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A Brief History of Mulled Beer and How to Make It at Home

Mulled wine has been enjoyed for thousands of years. Even the Romans were known to drink hot wine peppered with different spices. Today, especially in colder months, you’ll find the drink at bars, restaurants and home kitchens around the world.

But what about mulled beer?

According to The Atlantic before the 20th century, hot or mulled beer was the drink of choice in English and American taverns and homes, especially during the winter. Special tools were even developed, such as the 18th century boot ale warmer, a copper, iron or brass vessel that a mug filled with beer would be placed inside and then the warmer was put in a hearth to warm.

Some even believed there were health benefits to drinking a hot brew, claiming that cold beverages could cause weight loss, bad eyesight and myriad other unpleasant ailments.

Prior to the advent of refrigeration, beer was more likely to spoil, so seasoning it with various spices may have sometimes been in the drinker’s best interest. However, as new brewing technologies and styles of beer best enjoyed cold became more widely available, mulled beer fell out of fashion.

The drink has seen a resurgence in recent years and offers an alternative for those who seek a lighter option than syrupy mulled red wine. This recipe calls for hefeweizen, a wheated beer often favored in summer months, but one whose flavor profile and low bitterness compliments the addition of orange, cloves, ginger and honey. In a pinch, any lager can be substituted.

Warming, aromatic and refreshing, mulled beer may just make you think twice the next time you feel compelled to ask for “a cold one.”

Ingredients for mulled beer
Photo by Katrin Björk


  • 2 12-ounce bottles hefeweizen
  • 2.5 tablespoons honey
  • ½-inch piece ginger, sliced
  • 2 star anise
  • ½ teaspoon cloves
  • 1 stick cinnamon
  • ¼ cup orange juice
  • 2 dashes Angostura bitters
  • Twist of orange peel for garnish (optional)
Ingredients and mulled beer in a pot
Photo by Katrin Björk


Bring to a low simmer for 10 minutes, but don’t allow to boil.

Straining the mulled beer
Photo by Katrin Björk

Remove from heat and to steep and cool for 5 minutes. Pour liquid through sieve into a pitcher to strain solids.

Finished nulled beer in bugs with orange and cinnamon
Photo by Katrin Björk

Serve in handled mug, garnished with twisted orange peel.