The Homebrewer’s Table: Lamb Meatballs with Mint Yogurt Sauce and California Common

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Lamb and mint are a classic pairing, and despite my best efforts, I haven’t been able to find a historic reason for why these two are irresistible side by side. Either way, this fresh herb and full-flavored meat have been known to be served together as far back as the 18th century. Who loves braised lamb leg and mint jelly? I do!

I love meatballs, mostly because they are easy, but also because they’re versatile. You can basically make a meatball out of anything, not to mention the endless possibilities for what to serve with them. I like to put them atop a fresh arugula salad with roasted sweet potatoes drizzled with the mint yogurt sauce. The sky is the limit, though. Serve them with a root vegetable puree and wilted greens, wrap them in a pita, or pair with a fresh cucumber and tomato salad. The dynamic flavor of the two together is sure to be the shining star, no matter how you decide to prepare them.

Simple Lamb Meatball & Yogurt Sauce Recipe

Ingredients for Meatballs:

  • 1 lb. (0.45 kg) lamb meat
  • 1/4 cup (113 g) bread crumbs
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 shallots, finely chopped
  • 2–3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 0.25 oz. (7 g) fresh mint
  • 1 tsp. (4–6 mL) onion powder
  • 1 tsp. (4–6 mL) cinnamon
  • 1 tsp. (4–6 mL) salt
  • 1 tsp. (4–6 mL) ground pepper

Ingredients for Yogurt Sauce:

  • 3/4 cup (340 g) full-fat yogurt (I like goat yogurt, but Greek or whole milk works, too)
  • juice of one lemon
  • 0.25 oz. (7 g) fresh mint, finely chopped
  • shallots, finely chopped
  • 1 Tbsp. (14 mL) broth (veggie or chicken)
  • pinch of salt
  • pinch of pepper


Prep time: 15 minutes

  1. Add all the ingredients except the eggs to a medium mixing bowl. Mix well until all ingredients are combined. Add the eggs to the mixture, making sure the egg is evenly distributed throughout the meat and spice mixture. Roll the mixture into approximately 12 meatballs. Set aside on a plate, covered.
  2. Prepare your yogurt sauce. Simply add all the ingredients into a small bowl and whisk together until the mixture is creamy but slightly thin (dressing consistency).
  3. Heat oil in a pan on medium-high heat. Toss your rolled meatballs into the pan and cook until they are slightly firm on the outside. Let them rest, and then serve topped with yogurt sauce and a garnish of fresh mint.

Pairing Suggestions

In thinking about a swoon-worthy beer when you sit down to this meal, I can’t help but focus on the key elements of the ingredients. Lamb is fatty and more gamy than poultry or beef, which is probably why it does so well with the fresh, bright, and floral flavor of mint. A California common beer is an excellent choice for this meal because the Northern Brewer hops complement the minty, herbal flavor of the dressing, while the bitterness can cut the fattiness of the lamb and elevate the umami aspects of the meat that we all love so much.

California Common Homebrew Recipe

If you’re planning ahead, brew this California Common recipe, the “Dream Steam,” that won a gold medal in the 2016 National Homebrew Competition in Baltimore, Md.

Ingredients for 5.25 gallons (19.87 L):

  • 8 lb. (3.63 kg) US pale 2-row malt
  • 0.75 lb. (340 g) 40°L crystal malt
  • 0.75 lb. (340 g) 60°L crystal malt
  • 8 oz. (227 g) dextrin malt
  • 0.38 lb. (172 g) Victory malt
  • 0.75 oz. (21 g) Northern Brewer pellets, 10.2% a.a. (FWH)
  • 0.5 oz. (14 g) Northern Brewer pellets, 10.2% a.a. (20 min.)
  • 0.5 oz. (14 g) Northern Brewer pellets, 10.2% a.a. (0 min.)
  • 0.25 oz. (7 g) Northern Brewer pellets, 10.2% a.a. (dry hop)
  • 1 tsp. (5 g) Irish moss (10 min.)
  • White Labs WLP810 San Francisco Lager yeast (1.5 L starter)
  • Original Gravity: 1.052
  • Final Gravity: 1.010
  • ABV: 5.5%
  • SRM: 11


  1. Mash at 152° F (67° C) for 60 minutes. Mash out at 168° F (76° C) for 10 minutes.
  2. Primary Fermentation: 12 days at 62° F (17° C)
  3. Secondary Fermentation: 23 days at 55° F (13° C)
  4. Carbonate to 2.4 volumes (4.8 g/L) of CO2.


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Hailing from the South, Millie Shamburger has developed an affinity for the beer industry and all the shiny things that come with it. When not exploring beer, Millie is in the kitchen, enjoying the outdoors, and wearing out her dancing shoes. 

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