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Hop pickles!

July 14, 2012

What with this being Can-It-Forward Day, it’s pretty much mandatory I post something canning-related. I know I mentioned it before, briefly, in a previous post. Can-It-Forward Day is, and I quote:

National Can-It-Forward Day lets everyone share the joy of fresh preserving. If you love garden fresh produce, we would love to show you how easy it is to preserve it to enjoy throughout the year. Whether you’re new to canning or are a Master Canner, we have recipes, tips and tricks to help make fresh preserving easy and fun!

Set aside some time to learn simple ways to preserve the fresh food you love and share your canning knowledge with friends and family. Whether you watch us on-line, host a home canning party or join us in person, we hope you’ll share your stories. Like us on Facebook then post your Can-It-Forward Day stories and photos on our page and in your status updates. And, join the conversation on Twitter with #CanItForward. No matter how you participate, we want you to enjoy fresh preserving and Can-It-Forward Day.

So consider this post my encouragement for you to get canning. As it goes, I’ve had some pint jars laying around just waiting to be filled. I decided to use up two of ’em to make some pickles, beer pickles, to be precise. And yes you read that correctly: beer pickles. Or Hop-pickles!

If you remember, back in March, I recreated two of Brooklyn Brine Co.‘s most unique & awesome pickles: the Maple Bourbon pickles and the Spicy Maple Bourbon pickles. They were massively popular, both Jay & his dad are big fans. As if those bourbon pickles weren’t cool enough… Brooklyn Brine recently paired up with Dogfish Head Ale to make what they dub “the Hop-Pickle.” It’s essentially pickles made with Dogfish Head’s 60-minute IPA.

I know. More geniusness from Brooklyn Brine! Now, in my research, I saw that the actual Brooklyn Brine version there’s not only IPA, but Cascade “hop oil.” I could’ve done that too. The website sells it, so I could’ve bought my own, yes, but instead I chose not to. I decided to just go with the beer & see if I could achieve a good flavor without the oil. My first idea was to do the same thing that I did with the bourbon- just add it to the jars, then pour in the hot brine. But then I did some more investigative reporting and saw that they add the beer to the brine itself. Hm. Interesting.

So that’s what I did. I created a brine, packed my jars with cucumbers & spices, and then added the beer to the brine once it was boiled. Then I poured the hot beer brine into the jars.

And after that I was pretty much done!

I also didn’t use Dogfish Head IPA, instead I used Samuel Adams Latitude 48 IPA. Samuel Adams is my favorite beer, actually. The Summer Ale & Noble Pils are to die for in the spring/summer, and I can’t let a winter go by without the Cream Stout, Chocolate Bock or Winter Lager. I never met a bottle of Sam I didn’t like (except that Cranberry Lambic– that wasn’t a hit around here). Besides, I made these on the 4th of July so what better beer to use than a Sam Adams? Anyway, as far as the IPA goes, according to the Samuel Adams website:

Samuel Adams® Latitude 48 IPA is a unique IPA brewed with a select blend of hops from top German, English, and American growing regions all located close to the 48th latitude within the “hop belt” of the Northern Hemisphere. The combination of hops in this beer creates a distinctive but not overpowering hop character. The beer is dry hopped with Ahtanum, Simcoe®*, and East Kent Goldings hops for a powerful citrus and earthy aroma. The hop character is balanced by a slight sweetness and full body from the malt blend.

Sounds pretty good to me. It’s a nice tasting beer (I’m not really an IPA fan for the most part) so I figured, why wouldn’t it make nice tasting beer pickles? It’s a different kind of IPA than Dogfish Head’s, but I didn’t really want to make these too much like Brooklyn Brine’s pickles. They just inspired me, and the Sam Adams one is what I had on hand. If you like a different IPA- try it. Bluepoint, Dogfish Head, Sierra Nevada, Smuttynose, Lagunitas, Anchor… whatever. What’s the worst that can happen? They taste horrible? I doubt it. Beer + pickles pretty much = awesome. Just like the bourbon + pickles = awesome.

I made one jar pickle chips, and the other spears. I like to do that when creating a new pickle recipe so I can see which one is a better cut for that flavor. Some pickles scream to be put on sandwiches, others are just for a side dish or snacking.

Basically I used a regular, basic pickle recipe and added a bottle of beer to the brine once it was boiled. If you want to make it more like Brooklyn Brine’s, then add some caramelized onions & a bit of sliced up chili pepper to the cukes when you pack the jars. I didn’t do either of those things, mainly due to availability. I had onions, I just didn’t feel like caramelizing them, and I didn’t have any chili peppers around. I’m adding them into the recipe, you can do as you like.


Makes about 4 pints


  • 8-10 small pickling cucumbers (about 3 pounds)
  • 2 cups white vinegar, 5%
  • 2 cups water
  • 2 tablespoons pickling salt
  • 4 sprigs fresh dill, 4 dill heads or 4 teaspoons dill seeds
  • 1 teaspoon pickling spice (divided into fourths)
  • a little sprinkle of mustard seed per jar
  • half of a medium sized white onion, caramelized (done beforehand, allowed to cool & patted “dry”)
  • 1 chili pepper, seeded & sliced
  • a dash of cumin seeds
  • 2 medium cloves garlic, each cut in half
  • 1 bottle Samuel Adams Latitude 48 IPA (or the IPA of your choice)


  1. Cut a thin slice from the ends of each cucumber. This prevents a “mushy” pickle, as the ends of cucumbers contain an enzyme that makes them mushy. Place jars in canner to sterilize them and place lids in hot water to soften seal. Keep jars hot.
  2. Meanwhile, combine vinegar, water, and salt in a saucepan and bring to a boil. Turn off heat. Add the bottle of beer (you will end up with leftover brine, it’s almost certain).
  3. Remove hot jars from canner. Divide the fresh dill or 1 tsp dill seeds, 1/4 teaspoon pickling spice, chili peppers, cumin seeds, onions and garlic among the jars (they should be still hot); pack in cucumbers.
  4. Pour the hot beer brine mixture over cucumbers to within ½ inch of rim (head space). Place lids, then bands, turning only to fingertip tight. Let sit in a cool dark place for 24 hours. Check seal. If not sealed, put the jar in the fridge and enjoy right away! If sealed, allow jars to sit for one week before opening for optimal flavor.

Before anyone gets on my ass, no I didn’t process them. I figured the salt & vinegar was enough to ensure safety, not to mention the fact that I had a feeling they’d be opened & eaten fairly quickly. If you want to process them, then go right ahead. An experienced canner should know exactly how long, etc (as a general rule it’s 10 minutes for pint jars, 15 for quart). However there are a lot of pickle recipes (like this one) that don’t require processing, the lids seal as soon as the liquid/jars cool. I’ve never had a problem with doing pickles this way now & then, but obviously you need to make sure all of your produce is 100% clean and that your equipment is 100% sterilized, and that you’re using white vinegar with 5% acidity. Yes, yes, yes, I know the USDA would have my head for that. But whatever. I’m nothing if not a rebel.

And of course… I get a little creative sometimes with the labels. Heh.

Now I’ll sit back, let my dad & Jay (well when he comes back from Ohio/Illinois, anyway) enjoy their new batch of pickles, and wait to see what other genius pickles Brooklyn Brine Co. will come up with. Then I’ll see if I can match their genius (again) myself. In the meantime- go explore canning! It’s easy, fun, useful, constructive and it’s pretty much a cheap thrill. Here are some excellent canning resources:

Latitude 48 IPA Pickles! on Punk Domestics
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  1. I love your blog, love your pickles and especially love your no-bullshit approach! I noticed you were using the screw band canning jars and wanted to suggest a different type, especially since you skipped the water bath, which I do myself. I’ve been using Burch Bottle’s 24 ounce jars with the black lug caps that have a button top. After washing jars and lids with warm, soapy water, just load the jars with the pickles and hot liquid and screw on the lids. The heat of the liquid will seal the jars naturally as they cool, causing the button to pop down. My FAVORITE thing about this company is that they carry odd sized jars. I love the 24oz for pickles….a size I cannot find in mason jars to save my life.
    Rick’s Picks up in New York uses these jars as well, if you’d like to see an example. Thanks so much for the whiskey recipe, btw. I can’t wait to try it!!!

  2. Leigh-Ann, thanks so much for commenting!

    I’m super excited about the jars you mention; I’m going to look into them. Have you ever tried Quattro Stagioni jars? I’ve heard they do the same thing as the Burch Bottle ones. Meaning they have a one piece lid that seals. They’re a bit pricey though I think. I believe the only 24-ounce Ball jars are the ones that are taller than they are wide, making them good for pickled asparagus or carrots but not so much for pickled cucumbers.

    Again thanks for commenting, and enjoy the whiskey pickles ;D

  3. Thank you for the awesome read and time out of your day to share. I never canned anything before, but I am going to ask to borrow a few things and get some pointers from some people who know, and give this one a go. Sounds awesome! Going to try the bourbon maple pickles also.

    Thanks again,

  4. Hey Marilla, I want to thank you for the reply post and primer “canning for dummies”. I read it all and read some more. Borrowed some equipment and made some of your hop pickles and some of your bourbon pickles (while I had all of the equipment out). Now I am excited to try them! I will let you know how they turned out!

  5. Dang Marilla, those pickles didn’t last long at my house at all! I have never canned anything before, but with your recipes and your guide, I have had a successful first canning session. Its only been a couple and a half weeks, and we are on our last jar. (Started with 8 pints). I will definitely do this again.

    I normally brew beer as a hobby, this just seems to fit perfectly.

    Thank you, Pat

  6. That’s fantastic, Pat! I’m so excited to hear that! I’m really happy that it worked out for you. I hope that you keep canning & making awesome stuff. It’s a fun project to have… although as a brewer I’m sure you know!

    Enjoy that last jar ;o)

  7. I will definitely be trying these!!! Thanks! I wanted to add something I have gleaned in my recent research on keeping pickles stiff. It requires a source of tannins that help inhibit any enzymes from causing the cuke to go mush. I am now experimenting with using wine-tannins (a brown powder) that is sold by any homebrew supplier (wine and beer brewing). I have also read from a number of pickling blogs/sites that a small amount of Calcium Chloride (another typical brewing “salt” with recipe of CaCO3) is good to add into each jar to ensure they stay stiff. Old recipes include using a grape-leaf (and a couple others I forget) that have tannins in them and get put in the jars to do their job. I’m curious if anyone did these and canned/processed them and how they came out. Cheers!

  8. Hi John-

    I don’t have a problem with mushy pickles, so I never tried any grape leaves or “Pickle Crisp” or anything. I cut off the blossom end of all my cukes before I use them for pickling & it seems to work for me. That said- my jars of pickles don’t last very long. They’re usually opened & eaten fairly soon after I make them, so that might also have something to do with it. I have heard that people who’ve opened jars they’ve made almost a year later say that they’re considerably softer than they’d like.

    Thanks for your input & good luck!

  9. Greetings picklers..

    So, I tried this recipe out and I’m in major need of help, consulting, answers, anything.

    BUT FIRST-this is my first time pickling so lets just be clear and up-front with the fact that I have no idea what the f**k I’m doing.

    Now that’s established… as I said, I tried this recipe. I decided to process it BUT I don’t have the best stove top (or… even one that remotely works, apparently) and COULD NOT get the water to boil… (actually, my stove top just kept unplugging unbeknownst to me). Either way, the whole processing thing didn’t go to hot-pun possibly intended-and so I left them there for about 30 minutes. Which was fine, and I decided ‘screw it’ because there was absolute certainty they wouldn’t last long in our fridge… beer + pickles, need I say more?!

    Anyway, all jars sealed, thought I was cool, but then today, 2 days after we made them, I opened it to find an oilyish look on the top and kind of slime… gross, right?! I don’t know if it’s just because of the beer… I chose to do an Alaskan IPA and I know some companies use fish oil in their beers… or if this is a sign of: DO NOT EAT! There’s no cloudiness, funky smell or anything… just an oil look and strands of slime (that sounds worse than it is).

    I’m still intrigued and call me crazy, but I still want these hop pickles in my mouth STAT. I just don’t want to get sick, die, turn blue, any or all of the above…

    If anyone could help me out with kind of identifying if my pickles are cool or not… that would be GREAT! Like I said, this is my 1st time.

    Much appreciated!

  10. Brittany- if you used caramelized onions, the oiliness could be from them. That’s perfectly fine- it just means they weren’t “dried” or wiped off enough before you added them to the jars. The strands are probably also from the onions. I guarantee you that there’s a 89% chance that your pickles are absolutely fine. None of these problems sound like the warning signs of bad canning or contaminated food.

    That said, I’d try one or two. If it didn’t taste good, I’d toss it. If they tasted good then I’d keep ’em around!

  11. Love this idea!
    We brew beer and I am totally inspired to make these pickles with some of our own beers. What about putting in a few hop cones in each jar?

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