Tag Archives: beer

Homebrewing for dummies: Brooklyn Brew Shop simplifies brewing craft beer at home

Homebrewing for dummies: Brooklyn Brew Shop simplifies brewing craft beer at home
Photo: Brooklyn Brew Shop

Left: Brew mix kit; Right: full brewing starter kit with flavor mix. (Photo: Brooklyn Brew Shop)

After attending culinary school and working with food for an occupation for around seven years now, it’s pretty safe to say that I enjoy cooking (just don’t talk to me about pastry). To complement my culinary studies before culinary school, I got into the basics of wine and pairing it with food. Then the craft beer craze came along a few years back so naturally, I was inclined to learn all about the intricate flavors of the many styles of beer out there and their pairing possibilities. Needless to say, I got hooked and still am a craft beer fanatic.

This year, I decided to add onto this breadth of beer knowledge. I knew what ingredients went into beer and how it’s supposed to taste, but wondered how it really it all comes together to make “the perfect pint”. How do hops, grain, water and yeast marry to create a sudsy love child of deliciousness? And as far as I knew, home brewing required lots of large equipment and space which I don’t have in my small, one bedroom apartment.

And then I stumbled upon the beer making starter kit by Brooklyn Brew Shop (brooklynbrewshop.com) which had everything I needed to make a gallon of craft beer and it attracted me immediately.

I swear that they made this an unofficial ‘Brewing for Dummies’ package because if you know how to heat up water on the stove, then you can make these beer recipes. My first experience with the BBS kit was fun and very easy — they provide extremely detailed directions (with pictures and timelines) on their website and even have step-by-step videos for almost every flavor they have available. Included in the starter kits are just about everything you need to make the beer: grains, hops, yeast, the fermenting jug, tubing, chambered airlock, a thermometer, racking cane, and even equipment sanitizer. The only other items needed are a large pot, decent-sized strainer, a large bowl, funnel and bottling vessels (e.g.: beer bottles and a capper). The starter kits ($40) come in one- and five-gallon kits in a range of flavors like Smoked Wheat (my first batch), Bruxelles Black, Chocolate Maple Porter and Everyday IPA, to name a few.

The result of my first crack at being a bona fide homebrewer? Palatable success. The smoked wheat actually tasted like a smoked wheat beer! It was light, with just the right amount of carbonation and a hint of smoked malts. I was just overjoyed that I didn’t screw it up — and so were the friends with whom I shared it.

Photo: Brooklyn Brew Shop

Various flavors getting delicious in the fermenting jugs. (Photo: Brooklyn Brew Shop)

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Eat Your Suds: Beer bread and spreadable beer cheese

Eat Your Suds: Beer bread and spreadable beer cheese
Incredibly easy recipes for all you beer (and carb) lovers.

Incredibly easy recipes for all you beer (and carb) lovers.

Confession: I love craft beer and I’ll drink just about any kind, but I also enjoy eating my suds. No, not in a bowl with a soup spoon, but actually in food. Beer can be used in cooking, much like wine and spirits, to add flavor to dishes. Braising, stewing, poaching — you can really do just about anything in the kitchen with beer. And believe it or not, you can even bake with it.

I was recently looking for a new vehicle in which to enjoy my suds and came across a recipe that uses beer in a bread recipe. Not being an avid baker, I usually steer clear of recipes that require lots of exact measuring and mixing, but this dish caught my eye as it only requires a few ingredients and very little mixing. This beer bread is very similar to Irish soda bread: soft on the inside with a flavorful, crusty exterior. I recommend using a strong-flavored beer for this recipe, like a stout or porter, so that the flavors in the beer can really shine through.

After baking the bread I realized that it needed an accompaniment: beer cheese! Creamy and dreamy with a hint of beer flavoring, this condiment is also incredibly easy to make and the only special equipment needed is a food processor. I recommend using a lighter beer for this one, like a pilsner, wheat beer or low IBU pale ale, as you don’t want the cheese’s flavor to overpower or clash with the strong notes in the beer bread.

My biggest piece of advice when making these recipes: Please, do yourself and your guests a favor and don’t use crappy beer. You wouldn’t use a foul-tasting wine or spirit to cook with, right? (Your answer should be “no”.) Then steer clear of using any macro brews (e.g.: fizzy yellow water type beers).
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Does bacon make everything better?: Rogue Ales’ Voodoo Doughnut Bacon Maple Ale

Does bacon make everything better?: Rogue Ales’ Voodoo Doughnut Bacon Maple Ale

Bacon maple doughnut in a glass

Rogue Ales recently teamed up with Portland’s legendary Voodoo Doughnut (the bakery that became infamous by foodie travel shows for their odd doughnut flavors) to create a limited-release beer that pays homage to Voodoo’s Bacon Maple Bar — a raised yeast doughnut topped with maple frosting and crispy bacon. Containing a baker’s dozen number of ingredients (13), the smoked malts, Applewood bacon and natural maple flavoring and are the stars in this smoked ale. The bubblegum pink bomber bottle (750 ml; $13) sports Voodoo’s signature color and logo, setting itself apart from Rogue’s typically brown bottles.

The 5.6% ABV Voodoo pours a dark amber color with a light head that dissipates fairly quickly. At first whiff, there’s a ton of smokiness with a slight hint of maple syrup. Some said their noses were hit with a huge wave of maple or have even smelled Eggo waffles and syrup, but I blame that on the power of suggestion or their preconceived expectations. This is a smoke monster and not much else comes through on the nose.
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DIY Dips and Spreads: How to whip up your own ketchup, mustard and Ranch dressing

DIY Dips and Spreads: How to whip up your own ketchup, mustard and Ranch dressing

USE A CONDIMENT: Make your own ketchup, mustard and Ranch dressing to gussy up those summer spreads.

With summer officially in full swing, many minds conjure up ideas for outdoor parties which then turns to the thought of food. The fare at these warm weather parties often include grilled items, cold salads and various other spreads. But while most folks are envisioning burgers, brats and deciding what to include on the crudité platter, I’m ruminating over what accompanies said items.

To me, the stars of the show are the condiments — able to mask any overcooked hunk of meat or bland sandwich — and Heinz just doesn’t cut it for me anymore, so I choose to make my own condiments. The ingredients are inexpensive, plus they’re easy to make and customizable to suit any taste. Check out the following recipes to impress your cookout guests (and never get caught buying boring condiments again).

‘Better than 57′ Ketchup

Before making my own ketchup, I assumed Heinz 57 was the end all, be all because that’s what the commercials tell us, right? Try this simple recipe on for size and you’ll won’t have to battle with that infamous glass bottle again.

Makes a little over 1 cup

14 ounces of crushed tomatoes or plain tomato sauce (1 small can or 1/2 large can)
1/3 cup cider vinegar
1/4 cup brown sugar, light or dark
1/2 teaspoon dry mustard
1/4 teaspoon kosher or sea salt (or more to taste)
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
1/4 teaspoon onion powder
1/4 teaspoon allspice
1/4 teaspoon smoked paprika
1/8 teaspoon cayenne (or more to taste)
A dash of freshly ground black pepper

Combine all ingredients in a medium sauce pan, whisk together and put on medium-high heat. Bring the mixture to a heavy simmer, then lower heat and simmer gently for about 20 minutes, whisking occasionally. Partially cover the pot as the mixture will splatter as it cooks. The mixture will thicken as it simmers. Let cool to room temperature, then either serve it or put it in a covered container and refrigerate for up to 3 weeks.
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It’s the bomb: Get a sweet buzz from this Chocolate “Bomb” Stout Float

It’s the bomb: Get a sweet buzz from this Chocolate “Bomb” Stout Float

Believe it or not, beer and chocolate make a great pair. Better yet, beer and chocolate ice cream make an amazing pair. The inspiration for this boozy treat came from a drool-worthy photo of a similar recipe in Bon Appetit of a tall glass oozing over with ice cream, stout and chocolate syrup. But never being able to follow a recipe, I decided to put my own spin on it. Thus the Chocolate “Bomb” Stout Float was born.

I’m sure many of you are familiar with the libation often knocked back at (American) Irish pubs, the “Irish Car Bomb” — the drink and its inappropriate name being an American invention, of course. It’s served as a glass of Guinness draft and a separate shot glass filled with Irish whiskey and Bailey’s Irish Cream. The drinker drops the shot glass into the beer and quickly guzzles it down until the drink is gone — and before the Bailey’s curdles.

Then it hit me: Guinness plus chocolate ice cream plus Irish whiskey could potentially equal something awesome. And sure enough, this float is great when first served but gets even better when the ice cream melts and mixes with the roasty stout, the toasty whiskey and the rich chocolate sauce.

If Guinness is too bitter for your tastes, I recommend using Young’s Double Chocolate Stout, Brooklyn Brewery’s Black Chocolate Stout (though watch out for the 10% ABV) or any stout or porter brew with notes of chocolate and/or espresso. As for the ice cream, I prefer using a rich, chocolatey one, like Blue Bell’s Dutch Cocoa, but you could also experiment with coffee ice cream as well as it would mingle well with the flavors in the beer.

As for the liquor, I’d advise a sweeter whiskey, like an Irish style, over a smoky or peaty-flavored one. You could also use bourbon, espresso liqueur (Patron XO is amazing in this) or blackberry brandy for a take on the traditional “Guinness and Black” drink.
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Tasty trends: Food and drink predictions for 2012

Tasty trends: Food and drink predictions for 2012

Will gourmet doughnuts overtake the cupcake craze this year? (Pictured: bacon-maple "Flying Pig" doughnut from Gourdough's food truck in Austin. Credit: pagetx via Flickr.)

That gold, strapless cocktail dress adorned with feathers that Versace put on the runway last season will almost assuredly be reproduced by both high- and low-end designers this year, to be seen everywhere from small boutiques to Forever 21. Just like that celebrity chef’s gourmet doughnut shop in Manhattan, which will spur a monomania for sweet, yeast-risen breakfast treats topped with everything from bacon to squid.

Food and dining trends, like those in fashion, are predicted — or determined — every year by the trade’s influencers. Big-name and up-and-coming chefs, large food companies, restaurant consulting firms and even Food Network are the main culprits.

So what’s the buzz for the next 12 months?
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New posts and random finds roundup

New posts and random finds roundup

Since I was too lazy (and busy working) today to come up with anything original today, I’ve decided to list some interesting and yummy-looking posts I’ve found today — and a few by me or my writers from the site I run and others I’ve found whilst perusing the foodie sites.

Cigar City Brewing invites local artists to design the 2011 Tocobaga Red Ale label – One of our fantabulous local brewing companies, Cigar City (who are also making quite a name for themselves), is taking design submissions for the label of one of their upcoming brews. The prize? $500 and a case of the beer!

SideBern’s Dean Hurst dishes on becoming a finalist for the 2010 Vinos De Jerez Cocktail Competition (and shares his recipe) – I talked to one of Tampa’s finest mixologists, Dean Hurst, about becoming a finalist in the national Sherry cocktail competition. He gives advice for newbie bartender/mixologists and even gives away his (not-so-secret) recipe. And from firsthand experience, the guy has a gift for creating cocktails.

Beer and film pairing: Harry and the Hendersons and Great Divide’s Espresso Oak Aged Yeti – Tom likes to pair beer and movies. Strange as it sounds, he does a great job at it. This one is a fun read and, after reading his review of the beer, I want some of that Great Divide Yeti beer!
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Around the world for $80: EPCOT’s International Food and Wine Festival

Around the world for $80: EPCOT’s International Food and Wine Festival

IMG_1931Last weekend I was fortunate enough to indulge in Disney’s International Food and Wine Festival at EPCOT Center. This marks the 14th year of an event that promises the chance to eat and drink your way around the world without ever having to break out your passport.

After attending this event for the past few years, I was pleasantly surprised to see that a majority of the regional menus had changed (after being exactly the same for the past few go-arounds) and that they’d added a few new cuisines, now up to 25 different international marketplaces. There were also more culinary classes and wine tastings to attend this year, many involving well-known food and wine celebrities like Iron Chef Cat Cora (who has a new restaurant, Kouzzina, that just opened at Disney’s Boardwalk), Andrew Zimmern (host of Bizarre Foods on the Travel Channel), the Deen Brothers (yes, Paula’s boys) and lying TV chef Robert Irvine.
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