Meal in a Glass: The Doppelbock

It’s been far too long, and it’s time to get back on that beer education…

Every Sud Started Somewhere…

Installment III: Doppelbock

schmaltz copysalv copy

IBUs 16-26 | SRM 6-25 | ABV 7-10% | FG: 1.016-1.024

This lager, in all of its rich, sweet and full-bodied glory, served as my “a-ha” moment for malty beers. And malty it is. With minimal hop presence (just enough to act as a balancer and prevent cloying sweetness), hints of dark fruits and caramel (owing to specialty malts), lingering roast and warming alcohol in the finish create complex beer that is, as history dictates, a meal in a glass.

Its origins date back to the 1600s. Munich consumers named the style “double bock,” in 1780, when it was first released to the public, and we have Brother Barnabus, famous brewer of the monks of St. Francis of Paula, to thank for it. Monks brewed the sweet, heavy lager to sustain them during lent, and it was infamously referred to as “liquid bread.” The founding example of the style is Paulaner Salvator, a fact that is frequently paid homage to, as the –ator suffix has become an indicator of the style (the name Salvator was used broadly for doppelbocks from all breweries until it was legally secured by Paulaner, now a secular brewery).

Doppelbocks were historically brewed via decoction mashing, which can result in a caramelizing and melanoidin effect. The style’s indicative sweetness is a result of the minimal hop character, and it should be fairly attenuated. Cold conditioning smoothes out the rich malt bill, and bready toffee notes makes this liquid bread ideal for food pairings that echo the lager’s high impact and richness, such as chocolate cake, roasted duck or venison, and dark fruit reductions.

Commercial examples include Paulaner Salvator, Ayinger Celebrator, Bell’s Consecrator, Schmaltz Rejewvenator and Spaten Optimator.

Sources:

BJCP 2008 Style Guidelines

The Oxford Companion to Beer, Edited by Garrett Oliver

The Brewmaster’s Table by Garrett Oliver

Tasting Beer by Randy Mosher

Sláinte chuig na fir, agus go mairfidh na mná go deo!

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Jerk Pork Tacos with Chocolate Sherry Vinaigrette

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Is there ever a bad time for tacos? Our answer is a resounding no. However, even though tacos are clearly a majestic and benevolent gift to all mankind, pairing them with beer and/or wine can sometimes present a challenge, especially if the beers your trying to pair with are these…

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This was a portion of the lineup for our “Big Boozy Beer Night,” which was originally planned to be a more formal taste, note and report-style evening, but digressed into a half dozen friends splitting some malt-alicious strong ales and losing track of time chatting. And who can complain about that?

Either way, when tackling the goal of making a dinner that we might be able to still taste while drinking these heavyweights, Jim’s desire to create a pork and chocolate sauce combination was able to come to fruition. He seasoned the pork with a bill of sweet, spicy and savory elements, and just a hint of Peruvian coffee. The chocolate vinaigrette offered tangy pungency from the wine and sweet creamy notes from the cocoa that acted as a balancing act to the meat’s richness. A mole-esque flavor profile was created, with elements of rich savoriness, roasty sweetness and deep spiciness.

Big impact in the food met big impact in the beers, and a complex myriad of roasted notes, spice and malty sweetness were able to compliment and enhance one another.

We also paired the leftovers the next day with a 2010 Oratoire St. Martin from Cairanne. Cairanne is amongst the top wine-producing cities of the Cotes du Rhone Villages in France. Almost too big to drink alone, this boldly complex wine begs for equally bold cuisine. Juicy yet elegant black cherry and raspberry notes from Grenache grapes pair up with a gamey, leathery acidic structure of Mourvedre grapes. The culmination is an explosion of spiciness breaking upon the palate. The level of palate weight and complexity found its home with the dish of equal magnitude.

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We were pretty excited about this one. Not to be dramatic, but on completion of this dish, Jim emerged wide-eyed from the kitchen, and with stone-faced solemnity, he quietly uttered, “Ali. This is the best thing I’ve ever made.” Try it, and tell us what you think.

For pork:

4 tbsp. salt (for brine) | 1 tbsp. cinnamon |½ tbsp. nutmeg

½ tbsp. tarragon | ½ tbsp. coriander | ¼ tbsp. caraway | 1 tsp. ground cumin seed

16 oz. can tomato sauce | 2 tbsp. butter | ¼ yellow onion | 1 clove garlic

1 tbsp. cayenne | ½ tbsp. ground coffee (good stuff!) | 1 medium Anaheim pepper

2 small habanero peppers | 2 bay leaves| 2lbs. pork tenderloin | 2 tbsp. olive oil

For Vinaigrette:

4 tbsp. butter | 4 oz. sherry wine | 2 tbsp. honey | 4 tbsp. sweet ground chocolate

and cocoa | 2 tbsp. olive oil

White corn tortillas, taco size

Cooking Instructions:

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Put pork into large pot, cover with water and add salt. Cover with lid and boil until cooked through. Pour off water, pull pork out of pot and allow to cool. In same pot, coat bottom with olive oil and add onions, diced. Cook until they start to sweat and turn golden, and then add garlic, chopped. Simmer for one to two minutes (don’t let garlic burn). Add tomato sauce and stir garlic and onions throughout. Mix in cinnamon, nutmeg, tarragon, coriander, caraway, cumin seed and bay leaves. Let simmer uncovered, stirring occasionally, while you pull pork. Pull pork apart with a fork until thoroughly shredded, then add to sauce. Add peppers, butter and coffee, then stir. Cover and continue to simmer, occasionally stirring for twenty minutes. The longer, lower and slower you cook the pork, the better it shall be.

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For vinaigrette, melt butter in a medium saucepan on medium heat. Add sherry, olive oil and whisk thoroughly. Slowly whisk chocolate in. Once the sauce is a smooth consistency, add honey. When all ingredients are combined smoothly and thoroughly, cover and set aside.

Combine pork and vinaigrette onto soft corn tortillas (for our tortillas, we dip each shell quickly in cold water, then put them on a cast iron skillet on medium heat for just a few seconds for each side). Grab an imperial stout or bold red wine and enjoy!

Sláinte chuig na fir, agus go mairfidh na mná go deo!

It’s the Time of the Saison

     All hail saison! By far our third favorite beer style ever (truly. There’s a list). If spring should ever arrive here, its spicy complexity, refreshing acidity and biting hoppiness are marvelous for patio lunching, as saisons are also a rockstar for food pairing. In our one brief glimpse of sunshine last week, I immediately ran out to West Side Local and had their fantastic kale salad with glasses of Goose Island Sofie and Perennial Saison de Lis. My first sunburn of the year later, I was a happy camper. Kansas City is also lucky to have their hometown brewery produce a great example of the style that is widely available on taps throughout town. Ranging from the more fruit-forward to the dry and funky, I say there is a saison for every person and a person for every saison!

Every Sud Started Somewhere…

Installment II: Saison

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| IBUs 20-35 |  SRM 5-14 | ABV 5-7% | FG 1.002-1.012

            Meaning “season” in French (thus my sad little Zombies pun in the title), saison originated in Wallonia, the French-speaking region of Belgium. Brewing history often sees styles develop as a result of seasonal brewing (Oktoberfests and Marzens are another example), and saisons were brewed from late fall to early spring (times when the climate was more kind to brewing before widely available refrigeration), to be drank by farmers throughout the summer months.

            Brewing saisons in the farming community’s off-season provided jobs for farmers in the winter, refreshment in the summer, and spent grain to be used as livestock feed. Because these farmhouse breweries were in a sense stocking up for the warm season, the beer had to high enough in alcohol to keep, yet light-bodied and quenching enough to be refreshing in the heat. This is why we see a relatively low final gravity in the style: it is dry, it has high attenuation, and it is delightfully effervescent.

            Because it was farmers, and not professional brewers, that developed the style, variation is great and it can be assumed that a large array of adjunct grains resulting in large variety was historically seen. As a general guideline, saisons typically are highly carbonated (and widely bottle-conditioned), featuring a distinctive dryness, moderate alcohol strength, medium hop bitterness, and some influence of Belgian spiciness, citrusy fruitiness, and refreshing acidity. Saisons also fall under the umbrella of Farmhouse ales, alongside its maltier French counterpart Biere de Garde.

            As far as pairing with food, Garrett Oliver said it best when he described saison as “not just versatile—it’s downright promiscuous.” Bitter enough to cut through fatty dishes, spicy enough to match pepperiness, citrusy enough to play with juiciness, carbonated enough to elevate any oiliness, and delicate enough to compliment seafood. Like I said, a true rockstar!

            Today saison can be a fairly loose term, and it is a style widely played around with by brewers, with alcohol scaling upward of 9%, color changing from pale orange and burnished gold to inky burnt brown and black, and the use of wild yeasts and/or sour flavors (it should be mentioned that Jim has developed an irrational and feverish, although somewhat deserved, madness for Boulevard Saison Brett).

            There are a ton of fantastic commercial examples out there, but here are a few: Saison Dupont Vieille Provision (the crème de la crème in our opinion), Boulevard Tank 7, Perennial Saison de Lis, Ommegang Hennepin, Fantôme Saison D’Erezée – Printemps, Crooked Stave Surette and Brouwerij West Saison Extra.

Sources:

BJCP 2008 Style Guidelines

The Oxford Companion to Beer, Edited by Garrett Oliver

The Brewmaster’s Table by Garrett Oliver

Cali Cordon Roux

     Chicken Cordon Bleu (“blue ribbon”) has French, Swiss and American roots and classically features breaded chicken, ham and melted cheese. A couple of factors  inspired us to create a twist on the dish. First, Jim and I often lament on a seemingly Midwestern obsession with smothering everything in cheese sauce (we’re assholes). We decided that if indeed everything must have cheese sauce on top of it, can it not be a kickass cheese sauce? Secondly, Jim is from the South and loves fried chicken and making roux (and really, who doesn’t?). I believe everything would benefit from the use of avocados.

     Thus, our “Cali Cordon Roux” was developed with an avocado puree and Mozzarella sauce that began as a roux. This rich, layered sauce pairs nicely with the delicate breading of the herb-based fried chicken. Rather than use ham (we weren’t feeling quite that carnivorous), our “ribbon” was a layer of basil, providing an aromatic freshness that might trick one into thinking, if for only a fleeting moment, this fried chicken and cheese sauce just might be good for you (it isn’t). Image

1/2 tbsp oregano | ½ tbsp rosemary | ½ tbsp thyme

1 tsp pepper | 1 tsp salt | 1 tsp cayenne | 1 cup flour

2 eggs | 1 ½ cup canola oil | 2 large avocados | 1 cup milk

4 tbsp butter | 1 cup freshly shredded mozzarella

fresh basil (three leaves per breast) | 4-6 chicken breasts

     Mix oregano, rosemary, thyme, cayenne, flour, salt and pepper together until blended well. Spread out on a flat surface. Whip eggs in a medium-sized bowl. Dip chicken breasts, one at a time, and cover completely. Place onto plate with breading mix, cover evenly and pat out excess. Heat oil in a frying pan (should only deep enough to not quite cover chicken once it is placed in pan). Fry on each side until crisp, golden brown and chicken cooked through.

     For cheese sauce, puree avocados, shred mozzarella and set aside. Melt butter, on medium heat, in a saucepan and stir in flour. Create roux by stirring flour and butter constantly until it begins to brown around edges. Mix in milk, bring to a simmer. Slowly stir in avocado and then cheese. When sauce is smooth and creamy, take off heat.

     Place chicken breasts on plate, add three fresh basil leaves and pour sauce over, allowing the heat of the sauce to activate the herb’s aromatics. Enjoy!

Sláinte chuig na fir, agus go mairfidh na mná go deo!

“When you can’t be creative, you can work.”

      Happy Friday! Some quirky awesome recipes, beer reviews and a look at our trip to Hotlanta (sigh, it’s literally impossible to not say “Hotlanta” once you’ve said it once) will be up this weekend, but in the meantime, I’m going to be starting a new tradition of summing up a quick history of a beer style each week (there are selfish motivations behind this, I promise). Learning is fun and beer is delicious!

Every Sud Started Somewhere…

Installment I: Belgian Witbier

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IBUs 10-20 |  SRM 2-4 | ABV 4.5-5,5% | FG 1.008-1.012

      Flemish for “white beer” (and known as “biere blanche” in French), Belgian Witbier is an historical style dating back 400 years that dwindled down to near extinction in the middle of the twentieth century. Purity laws never restricted the Belgians, unlike their German counterparts, and the use of adjunct grains in the brewing process has become a mainstay of traditional Belgian brewing. Adjuncts often include, but are not limited to, candied sugars, unmalted wheat, coriander, Grains of Paradise, chamomile and cinnamon.

     Belgian brewers were historically taxed based on the volume of the mash tun, allowing for a second tun for unmalted grains. This influenced the use of unmalted wheat in Belgian beer styles like Witbier and Lambic.

     The Belgian Witbier is characterized by the use of raw wheat, Pils malt, and being spiced with coriander and Caracao bitter orange peel. The resulting ale is an elegant, fragile and refreshing treat that pairs well with salads dressed with vinaigrette that feature virtually any ingredient, brunch dishes, Mexican and Thai cuisine, and a plethora of fish (oily, delicate, shellfish, sashimi—the works!).  Its versatile food pairing profile is owed to coriander’s impact with other spices, citric and tart notes that compliment delicate seafood, zesty orange aromatics making it a shoe-in for early meals, and the wheat in the malt bill marrying with hearty breads.

     This spritzy wheat ale pours a hazy vanilla in color, is of moderate strength and has an aroma that is indicative of perfumey coriander balanced by a typical Belgian spicy/pepperiness and an herbal backbone. Hops take a backseat, and the spices used in the brew seamlessly blend with floral notes, zesty orange citrus and wheat-induced sweet creaminess with a dry, tart finish.

     White beers turned up around the eleventh century and are credited with being amongst the earliest hopped beer styles. Monastic brewing in Hoegaarden (east of Brussels) is credited for the style’s creation. As stated previously, Witbier had fallen out of fashion until Pierre Celis of Hoegaarden revitalized it in the 1960s. Celis, who worked as a milkman in the town, knew the style and began brewing it again, ten years after production had completely ceased, in 1966. The style became increasingly popular in the following decades, and the brewing conglomerate now known as Anheuser-Busch InBev bought the brand in 1990, after providing the funds to rebuild the brewery after a fire in the mid 1980s.

     A few tasty commercial examples include Hoegaarden Wit, Blanche de Bruxelles, Boulevard Zon, Avery White Rascal, Wittekerke and Allagash White.

Sources:

BJCP 2008 Style Guidelines

The Oxford Companion to Beer, Edited by Garrett Oliver

The Brewmaster’s Table by Garrett Oliver

Tasting Beer by Randy Mosher

Sláinte chuig na fir, agus go mairfidh na mná go deo!

Better Late Than Sober

Welp, we sort of missed the opportunity to post about the rest of the Big 12 tournament and St. Pats (busy times for the beer slingers of Kansas City). Nonetheless, March 18 worked better for our schedules and we decided there really aren’t time constraints for Irish-inspired food or session beers (college hoops really gets serious next weekend, anyway!). So, in the spirit of continuing mid-March festivities for the rest of the month, in preparation for brackets being busted to shreds, or for anyone who doesn’t have a horse in the race anyway (sorry, Kentucky?), here’s some beer that will help you imbibe while keeping your wits about you, and a recipe that is loosely based on some historical Irish cuisine (because let’s face it, most of the hungover souls on Monday are no more Irish than a green Coors Light). Sláinte.

First, the grub:

Gasp! The recipe to follow is devoid of meat, cabbage and potatoes. After throwing around ideas for Irish po’ boys and various salted fish concoctions (which are totally on the docket for next year), we decided to keep it simple, savory and relatively healthy (when you drink as much as we do, ’tis crucial).

Colcannon is an Irish dish (linguistics link its origins to the island, despite its subsequent popularity elsewhere) that was originally born of practicality: the Irish had potatoes and they had greens. It was inevitable to get these crazy kids together. Colcannon essentially is potatoes, kale/cabbage/etc., boiled and mashed together with some cream or butter and seasonings tossed in.

Presumably, I was sold as soon as my eyes read over “cabbage or kale.” In addition, we’ve recently decided cauliflower is an underutilized, radiating beacon of badassery. As such, Jim has perfected a mashed cauliflower recipe that even has my 14 year-old brother fooled. It even includes anchovies, so we’re just going to check that off as a historical tie to the Irish adoration of salted fish. So, as our Irish ancestors before us, we got these ideas together, and the rest is creamy colcannon history.

Cauliflower Colcannon

colcannon

1 large head cauliflower | One 2.4 oz can anchovies | 6 oz. kale

6 oz. sour cream | 2 tsps. paprika | pepper to taste

Bring cauliflower to a boil until soft, drain and mash. Combine all other ingredients in the pot, bring to a boil again then remove from heat, mash again, as the anchovies should not be whole, let stand for about 10 minutes or until it thickens. Easy peazy! Serves 3-4 as a side dish.

Now, the docket o’ beer:

Session beers

A Bay Area-based brewer told me once that it takes a lot more skill to brew something lower gravity that is still worth talking about. Fortunately the craft beer market, even with “go big or go home” American beers still getting bigger, wackier and closer to nail polish remover, has also seen an increase in popularity of lower ABV options that still offer dynamic flavor profiles. Here are a couple we were able to pick up easily, including an old favorite and some new-to-market offerings.

1809

Dr. Fritz Briem 1809 Berliner Weisse

5.0% ABV| Munich, Germany| 16.9 oz bottle

The breakfast of champions. Alright, we went into this one already harboring mushy, gushy love toward this beer. But at 5% (which is relatively high for the style), it fit the bill and we figured why not take any opportunity to discuss its effervescent, sexy wonderfulness (that’s why we had it for breakfast). Named after the Prussian victory of Napoleon (who had a legendary affinity for the circa 16th century style), which occurred in the beer’s namesake year, 1809 combines wheat and lactobacillus for a light-bodied, tart treat. The nose is a massive, clean aromatic burst of juicy pink grapefruit, orange zest and lemon with a clove backbone. The excited, fluffy cream head is a delightful mix of tartness and light sweetness, conjuring up meringue-like visions. Steely citrus flavors and lactic acid-induced sour take over the finish, while remaining crisp, light and refreshing throughout. Retire your mimosa.

SVKellerweis

Sierra Nevada Kellerweis

4.8% ABV| Chico, California| 15 IBUs | 12 oz. bottle

Literally “cellar white”, Kellerweis is a German-style Hefeweizen using open fermentation. To us it seemed like a solid in-betweener of an authentic German Hefeweizen and an American Wheat. It pours a hazy golden-orange, and German hefe yeast provides aromatics and flavors of bubblegove, clove, orange and a banana, and a hint of doughiness. Minimum bittering hops are used (Perle and Sterling) and provide harmonious spiciness and hints of citrus that are subtle enough to showcase the yeast strain. Palate-coating fruit flavors and lively carbonation makes this an easy drinker, ripe and ready for a float trip.

spring batch

Mother’s Spring Batch Farmhouse Ale

5.6% ABV| Springfield, Missouri | 35 IBUs | 12 oz. bottle

This unfiltered Belgian-style, medium-bodied Spring seasonal, in our humble opinion, is sort of a stateside saison. What it lacks in funky earthiness it makes up for with grassy, floral hop notes, and bursts of citrus and bright fruit. The burnished goldenrod hued-brew is full of delectable spiciness, provided by Belgian yeast. Relatively new to the KC craft scene, these mamas’ boys are making Missouri proud.

All Day IPA

Founders All Day IPA

4.7% ABV| Grand Rapids, Michigan | 42 IBUs | 12 oz. bottle

First and foremost, mad props to Founders for not making a dry-hopped pilsner and touting it as a low alcohol IPA. The hop profile of this light option provides earthy rustic notes, and twinges of bright fruitiness that give way to baled hay and raw freshness. The pale copper All Day finishes clean but hop bitterness is still somewhat present, proving you don’t have to abandon hop deliciousness when you leave some ABV behind.

Sláinte chuig na fir, agus go mairfidh na mná go deo!

March in Kansas City: Big 12, St. Pat’s and the Thawing of the Frost

“Is there an NBA game on?” said no Midwesterner ever.

One thing I learned quickly upon moving to the Midwest is that its inhabitants are a thriving, imbibing, polytheistic tribe of devout college basketball fanatics. I still love my Golden State Warriors, but to utter “NBA” is near blasphemous ‘round these parts.

Those living in Big 12 territory may all have different gods (I, personally, believe in the word of thy Naismith and worship in the Fieldhouse of Allen), and claim that our adversaries indeed pray to false idols, but healthy competition and occasional bitter rivalry blows through the plains more viciously than Winter Storm Q.

This of course culminates every year in mid March, when four days of dizzying, overcrowded, alcohol-induced mayhem somehow churns out a Big 12 tourney champion. If I had a dime for every American pale lager-carrying beer truck that was in downtown this morning, it would have paid for my KU-themed manicure. Jim and I have the good fortune of working across the street from the Sprint Center, where it all goes down.

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The Sprint Center will host nine games across four days, and, according to Fox 4 KC News, the tournament will generate $22 million in economic impact in Kansas City.

While it may not be an ideal climate for anyone who fears large crowds or drinking before 10 a.m., I must say I excitedly anticipate the inevitable shit-show that is to come (and I’m not just speaking for my wallet). Bitter winter cold seems to finally take a hike, out-of-towners are excited (albeit they might be sometimes obnoxiously donning the colors and proselytizing the word of their alma matter) to check out what we have going on in KC, and genuine sports fandom is the first item of business. Did I mention it stopped snowing? So happy big 12, don’t plan on driving anywhere downtown, and, cough, rock chalk.

We’ll post some more photographs as well as reviews of some sessionable beverages one might like to knock back while taking in a game, which should take us right up to St. Pat’s! All that and more, right after this bar shift…

Sláinte chuig na fir, agus go mairfidh na mná go deo!