Land of A 1001 Recipes For Bull Testicles

•Wednesday, October 3, 2012 • 1 Comment

The title is an obscure reference to a line uttered by Travel Channel host turned drunken crazy cat lady Samantha Brown. It was background noise, essentially, that largely went unnoticed during an early scene in last years “No Reservation” quasi-demented Christmas special. It spoke to her “anger” at the kinds of travel shows that have largely replaced hers. That line is now officially outdated, for now we live in the land of a 1002 recipes for bull testicles! Last April the Colorado brew pub Wynkoop, as an April Fools joke, made a video for a new Rocky Mountain Oyster Stout. Several months later that joke has become reality – Rocky Mountain Oyster Stout. That “extreme” brew will be served at the pub as well as at their booth at The Great American Beer Festival later this month. The oyster stout, which they are jokingly riffing on, is a great thing. Harpoons 100 Barrel Series Island Creek Oyster Stout is a wonderful beer, but who’s style is grounded in an old world brewing tradition. The Rocky mountain version seems to be rooted in the pursuit of the newest extreme beer. This all brings me to today’s post, and gimmicks in the brewing world.

Since this may be a one off brew, I’ll likely never have an opportunity to try it. For all I know the rocky mountain oysters, much like the oceanic variety, add complementary mineral/earthy notes that work well with the roasty/toasty stout. Really this just seems like another pointless gimmick. Pointless gimmicks seem to be popping up more and more lately. A fair number of breweries seem to be running out of new ideas, and are now dumping odd ball beers on the market. I’m all for thinking outside the box in combining non traditional ingredients in beer. Adding chicory root or gesho root to a stout, ala Dogfish Head, seems odd but is grounded in rationality. After all what would a trip to New Orleans be with out a piping hot cup o’ chicory infused joe. Their New England brethren on the other hand seem up to adding anything, regardless of rationale, to their brews. Magic Hat Brewing Company has become somewhat known for the oddball and gimmicky brews. I like beets just fine, but adding beet extract to beer is just stupid. Their beet infused summer seasonal Wacko, while not a drain pour, just didn’t add up to being a good beer. Adding beets to a beer is one of the more rational things they have done. They were, to my knowledge any ways, the first commercial brewery to add garlic to beer. “Ale Of The Living Dead” was by most accounts godawful beer. Plausibly this beer could have been a decent beer to cook with, but drinking…ehh not so much. In a similar fashion from the west coast we get another beer that’s a better cooking ingredient than drink – Saison Du Buff. This was a collaborative brew from Stone Brewing Company, Victory Brewing Company, and Dogfish Head Brewery. It’s a saison flavored with parsley, sage, rosemary, and thyme. I swear I’m missing some epic Simon and Garfunkel joke w/ the label or description on the bottle….Anyways I should move on before I end up going “A Beautiful Mind” crazy…..All I could think about while drinking said beer is how good this could be in a poultry marinade. Moving beyond oddball vegetables, roots, or herbs we come to one of the most popular gimmicks – Chiles.

Adding Chiles to beer can go either way. Various fresh and dried chiles offer a range of flavors, as well as varying heat levels. The smokey, spicy chipotle pepper can be used quite well. Rogue Brewery in Oregon makes a delicious chipotle ale. That brew immediately reminds of a mildly spicy version of a German Rauchbier(smoked lager). It pairs well with grilled or BBQed meats. One of my all time favorite brews, and ultimately a gimmicky beer unto itself, Weasel Rodeo also uses chipotle peppers well. The peppers there just add a hint spice and smoke. There is so much going in that beer from the kitchen sink malt bill, to the Kopi Luwak coffee($200/lb cat crap coffee!!), that the chiles blend into the backdrop well. More often than not chiles beers are just a gimmick seeking to make fiery hot beer. Cave Creek Chili Beer fits squarely into that category. Its nothing more than a generic, and poorly made, American style light lager flavored with Serrano peppers. Think Corona with some chile burn. Taking things to new extremes we get Ghostface Killah from Colorado’s Twisted Pine brewery. Ghostface Killah is a legendarily good solo rapper, as well as Wu Tang Clan member. Does the beer baring his namesake achieve equal legend status? I can’t say. I’m not sure I’ll ever give this beer a go. This beer is brewed with several different Chile varieties, including habeneros and the infamous ghost pepper(one of the hottest peppers on Earth). I have yet to have a bad beer from Twisted Pine. There is just no way this beer can be anything but a nuclear explosion of heat. I love spicy, but I just don’t think I have the iron stomach necessary to drink this stuff. The most interesting beer in this category probably goes to Ithaca Brewing Company in New York. They had a one off draft only beer called Tastes Like Burning (Ralph Wiggums Revenge). They won over my heart with a classic Simpsons line. Its one of the few gimmicky beers I wish I could have tasted. They took two beer trends to illogical extremes – chile beers and barrel aging. This was a brew aged in used Tabasco barrels, and seemed to have lived up to its name. Tastes Like burning leads us to another, slightly less gimmicky trend.

Barrel aging is a trend that has really taken off in the last 10 years or so. Every brewery seems to have something thrown into a used bourbon barrel. Results can range from the sublime, to a big boozy mess. Local brewery Rahr and Sons falls closer to the sublime side of the line with their bourbon barrel aged Winter Warmer. Plenty of strong stouts have benefited from some time in a bourbon barrel. This trend, though, is starting to get obsurd. As breweries try to up their game, they are seeking out barrels that housed rarer and rarer bourbons. Its no longer adequate to throw your stout into an old Makers Mark barrel. If your beer is worthy of being drunk these days, it must be aged in some Pappy Van Winkle barrels, or rarer high quality bourbon barrels. That is the impression you get from the beer geek community these days. These rare bourbons cause the beers to have higher prices. $50 to $60’s for a beer seems a bit steep, and I doubt the average person could tell a difference between Makers Mark or Pappy Van Winkle barrels. That said, wake me when somebody throws something in a barrel that housed some George T. Stagg 18 yr. bourbon….I might be willing to bite at almost any price…..hell I might even be willing to commit genocidal level atrocities to get my hands on some. This trend has also caused brewers to seek out other spirit barrels. Brewdog, out of Scotland, has an imperial stout aged in various single malt barrels. The various Scotch regions each have their own distinct flavor profiles. Aging a stout in barrels from one of the various regions may result in a more notable difference between the various bottles. As Brewdog Brewery seems to be nothing but a gimmick, I have yet to try any of their barrel aged stouts. Rogue brewery has also used various other spirit barrels to age their beers in. In a joint effort from their head brewer and head distiller we get their JohnJohn line of beers. Take one of the beers brewed by head brewer John Maier and throw it in a barrel that housed one of John Couchot’s, head distillers, spirits. Seems to be a hit and miss endeavor. The one bottle I have drank, JohnJohn Hazelnut – Rogue Hazelnut Brown Nectar aged in Rogue rum barrels -, tasted like what I imagine licking the inside of a rum barrel would taste like. It wasn’t a drain pour , but a barely drinkable boozy tannic mess. As it seems every brewery in the country is experimenting with barrel aging this is one gimmick that may be here to stay.

With all these gimmicky beers being brewed it makes me wonder if brewers are forgetting how to brew simple yet solid pale ales, IPAs. or bocks. I hope that’s not the case. There are still plenty of tasty, non gimmick, beers out there to satisfy my palate. To those brewers who will continue to push the envelope with more beers that I can’t help but consider a gimmick, please brew your gimmicks well. Like I’ve said before – If it tastes good I’ll drink it – gimmick or not.

I guess we should end where we began. A nice non sequitur ending – to match many of the non sequitur beers mentioned above – featuring bull testicles and a crazy drunken cat lady!

Tempura Calf Fries

2# cleaned and sliced calf fries
12oz iced cold beer – pilsner or helles
1 3/4 cups flour
2 egg yolks
oil for frying

combine the beer, flour and egg yolks together in a mixing bowl. Whip until the batter is lump free. Heat oil to 350f. Dip the fries in the batter. Fry until golden brown and the calf fries are cooked through. When fresh out of the frier, season with salt and enjoy with the beer and fried food dipping sauce of your choice.


St. Patty’s Day, Not Just for Drunks Anymore!

•Thursday, March 15, 2012 • Leave a Comment

Once again we are upon one of our countries favorite drinking holidays, St. Patrick’s day. Its one day out of the year where bloodlines don’t seem to matter and we all claim to be at least a little bit Irish. There is more to this holiday than just tossing back mugs of green colored beer, or worse yet pints of Guinness. St. Patrick’s day is the perfect occasion to embrace all the wonderful food Ireland has to offer. Unfortunately Ireland has gotten a bad wrap when it comes to food. Sadly that’s just not the case. Some of Ireland’s most traditional recipes are some some of their best. Here are a few tasty dishes to consider for a traditional St. Patrick’s menu:

Lamb Stew
2# lamb shoulder – cut into bite sized chunks
1 yellow onion – diced
2 stalks celery – diced
2 Carrots – diced
1 clove of garlic – minced
1# potatoes – diced
2 quarts chicken stock
12oz Irish Stout
4-5 sprigs of fresh thyme
1 bay leaf
Salt and Pepper

Toss the cut up lamb in flour to coat. Shake off excess flour. Coat the bottom of a 6 quart soup pot with oil, and heat. Brown in batches the lamb. Set the lamb aside. Pour off all but about 2 tablespoons of the oil. Add the onion, celery, carrots, and garlic. Sweat the vegetables. Add back the lamb along with the chicken stock, beer, thyme, and bay leaf. Bring to a boil and reduce heat to a simmer. Season with salt and pepper. Cook the stew for 2 hours, or until the lamb is almost fork tender. Add the potatoes, and extra stock or water if needed. Cook for another 20-30, or until the potatoes are cooked. Serve this stew along side some good soda bread and a pint of your favorite Irish brew.

Corned Beef and Cabbage

There is no more iconic Irish dish than this. The richness of this dish will provide a solid base to soak up copious pints of good Irish beer.

1 5# uncooked corned beef brisket – store bought or
24oz dark beer – preferably an Irish style stout
3-4 carrots – roughly chopped
2-3 onions – roughly chopped
1 head of cabbage
2 sprigs of fresh thyme

Place the brisket in a pot, along with the carrots, onions, and thyme. Add the beer and enough cold water to cover the brisket. Bring to a boil and reduce to a simmer. Cook for about 2 hours. Take the cabbage, and remove the tough outer leaves. Quarter and core the cabbage. Add to the pot with the brisket. Cook for another hour, or until the brisket and cabbage is tender. Remove the brisket. Slice and serve alongside the cabbage.


This probably Ireland’s most famous potato dish. This mashed potato dish is typically made with green cabbage. the use of kale is a not uncommon variant on the classic.

2# russet potatoes
1 bunch of kale
1 leek
2 tbls unsalted butter
1 1/4 cups milk
Salt and Pepper

Remove the ribs from the kale and chop. Prepare an ice bath. Add kale to a pot of boiling heavily salted water – should taste like sea water – and cook for about 6 minutes, or until tender but still a vibrant green. Remove from the pot and shock in ice bath to stop cooking and lock in the color. Remove from bath and squeeze out as much water as you can. Set aside the kale. Peel and dice the russets. Place the potatoes in a pot of salted water. Bring to a simmer and cook the potatoes until tender. While potatoes are cooking melt the butter in a pan. Take the leek and dice it – white and light green parts only. Saute the leeks in butter until soft and lightly browned. Add the milk to the pan. Season with salt and pepper. Bring to a simmer, and reduce the heat. Keep the milk warm until ready to mix with the potatoes. When the potatoes are cooked, drain them and return them to the pan. Place the pan on a low heat and let the potatoes dry out. When the potatoes are dry add the chopped kale, and milk mixture. Mash with a potato masher until everything is well combined. Adjust seasoning if necessary.

Now with any good Irish meal you’ll need something to wash it down. I humbly implore that you avoid the generic lager dyed green. A good red ale will more than get the job done. If you feel compelled to go genuinely Irish, O’Hara’s red ale is a tasty option. Boulevard Irish Ale or Harpoon Celtic ale are tasty options from this side of the pond. If you plan to go black, a nice Irish stout works well. Do yourself a favor and fore go Guinness. I would just avoid any Irish stout served via the flavor robbing gas nitro. O’Hara’s Irish Stout comes from the island, and is unquestionably the best Ireland has to offer.

If you absolutely have to wash down your meal with a green beverage opt for a Whiskey cocktail:

Shamrock Cocktail

1.5oz Irish Whiskey
3/4 oz dry vermouth
2 dashes green creme de mint
1 dash green chartreuse

Combine all the ingredients into a shaker and stir with ice. Strain into a chilled cocktail glass.

A Duo of Fall Flavors

•Tuesday, December 6, 2011 • Leave a Comment

That wonderful time of year is here. The cold weather has officially set up shop for a while. Fall is beginning to wind down as we all get into the holiday rush. We are also nearing the saturation levels for our tolerance of generic holiday music. I think If I go too much longer I’ll snap, and be forced to find a way to put this wonderfully depressing Type-O Negative classic – Red Water, Christmas Mourning – on 24 hour rotation……The chill is setting in, and the holiday rush is driving us to our breaking points. This time of year its always a good idea to take some time to relax and settle down to nice hot bowl of soup. Its with the comforting nature of a good bowl of soup that I offer up these tasty fall/winter recipes:

Caldo Verde
This soup is a Portuguese Grandma classic. Its basically the national dish for Portugal’s Azores Islands. This home cooked classic combines hearty greens and spicy sausage for a rich satisfying soup. The addition of beer helps cut through and round out the heat.

8oz Linguica sausage – Spicy Portuguese lamb sausage
2 TBLS Olive oil
1 large onion, diced
2 cloves of garlic, minced
1.5# potatoes, peeled and diced
1# Kale, washed and chopped
1.5 cups hoppy beer – American style IPA or hoppy red ale
6.5 cups water or chicken stock
Salt and Pepper

On a stove heat up your favorite soup pot over medium heat. Slice up your sausages and brown them off. Remove sausages from the pot and pour off the grease. Add the olive oil and onions. Sweat the onions. When the onions are translucent add the garlic. Cook together for another minute. Add the sausages back, along with the kale, potatoes, beer, and water/stock. Bring soup to a boil. Reduce heat to a simmer. Season soup with salt and pepper. Cook soup until kale is cooked through and potatoes are soft. Serve soup along side your favorite crusty bread.

Classic Texas Chili

With football on the tube and a chill in the air, its nearly impossible to resist a good pot of chili. As a classic Texas chili, this stew will NEVER have beans. If so much as a sliver of a bean makes it into the pot, this ceases to be chile, and becomes nothing more than a spicy stew. With that out of the way here is my recipe for classic chile:

3# chuck roast, cut into a small dice
1 large onion, diced
3 garlic cloves, minced
3/4 cup home made chile paste, recipe follows
3 tbls cumin
1 can diced tomatoes
2 quarts chicken stock
1.5 cups dark malty beer, bocks and brown ales work great
salt and pepper

In a dutch oven over medium heat, brown, in batches, the chuck roast. Remove meat from the pot and add the onions and garlic. Sweat the the onions and garlic. When onions are translucent add back the meat, along with the chile paste and cumin. Cook together for a minute. Add to that the chicken stock, beer, and tomatoes. Bring chili to a boil and reduce to a simmer. Season with salt and pepper. Simmer soup for 2-2.5 hours, or until the meat is tender. Serve and top with shredded cheese and sour cream, or over corn chips for Frito pie, or atop your favorite hot dog or burger.

Chile Paste

A mix of dried chiles – I prefer a blend of Anchos and Pasillas, with a few spicy chiles like Chile de Arbol for some heat.
Boiling water

Heat oven to 450F. Split open the chiles and remove the seeds. Place chiles on a cooking tray. Place chiles in the oven for 1 minute. Remove from the oven and place in a heat safe bowl. Cover the chiles with boiling water. Leave the chiles submerged for 30 minutes, weighting them down if needed. Place the soaked chiles in a blender or food processor. Process adding enough of the soaking liquid to make a loose paste. Pass the paste through a fine mesh strainer. Store in an airtight container for up to two weeks in the fridge.

International Stout Day

•Thursday, November 3, 2011 • Leave a Comment

Today is a great day for the brew geeks around the globe. Back on August 4 we had International IPA day. Beer geeks the world over were encouraged to imbibe their favorite liquid hop delivery system. Well today is International Stout Day. The weather couldn’t be better….well maybe a healthy dusting of snow could improve things. Nonetheless there’s a wonderful chill in the air. When the chill sets in, stouts just seem to taste better. To help you folks out there in beer land make the most of the day, here are a few suggestions on what to drink:

Brewery: Boulevard Brewing Company
Beer: Dark Truth Stout
Style: Belgian Stout
ABV: 9.7%
Rating out of 5: 3.85

Boulevard has done some great and interesting things with their smokestack series. This brings us to their entry into the world of Belgian stouts, Dark Truth Stout. This beer pours a nice shade of black. Dark Truth clocks in at a shade just above black hole. Things are topped off by a couple of fingers of dark khaki head. Head settles to a ring somewhat quickly. A fair amount of lacing is left down the glass.

The aroma is packed with complexities. Roast characters pop first. Coffee and coco notes standout. Some Belgian yeast hits next. Spice and phenols dominate. A light bubblegum note is present as well. More complexities still pop. Plenty of caramel and toffee notes present. Some light floral notes from the noble hops round things out.

The taste is no less complex. Coffee and chocolate dominate. Plenty of dark bready notes. Some medicinal notes hit next. That’s followed by some dark rum and fig qualities. Caramel and toffee present as well. This is quite the sweet stout. Hints of spicy rye show up as well. A creaminess comes through from the oats. Floral and grassy hop notes round things out. The finish is semi drying, with a lingering charred coffee quality and a kiss of alcohol in the breath.

Dark truth is full bodied, smooth, and creamy on the palate.

Still not quite sure what to make of the Belgian Stout. This particular stout is quite sweet. It’s sweeter than most imperial stouts, or Belgian ales. Boulevard has done an amazing job at hiding the alcohol of this brew. The 9.7% abv is almost nonexistent. This one dangerously drinkable brew. I am not sure I am fully on board with the Belgian Stout. Nonetheless Boulevard has crafted another tasty and highly drinkable brew. Another worthy addition to the Smokestack series.

Brewery: Jester King
Beer: Black Metal
Style: Russian Imperial Stout
ABV: 10.4%
Rating out of 5: 4.3

A traditional farmhouse brewery is open in Texas. This is a good thing. They start things off with an Imperial stout. That is a great thing. Black Metal looks the part. It’s as black as the soul of Olve Eikemo(Immortal reference). Basically its a touch above black hole. Things are topped off by a couple fingers worth of milk chocolate head. Head fades to a ring, leaving some lace in its wake.

Black Metal smells the part of a good imperial stout. Deep roasty bitterness shines. Bitter chocolate, and dark roasted coffee stand out. A bit of an herbal quality struggles to make itself known. Some strong earthy notes round things out.

The flavor matches the nose. Chocolate notes are much stronger on the palate. Tons of dark chocolate shine. Beneath the chocolate is noticeable dark roasted coffee qualities. A bit of of caramel and licorice pop underneath all the chocolate and coffee. A bit of an earthy bitterness takes hold in the sweetish finish.

Black Metal is full bodied, yet not overly viscous.

Black Metal is fine example of an imperial stout. The alcohol is kept in check and never becomes overbearing. Its as quaffable as any good imperial stout can be. Props for creating an outstanding stout, and leading off with it to boot. Its always great to see another brewery open in Texas. With quality brews like this I hope they stick around awhile

Brewery: North Coast Brewing Co.
Beer: Old Rasputin
Style: Russian Imperial Stout
ABV: 9.0%
Rating out of 5: 4.33

I have enjoyed this brew many times. I am just now getting around to reviewing it. Old Rasputin pours a deep dark black. It looks the part of used motor oil. It’s not the blackest imperial I have had, but more than dark enough. Things are topped off by about three fingers worth of dark khaki head. Head settles to a ring. Plenty of sticky lace clings to the glass.

Onto the aroma. Dark roasted malts hit first. Dark roasted coffee notes stand out first. That’s followed by a healthy dose of sweet milk chocolate. Behind the roasted coffee and chocolate, some licorice notes make an appearance. Some light dark fruit notes help round out the malt. Beneath the malt, a moderate hop presence shines. Herbal, slightly minty hops stand out. A light citrus like quality is present as well. All in all this is one hell of a complex nose.

The taste follows the nose. The hops in the nose are much stronger on the palate. Bitter hops hit first. Citrus notes, mostly grapefruit, are much stronger than the nose suggested. Some minty bitterness present as well. Beneath the hops, plenty of dark malts pop. Sweet chocolate takes control. Beneath the chocolate, dark roast coffee notes show up. A much stronger licorice quality is present. Dark fruit, blackberries perhaps, round things out. The finish is drying with a lingering herbal bitterness.

Old Rasputin is full bodied and somewhat viscous. A healthy carbonation tries in vain to cut through it all.

Old Rasputin was one of the beers back in the day that turned me onto stouts. The alcohol is masked quite well. Rasputin tastes strong but not boozy. It’s definitely a hopped up stout. The hops are more dominate than a lot of imperial stouts. The hop bitterness helps cut the richness a bit. This is one tasty complex brew. All these years later it’s still standing strong.

Brewery: Oskar Blues Grill and Brewery
Beer: Ten Fidy
Style: Russian Imperial Stout
ABV: 10.5%
Rating out of 5: 4.22

Appearance: Opaque black… Light refuses to penetrate… A black hole in my snifter! Short lived milk chocolate head drops to a ring and leaves plenty of lacing.

Smell: Loads of dark roasted coffee and chocolate. Some minty hops and touch of molasses in the background.

Taste: Roast coffee upfront, followed by dark chocolate. Behind the Roast – dark fruit flavors. Black Currant and raisin flavors show up. In the finish – sweet roastiness, minty hops,and liquorice in the background.

Mouthfeel: Full bodied, viscous, with a low carbonation.

This is one heck of a complex beer. This may go down as my favorite Russian Imperial Stout to date.

Brewery: Stone Brewing Company
Beer: Imperial Russian Stout
Style: Russian Imperial Stout
ABV: 10.5%
Rating out of 5: 4.33

This beer pours an inky black. Light tries in vain to penetrate the blackness. Its an act in futility. Crowning the blackness is a dark khaki head. The head falls to a ring, but leaves plenty of lace down the glass.

The aroma packs a wallop. Solid coffee and dark chocolate. Plenty of black strap molasses present as well. A light bit of fruitiness – black currents – rounds things out. As the beer warms noticeable solvent alcohol aromas show up as well.

The flavor is equally impressive. Loads of coffee waft over the tongue. Plenty of dark chocolate is present as well. Molasses soaked coffee beans and a hint of liquorice seem to round out the middle. As the beer warms up, the alcohol starts to show up. The finish packs plenty more roast, as well as a bit of a lingering herbal hop note.

The mouthfeel is full bodied and thick. The beer coats the tongue in velvety bliss. The carbonation is light but more than adequate for the job.

Man oh man is this one epic brew. Its a sipper to be sure. Loads of complexity await each delicious sip. Its very easy drinking upfront. The alcohol seems almost non existent. AS the beer warms up, the alcohol becomes much more prevalent. The last few sips definitely have an alcohol bite. All in all though this is still one incredible brew.

Those are just a few of the wonderful stouts our country makes. There are many more out there to enjoy today, and really any time of year. To make this day even more enjoyable you may want to pair your favorite stout with your favorite chocolate dessert….Perhaps something along the lines of beer infused cheescake…Just a suggestion. Anyways I hope I have given you something to drool over as you decide what to celebrate with today.

The Joy Found in Simplicity

•Friday, October 7, 2011 • Leave a Comment

I know, I know. Its been ages since I updated this page. I have never claimed to not be a lazy blogger. I write on here when I feel like it, and I can put my thoughts into a cohesive post. As such, I will have many half written, unposted, writings. Some may get finished, but most won’t. That said lets get to the topic at hand.

Some of the most satisfying dishes on the planet, also happen to be some of the simplest. Whether we are talking about roast chicken, pot roast, or a pot of soup, simplicity can be very soul satisfying. Fall temps are starting to take hold in parts of the country. Cool weather won’t too far behind around here. With the cooler temps, nothing may be more satisfying than a nice pot of soup. For a simple and tasty soup, its hard to beat a rich bowl of onion soup. I kindly offer up my recipe for a classic onion soup:

French By Way of Britain Onion Soup

2 tbl Butter
2 tbl olive oil
7 medium yellow onions
1.5 cups Stout or Porter beer*
1.5 cups beef stock
2 cups water
1 tbl sherry vinegar
Salt and Pepper
Toasted croutons(optional)
Gruyere cheese, shredded(optional)

Start off by cutting the onions in half. Cut the onions into thin slices. Place the sliced onions into bowl large enough to hold them. Season the onions with about two teaspoons of salt. Mix well. In a large pot, an enameled cast iron dutch oven works best, heat the butter and oil over a medium high heat. Add the onions. Once the onions start cooking they will release a fair bit of water. Cook over medium high heat until the the water has evaporated and the onions just start to take on color. Reduce the heat and caramelize the onions. The lower the heat the better. I prefer to crank the stove down low and slowly caramelize the onions over several hours. You can boost the heat up if you want to shorten the cook time. Once the onions are caramelized, add the beer, beef stock, and water. Bring the soup to a simmer. Check the seasoning, add salt and pepper as needed. Simmer the soup for thirty minutes. Add the sherry vinegar, and check the seasoning one last time. The soup is now ready to serve, and it’s good as is.

For a classic presentation, portion out the soup into oven safe bowls. Top the soup with croutons and shredded Gruyere cheese. Place the bowls on a sheet pan underneath the broiler. Cook the cheese until bubbling and golden. Remove from the oven and serve.

* For the beer I would opt against a lighter stout, or coffee/chocolate infused beer. So its best to avoid Irish style stouts. I would also avoid coffee stouts/porters. My personal choice would be a nice oatmeal stout, such as Breckenridge, or Samuel Smiths. Any full flavored stout or porter will work great though.

Dear America, Please Switch To The Metric System

•Wednesday, January 12, 2011 • Leave a Comment

Seriously why aren’t we using this?!? It makes measuring oh so much easier. Ok mini rant over. Anyways, its been a good long while since I updated this blog. I once again have the time to do proper updates. Maybe I’ll get off my lazy ass and do weekly posts…..and maybe Pluto will gain planet status again…..

Now on to business. With this chill in the air, its a good time to crank up that oven of yours. In an effort to take back restaurant fair, I offer up a simple and delicious calzone recipe. All calzones begin with pizza dough. Pizza dough isn’t a difficult thing to make at home. This simple dough recipe, thanks to the awesomeness of metric, can easily be doubled/tripled/etc. You can easily portion it off and freeze it for future use.

Pizza Dough

500g Bread flour
1/2 Tbl salt
1/2 Tbl sugar
1 Tbl Olive Oil
1 packet/ 2.25 Tsp yeast
325 ml dark malty beer, such as a bock or brown ale, heated to 115f

In the bowl of a stand mixer combine beer, yeast, sugar, and oil. Stir to combine and let proof for 10 minutes. Attach the dough hook, and add the flour and salt. Mix until dough comes to together, adding more flour if dough is too sticky. Knead the dough until smooth and springy to the touch – 30-40 minutes with a stand mixer. Dough should have some good elasticity.

Remove dough from bowl. Lightly oil the bowl and the dough. Return to bowl and cover w/ a damp towel. Let rise in a warm place until doubled in volume. Punch dough the dough and lightly knead it to work out the air. Now the dough is ready to use. At this point you can also portion out and wrap the dough for future use. Pizza dough freezes quite well.

Sausage and Broccoli Rabe Calzone

1 recipe pizza dough
1 bunch broccoli rabe, rinsed and trimmed
1/2 pound mild or sweet Italian sausage
Shredded mozzarella
1 egg+ 1 Tbl water

Heat oven to 400f. To make the calzone filling bring a pot of salted water to a boil. Add the broccoli rabe. Cook until tender, about 10 minutes. Drain the greens, and squeeze out as much water as you can. Chop the cooked greens. While greens are cooking, take the sausages out of their casing. In a pan, break up the sausages and cook until jits no longer pink. Combine the broccoli rabe and sausage together in a bowl.

Now to make the calzones. Separate the dough out into 6 balls. Cover and let rest for 10 minutes. Take the balls and roll them out into approximately 10 inch circles. Place some shredded cheese off center. top with a 1/3 cup of the cooled filling. Top with a tbls of pesto, and then more cheese. Wet you fingers and run them along the edge of half the dough. Fold the other half of the dough over the filling. Using a fork press down and seal the edges together. Using a sharp knife, cut a couple of slits in the top of the dough. Brush the egg wash on the dough Move calzones to a hot pizza stone, or sheet pan. Bake for 25-30 minutes, until golden brown.

*Home made pesto

1 bunch basil
1/4 cup pine nuts
1/3 cup parmigiano reggiano cheese
1 garlic clove
1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil

In bowl of a food processor combine the basil, pine nuts, cheese, and garlic. Pulse a few times to chop. Add in a steady stream the olive oil until mixture comes together. Taste pesto and season with salt. Store in a fridge with plastic wrap touching the pesto. Properly stored this pesto will last about a week.

When Beer And Politics Collide

•Wednesday, October 20, 2010 • Leave a Comment

This post wasn’t really meant to be about politics and beer. Living in Texas does bring forth its own political problems relating to beer though. Seriously, the first candidate to come out and say they will dismantle the TABC would get my vote in heart beat. We need a taxing and regulatory organization, but what the TABC does just doesn’t always make much sense. It can’t be that difficult divide beer into different taxing brackets can it?!? Arbitrary, and oft wrong labeling requirements, based on alcohol content, doesn’t seem to make taxing easier to me. Anything with an ABV of 5% or less has to be labeled beer. If its ABV is 5.1% or higher it has to be labeled malt liquor or ale. If it falls into said higher ABV category, the label cannot refer to the contents inside said bottle as beer. This creates confusion in and out of our state. So many people are left wondering why their favorite German Doppelbock is labeled as an ale. Its annoying enough sometimes just getting people on the same page regarding beer styles…..Read and absorb this list dear reader –………Having a state agency add to the confusion doesn’t help matters. Also I take issue with their obscenity clauses. What the powers that be define as obscene boggles the mind. Flying Dog mix packs have had to be changed because of label rejections. The words ‘Good beer, No shit’ got their Road Dog Porter replaced in a mix pack. Of course we have Stone Brewing Company. The word ‘Bastard’, which adorns three of their tasty offerings, isn’t obscene. The word ‘masturbatory’, which appears in smallish print on the Double Bastard label, though is considered obscene. Alas no bottles of Double Bastard are available in our state. It’s not a total loss as draft is an option. Still irritating though. Also direct brewery sales needs to happen in some form or fashion. You can walk into any winery in the state and buy their wines from them. Of course if you are walking into a Texas winery, you might as well add traveling to Taipei for Mexican food to your to do list. The chances of getting something of even minimal quality are about the same for the wine or the food. That said, I would love to see beer and wine treated equally in this regard. Whomever we elect can only really achieve that by going head to head against the distro. lobbyists in Austin. Regardless of who we elect, we as lovers of beer need to let them what we want. Maybe in the near future Texas can rise up higher in the ranks of good beer karma.

Now with the political ranting over, we can focus on the real reason Nov 2 is important; Divine Reserve 10 will be released by Saint Arnold. Since moving to their larger brewing facility, they have upped the capacity for this Divine Reserve release. Twice as much of the 10 has been brewed compared to the 9. This stuff will still sell out quickly, but will be a little easier to acquire. The brew itself is an English style barley wine. The brew was the result of the 2010 Big Batch Brew Bash, an annual home brewing contest held by the local club KGB. While we all wipe the drool from our collective faces, I guess we can reflect on past DR releases:

Saint Arnold Brewing Company
Divine Reserve 5
10% ABV
Imperial Stout
Rating out of 5: 4.7

Appearance: Opaque black with a brown head. The head is short lived and quickly falls to a thin ring that leaves lacing all the way down.

Smell: roasted/burnt coffee. Sweet chocolate. There’s also a slight floral hop note in the background.

Taste: Incredible from the first sip to the last. There is a roast/burnt dark chocolate flavor. The floral hop notes in the aroma again make an appearance in the finish. The hop presence is just enough to balance out the roasty dark malts.

Mouthfeel: Thick and velvety smooth

Drinkability: Where is the 10%ABV…No seriously where is it? This beer is highly drinkable. The alcohol is well masked.

Overall this is one hell of an imperial stout. Hands down the best Divine Reserve and the best Saint Arnold brew to date. I’m sure this beer will age nicely over the next couple of years or so. I say why bother aging it, when its drinking so wonderfully right now.

Saint Arnold Brewing Company
Divine Reserve 8
9.3% ABV
Scotch Ale
Rating out of 5: 4.15

The newest Divine Reserve pours a murky brown. Things are topped off by a short khaki head. The head quickly dissipates to a ring. Plenty of lacing is left down the glass.

The aroma does not disappoint. The nose packs plenty of sweet caramel and toffee. There are some light fruity esters. A bit of smoky peat and earthiness round things out.

The taste packs a wallop. Tons of caramel malt upfront. Caramel blends in with some sticky toffee notes. Raisins show up mid palate. That’s followed by some light chocolate notes notes. Plenty of sweet brown sugar shows up near the end. The finish is sweet with a lingering earthy/peat quality.

This beer is full bodied and velvety on the tongue. The carbonation is more than adequate.

This is another topnotch addition to the Divine Reserve series. It is one of the best scotch ales i have had the pleasure of drinking. It goes down smooth. Quite the easy drinker, especially given its strength.

Saint Arnold Brewing Company
Divine Reserve 9
11% ABV
Pumpkin Imperial Stout
Rating out of 5: 4.15

DR9 pours a deep dark near black. Things are topped off by a short khaki head. Some lacing is left down the glass.

The aroma doesn’t disappoint. A perfect holiday spice blend shines. Notes of nutmeg, cinnamon, clove, and a hint of ginger dominate upfront. Behind the spice is some dark roasted malt. A touch of coffee and chocolate round things out.

Despite the strong showing in the nose, the spice doesn’t overwhelm the palate. Plenty of spice come through though. Like the nose nutmeg, cinnamon, clove, and a more pronounced ginger shine. Behind the spice is a definite alcohol bite. The coffee notes are much more pronounced. The finish is chocolaty with a lingering spice quality. The mouthfeel is full bodied and velvety smooth.

This is one top notch brew. It tastes wonderfully of the holidays, without overdoing the spices. Unlike other spiced brews, the spices here do not lower drinkability. The brew seems to be drinking a bit young. The alcohol bite is a slight distraction. With some age on it, 6 months to a year, this beer will be insanely good.