Tart Cherry Pi(e) with Black Diamond Peak XV Imperial Porter

18 July 2013 by bri

When I think of summer, especially around Seattle, I think of the days after the 4th of July. That’s about the time I can start to leave all sorts of things (like shoes, cloth-covered furniture, etc…) outdoors and not worry about finding them waterlogged and moldy.

The 4th inevitably fills my head with thoughts of lattice-topped cherry pie and sloshing pints (or clandestinely filled water bottles) of delicious craft beer at a sunny picnic. Although it’s never been a particular tradition of mine to have pie for the 4th, I have this idea that cherry pie is something quintessentially “American.”

And so is beer.

On top of that – of all the things – beer and pie would have to be in the top five on anyone’s list of “most delicious things of all time,” so…. Why not combine the two?

Cherry pie like this is great year-round. In fact, I made this particular pie for Pi Day (the 14th of March) and it was perfectly suitable. The deeply sweet roasty notes in this imperial porter (brewed with vanilla beans and cocoa nibs) add some wonderful complexity to the sweet-tartness of the cherries. For a fall or winter treat, just add some chocolate chips – or a chocolate crust.

This pie requires that you use tart pie cherries. The sweet ones just won’t cut it. I get mine frozen or in cans, so I’m usually able to find them year-round.

A lot of things have happened since I last posted. I moved! (Not far, just across the street, really, but it’s still a little chaotic). After this post, photos will probably look quite different. New house, new kitchen, new inspiration!

Other things: I’ve been studying the BJCP guidelines. Stewarding at a homebrew competition a few months back really got me thinking about how much I enjoy tasting beer, and learning about my palate.

I discovered a wonderful craft beer bar right in my neighborhood: The Six Gill (some of the owners are the very same ones who own the Noble Fir in Ballard, an old favorite).

Also, I’ve been playing my guitar more lately. A place down the street from my house serves Fremont Brewing Co. Beer (granted, it’s also down the street from Fremont Brewing) – Tiny Ninja Cafe – and they also have open mic night on Wednesdays. I’ve been going there to listen to the musicians, and maybe build up the courage to play some day!

It seems like Seattle Beer Week was forever ago, but I still remember two beers that really left an impression:

A really special keg of the J.W. Lee’s Harvest Ale (Lagavulin Whisky Cask) at Beveridge Place in W. Seattle.


Bergamot IPA from Outlander in Fremont.

The J.W. Lee’s beer is one I love to grab in a bottle as a special treat, but the taste I had at Beveridge Place was something special. Much more peat-y and caramel-y than I’ve ever noticed. This contributed to my burgeoning interest in scotch. I’m still a newbie. I’ve only tried the Lagavulin 16 year, and a friend gave me a taste of Talisker (which really really does taste like the sea – no joke). My newfound interest definitely calls for a trip to the scotch bar across the street from Uber.

The Bergamot IPA was a great idea – I’m thinking of trying it as the first homebrew in the new house. I love super-citrusy IPAs, and I’ve never actually brewed an IPA. It’s about time.

The Bremerton Beer fest this last weekend has also inspired the Beer for Dessert machine: Diamond Knot Blonde with coffee and orange? Delicious. Blonde ale pound cake with coffee and orange? Dessert-y goodness.

The beer:

Peak XV Imperial Porter

Style: Imperial Porter is kind of a controversial thing to call a beer. Some beer geeks would argue that this is actually just a stout. I haven’t had enough of Black Diamond’s brews to be able to tell if this is just really similar to their house porter, and they wanted some continuity. It doesn’t matter that much though. A high abv american porter is going to have some of the same characteristics as an american stout (in a general sense): malt is the star, here. Roasty bitterness is more prominent than hop bitterness, but also deep and sweet burnt caramel flavors and maybe a hint of smoke. Clean yeast character, so it isn’t usually fruity.

Tasting Notes: This beer was brewed with vanilla beans and cocoa nibs, and the vanilla character is present throughout the first taste – from aroma to a lingering sweetness. The nib flavor is subtle, and blends with the roasty and chocolate-y notes in the malt. This beer is nicely sweet, and great for a pie with tart fruit in it. The beer is sweet enough to stand on its own in a dessert pairing, so feel free to drink a glass with your pie.

Other beers that would be appropriate:

Hale’s Troll Porter: This beer has a special place in my heart for no beer-related reason at all, just nostalgia. I’ve lived in Fremont right next to the Troll for most of my time in Seattle. So I have warm fuzzies about it. It’s also a good NW Porter. Just enough chocolately roasty malt flavor and a hint of some Pacific Northwest Hops… a little piney, so maybe Chinook?
Deschutes Black Butte Porter: Deschutes’ flagship beer and always one that I’m in the mood to drink. Smooth yet roasty – with a hint of coffee. It would be excellent with the tart cherries. If you can find one of their special Black Butte anniversary bottles (wax-dipped bottles) and are willing to part with a few ounces, it is also brewed with cocoa nibs (like the Black Diamond beer I used) and would make a great pie.
Maui Coconut Porter: Delicious and only a bit more than subtle on the coconut flavor – so the roasty malts in the porter get to shine. This would be a good one to add to the pie along with some shredded coconut, for a little tropical twist. I just made some brownies with this beer, as well – another excellent application.
New Belgium Transantlantique Kriek: This is obviously not a porter, but it’s really awesome that NB and Boon got together to do this thing. I love the cherry flavor. Tart cherries love the cherry flavor. Go forth and make awesome craft beer-infused pie with this delicious thing.

The pastry recipes:

Use my pate brisee recipe from here, or your favorite pie crust recipe. I make a double batch for this pie, which is enough for a nice 8-inch pie and a lattice top.

I blind bake the bottom crust for about 15 min at 350 °F with parchment paper and beans, to weigh it down.

If using frozen pie cherries for this filling, it’s best to thaw them overnight, but thawing them slowly in the microwave will work as well.

Cherry Porter Pie Filling
(makes enough for one small 8-inch pie)

1.5 pounds (24 oz) frozen or canned tart pie cherries (thawed and drained, juice reserved)
½ C + 2 T (5 oz) reserved cherry juice
¼ C (2 oz) granulated sugar
½ C (4 oz) Black Diamond Imperial Porter
2 T cornstarch


1. Preheat the oven to 350°F.

2. In a small saucepan, cook about half the cherries with the juice and the sugar until bubbling.

3. Meanwhile, whisk the beer and the 2T of cornstarch into a slurry and add into the simmering cherries and cook until thick over medium heat.

4. Once this mixture is thick, fold it into the remaining cherries and dump into your prepared pie shell.

5. Use your remaining pate brisee to cut out strips for a lattice. I do a “mock” lattice crust, which is achieved by starting at the ends and alternating at 90° angles from opposite sides until you reach the middle. Obviously, it isn’t perfect, but I find it sufficient. An actual lattice is not impossible, so if you prefer to do it that way, so be it.

6. Brush a bit of egg mixed with beer on top, and sprinkle large granulated sugar over top. Bake for 35 to 40 minutes until lattice is golden brown and filling is only slightly bubbling.

Look forward to my Bremerton Beer fest inspired pound cake. AND I made a ton of stuff for the homebrew club’s annual beerfest/camping trip: Beerstock.


  1. Mike says:

    This looks spectacular, we will be making this. Thank you!

  2. Ryan Parker says:

    Since I am from MI, tart cherries are near and dear to my heart. I think this is an awesome pairing, cant wait to try it out.

  3. flinter says:

    I’m from Hungary, and I’m writing my thesis about Hungarian craft beers, and I’m trying to prove that we must bake with them :) Thank you for the blog, it’s such a help. I’m baking this pie at the moment, with a Fuller’s Black Cab and a cherry-sour cherry mix filling. I know it will be incredible!

    • bri says:

      Excellent! Let me know how it turns out. I’ve never had Fuller’s Black Cab, how is it?

      • flinter says:

        It was really good with the cherries, because it has a deep caramel-coffee like taste. But my goal now is to find Hungarian craft beers which are matching with your recipes :)

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