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We created Guinness Beer boba, and you can easily make it at home

guiness beer boba beauty

I’m all about the bubble tea trend. Add some chewy, flavorful pearls to the bottom of my drink, and it’s suddenly way more exciting. Add in the adult beverage element on top of that, and you had better believe I’m on board. Which is why when a coworker of mine suggested Guinness Beer boba during one of our brainstorming meetings, I jumped at the chance to test it out.

Turns out, it was a lot more of a challenge than I anticipated.

Testing beer boba

We started by testing spherification and reverse spherification techniques. (That’s right, we’re getting scientific over here.) Let’s not get into too many specifics, because, otherwise, you’ll spend all afternoon reading this article. But, basically, we purchased some calcium lactate and sodium alginate — two substances that are supposed to make spherification super simple. To achieve spherification, all you have to do (the simplified version) is mix some sodium alginate with the liquid you want to spherify (in our case, beer). Then you mix some calcium lactate with distilled water. Drop the sodium alginate mixture into the calcium lactate mixture, and you have popping pearls.

Um, no, it definitely didn’t go down like that.

We could not get the pearls to form. After days of testing and watching and re-watching videos of children who were able to get this technique right, we gave up. (If anyone has any suggestions out there for spherification, I’m all ears.)

Thankfully, agar-agar saved this recipe from being a total and complete fail.

Agar-agar is a gelling agent made from red algae, and it’s amazing.

It operates very similarly to gelatine, but it doesn’t have a flavor. At all. And it forms much more quickly, which means we could easily form the pearls we wanted for our beer boba.

I was able to achieve success with this technique on the first try, so you can easily recreate the recipe at home, too.

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How to make beer boba at home

Full disclaimer here: This boba is probably a little different to the boba you’re used to getting in your tea. The agar-agar gives our Guinness Beer boba more of a jelly texture as opposed to the chewy texture of tapioca pearls. Calling it Guinness Beer agar jelly, though, just didn’t have a nice ring to it.

What you’ll need:

1-1/2 cup Guinness beer
4 grams agar-agar
1/2 cup brown sugar
4 cups vegetable oil
Bowl of cool water
Slotted spoon
Eye dropper or something similar
Optional: Baileys Irish Cream

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A note here: You can swap out the Guinness for any alcohol of your choice. I tried variations with whiskey and champagne along with the beer, and they all worked great.

MORE: Whiskey chai cheesecake is the best cheesecake

Start by filling a tall, clear container with vegetable oil. The taller the better. You’ll drop your warm agar-agar mixture into the vegetable oil to cool it and form it into balls. The longer the boba has to travel, the more likely it will form into perfect spheres. We used a milkshake glass for our boba, and it worked perfectly.

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Chill the vegetable oil in the freezer for 30 minutes. It’s important the vegetable oil is cold but not frozen.

While the vegetable oil chills, make your boba.

Poor 3/4 cup beer into a small saucepan. Sprinkle 4 grams agar-agar over the top of the beer. Stir to combine. Bring to a simmer over medium heat, continuing to stir occasionally.

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Once the mixture begins to simmer, add 1/4 cup brown sugar.

Continue to stir while the mixture simmers for about 2 minutes — just enough that it starts to thicken.

Remove the mixture from the heat and allow to cool just slightly before adding the remaining 3/4 cup beer.

The trick at this stage is to cool the agar-agar mixture so it isn’t scalding but so that it’s still warm enough to be a liquid. If the agar-agar mixture gets too cold, it will begin to solidify. If that happens, return it to the heat until it is just melted once again.

Collect your vegetable oil from the freezer.

Fill the eye dropper with the agar-agar mixture. Drop the agar-agar mixture into the vegetable oil, allowing the drops to fall in different places throughout the glass. Continue filling the eye dropper and dropping the liquid into the vegetable oil.

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Use the slotted spoon to collect your Guinness Beer boba. Drop the boba into cool water and give it a gentle stir to help wash away the excess oil.

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Using the slotted spoon again (or a fine strainer), strain the beer boba from the water.

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Serve on its own or as an Irish Bomb cocktail variation with some Baileys Irish Cream. You don’t need a ton. We recommend serving in a shot glass.

MORE: This keto custard dessert recipe tastes just like chocolate cheesecake

Another fun part of this recipe: Because the Guinness is spherified, it will not cause the Baileys to curdle, which means you can sip and enjoy the flavors instead of shooting this cocktail. And we definitely recommend savoring this variation. Beer boba makes the perfect aperitif.

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Guiness Beer boba

Ingredients

  • 1-1/2 cup Guinness beer
  • 4 grams agar-agar
  • 1/4 cup brown sugar
  • 4 cups vegetable oil
  • Bowl of cool water
  • Slotted spoon
  • Eye dropper or something similar
  • Optional: Baileys Irish Cream

Instructions

  1. Fill a tall, clear container with vegetable oil.
  2. Chill the vegetable oil in the freezer for 30 minutes so it’s cold but not frozen.
  3. While the oil chills, poor 3/4 cup beer into a small saucepan.
  4. Sprinkle 4 grams agar-agar over the top of the beer. Stir to combine.
  5. Bring the mixture to a simmer over medium heat, continuing to stir occasionally.
  6. Once the mixture begins to simmer, add 1/4 cup brown sugar.
  7. Continue to stir while the mixture simmers for about 2 minutes -- just enough that it starts to thicken.
  8. Remove the mixture from the heat and allow to cool just slightly before adding the remaining 3/4 cup beer.
  9. Collect your vegetable oil from the freezer.
  10. Fill the eye dropper with the agar-agar mixture. Drop agar-agar mixture into the vegetable oil, allowing the drops to fall in different places throughout the glass. Continue filling the eye dropper and dropping the liquid into the vegetable oil.
  11. Use the slotted spoon to collect your Guinness Beer boba. Drop the boba into cool water and give it a gentle stir to help wash away the excess oil.
  12. Using the slotted spoon again (or a fine strainer), strain the beer boba from the water.
  13. Serve in shot glasses with Baileys Irish Cream or on its own in martini glasses.

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