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Shouldn’t every dinner be a beer dinner?

Beer belongsFlying Dog Brewery, based in Denver, has launched a stand alone site dedicated to beer dinners.

It’ll be interesting to follow how this plays out, since right now the information posted is Flying Dog centric. This certainly could be a great resource.

There’s a category for promoting dinners, which would allow brewpubs, restaurants and even organizations (say a local homebrew club) to promote events. Will they want to do this within the Flying Dog pound? We’ll see.

Visitors may also submit beer dinner ideas or review dinners. “We want to educate beer aficionados about the entire beer dinner concept, show people how pairing food with beer can really be a remarkable experience and help them be in-the-know on this hot new trend,” Flying Dog director of marketing Neal Stewart says in a press release.

The notion that fine food and fine beer belong together is hardly new, but is still gaining momentum. Lucy Sanders’ The Best of American Beer and Food: Pairing & Cooking with Craft Beer has just gone to press, and you can expect plenty of articles about cooking with beer and pairing food with beer throughout the fall.

You’re going to want to read about beer and food somewhere, and this may turn out to be a fine place to “shop” for recipes, full menus or just plain tips.

About the photo above: Flying Dog has a bunch of delicious looking photos at the site. But I went with one from the “Beer Belongs” campaign of almost 50 years ago because I love those old illustrations (they ran in mass circulation magazines – also becoming a throwback).

Goose Island Cascade Pumpkin Brulee

The other day I mentioned Goose Island Cascade Pumpkin Brulee and Eric Trimmer asked for a recipe. Here it is.

As already noted, Goose Island brewmaster Greg Hall says to bury the eggs in a container with the Cascade hops, seal, and refrigerate for 3-5 days. Goose Island Brewmaster Greg Hall says that because eggs are porous, they will breathe the hops aroma and perfume the eggs. He suggests and extra special bitter with the brulee.

10 raw eggs
1/2 pound Cascade hops (either pellets or whole hops)
1/2 pound cooked pumpkin or butternut squash, puréed
1/2 cup milk
2 cups heavy cream
1/2 cup sugar
2 vanilla beans, split lengthwise
Pinch of salt
Pinch of nutmeg
Pinch of cinnamon
1/4 pound brown sugar

1. Seal the eggs in a container with the Cascade hops for 3-5 days.
2. Preheat oven to 300º F. Place all ingredients except eggs and brown sugar into a heavy-bottomed medium saucepan. Bring to a boil over medium heat.
3. Remove from heat, and let sit so the beans can steep for at least 1 hour, or until mixture cools to room temperature.
4. Strain through a mesh sieve, discard the vanilla beans, and gently push the pumpkin through the sieve.
5. Pour 1/2-inch hot water into a 2-inch deep, 13×21-inch baking dish (or use two smaller baking dishes). Place in oven for 15 minutes.
6. Separate Cascade-scented eggs, discarding the whites. Whisk the egg yolks into the cooked mixture, and strain again through a fine mesh sieve.
7. Pour into 8 4-ounce brulée dishes or soufflé cups. Place dishes in the water-filled baking dish in the oven. Bake until the custard sets, about 45-60 minutes. A knife inserted into the center will come out dry when set. Remove from the water bath, and let cool at room temperature for 15 minutes. Cover and refrigerate for at least 1 hour before serving. (Steps 1-7 can be done a day in advance.)
8. To serve: Sprinkle the brown sugar evenly across the tops of the brulées. Be careful not to clump the sugar. A propane torch works best for the “bruleeing,” but your oven broiler may be used as well. Place under the flame for about 30 seconds, or until sugar is evenly caramelized. Serve immediately.

8 servings

Copyright Goose Island Brewing Co., Chicago

Hops, eggs, Goose Island, and organic

Bird's nest in hops

Sierra and I made a home school field trip yesterday to check out a small operation a few hours to the north, virtually on the banks of the Rio Grande, where a couple of guys are growing all manner of organic foods at 5,800 feet.

Included are many varieties of hops, most of them apparently native to New Mexico. That’s a story I’ll be digging into, but that’s another day.

This was a fascinating lesson in biodiversity. For instance, all kinds of flycatchers and birds use the hopyard trellis (built with wood reclaimed from a mountain fire) as a hunting platform for insects.

Thus the picture at the top. Birds have built a nest in some of the thicker hop bines (in this case Cascades). It made me think of a recipe Goose Island brewmaster Greg Hall provided more than 10 years ago when we were compiling the Brewpub Cookbook for Time Life Books.

Hall suggests burying the eggs used in the recipe in a container of Cascade hops for three to dive days. Because eggs are porous, he said, they will breathe the piney aromas and it will perfume the eggs.

Let’s hope the eggs in this picture hatch. Then maybe some day a resident of the Embudo area will have a bird fly close and think: “I’m not sure why, but I seem to crave a hoppy pale ale.”

Gastro-what? A gas-what-pub?

Beer waiterLast week I casually used the term “gastropub” pub in referring to a series of stories about beer and cheese in the Boston Globe and didn’t give it further thought.

Today Stonch writes about the Time Out search for London’s best gastropub, and this time I paused.

The word merits an entry in Webster’s New Millennium Dictionary of English. It usually appears in a context that implies it is a good thing. Yet I still wonder if it is a great word for those who want to boost the image of beer and promote the idea that fine beer is a fine match for fine dining.

According to Wikepedia:

A gastropub is a British term for a public house (“pub”) which specializes in high-quality food a step above the more basic “pub grub.” The name is derived from gastronomy and was coined in 1991 when David Eyre and Mike Belben opened a pub called The Eagle in Clerkenwell, London. They placed an emphasis on the quality of food served, though The Eagle was not the first pub to offer good food. Gastropubs usually have an atmosphere which is relaxed and a focus on offering a particular cuisine prepared as well as it is in the best restaurants. Staying true to the format requires a menu that complements the assortment of beers and wines the gastropub offers.

I appreciate the link to gastronomy. I understand that gastric (as in distress) and gastro- are different. It even appears the British wine-types have bought into the term.

But say the word out loud.

To a 10-year-old. Who’s enjoyed good food in more brewpubs than the average American. And watch her scrunch up her nose.

Beer visits the American Cheese Society

Cheese, beer and cheese, and more cheese today in the Boston Globe.

The paper reports on the 24th annual American Cheese Society conference in Burlington, Vt. You may have to register to read the stories, and the main story doesn’t seem to be online, but here goes:

Some say beer beats wine in this pairs competition. Ann Cortissoz reports on a presentation by Brooklyn Brewery brewmaster Garrett Oliver. Matt Jennings, co-owner of Farmstead cheese shop and La Laiterie gastropub in Providence, says: “It (beer and cheese) is the only way to go. It’s a much more natural fit.”

I also learned that a “Cheese Wars” clip from The American Brew – one of the outtakes I think, I don’t have the DVD with me – is on YouTube:

What’s on cheesemakers’ minds. A quick looks at issues like values, mentorship and growth. What other up-and-coming artisan product might that be relevant to?

“So much is done by touch, feel, and sight,” said Rachel Cohen, a distributor for Cowgril Creamery in California. “You can’t get it from a book.”

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