It's British Pie Week!

Our Beer Sommelier, Maggie Cubbler, goes on a quest for truth: what is a pie? In doing so, she discovered herself and a killer Beef and Ale Pie recipe.

This week we find ourselves in the midst of British Pie Week. One of the most delicious weeks if there ever was one. When I was asked if I had any pie recipes that I could share this week my first thoughts were "of course! I have a great recipe for Shepherd's Pie or there's my Fish Pie recipe as well!" Suffice it to say, that started a war to end all wars here at Beer Hawk HQ. You see, I'm American and I know a pie to come in apple, pumpkin or even Key Lime form. Also, if the word "pie" is in the name I also know that to be a pie. What I didn't know is A.) how passionate the British are for what is considered a pie and B.) that apparently even if it's called a pie if it's covered in potatoes it is, indeed, not a pie. Under any circumstance. Times infinity. 

And now I know.

What we can all agree on, however, is that a pie--whether it is or isn't one--must have beer with it. Whether it's in the pie (or not-pie) or alongside it there's nothing better than a classic British ale and a pie from the people who hold the keys to the definition. I'm not going to mess with tradition here. I suggest a rich Old Ale like Harviestoun's Ola Dubh Special Reserve 12 Yr with a knock-out Beef-and-Ale pie. I love its treacle-y sweetness and smokey peat notes. A bit of a fruity tartness and its rich body add a layer of interest to the beefy goodness that apparently is supposed to be completely surrounded by pastry. It can't just have pastry sit on top.

Well, mine does and I've adapted my recipe from one I was given in a cookery course at the famous Betty's Tea Room. I hope you enjoy it anyway!

Cheers and have a wonderful British Pie Week.

Beef and Ale Pie

Serves 4

salt and pepper to taste

1tsp smoked paprika

1tsp dried mustard

1tsp dried thyme

1 1/4kg beef stewing steak, diced into medium-sized cubes

Cooking oil

2 large onions, peeled and thinly sliced

3 garlic cloves, chopped

2TB tomato purée

300ml Harviestoun Ola Dubh Special Reserve 12 Year Old

300ml beef stock

1 bay leaf

Few sprigs of thyme

Your favourite flaky pastry

One egg, beaten, to glaze


Stir together the flour, paprika, dried thyme and dried mustard. Season with salt and pepper. Set aside.

Pat dry the cubed beef and season with salt and pepper. In a large pan heat the oil over medium-high heat and brown the beef. Do not overcrowd the pan and brown the beef in batches removing to a paper-lined plate when finished and set aside.

Add some more oil to the pan and then cook down the sliced onions until softened. Add the garlic and cook for another minute. Season with salt and pepper.

Add the seasoned flour to the onions and allow it to cook for about another minute. Return the browned beef to the pan. Add the tomato purée and cook it for another minute to remove the raw tomato flavour.

Deglaze the pan with the ale, stirring being sure to scrape up all the brown bits from the bottom of the pan. Continue to cook over medium-high heat until the liquid has reduced by half.

Add the beef stock, bay leaf and thyme.

You can then turn the heat down to low and simmer for another 1 1/2-2 hours on the hob. Otherwise, transfer the meat to an ovenproof dish and cook in an oven preheated to 150?C (fan assisted) for another 1 1/2-2 hours until the meat is tender.

Don't let the cooking sauce over-reduce. Add more stock or ale as needed.

Once finished, set aside to cool. You can make this the day before, if desired.

To assemble

Spoon the beef filling into a deep pie dish.

Roll your chosen flaky pastry out to about the thickness of two £1 coins. Brush the edge of the pie dish with a little egg or water and then fit the pastry over the pie dish making sure to have a little excess.

Take a sharp knife to cut the pastry to the size of the pie dish. Press down gently to seal.

With the knife, make two cuts on the top of the pastry to allow steam to escape. Brush the top with the beaten egg.

Bake at 200?C (fan assisted) for about 25-30 minutes until the pastry is golden and the beef filling is hot.