Tired of thinking about turkey? Storey Digital Production Manager Kristy Rustay suggests you give your brain and taste buds a break this weekend with this delicious dish from The American Craft Beer Cookbook. Happy Friday!

pork tenderloin

After the foliage has lost is brilliance and autumn is in full swing, I have an inexplicable urge to make a pork tenderloin dinner. Traditionally, I season the pork with french onion soup mix, serve the sliced medallions over mashed potatoes drizzled with gravy made from the drippings, and finish it off with a side homemade apple sauce. But this year I wanted to make something less traditional.

I recalled a recipe that piqued my interest in The American Craft Beer Cookbook — a cookbook that I have been dying to put to use. I picked up the book, found the recipe, and headed out to purchased the ingredients that I did not have on hand.

I had been craving a flavorful “adult” meal that did not include pasta and cheese — ingredients that are part of most meals when parenting a toddler — and this meal did not disappoint!

A delicious, hearty meal at Buckbean Brewing Company (now closed) in
Reno, Nevada.

Cocoa-Crusted Pork Tenderloin

This hearty and savory recipe combines many strong flavors that compete for the attention of your taste buds. The unsweetened cocoa powder is an unexpected but delicious addition, and the fennel adds a slight bite to the pork loin. Pair the pork with a Bavarian Schwarzbier or black lager in which the malts have a slight chocolate taste that brings out interesting flavors with each bite and sip. Though the brewery is now closed and the beer gone, this recipe remains.

Makes 4–6 servings


  • 1½ teaspoon fennel seed
  • 1½ teaspoon coarse salt
  • 2 teaspoons unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1 teaspoon hot paprika
  • 1 – 1½-pound pork tenderloin
  • ¼ cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 2 sweet potatoes, peeled and thinly sliced
  • 2 tablespoons minced fresh rosemary leaves
  • Salt
  • ½ cup Bavarian black lager
  • 1 tablespoon brown sugar
  • ¾ cup light cream


  1. Preheat the oven to 350°F.
  2. Grind the fennel seed and coarse salt together in a mortar and pestle until finely ground. Mix in the cocoa powder and paprika. Pat the pork dry with a paper towel, and coat well on all sides with the cocoa mixture.
  3. Heat 2 tablespoons of the olive oil in a large skillet, and sear the pork until browned on all sides, about 5 minutes per side. Place the pork in a baking dish and transfer to the oven to cook for 25 to 30 minutes, or until the pork forms a dark crust and reaches an internal temperature of 165°F.
  4. Toss the sweet potatoes with the remaining 2 tablespoons olive oil and the rosemary in a medium bowl. Spread them out on a baking sheet, sprinkle with salt to taste, and bake for 30 minutes, turning once after 15 minutes, until lightly browned and slightly crispy.
  5. Deglaze the skillet with the black lager, stirring up the browned bits in the pan. Add the brown sugar and simmer until the liquid gets thick and sticky, about 20 minutes. Reduce the heat to low and add the cream slowly while briskly stirring to avoid curdling. Continue to cook and stir until the sauce is smooth, brown, and slightly thick, about 5 minutes. Remove from the heat and cover to keep warm.
  6. Allow the pork loin to rest for 5 minutes after removing it from the oven. Spoon the sauce onto a serving platter and arrange pork slices and sweet potatoes on top. Serve with extra sauce as desired.
A Few Beers toTry with This Recipe:

Full Sail Session Black Lager 
Gordon Biersch Schwarzbier 
Samuel Adams Black Lager 
Sprecher Black Bavarian

(I made my cream sauce and served my dinner with Jack’s Abby Smoke & Dagger Black Lager from Framingham, Massachusetts.)

John Holl

John Holl is a New Jersey native and covered the Garden State for the New York Times and the Star-Ledger. He began his career at New Jersey Network… See Bio

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