Chocolate Beer Cheesecake With A Pretzel Crust

Choosing a beer for a recipe isn’t as arbitrary as it may appear. It also isn’t difficult, but it does require thought and planning. Substituting your favorite beer in a recipe isn’t always a good idea, and may result in an end product that is nowhere near the intentions of the recipes author.

Where do you start? The recipe or the beer?

A fair question, and it’s a toss up. Which ever way you begin, the recipe or the beer, make sure to be mindful of the flavors. Dark beers go well with “dark” recipes. If that beer you want to cook with is a stout, look for a recipe that calls for “dark” ingredients: chocolate, beef, bacon, etc. If the beer you love is a Pilsner, look for a recipe with “light” ingredients, lemon, chicken, fish, etc. There is some room to move around with this rule, but finding complimentary flavors is the key to success when cooking with beer.

Be careful with IPA’s. It’s incredibly difficult to cook with high hop beers due to the fact that the hops reduce to a very bitter product. If you are in love with an IPA, or another high hop beer, strong starches and sugar mellow hops a bit. Try a pumpkin muffin, or a sweet potato pie. Or look for recipes where the beer won’t be reduced, like marinades, beermixology cocktails, or dips.

If the recipe is where you want to start, make note of the flavors and try to find a beer that mimics those. If you want to bake a chocolate dessert, for example, look for a beer with chocolate notes, or coffee, or malt. Look at the list of flavor notes that the beer has and try to imagine those in your dish. Most large chain retailers of craft beer (like BevMo or Total Wine) have cards near the beers that explain the flavors in that beer and give you a fairly accurate flavor profile. If you are making a chicken soup, for instance, you might look for a beer with lemon or basil notes, not a beer with coffee and caramel notes.

Now that you have had your crash course in beer recipe development, please, go cook your beer loving hearts out. And don’t forget to share.

For this recipe, I choose Lagunitas Wilco Tango Foxtrot. I had four craft beers, mostly stouts, that were in the running for this recipe, and all would have made great choices. In the end, it came down to a gut feeling. Lagunitas WTF won out, although loosly categories as a “brown? ale” and more hops that I would generally recommend for this recipe, the flavors of chocolate and malt were an incredible fit for this recipe. This is a beer to keep an eye out for, it’s smooth and bold and fantastic. A fabulous drinking and cooking beer.

A chocolate stout makes an excellent choice for this recipe as well. I’ve made it with both and although I love the WTF, a chocolate stout seems to give more consistent results as far as a general beer style.

If you can’t get your grubby little hands on some WTF, a stout with notes of chocolate would make a great substitution.

Chocolate Beer Cheesecake With A Pretzel Crust

Chocolate Beer Cheesecake With A Pretzel Crust


    For the Crust:
  • 4 standard sized graham crackers
  • 1 cup pretzel rods
  • 2 tbs brown sugar
  • 3 tbs melted butter, unsalted
  • For the filling:
  • 7 oz dark chocolate (60%)
  • 1 cup Chocolate Stout (or Laguanitas WTF)
  • 3, 8 oz packages of cream cheese, softened
  • 1 1/4 cup sugar
  • 3 eggs
  • 2 tbs flour
  • 1/3 cup cocoa powder
  • 1/2 salt
  • 1 tbs espresso powder
  • For the Sour Cream Topping:
  • 1 cup sour cream
  • 1/4 cup powdered sugar
  • 2 tbs Lagunitas WTF


  • Place one oven rack in the middle position, with one rack below. Preheat oven to 350.
  • In a food processor add the graham crackers, brown sugar and the pretzels and process until it's the consistency of crumbs. Turn the food processor on, remove the stopper from the lid and slowly add the butter and process until it resembles wet sand.
  • Coat the inside of a 9 inch spring form pan with butter. Pour the crust into the spring form pan. Using the bottom of a heavy, flat bottom glass, press the crust very well into the bottom of the pan until well compacted.
  • In a pot over medium high heat, add the beer and the chocolate, stir until melted and remove from heat. Allow to cool.
  • In the bowl of a stand mixer add the cream cheese and the sugar and mix until smooth. One at a time, add the eggs, scraping the bottom of the bowl between additions. Pour the cooled chocolate into the mixer and beat until well combined. Lift the head of the mixer and sprinkle the flour, cocoa powder, espresso powder and salt over the batter, stir on low speed until just combined.
  • Pour the batter into the pan over the crust.
  • Place the pan in the oven in the middle position. Place a baking dish on the rack below the cheesecake, fill with water.
  • If you have experience with a water bath, feel free to use that technique. In my experience, the water leaks into the pan, making the crust soggy. Placing a basin of water below the cheesecake has a similar effect without the soggy crust.
  • Bake the cheesecake until the center no longer jiggles when you shake the rack, about 45-50 minutes. This isn't a situation where a tooth pick inserted in the middle should come out clean, you just need the center to set and it will continue to set as it cools. Remove from oven.
  • For the sour cream topping: add the ingredients to a bowl and whisk until well combined. Top the cheesecake with the sour cream topping and return to the oven for 8 minutes. Remove cheesecake and chill in the pan until ready to serve, at least 3 hours.

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49 Responses to Chocolate Beer Cheesecake With A Pretzel Crust

  1. dvlwearsparsley April 10, 2012 at 6:21 pm #

    I’ve got to keep this one in the books! I appreciate your warning about cooking with IPA’s – though the warning came a bit too late for me! I made a valiant attempt to make a macaroni and cheese with IPA and the flavors clashed sooo much, it was *almost* too bitter to enjoy. Back to the drawing board on that one! The cheesecake looks absolutely fantastic!

    • The Beeroness April 10, 2012 at 6:26 pm #

      Thank you! IPA’s just need to stay in the glass, great for drinking but so hard to control in the kitchen. Glad you like the cheesecake!

  2. The Chocolate Bottle April 10, 2012 at 6:28 pm #

    Amazing! I love this recipe and will be trying it out for myself too. :)

  3. Amrita April 11, 2012 at 7:07 am #

    Holy! Look at that cheesecake. Excuse me while I go wipe drool off my keyboard. And those tips are super-handy…I’m so pinning them in my notebook.

  4. tideandthyme April 11, 2012 at 5:43 pm #

    Dogfish has an amazing chocolate stout bacon cheesecake (I know, right?) on their menu that is out of this world. Have wanted to re-create it at home, but was unsure where to start. This seems about perfect!

  5. tothet2 April 13, 2012 at 12:03 am #

    Hmm…intriguing flavor combos and pretty photos!

  6. Stephanie April 13, 2012 at 2:40 pm #

    My favorite stouts to bake with (and drink) are Terrapin’s Moohoo and Left Hand’s milk stout (the nitro milk stout by left hand is delicious as well). Great recipe. I can’t wait to try it. I hope you don’t mind if I pin it.

    • The Beeroness April 13, 2012 at 4:42 pm #

      Sounds great! Milk stouts have been hard for me to find, I even had a beer seller at one of those large chain beer retailers tell that they didn’t exist. I had to pull a few up on my phone for him to believe me.

      • Stephanie April 13, 2012 at 7:40 pm #

        What city/state are you in? That is pretty surprising the a beer person wouldn’t know or that they don’t carry them. I’m in Atlanta and it did take awhile for Georgia as a whole to allow microbrews in from the other side of the Mississippi or to allow craft brewers really. Luckily they have now so our beer scene is exploding.

        • The Beeroness April 13, 2012 at 7:56 pm #

          I live in LA, california. I was pretty surprised as well, it doesn’t seem that unusual to me.

  7. Tyson Frotreau April 13, 2012 at 11:22 pm #

    To start: this is the most amazing thing i’ve ever seen. And the pictures are so beautiful I want to print them out and frame them.

    • The Beeroness April 19, 2012 at 1:44 am #

      I’m blushing.

  8. theycallmesaucy April 15, 2012 at 6:32 pm #

    I’ll definitely be making this one for a friend’s birthday. Thanks for explaining the nuances of the beers when it comes to baking, how helpful!

  9. seilvia bjurion April 16, 2012 at 2:43 am #

    I like this so much. Probably love.

  10. Aimee @ShugarySweets April 16, 2012 at 11:49 am #

    OMG this looks divine! Found you from Tasty Kitchen, now I’m intrigued to go read more of your recipes….

  11. ron stanley April 18, 2012 at 2:55 pm #

    Woah! my girlfriend made this for me for my birthday and it was so amazing. my favorite desert ever.

  12. Linds & Cindy April 23, 2012 at 11:32 am #

    I made this for a beer pairing party and it was a HUGE hit! Everyone devoured and it and I had to go online and print the recipe for people to take home. I added a bit more sugar because the stout I used seemed particularly bitter. It was perfect and amazing, great texture! Thanks so much for the awesome recipe.

  13. Brooke May 14, 2012 at 11:37 pm #

    I love this! I own a bar and we participate in a brew week. I am planning to make this cake with our Ompa Lompa (chocolate stout of course) beer. Have any recommendations for a blueberry beer? I would like to make a second dessert from that beer too!

    • The Beeroness May 15, 2012 at 1:47 am #

      That sounds like fun! Where is your bar?
      My first thought is to do a tart and try and reduce berries, sugar, cornstarch and maybe 1/2 cup beer until thick and then bake it in a tart crust. Serve with lemon pilsner ice cream? Obviously, that’s a rough start to a recipe, but there isn’t a ton of beer recipes out there to go off of, so some experimentation has to happen! The second thing would be a berry crisp with a similar method of reducing a standard crisp recipe filling (like this one: ) on the stove with some beer before continuing with the rest of the recipe. But adding sugar and tasting as you go to make sure it isn’t TOO bitter. If you wanted to go savory, I would start with this Blueberry Onion Pork Tenderloin recipe and just replace the wine with beer and maybe add a bit more (1/3 or 1/2 cup total?)

      Have fun and let me know how it goes!

      • Brooke June 2, 2012 at 3:06 pm #

        Thank you!! That gives me plenty to start and I am going to turn my kitchen into a science lab today to see what happens!
        It’s a small bar and grill in Athens, Ohio called The Pub. Our patrons will be grateful!

  14. Karen August 21, 2012 at 5:42 pm #

    This cheesecake was amazing! I made it for my boyfriends birthday. Couldn’t find WTF so I used Dragon’s Milk. Thanks for the recipe!

    • Jackie August 21, 2012 at 5:59 pm #

      That’s great! This is still one of favorite recipes. And that beer choice sounds perfect.

  15. Annett Birckett October 11, 2012 at 9:53 am #

    I really love to munch cheesecakes because they are oh so tasty. i really like to eat like 2 or 4 per day. ;)

  16. Cynthia October 24, 2012 at 8:07 am #

    Wow! I think you can officially call you me your new fan! I am both in love and severely intimidated by your recipes! Hahaha. It only leaves me wishing I was your test dummy!

    • Taylor October 29, 2012 at 7:29 pm #

      Hi, how are you measuring the 1 cup of pretzel rods: full pretzel rods stacked in a 1 cup measuring cup vs. 1 cup of crushed pretzel rods vs. something else I can’t think of? I’d LOVE to make this, it looks amazing.

      • Jackie October 29, 2012 at 8:54 pm #

        It’s a bit of an inexact science. They were a bit crushed, to fit in the measuring cup. Just make sure the crust has a “west sand” consistency to it when you pour it into the pan. Also, make sure to press it really well unto the bottom of the pan.

  17. Katie November 27, 2012 at 1:43 pm #

    This recipe looks amazing! I’m planning on making it for my boyfriend for Christmas. I’ll probably need to make it a day or two ahead of time. Would you recommend waiting to make the topping the day of (and not put it back in the oven?) or should I make the whole thing at one time and just store it in the fridge?

    • Jackie November 27, 2012 at 10:21 pm #

      You can also make it without the topping, that’s actually how most people have been making it. If you make more than 24 hours ahead, the crust might get soggy.

  18. Tyler Yeagley December 2, 2012 at 10:40 pm #

    munching cheesecakes is my hobby, i really love eating it..

  19. Laura January 7, 2013 at 11:50 am #

    Made this for New Years Eve, and it was nothing short of amazing! Used Dogfish’s Chicory Stout, and added some beer-candied bacon to the party. This one is definitely going in the recipe box! Thanks so much!

    • Jackie January 7, 2013 at 11:54 am #

      Yaaaay! I’m so glad to hear that :)Oh, and beer candied bacon cheesecake?? That sounds amazing!

  20. ruthie January 14, 2013 at 11:35 am #

    IPA Hot and Sour Soup??? ;)

    I’ve got to say this sounds fantastic. I pretty much love all of Lagunitas’s products, especially their uber hoppy IPA. If I could figure out something to use instead of cream cheese, I’d go for it. For me, chocolate and cream cheese are a total digestive disaster. But this looks and sounds so good…maybe tofu? Heh.

  21. Chris Stover September 1, 2013 at 5:24 pm #

    My wife is making this tonight for my birthday tomorrow. I can’t wait to try it! I ended up getting Ballast Point”s Sea Monster Imperial Stout to use. Drank the rest of the bottle that wasn’t used for the recipe and I think it is going to work really well.

    • Chris Stover September 2, 2013 at 7:22 pm #

      Aaaaannnndddd it was awesome! :) Happy hubby right here :) This was delicious!

      • Jackie September 2, 2013 at 8:37 pm #

        Great!! I’m so glad!

  22. Dan September 16, 2013 at 9:57 am #

    Making this for a bottle share this weekend and using Old Engine Oil for the beer – should be fantastic!

  23. Alyssa January 22, 2014 at 1:09 pm #

    Finally a blog worth reading! A combination of my two favorite things – fantastic food and craft beer….YUM! I will definitely be trying some of these recipes! Thank you!!!

  24. Christine March 9, 2014 at 1:05 pm #

    I just busted this out using Ballast Point Indra Kunindra… The curry spices there are absolutely amazing with an already-phenomenal cheesecake! Thanks for continued awesomeness, Jackie (and for daily excuses to open bombers of great beer solo :) )

    • Jackie March 9, 2014 at 1:15 pm #

      thank you so much!

  25. Dan April 15, 2014 at 6:37 pm #

    This cheesecake is ‘da bomb! I’ve made it on several occasions to rave reviews. Thanks for such a great and versatile recipe. I’ve used Guinness a few times, and even a pumpkin beer – and it has turned out great. The step by step instructions make it easy for anyone – even if you’ve never made a cheesecake before. Great website – great recipes – thank you!

    • Jackie April 15, 2014 at 7:30 pm #

      Thank you Dan!


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