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Mussels in Sour Beer

Mussels in Sour Beer

Sour beer elevates a seafood classic.

Inspired by European beer halls and hearty farmhouse fare, The Publican in Chicago experiments with classic, seasonal dishes to complement an extensive international beer list. Chef Paul Kahan says they tinkered with 50 or 60 different preparations for mussels, searching for the right accompaniment. “The winner was a variation using gueuze, a sour Belgian beer that’s a little cidery and a little musty and has just the right amount of acidity that we balance with a good amount of butter, garlic, thyme, and chile flakes,” says Kahan.


  • 2 Tbsp. unsalted butter
  • 1 Tbsp. sliced celery
  • 1 Tbsp. sliced garlic
  • 1 Tbsp. sliced shallot
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 tsp. thyme leaves
  • 1/2 tsp. chile flakes
  • 2 lbs. mussels
  • 1/4 cup gueuze beer
  • 1 Tbsp. fresh lemon juice
  • 2 Tbsp. chopped celery leaves or lovage
  • Pinch of sea salt
  • Tools:medium pot


In a medium pot—ideally something ceramic or cast-iron that can go right onto the table—heat 1 Tbsp. of the butter over high heat. When the butter foams, add the celery, garlic, shallot, bay leaf, thyme, and chile flakes and sweat for 1 minute.

Add the mussels to the pot, toss all the ingredients together, pour in the gueuze and cover the pot. Cook just until the mussels are open, about 3 to 5 minutes.

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