Extra Strong (or extra special) Bitters are yet another most appreciated brewing tradition from our friends in the United Kingdom.

And despite being a bitter, ESBs don’t tend to be all that bitter in flavor. They tend towards dark golds to copper in color, with caramel notes and a slightly toasted flavor. Hints of fruit flavor may show up.

An English tradition for 350 years

Today’s beer pairing features an English classic: Fuller’s ESB. This highly respected (and exported) brew is the product of a Chiswick brewery that has been in operation, in one form or another, for about 350 years.

Fullers ESB in Washington!

Photo by markhillary

Fuller’s ESB has been brewed since 1971.

A full-flavored meal

There’s absolutely nothing subtle about today’s pairing. The slow-cooker espresso-marinated ribs are full of sweet, salty, spicy, and bitter flavors combining in a full-bodied meat.

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The caramel notes of the ESB cut through the salt pork, sriracha, and espresso, but leave a lingering maple hint from the rib meat.

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Espresso-Marinated Short Ribs

Marinade Ingredients

  • 5 cups water
  • 12 ounces freshly-brewed espresso
  • ½ cup coarse kosher salt
  • 3 tablespoons plus 2 teaspoons (packed) dark brown sugar
  • ¼ cup pure maple syrup
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh rosemary
  • 3 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
  • 2 cups ice cubes
  • 4 pounds short ribs, cut between ribs to separate

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Short Ribs Ingredients

  • about a dozen pork short ribs
  • ½ cup salt pork, rind removed, diced small
  • 2 cups onions, chopped
  • ½ cup shallots, chopped
  • 6 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 small jalapeño pepper, seeded, chopped
  • 1 cup strong brewed coffee
  • 1 cup chicken stock
  • ¼ cup Sriracha Chili Sauce
  • 2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
  • 2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon low-sodium soy sauce

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Marinade Instructions

  1. Stir 5 cups water, espresso, ½ cup coarse salt, and sugar in a large bowl until salt and sugar dissolve.
  2. Add syrup, Worcestershire sauce, chopped rosemary, and ice cubes.
  3. Stir the marinade until the ice melts. Add ribs, weighting them down with a plate to keep submerged if necessary.
  4. Cover and chill 4 to 6 hours.
  5. Drain ribs and discard marinade. Drained ribs can be held for up to two days, chilled in an airtight container.

Short Rib Instructions

  1. Allow your ribs time to come up to room temperature.  Sprinkle ribs with salt and pepper and rub it in lightly.
  2. Using the slow cooker’s braiser insert, sauté salt pork over medium heat until beginning to brown. If your slow cooker doesn’t have a sear feature, you can do this step in a frying pan.
  3. Using a slotted spoon, transfer salt pork to plate, and reserve.  (These are now called “cracklins.”)
  4. Increase heat to medium-high. Sprinkle ribs with salt and pepper. Working in batches, sear ribs until browned on all sides, about 7 minutes per batch. Transfer to large plate.
  5. Add onions, shallots, garlic, and jalapeño to pot. Reduce heat to medium, cover, and cook until vegetables are soft, stirring occasionally, about 10 minutes.
  6. Add coffee and broth; stir, scraping up browned bits.
  7. Add sriracha and all remaining ingredients; bring to a boil. Add ribs, cover, and transfer your EasySear™ to the slow cooker.
  8. Cook on low for 9 hours.

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Serve each rib on a small app plate with a ladle of the sauce. Top with two or three cracklins.