Tag Archives: craft 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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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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