“Tell you what,” said Ron, his teeth chattering, “shall we go for a butterbeer in the Three Broomsticks?”-Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban, J.K. Rowling
First mentioned in Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban, butterbeer has become a symbol of magic in its own right. The way we talk about having a mug of butterbeer with our friends at a Harry Potter party or movie night, it’s like a portkey or an enchanted recipe, instantly blending the magical wizarding world with our own.
While the Three Broomsticks isn’t just around the corner for most of us to pop in to, a pint of Butterbeer is the number one recipe you need on any Harry Potter party menu.
What we know about butterbeer
Served at The Three Broomsticks, Hog’s Head and The Leaky Cauldron, butterbeer is described by J.K. Rowling as “a little bit like less-sickly butterscotch”. When first mentioned in Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban, it is served foaming hot in mugs, or can be purchased cold by the bottle.
Is Butterbeer alcoholic in the Harry Potter series?
There are some scenes in the Harry Potter series that indicate Butterbeer has some alcoholic content.
While available for students like Harry and Ron to drink at The Three Broomsticks, a quote in Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince suggests it also impacts underage muggle.
“Harry supposed he would just have to wait to see what happened under the influence of Butterbeer in Slughorn’s dimly lit room on the night of the party.”
There is also enough alcoholic content to make house-elves like Winky drunk.
The different variations of Butterbeer
There are several Butterbeer recipes available, and which one you serve will depend on what you personally deem ‘correct’.
A creaming soda butterbeer version is found at both Universal Studios in the US and Harry Potter Studio Tour in the UK. For those throwing a party for children or those who want to be true to the world that Warner Bros has created through the films, this creaming soda version is the one you’ll want to serve.
Butterbeer or “Buttered beere”, as it was written in 1594, has been around for many centuries. In the Tudor era, beer was the typical drink. A weak ale known as small beer, was drunk by everyone, even children as the water was often not deemed safe to drink, as waterways were known to be contaminated and made people sick.
A mix of beer, butter, sugar, spices and egg are the basis for this recipe, found in “The Good Huswifes Handmaide for the Kitchin”.
To make Buttered Beere. Take three pintes of Beere, put five yolkes of Egges to it, straine them together, and set it in a pewter pot to the fyre, and put to it halfe a pound of sugar, one penniworth of Nutmegs beaten, one penniworth of Cloves beaten, and a halfepenniworth of Ginger beaten, and when it is all in, take another pewter pot and brewe them together, and set it to the fire againe, and when it is readie to boyle, take it from the fire, and put a dish of sweet butter into it, and brewe them together out of one pot into an other.
FAQ’s about Butterbeer
Is this version of Butterbeer alcoholic?
Yes, this version is alcoholic, although simmering it for longer will reduce the alcoholic content. However, if you’re looking for a non-alcoholic version, I would suggest the creaming soda version for the time being.
Is there a certain type of beer I should be using?
You’ll need what is called a British Ale. In terms of what brand to use, it comes down to taste preference, but I use Speckled Hen when whipping up a mug. Old Peculiar is another common brand you might come across.
Do I need to use the egg?
No, you can leave the egg out without it impacting the flavour. My understanding is that the egg yolk is there to thicken the drink and also helps with the foaming.
I’ve got ‘bits’ floating in the drink?!
The mixture got too hot and your cooked the egg. Don’t stress! Just pour your butterbeer through a strainer to keep any clumps out of the drink. You’ll want to do this before you take the blender to help it foam.
What if I don’t like the taste of beer?
You can add half a cup of milk to reduce the beer flavour of Butterbeer. For those who enjoy the beer flavour, the milk also adds a lovely creaminess.
What if I don’t have pumpkin pie spice?
Add in 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon, 1/4 tsp ground ginger, 1/8 tsp ground cloves, and a pinch of nutmeg.
Can I make Butterbeer in advance for a party?
Using a slow cooker with a keep warm function will help you make Butterbeer semi in advance of your Harry Potter party. The drink does tend to seperate after a while once it starts to cool, so the closer you make this recipe to serving, the better.
If you love Butterbeer though, the recipes don’t end there!