Tag Archives: beer

Market Garden Brewery in Cleveland

Virginia is not the only place we’ve been lately to taste great beer.  We were also able to enjoy some microbrewed beer on a recent trip to my husband’s hometown of Cleveland.

Right next door to the famous Westside Market is the Market Garden Brewery.

It has a nice outdoor seating area that was perfect to enjoy the pleasant summer afternoon, but it has a huge indoor area with plenty of TVs, too.

At the time of their visit they had 10 varieties of beer made in-house under the guidance of brewmaster Andy Tveekrem, but also have a variety of microbrews from locales around the world.  We decided to share a sampler of 6 of their brews.

Pearl Street Wheat – A tangy and sweet Hefeweizen with a hint of clove.  I’ll admit that I’m not a huge fan of the style, but this was not outstanding.  Just fine.

Tarte Blanche Blonde Ale – Their thirst-quenching, fruity summer brew.  It was great for sitting outside in the sun.

Progress Pilsner – Crisp with a nice balance between malt and hops.  It was well made, but nothing to write home about.

Wallace Tavern Scotch Ale – Super malty it reminded us of whiskey.  We both ordered a full pint of this one.

OHC ESB – An Extra Special Bitter with a nice amount of malt.  If we stayed longer, I would have ordered this again.

Gordian Strong Ale – Another malt heavy brew.  I think we will enjoy it more in cooler weather, which Cleveland definitely has for a few months.

They seemed to have a pretty good collection of spirits behind the bar, but a craft distillery for the grounds is also in the works.  We were disappointed to learn it is just “coming soon.”

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Filed under Beer Review, Travel

Beer Brewing Basics in Virginia

A recent weekend saw us road-tripping to the Charlottesville, Virginia area with our friends Dave and Laura.  We not only stopped at Barboursville Vineyards, but we also visited the Starr Hill Brewery.

Weekends-only tours and tastings are free.  You can’t beat that, right?  The tour goes over the basics of brewing beer and then ends at their bar for a tasting.

First step to getting tasty beer is crushing grain into grist that allows the maximum extraction of the fermentable sugars from the grain when hot water is added to create the mash.  The grain is rolled between metal rollers that are set a specific distance apart so that the crushing is done without turning the grain into flour.

The grain is shoveled into a large kettle (also known as the mash tun) and hot water is added.  When the mash is done, as much of the starch has been converted to sugars and fermentable substances, the liquid in the mash tun is drained through the husks and spent grain in the bottom of the mash tun.  This liquid is called the wort.

The spent grain is often used to feed livestock, including cattle.  One local rancher gifted the brewery with a slaughtered steer that had been fed the grain that created beer.

The wort is  piped into the brew kettle where it is boiled with hops and any other ingredients…like pumpkin that goes on to create one of Laura’s favorites.

After all the essential oils and flavors have been extracted the wort is chilled and piped into fermenting tanks.  Yeast is added to the cool wort (and they work hard to keep the environment sterile so only yeast is added) and fermentation takes place.  Fermentation is when the yeast eats the sugar in the wort and produces ethyl alcohol and carbon dioxide.

Once almost all the fermentable sugar has been consumed by the yeast, the brew is filtered and piped into finishing tanks.  They are designed to withstand the pressure created by the carbon dioxide produced by yeast that makes beer effervescent.

Finally, the brew is bottled, canned, or kegged to be enjoyed by us.

Our tasting included a round of five sample beers:

Festie – Amber Lager with a high malt taste.

Lucy – Spiced Golden Ale is their summer brew.  With the addition of lime and coriander it has a unique flavor.

Double Platinum – Double IPA pulls no punches with two types of hops.  If you don’t like hops, you won’t like this beer.

Boxcar – Pumpkin Porter is their fall seasonal brew, and Laura’s fav.

Smoke Out – German Smoke Beer is just what it sounds like…think roasted malt and smoky bacon and you can imagine what it tastes like.  Dave and Laura took some home and used it to cook some sausages for a deliciously smoky flavored dinner with no fire needed.

Starr Hill beers are becoming increasingly available, but aren’t far from the East Coast.  Next time you visit the mid-Atlantic area, I recommend you give them a try.


Filed under Beer Review, Travel

Beer and Sausage

Sounds like a winning combination, doesn’t it?  They are as delicious together as they are separately.  Although, I argue each is improved by the other.

Here’s a simple way to combine them in one dish.  It would be a great way to break out the grill this weekend.

Beer Braised Brats
Serves 4 to 6

6 uncooked bratwurst sausages (can be turkey)
1 large onion, thinly sliced
24 oz beer (cook’s choice)

Place bratwurst in a large saucepan.  Top with sliced onion.

Pour beer over top.  Use a beer you are willing to drink.

Turn heat to medium high and bring to a boil.  Once it starts bubbling, turn it down to low and let it simmer for about 8 minutes.

While the sausage are simmering, start your grill fire or preheat to high.

Remove the brats from the beer and place them on the grill.  Grill for 8 to 10 minutes, turning frequently until evenly brown.

They would be excellent served on hearty buns topped with spicy brown mustard and sauerkraut, but I dished them up with sauerkraut perogies and sauteed onions.  And more beer, of course.

Just trying to represent.  Toast to Cleveland.  Na zdravi.  (To your health.)

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Barstool Fridays – New Belgium Beer and A Quiver of Bacon

Intrigued?  Hope so!

I was recently selected to be a part of the FoodBuzz Tastemaker Program for New Belgium Brewing Company.  FoodBuzz is encouraging its bloggers to create recipes using or to be matched with New Belgium Beer.  Well, I really enjoy New Belgium’s offerings so I couldn’t turn down this opportunity.  Unfortunately, it is not currently available in the mid-Atlantic region where I reside.  It is available in my home state of Texas, though, and with the kind assistance of my beer-loving parents I was able to secure some for my use.  Thanks to FoodBuzz, New Belgium and, of course, Mom and Dad!

New Belgium Brewing

In the mood for spring, I elected to focus on their spring seasonal, Mighty Arrow Pale Ale.  It is pleasantly hoppy with honey malt undertones.

And, here’s my favorite part…it is brewed as a tribute to the founder’s dog, Arrow, a Border Collie mix.  I love the idea that a beer is made to honor a dog.  My dog, Charley, does, too.  I’m pretty sure he hopes to be on a beer label someday.

I decided to experiment with creating a beer cocktail.  And, bacon has been on my mind a lot lately, so I thought why not combine the two?  In fact, my mom encouraged me to try to create a BLT beer cocktail.  Hence…

A Quiver of Bacon or the Mighty Arrow BLT Beer Cocktail
Makes 1 drink

2 slices bacon, for garnish
3 – 4 croutons, for garnish
1 oz bacon vodka (yeah, that’s right…I’ll give you directions, look at the end of the entry)
1/2 oz lettuce juice (don’t worry…I’ll tell you how to do that, too)
3 oz tomato juice
2 – 3 dashes hot sauce
salt and pepper, to taste
6 oz New Belgium Mighty Arrow beer

Fry bacon until crisp, drain on paper towels.

(As I started to fry the bacon, Charley moseyed into the kitchen to watch me carefully.  He is a pretty constant kitchen companion, and is a big fan of bacon.)

Cube slightly stale bread into croutons.

Lightly brown the bread cubes in bacon grease.  Drain on paper towels.

In an ice filled shaker, add bacon vodka, lettuce juice, tomato juice, hot sauce, and salt and pepper.  Shake well.  Pour into pint glass, and pour beer on top.  Garnish with bacon and croutons, and serve.

Charley hopes you’ll share your bacon with a furry friend…

Bacon Vodka

To make bacon-infused vodka, I used a technique known as fat-washing.  I poured bacon fat into vodka, stirred, and then put it in the freezer.

To recreate, fry bacon and save the grease.  I’ve found that I can get about 1/2 cup of bacon fat from frying about a dozen pieces of bacon.

Figure out how much vodka you want to flavor and then determine how much grease you need to add.  I think for each ounce of vodka that you want to infuse, you should add at least 1/2 tsp of bacon grease.  Just pour that fat on in there and you will see that it pretty quickly separates.
Stir it up, cover well, and put in the freezer for at least 12 hours.  It will separate again and the fat will solidify in the freezer making it pretty easy to remove.
So, scrape out what fat you can and then strain the rest.  I used a paper towel lined sieve to help catch all the fat residue.
Now you are ready to use the vodka to make your Mighty Arrow BLT beer cocktail.
Lettuce Juice
This is really easy, too.  I just blitzed a few lettuce leaves in a food processor with a splash of Mighty Arrow beer.
For me, 6 or 7 leaves of lettuce with a couple of splashes of beer made about 3 ounces of lettuce juice.


Filed under Cocktails

And The Bourbon Trail Goes On…

We’ve continued to savor the flavors of Kentucky since returning home.  I especially enjoy the combination of booze and dessert.  Here are a couple of my favorites…

Since a barrel may be used only once to age bourbon, Kentucky has a flood of used bourbon barrels.  Many are used to age scotch, but recent years have them holding beer, as well.  We picked up two varieties of bourbon barrel beer – a stout from Bluegrass Brewing Company and an ale from Alltech.

Both are delicious and our a wonderful companion to vanilla ice cream in a beer float.

Bourbon Barrel Beer Float
Makes 2 floats

4 – 6 scoops premium vanilla ice cream
12 oz bottle bourbon barrel beer (ale or stout)

This is a super easy dessert.  Put two to three scoops each of vanilla ice cream in two pint glasses.

Slowly pour 6 ounces of beer in each glass.

Sip through a straw and try not to pour yourself another…

A popular dessert in Kentucky is a pie made with bourbon, chocolate, and nuts.  A version is sold in most restaurants, but only Kern’s Kitchen can call it “Derby Pie” after having it trademarked both in Kentucky and the Federal Government.  The family rigorously defends this trademark, so in restaurants or recipe books you will see the pie referred to as “First Saturday in May Pie,” “Pegasus Pie,” “Thoroughbred Pie,” or other such winks to the reference.

The Dessert That Cannot Be Called Derby Pie for Fear of Trademark Violation
Makes 1 9-inch deep dish pie

9-inch deep dish pie crust
1 1/4 cup pecans
1/2 cup butter, melted
1/4 cup white sugar
3/4 cup brown sugar
3/4 cup light Karo syrup
4 eggs, beaten
1 tsp vanilla
1/4 cup bourbon
1 cup chocolate chips

I won’t provide pie crust instructions here, but you can follow mine, or create your own.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

Spread pecans onto a baking sheet and place in oven for about 10 minutes or until fragrant and slightly toasted.  Remove from oven and let cool.

Line pie pan with pie crust, flute edges, and place in refrigerator while you prepare filling.

Blend melted butter, sugars, and Karo syrup in a medium bowl.  Stir in beaten eggs, vanilla, and bourbon.  Set aside.

Take out pie crust and sprinkle chocolate chips and pecans in bottom of pan.

Add egg and sugar mixture.

Bake for 50 to 60 minutes or until filling is set, and crust is lightly browned.


Filed under Dessert

Beer, Bourbon, and BBQ…What More Does a Girl Need?

This weekend my husband and I attended the Beer, Bourbon, and BBQ Festival at the National Harbor in Maryland.  For the price of admission, we got a free tasting glass that allowed us to sample as much beer and bourbon as we wanted, a barbeque pork dinner, and generous tastings of roasted whole pigs.

I have to admit we were completely overwhelmed upon entry into the festival.  It seemed as though every where we turned there was food and drink we wanted to consume.  A quick lap around the perimeter helped us develop a plan and we soon settled into to enjoy ourselves for the next several hours.

It was great fun to sample beers and bourbons that we had not yet seen in any of our favorite alcohol establishments.  We made it a goal to focus our initial efforts on beverages we had never tasted before while the taste buds could still focus.  Our only complaint is that there were not more brewers or distillers on hand to answer questions or pitch their products.  We did have enjoyable conversations with Rick Wasmund from Copper Fox Distillery and Mike Kennedy from Evolution Craft Brewing.  In my mind, however, the festival staff and festival exhibitors missed a great opportunity to interact with serious booze hounds in a fun, relaxed environment.

Now for for a few tasting highlights…

Brew Dog Punk IPA – This IPA was paler in color and sweeter in taste than I expected.  It was a great thirst quencher at the hot and steamy festival.  The flavor was lemony, grassy, with maybe a hint of pineapple.  The hops are there, but not in your face.

McSorley’s Pale Ale – This had a much lighter flavor than the copper color would make you believe.  Easy to drink, it has a very subtle fruity flavor and scent.  I think the dark ale is the way to go, however for more flavor.

Evolution’s IPA – I thought it was the best this Delaware brewery had to offer at the festival.  Agressively hoppy and citrusy, it had a nice floral scent and a good looking amber color.  It was a great beer to pair with the spicy pork barbeque.

Russell’s Reserve 10 year – This was an excellent bourbon.  Its complex toffee-like flavor was warmed by vanilla undertones and just a bit of bite and maybe a little orange.  It was a pretty amber color and was smooth on the tongue.  Both my husband and I enjoyed this a lot.

Copper Fox Rye Whiskey – A new offering from Wasmund’s Copper Fox, it starts with the same fruitwood scent and flavor as his single malt, and in fact includes some of his malted barley.  Strong and earthy, we enjoyed it best with a splash of water.

Booker’s – This was a lovely sipping bourbon.  Smoky vanilla and oak flavors that finished clean on the tongue.  It was a wonderful balance between strong and smooth, and had no bitterness.  An expensive bottle, I will save future glasses for special occasions.

Baker’s – Another intensely flavored, but smooth bourbon.  Maybe a bit more carmel and nutty flavors than the Booker’s…I think it would be great as an after-dinner drink.

We tried many, many more than this, but I no longer trusted my taste buds or my taste memory at a certain point, so for honesty’s sake they are not included in this entry.  We were joined by our friends Wendy and Dave who enjoyed the festival as designated drivers.  We had fun with them and appreciated their willingness to keep us safe.

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