The holidays are upon us, the pilsners and margarita mix are put away and the search is on for something truly festive. Holiday ales are nice, and so is a nip of something spirituous, like a well-aged rum. But nice as these are, they don’t have the drama of something rich and creamy, topped with a billowing cloud of whipped cream and dusted with the musky joy of nutmeg. It’s gotta be that last culinary survivor of jolly old England, eggnog.
No less a figure than Sir Walter Raleigh had a personal recipe for “sack posset,” which actually sounds a lot like eggnog.
At a smart holiday party last year, the host had taken the trouble to whip up a batch of homemade eggnog. It was prepared sans alcohol, so celebrants could enjoy it unadulterated or spike it with bourbon or high-quality rum, as suited one’s taste. As a beer fancier of high pedigree, this host had also laid in a store of tasty beers, holiday and otherwise. I immediately seized on the opportunity to recreate history and use the ale to spike the nog.
Gasps ensued, but after a few nervous sips, the nog got very beery.
While the idea of adding beer to eggnog may seem strange to us, “strong ale” would have been an essential part of all such early drinks. Eggnog is just one surviving member of a once large family of compounded beverages with ale as a base, and more often than not, served hot.
While this is not a typical homebrewing column that gives direction for brewing and fermenting a beer, these early mixed drinks were considered brews in their own right, and offer much the same kind of satisfaction, although in a much shorter time frame.