dijon mustard
  11. 3 tbs. chili powder
  12. ½ tsp. cayenne pepper, ground
  13. 2 tsp. freshly ground black pepper

*Bacon will not be used in this recipe, but the rendered bacon fat contributes a desired smokiness to the barbecue sauce.

**Start with ½ cup cider vinegar. Add additional vinegar, as desired, for a higher acidity barbecue sauce. I prefer more vinegar when using with fattier meats, such as pulled pork, and less vinegar when basting chicken.


  1. Render bacon over low heat in a medium saucepan. Remove bacon to paper towels and reserve for another use (salad? snack?).
  2. Add onion to reserved bacon fat and increase heat to medium. Cook until softened, about 4 to 5 minutes. Add garlic and cook additional 30 seconds.
  3. Pour in beer; stir and leave to simmer for 3 to 4 minutes.
  4. Add ketchup, molasses, brown sugar, vinegar, mustard, chili powder, cayenne, and black pepper. Bring to a boil, reduce to a simmer, and stir occasionally until slightly thickened, about 20 minutes.
  5. Place in a blender and obliterate on high until smooth. Allow to cool to room temperature, transfer to a jar or airtight container, and store in refrigerator until needed, or up to one month.