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Heisse Biersuppe

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TasunkaWitko View Drop Down
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    Posted: 13 March 2012 at 14:15
Following our discussion of various versions of biersuppe here:
 
 
I decided to take a run at heisse biersuppe, featured in Time/Life's Foods of the World - the Cooking of Germany. I found it to be unique and very good in its own right with a pleasant, unexpected flavour that I would definitely be willing to explore again.
 
Here's the recipe:
 
Quote Heisse Biersuppe
Hot Beer Soup
 
To serve 4:
  • 3 12-ounce bottles or cans of light beer
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 4 egg yolks
  • 1/3 cup sour cream
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • Freshly-ground black pepper
Pour the beer and sugar into a heavy 4- to 5-quart saucepan. Bring to a boil over high heat, stirring constantly until the sugar is dissolved, then remove the pan from the heat. In a small bowl, beat the egg yolks with a wire whisk or fork to break them up, and beat in the sour cream a little at a time. Stir in about 1/4 cup of the hot beer into the mixture, and then whisk it into the beer. Add the cinnamon, salt and a few grindings of pepper. Return the pan to low heat, and cook, stirring constantly, until the soup thickens slightly. Do not let boil or it may curdle.

Taste for seasoning and serve at once from a heated tureen or in individual soup bowls.

Please note that, in the German context, a "light" beer does not have the same context that it has in America. Because I wanted to use a Montana-brewed beer, I limited my options somewhat, but the truth is that there are many out there, German, American and otherwise, to choose from.
 
When I made this, I wasn't having much luck with the camera. Some are a little pixilated, and others got a little washed out from all the light colours, but you will definitely get the idea.
 
Here are the goods:
 
 
As you can see, there is nothing here that is exotic, but I was impressed with the different layers of flavour. You definitely get a little bit of everything, from sweet (sugar) to sour/acid (sour cream) to salty (take a guess) to bitter (the beer) - albeit with an emphasis on sweet.
 
For this project, I chose Trout Slayer Wheat Ale, from Big Sky Brewing Co. in Missoula, Montana. It has long been a favourite of mine:
 
 
This worked pretty well, but there are so many good choices out there. One I would like to have tried would have been a "Berliner Blonde" or similar "light" beer. Another good choice would probably be Blue Boar, From Henry Weinhard's "Private Reserve" line. I don't know if Beck's would be a good choice, but after sampling the beer by itself, it is one I will probably try for this soup at a later date. Judging by the results, you want to avoid one that is overly-bitter or hoppy.
 
Anyway, the first thing I did was measure out my spices; when I do something completely unfamiliar for the first time, I usually stick pretty close to the recipe the first time. Here we have salt, pepper and ground cinnamon:
 
 
Next, I prepared the eggs by separating them and breaking up the yolks with a fork until they were a smooth, creamy yellow:
 
 
Then, I poured the beer into a Dutch-oven-type pot:
 
 
Added the sugar:
 
 
Then brought the beer and sugar to a quick boil:
 
 
And removed it from the heat.
 
Meanwhile, I stirred the sour cream into the egg yolks:
 
 
And then began the process called tempering, which involves adding a little bit of the hot beer into the eggs:
 
 
And stirring it into them well:
 
 
In order to bring their temperature up without cooking them.
 
I then added the tempered egg mixture back to the beer and added the spices:
 
 
I'm not sure why I added another picture here, but there it is:
 
 
By now, I was getting a blend of a lot of different aromas, and it was pretty good, with a very warm, spicy sensation that promised good things on a cold day.
 
I kept the biersuppe over low heat, stirring constantly:
 
 
The recipe says that the soup will "thicken slightly," but to me, this never really happened, even though it stayed quite warm (not boiling, which would curdle the soup) for an extended period of time. It did get a little more "body" to it, but by no means was it "thickened," in my opinion; however, when I judged it to be done, I ladled it into bowls:
 
 
And gave it a try.
 
For myself, I liked it. The different flavours played off well with each other, and it kind of reminded me of the famous "Cinnabons" in a way, or perhaps French toast, thanks to the sweetness and the cinnamon, of course, but also the yeasty, creamy quality that came from the beer and the sour cream. Even though there was no vanilla in the recipe, this soup also seemed to have that quality, which contributed to the "Cinnabon" perception. My only real complaint was that it was so "thin," that it didn't have any substantial "body" to it.
 
There was some bitter undertone, probably due to the style of beer I chose; I am not sure if it was from hops, since I thought there were no hops in ale, but it was something. It wasn't unpleasant to me, but it was enough that the rest of the family wasn't impressed. A less-assertive beer might have helped with this.
 
All-in-all, I liked it, and would certainly make it again. As I said before, it is great on a cold day, and from the flavours, I can see why it is mentioned as a breakfast item in Germany; having said that, I believe it would be good any time of day. If anyone wants to try this, I would recommend putting some thought into choosing a beer for it. Based on my experience, you might want to try a lighter, mild-tasting beer your first time; the malted, yeasty quality of beer is great with this recipe, but you will want to experiment to find your level of bitterness or hoppiness that works for you.
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Marissa View Drop Down
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Marissa Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 14 March 2012 at 08:39
I've always wanted to try this recipe! I'm sure we will get around to it during our German tour.

About ale - in Texas, the only thing that defines "ale" is it's alcohol content. Actually, they just overturned this in December so not sure what the new rules will say. But it used to be that "beer" was less than 4% and "ale" was more. Traditionally, ale didn't have hops but that has long since not been the case. The main real difference is about the type of yeast used (top fermenting vs. bottom fermenting) and some of the hoppiest beers are ales (Indian Pale Ale for instance).

I would have probably reached for a hoppy beer since I like them. But reading about the rest of the flavors, I think it's right to choose something lighter. Maybe even a lager (which I usually can't force myself to drink!).

Thanks for the post. I'm encouraged to try this!
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote TasunkaWitko Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 14 March 2012 at 08:51
hi, marissa, and thanks for the good information on ales.
 
based on how it went for me, i think anything that is light would be good (lager or ale), with the hoppiness or bitterness to be toned down, at least the first time. widmer's heffeweizen or as mentioned above, the blue boar from weinhard's - anything that is simlar to either of those would, i think, be great for a first try, and then after that a person could definitely go with more hops or bitterness once they see how the flavours are working together. brave souls might even go for something darker.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote pitrow Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 14 March 2012 at 08:59
Hmmm... gonna have to give this a try. With portland being the micro-brew capital of the world (well maybe not, but it seems like it sometimes) there's tons of good local brews available.

Ron, I used to work about 4 blocks away from the Weinhard brewery in downtown portland. On warm summer days with the office windows open you could smell the mash. It was awesome!

So you recommend a "light" beer, what about something with a slight fruit kick to it? I was thinking Widmer Bros. Citra Blonde. It's a nice light summer ale, with some nice citrus notes to it. Might be kind of hard to find this time of year though. Another thing I was thinking was maybe a hefe... sort of like the Wheat Ale you used, but since the hefe's are unfiltered and the wheat gives a nice smooth mouthfeel to the beer I wonder if that would transfer over to the soup?

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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote TasunkaWitko Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 14 March 2012 at 09:16
say, mike - this is definitely one to try ~ the link at the top of my post will take you to some discussion we had on the subject of which beers to use, but after actually trying it (as well as some different beers), i think that for a first go, i'd advise trying the mildest "light" (german context) beer you enjoy.
 
the citra blonde sounds similar to one that we have here called "beltian white" (brewed in belt, montana) that may very well be good for this - i do like the idea of the citrus notes and it would be worth a try. also, the unfiltered hefe sounds like just about exactly the right thing. the FotW germany book mentions a "berliner blonde" that i believe is similar to what is now called the hefe, and to me, it looked like one of the best to try.
 
keep the bitterness level down, and i think just about anything will be good. let me know how you like this, and if you have any questions, just ask!
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