It’s always a great idea to brew something that has inspired you. While at an ice cream shop in Portland, Oregon I was inspired to try brewing a version of their Happy Birthday Elvis; a banana pudding, peanut butter, marionberry and bacon flavoured ice cream.
The first thing to do in this recipe design is establish a base style (this is where the BJCP guide comes in handy). I made a peanut butter and jelly porter last year and had some great success with that, but considering the banana flavour in this one, a Dunkelweizen might be a better fit. A Dunkelweizen is a German dark wheat beer which has banana notes that come from the yeast. If your fermentation temperatures are on the higher side of the recommended range you’ll amp up the banana flavoured esters too. The wheat in this style will also give it a fuller, bready texture and mouthfeel that will be much like Elvis’ favourite sandwiches.
Next thing to do is establish what the other ingredients will be for the other flavours that were found in the ice cream. For the peanut butter it’s best to use a peanut butter powder called PB2, which is available at health food stores or online. You could use actual peanut butter, but the residue oils in it will completely kill the head on your beer, which is not a very desirable quality. The PB2 is added during the boil at the beginning so the powder can be completely dissolved into the wort.
The marionberry is a type of blackberry that grows in the pacific northwest of the US and can be replicated with actual blackberries or more simply with blackberry extract which is available at most homebrew stores. The extract would be added during secondary fermentation and in very small quantities. Taste it first before determining whether to add more. Once you’ve added too much it’s impossible to remove.
The bacon flavour can be arrived at very simply by using a little smoked malt. Adding bacon itself presents far too many problems, similar to the peanut butter, with the fat having an impact on the head retention. The key to smoked malt in this case is not to use too much because it too can overpower the beer.
The biggest challenge in perfecting this recipe is the proportions of the added ingredients. It has to be a subtle and pleasing blend without being too subtle or overpowering. A challenge for certain, but one that would probably be fun to try. As Elvis himself once said “Do something worth remembering.” This beer would definitely fall into that category and The King would have approved.