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Greg Koch = Jerry Lee Lewis or Lindsay Lohan?

Midweek catching up (from various blogs and press releases):

  • Stone Brewing beers arrived in Missouri this week and you’d think there was a royal wedding about. Stone co-founder Greg Koch was signing bottles and such yesterday in Kansas City and makes a similar splash in St. Louis tomorrow.

    Leading to this fabulous sentence from the KC Beer Blog: “If you’re not aware of Greg Koch, you will be. He’s the Jerry Lee Lewis to Sam Calagione’s Pat Boone, or for a more current reference, he’s Lindsay Lohan to Calagione’s Raven Symone.”

  • Vanberg and Dewulf will begin importing a beer called Monk’s Stout from Brasserie Dupont later this year. It seems Dupont also brewed this beer in the 1950s. Which explains why we came across this case in the window of a Brussels beer shop in 2008:

    DuPont Monk's Stout

  • Alan’s question of the week: Why Is Britain Creating Beer Blogging Celebrities? As he writes, and we’ve witnessed here, discussions about beer writing often may help cure insomnia. But give it a look anyway.
  • The publican as writer. Where does such a being fit in? I have printed copies of the newsletter Roger Baylor used to assemble squirreled away somewhere, from the days when beer writing intended to satisfy your soul came via postal carrier instead of an rss feed. He notes he’s founder of Rich O’s Public House at the top of his blog, The Potable Curmudgeon, but now he also runs a brewery.

    So that’s the background. And here’s a bit of what he had to write in “Avery joins flight from Indiana; Publican yawns.”

    You could hear the sounds of furtive sourcing as shelves emptied of valuable brands. The wails of lamentation kept me awake at night as craft beer fans weaned on the tender mercies of Beer Advocate and Rate Beer vented their despair.

    They should have been asking: Should one’s go-to beer come from another time zone?

    And: Your forefathers had it far tougher, whiner.

    Me? I shrugged, yawned and filled a growler of fresh local beer.

    There’s more, of course, because he has to guide his story to its closing lines: “Just remember: I used to walk ten miles in waist-deep snow just to score a six-pack of Sierra. Your troubles are miniscule by comparison.”

  • Was I snoozing when this was was announced? Stone Brewing has a page where you can report “out of code” beer, that is beer that isn’t as fresh a Stone’s brewers would like it to be when you drink it. Most of the regular beers should be consumed within 90 days.
  • Session #51 (& #51.5) announced: Beer and Cheese-Off

    The SessionJay Brooks has announced the topic for Session #51, and volunteered to host Session #51.5 as well. He calls it “The Great Online Beer & Cheese-Off” and it takes a little explaining. Like somewhere north of 1,300 words.

    So the short version. Get some cheese — perhaps Maytag Blue, Widmer 1-Year Aged Cheddar and Cypress Grove Humboldt Fog, remembering nobody has ever been kicked out of the Session for showing up with the wrong cheese — and some beer. Have a few friends over, or not. Taste. Takes notes, also optional. Post your thoughts on May 6. Read what everybody else tasted, paired and thought. Get some more cheese. Repeat the rest of the steps.

    Refer to Jay’s instructions for more suggestions. As he writes, “Even with making this next Session as difficult as possible, I’m hoping the fun factor of trying these cheeses with a lot of beer will make for a lively and interesting Session, with a lot of participation.”

    Cheese night

    Yes, the instructions are a little long, but this is do-able. We managed to celebrate more than one “cheese night” in the RV during our Grand Adventure. We’re still talking about the Madison Blue.

    Session #47: A recipe for Stilton Cheese Soup

    The SessionDave Jensen at Beer 47 asks us to write about Cooking With Beer for the 47th gathering of The Session. Fifteen years ago Lucy Saunders wrote a book by with that title for Time-Life, and my wife (Daria Labinsky) and I then compiled a companion called The Brewpub Cookbook.

    Not all the recipes we collected ended up in the book, but fortunately we saved them (first on 3½ floppies; it was a while ago) because several turned out to be favorites. That includes this one for Stilton Cheese Soup from Great Lakes Brewing in Cleveland.

    It’s rich, with a powerful, sharp Stilton flavor. Great Lakes used, and may still use, its Dortmunder Gold in making the soup. It goes well with Burning River Pale Ale, because that beer has enough hops to “cut right through the cheese.”

    Stilton Cheese Soup

    1/2 cup sliced carrots
    1/2 cup chopped onion
    2 tablespoons butter
    2 tablespoons flour
    2 1/2 cups chicken stock or broth
    1 cup heavy cream
    1/3 cup lager beer
    1/4 teaspoon pepper
    1/4 teaspoon Tabasco sauce
    1 bay leaf
    2 tablespoons cornstarch
    2 tablespoons water
    2 cups shredded cheddar cheese
    1 3/4 cups crumbled Stilton cheese

    1. In a food processor or blender, purée carrots and onion until nearly smooth. Set aside.

    2. In a large saucepan, melt butter. Stir in flour until smooth. Cook over medium-low heat, stirring occasionally for 10 minutes, or until mixture turns a copper color.

    3. Carefully stir in chicken stock, cream, beer, carrot-onion mixture, pepper, Tabasco, and bay leaf. Bring to a boil; reduce heat and simmer for 10 minutes.

    4. In a small bowl, stir the cornstarch and water together. Add to the soup. Cook and stir until mixture is thickened and bubbly. Discard bay leaf.

    5. Gradually add cheeses, cooking and stirring until melted.

    Yield: 4-6 servings

    NOLA Brewing: Tales of the un-cocktail

    NOLA Brewing Hopitulous IPAThis week New Orleans hosts Tales of the Cocktail.

    We went last week.

    Not because we have anything against cocktails, but because that’s when the birthdays fall. In fact, we drank hurricanes at Pat O’Brien’s and cocktails at the Carousel Bar in the Hotel Monteleone. We also had pretty good wine with dinner at Irene’s Cuisine.

    But mostly we drank beer. Finding flavorful beer in New Orleans has been relatively easily for a long time. Thank the students at Tulane for supporting places like Cooter Brown’s and The Bulldog. However the city was, and is, the poster child for BMC (Bud Miller Coors) markets. “When we opened a year and a half ago (they) accounted for 95 percent of beer sales,” said NOLA Brewing founder Kirk Coco. “I don’t mean all light lagers. Just beers from Bud, Miller and Coors.”

    NOLA (New Orleans Lager and Ale) hasn’t even begun to approach the status of Abita, but the fact that Crescent Pie & Sausage, located in Mid-City and one of the city’s hip new dining spots, offers three NOLA beers on tap signals that change is at hand.

    We built our itinerary around eating, and there was much to be said to finding Abita or NOLA beers available at almost every turn. Beer and food should go together in New Orleans, Coco said. “We have the right attitude. We’re not afraid of calories.”

    He pointed out New Orleans’ shortage of diet po-boy shops and promised, “You’ll never see a NOLA Light, not as long as I’m alive.”

    These are not necessarily “Big Ass Beers” (as seen on signs throughout the French Quarter). NOLA Blonde, 4.9% abv, outsells all the others three-to-one. Coco’s favorite is NOLA Brown, at 3.9% abv tame but rich. A beer some would surely describe as quaffable.

    Hopitulous IPA — the brewery is located on historically important Tchoupitoulas Street; Tipitina’s is at the corner of Tchoupitoulas and Napoleon and if I need to explain Tip’s please just Google Professor Longhair — was supposed to be a seasonal, but proved too popular not to keep brewing. It’s more about hop flavor than bitterness (60 IBU, calculated). Brewmaster Peter Caddoo, a veteran of Dixie Brewing, adds Nugget hops while running wort into the kettle. He uses Warrior for bittering, Columbus and Cascade for flavor, Simcoe late in the kettle, then more Simcoe in the whirlpool. He dry hops it with Simcoe and Amarillo.

    It’s a fine food beer. I might just mail in “eating the Mixed Grill (a plate of house-made sausages) at Crescent Pie and Sausage served Hopitulous” as my entry for The Session #42. Each made the other better.

    *****

    Two other bits I should probably save for future stories, but can’t resist passing on:

    – When did Peter Caddoo begin homebrewing? “The day John Lennon died.” That was Dec. 8, 1980 and he was a student the the Culinary Institute of American in Hyde Park, N.Y. He and the other students made “Lennon Lager” and drank it on New Year’s Eve.

    – Although Cooter Brown’s, The Bulldog and d.b.a. (in the Marigny/Bywater neighborhood) remain fine places to drink and have been joined by Bulldog Mid-City, The Avenue Pub on St. Charles has vaulted to the top of the class.

    This joint has been around forever (maybe the nineteenth century). Story is that more recently celebrity chef Emeril Lagasse played pool in the back room after he go off work. When we first visited several years ago the beer was OK, and sitting beside one of the windows looking onto St. Charles was pretty terrific. However, a few years ago (not long before Katrina and on a Jazz & Heritage Festival weekend) somebody suggested it hard turned into a dive.

    Not today. After her father died Polly Watts turned it into as good a beer place as any of us should need. For instance, Garrett Oliver of Brooklyn Brewery is in town this week for Tales of the Cocktail so the pub is featuring special Brooklyn beers all week. Oliver will make an appearance Friday.

    Perhaps he heard that Craig and Kim Giesecke of J’Anita’s took over the kitchen after their place on Magazine closed. They’re not afraid of calories.

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