It’s the season to eat, drink and be merry with friends and love ones. So what if we told you that you could kill two birds with one stone (the ‘eating and drinking’ bit), which would just leave you with the ‘being merry’ part?

As our Christmas pressie to you, we have gift-wrapped a wonderful winter recipe that uses the finest of ingredients – by which, of course, we mean beer.

“Six Pak Stu” was created by the merry-making enthusiast himself, the late great Canadian chef and culinary personality, James Barber.

When a man’s legacy includes the quotation, “Cooking is the simplest way of saying ‘I love you,'” you know this is a chap you want to include in your holiday plans.

As the following recipe is a meat-eaters’ delight (honestly, who garnishes beef with bacon? Sheer luxury!), we recommend using a darker beer to complement the red meat. Here are a few loose guidelines:

DON’Ts: The basic rule here is that you want to avoid anything too bitter, so put that IPA into your glass, not your stock pot. We also recommend staying clear of Hefeweizens, as we’ve never had any delicious stews with a good dose of yeast in them.

DOs: There are certainly a lot of beers that you could make this with, and we’ve had Six Pak prepared with a variety of brands and styles. While Guinness has been the best so far, we wouldn’t rule out Yukon Brewing’s Lead Dog Ale: strong, malty, local and not too hoppy – it has it all.

If you’re typically a fan of lighter beers, don’t be put off by a recipe calling for a darker one. In short, a darker beer will complement this recipe, but the dish won’t end up tasting like a dark beer.

For example, you could add a Bud to this recipe, but it would be just like adding water – you wouldn’t gain a whole lot from it. The dark roasty notes and malty sweetness will be what the stew takes from a darker beer.

But don’t worry: it will not taste like a Guinness.

As an aside, we wish we could take credit for the delicate peppering of suggested drink-breaks throughout the recipe, but this is all Mr. Barber’s doing.

Six Pak Stu

Ø Chop 2 large onions and fry in 4 tbsp butter, very gently for 20 minutes on low heat, turning frequently.

Ø Time for a beer.

Ø Now: onions out of pan. Add 2 tbsp oil.

Ø High heat, fry quickly 1-1/2 lbs stew beef, floured. Brown all sides.

Ø Now: meat out, heat down. Add 2 tbsp flour. Stir-stir-stir until light brown.

Ø Add 1-1/2 beers, boil, and beat smooth.

Ø Time for half a beer.

Ø Add 1-1/2 tsp sugar, 1 tbsp vinegar, 1 clove chopped garlic, 1 bay leaf, 1 tsp thyme, 1/2 tsp basil. Pepper, of course, and salt.

Ø Now: A casserole. Add everything to the dish, and cover. Lid on, over 250-275F. Forget it for three hours.

Ø Another beer?

Ø Garnish with chopped parsley and crumbled crisp bacon. Serve with bread, brussels sprouts and beer.

So crack your knuckles, put on your apron and hang your car keys up for the evening. You are eating, drinking and merrymaking, and you are going to love it.

Merry Christmas from Beer Cache!

Please enjoy this article responsibly.

James Barber’s recipe is from Ginger Tea Makes Friends, published August 2000 by Raincoast Books, and available in a boxed set at www.raincoast.com