Beer Mussels

Welcome to our second of a two part Mussel Recipe series following up on yesterday’s Red Curry Coconut Mussels. Unlike that recipe, these mussels were in a bit of a thinner sauce, which the barley absorbed really well. The other main difference came in the fact that this one cooked with alcohol while the first recipe did not. Cooking with alcohol presents a few challenges due to the flavour complexities that alter with heat (namely, bitterness tends to come out stronger). With that in mind, the choice of beer becomes critical!

We used a hazy IPA with citrus notes. This gave a little sweetness to our finished broth, but the inherent bitterness in IPA (and most other ales) accentuated as the mussels steamed in it. We combated that by adding a little honey into our broth before placing the mussels in, and that worked pretty well. Our sauce was still bitter, but that’s the way we wanted it. If you prefer to cut the bitterness further, we suggest using a beer that’s much more malty than hoppy! The good news is that if you like the beer you’re using, you’ll probably like the mussels you make…so try different ones and play around with it!

We served our mussels and broth over Barley because we thought that would be a fun pairing for the beer broth…and we hadn’t made barley in way too long.

Time: 25 Minutes


  • Mussels (we used about 1lb per person)
  • Beer. We used an IPA, but if you prefer something a little less bitter, try something malty.
  • Onion
  • Butter
  • Lemon Juice
  • Honey (to cut some of the bitterness)
  • Caraway Seeds (Although, if you don’t like these, or you want a different flavour profile, red pepper flakes would be a fun substitute…or just skip entirely).
  • Optional: Chives


  • Wash your mussels, and remove any of the beards, and place them into a bowl. If any shells are open when you wash, knock them against the counter, and if they close, proceed. If they don’t close and/or any shells are cracked, discard.
  • Dice your onion, heat some butter in a large pot, and add your onions and caraway seeds. Sautee for about 8-10 minutes while your onions begin to caramelize, and your caraway seeds toast.
  • Pour in your beer (we used about 12 oz for 1 lb of mussels), and bring to a simmer. Then, squirt in a little lemon juice and honey.
  • Carefully, place your mussels into the pot, and cover.
  • Steam for about 3 minutes, and then check to make sure all of your mussels have opened. Discard those who haven’t.
  • Steam for another 2 minutes to finish cooking.
  • Pour your broth and mussels into a large bowl (we served over some barley), and add on some diced chives if using)
  • Devour, and enjoy!


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