Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Get It Together: The Kaiser and the Oktoberfeast

I planned a dinner the other night consisting of stove top brats, German potato salad, and Brussels sprouts with sour cream and bacon. These foods made my "Oktoberfeast" complete...well, almost.

With fall comes a new set of seasonal beers. There are the porters, stouts, and pumpkin beers for sure, but I love a good Oktoberfest. Not being the biggest fan of lagers, I struggle to find a good Oktoberfest brew. Great Lakes out of Cleveland, OH makes a good one as does Bell's. However, Great Lakes doesn't distribute here and the Bell's Oktoberfest was sold in rather limited quantities.

Luckily, Avery's The Kaiser Imperial Oktoberfest hit the shelves here in Columbia this fall. This beer actually reminded me a lot of the cheap, rice-based Burger beer I used on the brats, but it had something more. The yeasts of these two beers was where similarities began and ended. The Kaiser is a thick, syrupy malt bomb that matches the greasy intensity of even the most German meal. If I see this beer ever on a menu at a restaurant, I'm ordering the brats and kraut every time.

Cooking w/Beer: Stovetop Brats

Last night we had what I am calling the "Oktoberfeast." This was a meal featuring German potato salad and some Brussels sprouts mixed with sour cream and bacon. There was an excellent Oktoberfest beer from Avery, but I'll post more on that later.

Now, I've made beer brats before, but this was different. First of all, I cooked the sausage in some water. One good tip I picked up was to poke some holes in the brats so that they would not explode. After the water evaporated, I browned them in the dry pan before adding some onions to cook in the remaining fat. Once the onions were browned, I tossed in a cup of beer and let it simmer.

Usually, I go for a high quality beer, but this time I went a little askew. The beer of choice was a Burger Beer, leftover from my sister's visit over a month-and-a-half ago. It's cheap and stays good forever in a can, but most importantly, it's a German style lager. There really is nothing special about the beer, but I did taste the same yeast as was in my much more expensive and better tasting Avery German style beer.

Monday, October 5, 2009

The Beer I Drank Yesterday

I asked a friend to come over in order to drink my Stone 13th anniversary ale. (Thank you KT.)

That's the Stone on the left, a holy hop bomb that just got better as it warmed. This is how craft beers used to taste to me when I mostly drank Sam Adams and Guinness.

(At this point, I broke out the potato chips so that we could taste something other than the hop assault we just experienced.)

Next was a Flying Dog Gonzo Imperial Porter...more like an imperial stout. Chocolaty, coffee-infused but smooth like a porter should be.

After that, I broke out a surprise in the Stone/Brew Dog/Cambridge collaboration Juxtaposition Black Pilsner. It was black, but I don't know that it was a pilsner. Certainly, it had the crispness of a pilsner and a definite hop presence, but that's where the comparison ends. This was one of those drinking experiences where you just get a little bit of everything: chocolate, raisins (yes, raisins), bananas, [enter beer cliche here], etc. This is maybe the singe greatest beers I've had since...well, maybe since the first beer of the evening. It was good though.

Founders supplied our final two beers, keeping us well within the hops vector. The Harvest Ale is a wet-hopped bastard of a beer. The IBU and ABv numbers are not that impressive, but the beer punches you in the pucker with citrusy hops. We followed that with another great beer from Founders: the DIPA Double Trouble.

There's not much else to say after a tasting like this. Just know that we enjoyed every drop.

Saturday, October 3, 2009

Get It Together: Breakfast Stout and Breakfast for Dinner

It was Friday. We didn't feel like going out. We didn't feel like cooking dinner. In this case, the best choices include calling for pizza or making breakfast for dinner (BFD). We went with the latter.

While making our famous pumpkin pancakes (half a can of pumpkin puree and spices tossed into a batch of pancake batter), I contemplated my beer options. This is not an easy pairing. I know that some people drink cheap beer by the pitcher for kegs and eggs events, but I wanted something more appropriate.

Just as I was about to give up and open a beer while I cooked, I remembered the Founders Breakfast Stout I just slipped into the fridge. Although I still content that beer and breakfast do not readily go together, this pairing seemed somewhat fun if not extraordinary.

The bitterness of the beer and the maple syrup left me with an iron-y taste in my mouth; the bacon's smokiness battled the beer throughout; and eggs just don't go with beer. This combo was not ideal.

However, the gooey, pumpkiny pancakes did pair well with the beer on two levels. I like pumpkin and yams with dark chocolate. This beer brings the chocolate. Then there is the roasty-ness of the beer's coffee profile. There is nothing better than washing down buttery pancakes with some coffee.

The pairing was a stretch, but at least it was fun to try. The next time I might make a hardier pancake to go with my breakfast stout for BFD.

Cooking w/Beer: Meatloaf and Pumkin Bread

October rolled in this week. For me, the fall begins on October 1st. This year, the weather obliged as there was definitely a shift toward colder, wetter conditions. Using some fall seasonal beers, I made some dinner.

I had to make some dinner and we had ground beef in the freezer, so I figured I could make a meatloaf. Several online recipes suggested adding some wine or various spirits to keep the loaf moist and add some richness. I figured there had to be something out there involving beer. I was right.

I found this recipe. I made about 2/3 of the recipe since I had two pounds of meat as compared to three. The key with the beer was to fry up some onions, pour in the beer, and cook it until it was thick (or about 3/4 of a cup).

The loaf turned out great. I could have done more with the flavors, but the beer insured it was moist. Speaking of the beer, I used a Great Lakes Octoberfest. The recipe called for a amber-colored beer, but I went with the fall seasonal from my favorite Ohio brewery.

Here's the recipe...

  • canola oil
  • 1 medium sweet onion, chopped
  • 10 ounces of bottle dark or amber beer
  • dried thyme leaves
  • dry mustard
  • salt
  • Freshly ground pepper
  • 2 pounds ground beef
  • 1 cup fresh whole-wheat breadcrumbs
  • chopped fresh parsley
  • 1 large egg, lightly beaten
  • 1 egg white, lightly beaten
  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Coat an 8 1/2-by-4 1/2-inch loaf pan with cooking spray.
  2. Heat oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add onion and cook, stirring often, until translucent and starting to brown, about 5 minutes. Pour in beer and increase heat to high. Bring to a vigorous boil; cook until the liquid is quite syrupy and the mixture reduces to about 3/4 cup, 8 to 10 minutes. Transfer to a large bowl. Stir in thyme, dry mustard, salt and pepper. Let cool for 10 minutes.
  3. Add beef, breadcrumbs, parsley, beaten egg and egg white to the onion mixture. Mix thoroughly with clean hands and transfer to the prepared pan.
  4. Bake the meatloaf until an instant-read thermometer registers 160 degrees F when inserted into the center, about 1 hour 20 minutes. Let rest for 5 minutes; drain accumulated liquid from the pan and slice. Serve hot or cold or in a sandwich.

Pumpkin Bread
I stumbled over a pumpkin bread recipe a while ago that used a Dogfish Head Punkin Ale. That beer would be ideal as it uses real pumpkin as its primary ingredient. However, Dogfish Head is not available in MO, so I turned to a local favorite. Schlafly's Pumpkin Ale is one of the two or three best pumpkin beers I've ever had. This was the logical substitute.

The original recipe can be found here (although I reprint it word-for-word below). The only difference, again, was the beer. I'd suggest only using pumpkin beers by Dogfish Head, Schlafly, or Southern Tier. In my humble opinion, those are the only pumpkin beers worthy of consumption. The rest are spiced ales with some pumpkin pie flavoring.

The bread was good and contained a hint of pumpkin without being too pumpkiny or bright orange. I will certainly make this again, but I might add a tablespoon or two of some pumpkin puree to give it a little more pumpkin authenticity. I think it would pair well with a chocolate stout or maybe a porter. Also, I might try it with a black bean chili with chunks of yams.

Here's the very simple recipe...

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

In a large bowl, combine:

12 oz bottle of Dogfish Punkin Ale

3 cups self-rising cake flour.

1 tablespoon brown sugar

A dash each of cinnamon, nutmeg and ginger, but not too much, as you don't want to get in the way of the flavors Sam Calagione and co. have created.

Pour batter into a greased loaf pan, and bake for about 45 minutes, or until top is golden brown, and a toothpick comes out clean.

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Broadway Brewery

The Broadway Brewery opened a while back, maybe a week or so ago. We finally got our chance to check it out last night. I liked the place so much, I went twice.

The first trip was to get some dinner. The atmosphere is nice with the lights just low enough and the noise level just high enough. I won't get into specifics about the decor, but the bar had a nice semi-circular design with the brewing equipment adjacent and behind some glass.

For dinner, I had the smoked trout pizza with goat cheese and caramelized onions. The crust was good, but the toppings were a little scarce. My bet is they'll add some toppings and up the price a little. Overall, the prices were very reasonable for this condensed menu.

As far as beer goes, they only had two of their own brews on tap, a rye and an APA. I had the rye with dinner. It wasn't one of those hopped up rye-IPA hybrids. This beer was good on its own without an overwhelming hop presence. The beer was very well balanced and rather sessionable. What was particularly impressive was the substantial lacing on my glass as I sipped the beer.

I returned later after a concert fell flat to try the APA. Although it had a similar mouthfeel and lacing to the rye, this beer was a huge disappointment. Maybe I've had too many Schlafly APA's, but this beer doesn't measure up. I couldn't even recognize the hop. I'm sure the beers will get better, but I won't be ordering the APA again.

Besides the house beers, the bar carries a pretty extensive bottle list and there are plenty of taps of your favorite micro.

I look forward to seeing Broadway grow and vary their beer and food menus. It's good to have two breweries in town. Now all we need is a tap house with 50 beers on tap and another 300 in bottles. That and a beer store would make this town complete. Until then, I'll keep going back to Broadway to watch their progress.