garnish: fresh thyme leaves and couple pinches barbecue seasoning such as Chef Prudhomme's, McCormick, or my Grilling Rub for Chicken
Heat oven to 350F. Bring a large pot of water to a boil.
In a medium saucepan, heat 3 Tablespoons butter with the flour over medium heat, whisking until bubbly. Cook 2 minutes.
Add the garlic and 1 teaspoon thyme, and cook an additional minute. Slowly whisk in the the milk and beer.
Heat, stirring constantly, a couple minutes until warm and a little steamy.
Reduce heat to medium-low, add both cheeses, salt, and pepper, and cook, whisking, until smooth. Remove from the heat. Stir in half the bacon.
Cook the macaroni to al dente according to package directions in salted water (note that this can be done while making the cheese sauce). Drain pasta and add to the cheese sauce. Transfer to a 2-qt baking dish.
In a small saucepan, melt the remaining 1 tablespoon butter. Add the panko, remaining 1/2 teaspoon thyme, and remaining bacon. Sprinkle over the macaroni.
Bake at 350F for 20-25 minutes until bubbly. Serve garnished with fresh thyme leaves and a pinch of barbecue seasoning. Yield: 6-8 servings.
By sharp cheddar cheese spread, I'm talking about the pub-type spreadable cheese, found in the dairy aisle, that comes in a tub. I have tried Wispride, Merkts, and Kaukauna brands, and they all work for this recipe.
Keyword bacon and mac and cheese, bacon mac and cheese, baked mac and cheese with bacon, beer mac and cheese