Ale-Steamed Mussels with Garlic & Kale

I have a confession.  Actually, it’s more of an admission; it’s not something I feel particularly bad about.

I judge books by their covers.  It’s not because I’m shallow, or (just) because I like pretty things, it’s because I think if a lot of care was given to the content of a book, the author will want the same level of attention paid to the outside.  Sometimes this works out really well for me and I discover a great read I may not have otherwise found.  Other times I end up with books, well-written or not, on a subject I have zero interest in.

So what does this have to do with anything?  Well, it seems I apply these same principles when buying beer and on occasion I end up with a beautifully labeled six-pack containing sour-mash ale that, while I’m sure it was masterfully brewed, I have little desire to drink.

Have you ever had a sour-mash ale?  This was my first.  It tasted, to me, like equal parts puckery Sauvignon Blanc, crisp lager, and tart lemon juice.  I didn’t want to drink it, but I certainly didn’t want it all to go to waste either.  So what do you do when life hands you really lemony beer?

I steam mussels.

It turned out to be a brilliant solution.  I love mussels steamed in beer or white wine with a squeeze of lemon.  This is the perfect mussel steaming liquid, neatly contained in one (beautiful) bottle.

I’m going to toss some kale in to steam with my mussels so I can call it a complete meal.  Plus the kale will look charmingly like seaweed when the dish is complete.

Saute some shallots, plenty of garlic, pinches of red pepper flakes.

Add kale, let it work up a thirst, and buy it a beer.

When it gets nice and steamy, it’s time to add your mussels.  Yes, I wear a lot of stripes.

Steam until the shells pop open.  Toast thick slices of baguette, rub with garlic, drizzle with oil.  Set the table with plenty of napkins, a discard bowl for the shells, and a tower of after-dinner mints.

Ale Steamed Mussels with Garlic & Kale
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
I used sour-mash ale simply because I had on hand. You could use white wine or any beer and a little lemon juice. I added kale to make this a complete meal but feel free to leave it out if you are serving these mussels as a starter or with a salad on the side.
Serves: 2 entrees or 4 appetizers
  • 2 lbs. Mussels, cleaned and debearded
  • 1 Shallot, sliced
  • 4 cloves Garlic, sliced, plus a couple additional cloves for bread
  • Red Pepper Flakes, to taste
  • ½ bunch Kale (optional), center stalk removed and chopped
  • 1 bottle Sour-Mash Ale (or white wine and lemon juice or a different type of beer)
  • Extra Virgin Olive Oil
  • Baguette, sliced and toasted
  1. Heat 2 Tbsp. olive oil in heavy-bottomed pot over medium-high heat. Add shallot, saute briefly. Add garlic and red pepper flakes, allow to become golden but do not burn.
  2. Add kale, if desired,season with salt, and allow to wilt slightly. Add beer and bring to boil.
  3. Gently (you don't want to break any shells) add mussels to pot, cover, and allow to steam until shells open, about 5 minutes.
  4. Meanwhile, rub toasted baguette with raw garlic and drizzle with oil.
  5. Serve mussels in warm bowls or straight from the pot with plenty of the toasted bread to soak up the steaming liquid.



  1. Pam says

    I want these right now!!!!! You are the one who introduced me to mussels and this sounds wonderful! (And we sure wouldn’t want to waste any beer!)


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