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.
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:
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!