Craft Beer Stroganoff!

I love using alcohol based marinades!! And no it’s not because I am a drunk, that’s a separate topic altogether.

It’s because the alcohol in the product helps to tenderize the meat. It also Imparts some of the flavors of the product into the meat. And I like to use different products for different dishes.

I love using a good red wine to make my homemade marinara. The wine helps break up some of the acidity of the tomatoes.

I love making my Cowboy Baked Beans with a good bourbon, or a brandy depending on the other ingredients. The bourbon helps the molasses and brown sugar mix well with the navy beans and the beef or sausage.

When I make chili or beer batter I like to use a lager, pilsner or pale ale. They all mix well with the spices I put in. It doesn’t matter whether it’s beef, pork or turkey. Some of these also go well with fish marinade but that depends on the fish. Some fish need a stronger flavor.

Now, with Stouts, Porters, Barleywines, Old Ales and Scotch Ales I like to make either a BBQ sauce or use it for marinating beef. Beef needs a stronger flavor for a marinade and depending on the dish the higher alcohol content can help break down fats.

I have not made beef stroganoff in a while and this was the first time using a beer marinade. Usually I do a combination of Worcestershire and Soy Sauce for a marinade and only let it set for 20 minutes in the fridge. For this marinade I decided to use Bell’s Kalamazoo Stout for a couple reasons:

  1. It was the oldest stout in my fridge and I wanted to use it before it went bad.
  2. I liked the mouthfeel of this stout and thought it would lend itself well to the beef stroganoff.
  3. I tend to try to line up my beers in single file on the shelf and using this one would open up room for a new six pack. I know… Kinda OCD of me… but hey.. it’s my fridge. You arrange yours the way you want it and don’t worry about mine.
Pairs well with Ice Cream too!

So if you’re interested, the recipe is below. It was delicious by the way. So much so that the sauce from the stroganoff tasted so good I had to use biscuits to sop up the remainder.

Stout Marinade Beef Stroganoff served with a biscuit and paired with a Weyerbacher Tiny Imperial Stout

Stout Marinade Beef Stroganoff

This recipe is for crockpot cooking, so cooking time will be much less if you cook on the stove top.

Prep Time: Marinade overnight; Prep time before crock pot turns on 20 minutes; prep time for thickening sauce 5 mins; crockpot cook time 10 – 11 hours.

Ingredients

  • 2 lbs of cubed beef (chuck roast, steak or in my case kebab meat)
  • 1- 12 oz. bottle of your preferred Stout Beer
  • 2 large Vidalia onions
  • 2 cloves of garlic (minced)
  • 1 lb. of sliced mushrooms
  • 3 cups of beef broth
  • 2 carrots chopped into big sections
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1 tbsp. Worcestershire Sauce
  • 2 tsp Soy Sauce
  • 1 tsp Ground Thyme
  • 3 tbsp. Sour cream
  • 2 tbsp. Dijon Mustard
  • 1 tbsp. Chopped Parsley
  • 2 cups whole milk
  • 2 tbsp flour
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp ground black pepper

Place the beef in a stainless steel (or other equally suitable bowl) large enough to hold the beef and the bottle of beer. Make sure to cover the beef thoroughly in the beer and place a cover over the container and let in marinade in the refrigerator over night.

In the morning, chop onions into 1/4 to 1/2 inch squares and line bottom of crockpot. Place garlic on top. Take beef from marinade container and place into crock pot, keeping it from contacting sides. Place sliced mushrooms around beef between crock pot wall and beef. Place chopped carrot pieces and two bay leaves on top of beef. Pour any remaining marinade, Worcestershire, soy sauce and beef broth over beef. Cover crock pot and cook on low a minimum of 8 hours, maximum of 10 hours. Do not remove cover during cooking.

When the first stage is complete you can remove the carrots and bay leaves. You can set the carrots aside for something else but dispose of the bay leaves. Add the remaining ingredients as a thickener except mix the two cups of milk and the 2 tbsp of flour into a roué and stir into the mix. Then add salt and pepper to taste. Let cook on low another 30 to 45 minutes and it will be ready for serving.

I like to serve on a bed of buttered wide egg noodles with a dollop of sour cream and some parsley sprinkled on top, accompanied by a biscuit and paired with a good stout. For the picture above I used the Weyerbacher Tiny Imp Stout, which went very well with the meal. Try these stouts or your own favorite in the recipe.

Papabear

Craft Beer’s Most Important Ingredient!!

You will hear many points of view on which grains to use, which hops or spices provide the best bittering, and which yeast works the best to attain a particular flavor. But you really don’t hear often enough the importance of the largest ingredient in any brew…. Water!

Dihydrogen Monoxide (Hoax), Aqua, Aqua Pura, tears, saliva, drink, rain, H2O or Adam’s Ale… No matter what you call it, it is the most important resource on the planet, perhaps in the universe. No known form of life can exist without it. It is one of the few elements that can change it’s form into multiple shapes and densities and resume it’s previous state.

As man’s knowledge of water has increased so has our culture and civilization advanced. Most of humanities growth, until the last century or so, has been alongside a rich water source. In ancient Greece it was considered on of the 4 basic elements (air, fire, earth and water), in ancient China that was five (earth, fire, wood, metal and water). It has a basis of reverence in many modern religions (Christian Baptism as an example) as well. It is used as an example of purity and strength in these religions as well as other philosophical arenas. (Do you wish to be as rigid and unforgiving as a stone, or as flexible yet powerful as water? The stone may assert it’s place for now, but in a thousand years the water with have cut a path through the stone. – paraphrasing)

It covers 71% of the Earth’s surface and can be found throughout the solar system and the universe in various forms. It can take the fluid form as in the rain, streams, rivers, lakes, seas and oceans. It can exist in a gaseous state as in clouds, fog and steam. And it can be solid in a crystalline form as in snow and ice.

Mankind is becoming more and more reliant on finding resources or developing water cleansing technologies in order to survive. Water is our most valuable resource, no matter what some commodities brokers may want you to think. Our reliance on it as a natural resource has been demonstrated time and again throughout our history.

When Ancient Rome fell and Europe entered the Dark Ages, disease and famine were rampant throughout the continent.  Some of the knowledge of importance of water for farming, and medicine disappeared with the cultures that had discovered them, at least in Europe. Eventually the importance of clean water for drinking became known and the act of boiling to get clean drinking water evolved into brewing water with grains to help ration both the water and the grains. This eventually became the beers we know today.

As a beer connoisseur and a home brewer, I understand the importance of this natural resource for a hobby/subject that is near and dear to my heart. We use water for every aspect of beer making. We use it to brew the mash, we add more when we are doing the boil and adding the hops, the yeast preparation may require water for activating the yeast, and we may add more when we are mixing the bottling sugar in with the beer for carbonation. But more importantly, we rely on water to grow the ingredients we make beer with. Everything, from all of the grains, to the hops or other bittering agents, to the yeast for fermenting to the sugars rely on water for growth.

As a group, brewers more than anyone understand the importance of maintaining this resource as clean and available to all as possible. My day job is with a local municipal utility and through my 12 plus years in association with them I have really learned not only how much we as a society rely on this resource but how difficult it is to maintain a high quality of drinking water and how much harder it will be in the future. We have some of the best drinking water, not only in Gainesville, but also the State of Florida and the United States. Our community understands how important this resource is now and will be in the future.

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The was a TV show on a few years ago called Heroes and one of the lines from that show was “Save the Cheerleader, Save the World!”

I’m going to paraphrase that now and give you a new Mantra to recite…

“Save the Water, Save the World, Save the Beer!”

Papabear

Art of Beer – Addendum: What’s All the Brew Ha Ha Over Beer Companies Buying Each Other Out??!!

The picture above is what a lot of Americans think that any activity related to beer is all about. Getting rowdy with your frat brothers at parties and smelling like stale beer. Sitting around watching sports and seeing who can belch the loudest and  longest, or seeing who pukes first from the results of a beer chugging game is one of the first pictures that comes to mind whenever the word “beer” is spoken aloud.

And to be fair, since the repeal of prohibition right up until the last decade or so that would not be an inaccurate depiction of most beer related activities in the U.S. Thanks mostly to marketing campaigns of a lot of the major brewing companies in America (Anheuser-Busch, Coors, Miller Brewing, Pabst, etc.) the light American Lager has become associated not only with those activities but others as well, most of which are usually pandering to the lesser qualities of mankind. These include lust, competitiveness, laziness, and a lack of propriety.

And that is the exact opposite of how a majority of the rest of the world views beer. For many other countries it is a beverage that can have as much prestige as some of the finest wines and liquors available. Especially if it is carefully and skillfully CRAFTED!

In America, thanks to industrialization, beer has had done to it what many other products have had done. Make the most economically feasible product, mass produce it and use advertising to shove it down the consumers throat. And since so few companies survived the dark years of prohibition only those that were mass producing other products were capable of coming back from the brink to begin producing beer again. And in the American business model the more you can make for a cheaper price the better your profits are.

But a little secret was revealed to many of us over the years. Some of us have had the opportunities to visit Europe or Asia or the Middle East and taste beers and other styles or the same style but in it’s original form. We were awakened to the fact that what we have had limited to by the corporate conglomerates was in fact crap! And when we came back to America from other countries and went to try out old reliable American staples we realized the truth… “My God!! This is shitty beer!!”

Luckily, in the late seventies, then President Jimmy Carter signed a bill making it legal for home brewing to begin again. Whatever else you may have thought of him as a president, this was one act that everyone can agree on was a good one.

With that act, the home brewing craze and the craft beer movement began. And for about 20 years that is exactly what it was, a fad or a craze that someone wanted to try. But eventually enough people not only stuck with it, but became very good at it and tried to do what many other American Entrepreneurs had done before them and turn a beloved hobby into a business they could make a living at. Some of these entrepreneurs are still at it today, Anchor Brewing, Sierra Nevada, Samuel Adams, and many others who have seen the rise of a revolution in taste as well as quality in process.

These companies which started out small have grown into larger companies by maintaining quality products and consistently trying to expand their skills in different styles of beer. Something the larger brewers have forgotten how to do.

With this industrious rise in Craft Brewing, there resulted the inevitable loss of market share to the big brewer’s. And how did the big brewers react? Did they rethink their brewing techniques and think about investing in higher quality products using better ingredients? Did they think about expanding the styles of beers that they brewed and trying to draw back some of the market share they lost through honest competition? I’m sure they thought about it.

But that isn’t what they did. Instead they came up with a two step approach:

Step 1 – Buy out the competition. Buy out successful craft brewers, learn how to produce their products for less money, and reproduce their beer labels under your brand. This method has been the Grim Reaper of many venues of American industry. The problem with this is that is doesn’t work well. Quite often quality suffers and the customers you hoped to win back can tell and find a new brewer to follow.

This has not helped the big brewers gain any more craft beer fans, but it has helped them to gain in other ways. Recently the founder of Sam Adams Brewing publicly stated that over 90% of the beer made in the world is owned by two companies both European Conglomerates who own not only most of the breweries on every continent but also a lot of the distribution companies. AB-InBev and Heineken N.V. own companies in Europe, Asia, Africa, Australia, North and South America. Leaving only Antarctica as unclaimed territory.

Step 2 – Strangle their supply chain. If they won’t sell out to you then make it difficult or impossible for them to get the ingredients to make beer and even harder to get their beers to market.

These two conglomerates have repeatedly tried buying out hops and grain markets in efforts to stifle the supplies for others to make beers. And when that didn’t work they put a stranglehold on the distribution by buying out a lot of the distributing companies, or giving monetary incentives for their products to get top billing. These companies have been reading the robber-baron’s handbook and instead of creating new games just gave a wink-wink nudge-nudge to the concerned lawmakers who failed to stop them.

So to answer the question in the article title – the “Brew Ha Ha” over the beer companies buying the others out has nothing to do with the beers they originally made. And really not even with the beers being made buy those that have sold out to them. No matter what happens there will still be folks who like all of those beers and will want to purchase and consume them. We are after all creatures of habit.

The problem is that if the trend keeps going as it is, eventually new craft breweries will no longer be built. The ability to choose from over 5000 breweries and tens of thousands of different beers will disappear. Craft beer is going to be changing, whether we like it or not. Craft breweries will have get even more inventive with their “Think outside the box” strategy to continue to exist.

The good news is this:

  1. Thinking outside the box is what craft brewers do best.
  2. The Genie is already out of the bottle. Home brewing is alive and well and will continue to be so. Larger Craft production breweries may not continue any growth, but the little guys who just want to brew and share with the locals will always find a way to do so.

Papabear

 

Celebrity’s Soul Food of Gainesville… a New Favorite in downtown!

Okay, I know I usually blog about Craft Beer related bars, breweries and other related activities, but I wanted to take the time to give a proper shout out to a new business in town that not only delivers good food but great service.

Some of my coworkers have told me about a new place in downtown Gainesville that they have frequented a couple of times for lunch. And their rave reviews and an invite to join them more than once had piqued my curiosity.

Friday that curiousity was sated with a visit to Celebrity’s Soul Food of Gainesville. It’s located downtown right next to Mark’s in Union Station and worth finding a parking spot or going to the garage across the street to pay for parking. Luckily I was working downtown today so parking was not an issue and I walked there with a couple of coworkers at lunch time.

We were immediately greeted by a friendly hostess and seated at a booth not far from the bar area. The décor is not what you would normally expect. As my friend the Blarneyman would say, “It’s very posh!” Very nice color scheme and comfortable seating and an upscale atmosphere. Check out the chandelier behind the hostess station when you walk in (below). All of the tables had replicas of the Hollywood sign in on them, and the menus were replicas of the envelopes from an awards show, with the “Nominees” listed inside. And the music playing in the background was some great classic soul music from the 70s & 80s, which is some of my favorite music to chill to.

A hint of the interior décor
The menu cover – Can you feel the anticipation?!
Menu has a wide variety of choices.

Our waiter was “Mr. Hollywood”, was very friendly and knowledgeable of the menu and took our drink orders quickly, then returned and answers a coupe of questions about the menu and took our lunch orders as well.

We sat and talked for a short time, then a woman named “Lady J” came out and greeted us. I think she recognized my coworkers from previous visits cause she greeted them like old friends. They pointed out it was my first visit and she gave me a nice warm welcome and asked what we had ordered. When I told he I had ordered the buffalo chicken she said she would be right back with something for me. Then she asked if I liked the white meat or the dark meat. I said it didn’t matter as long as I had some hot sauce. She laughed and said not to worry about that. Not long after she came back with a small plate with a piece of fried chicken breast on and a small side of hot sauce and told me to give that a try. Then she was off to greet some more folks.

Fried chicken with a side of hot sauce – Yummy!!!

I have to tell you the chicken was great. I loved the seasoning they used in the breading and the skin had a nice crunchy texture. It was so good I ate everything but the bone.

While I was working on that Mr. Hollywood brought out our orders. The sandwich I ordered was huge and filled most of the plate, but still left enough room for a large helping of the truffle fries. Both were delicious. The sandwich had slices fried chicken with hot sauce on it, with tomatoes, lettuce and pickles on it, which were a great combo. And the truffle fries were perfect, light and tasty. My only problem was that with the fried chicken piece Lady J brought out for me I could only eat half the sandwich and fries and had to get a to go box.

My Buffalo Chicken Sandwich with Truffle fries in the foreground and my co-workers Pork Chop smothered in gravy in the background.

My one coworker ordered the Pork Chop smothered in gravy served on a bed of rice and a couple of sides, all of which she enjoyed and, to me, looked delicious. My other coworker enjoyed her meal as well, but I can’t remember what it was because it was eclipsed by the order of Mac and Cheese Waffle she had gotten brought out to her (see below).

Mac and Cheese Waffle – The best way to eat Mac & Cheese!

She shared a taste of it with the other two of us and we all just loved it! It was nice and cheesy on the inside of the waffle with a lightly crunchy exterior on the outside. I will never eat Mac & Cheese any other way ever again after having this. It has ruined all other Mac & Cheeses for me for life!

I have to say this place hits all the right check marks on my lists.

  1. Good location
  2. Nice atmosphere
  3. Friendly and knowledgeable staff
  4. Great food

Check, Check, Check and Check!!!

I scoped the place out a little while we were there. It has a nice cozy bar area stocked with a variety of hard liquors and wines and beers on draft including some craft beers and at least one local brewery (Hah! tied it into craft beer after all!) I understand that on the weekends they will also feature some live bands. I can think of no reason not to go back to this place and am looking forward to the next visit.

You can find a little bit more about them on the website here.

Or just go and experience it yourself.

Papabear

 

Happy National Beer Day!!!

84 years ago on April 7th, 1933, President Franklin Delano Roosevelt signed the Cullen-Harrison Act, legalizing the purchase, sale and consumption of beer, for the first time since the start of Prohibition.

Since that dark and ominous day in January of 1920 when alcohol consumption in the U.S. was banned nationally, this day marks the first glimpse of sunlight for a nation that not only saw one of it’s favorite guilty pleasures being forcibly banned, but also saw the rise of organized crime and an uptick in unemployment as hundreds of distilleries, breweries and wineries were closed forcing thousands to be sent home jobless.

The only breweries that survived those tumultuous times were those could turn their breweries into producers of some other types of products. Very few were capable of doing that.

Before Prohibition there were over 4,000 breweries in the U.S. and after prohibition that number dwindled down to a few hundred, most of them being own by the large corporate giants, Anheuser-Busch, Miller, Coors and Pabst Brewing. The entry of America into WWII helped to increase the production of beer because it was a morale booster for the troops as well as those at home.

The rise of commercialism in the 50s and 60s made sure that the big producers could keep their foothold on the beer market. And the introduction of light beer in the 70s was an obvious grab for the women of America’s purse strings, as more and more of them were entering the work force. America had an all time low of 42 breweries in operation by 1978 pushing out the watered down, low taste that American Lager had become. Then a little miracle happened.

On October 14, 1978, H.R. 1337 was signed into law, legalizing the home production of a small amount of beer or wine for personal consumption. With a pen stroke, then President Jimmy Carter, began the movement that has become known as Craft Beer today.

My owl little Catalyst Fermentation System with my home-brewed White Gables Pale Ale
The measuring of OG (Original Gravity). When compare to the FG (Final Gravity) this gives you the ABV (percent of alcohol).
Getting ready to bottle.
The finished product. And it tasted delicious!

As of March 28, 2017 the official number of breweries in the US has now reached 5,301 and continues to grow. Even if each of these breweries only produced five different styles of beer, that would be over 26,000 different beers in the US to choose from, not including the imports. And I guarantee the number of styles produced is far greater. These breweries have employed well over a hundred thousand people and this number should continue to grow. Craft brewers alone were responsible for producing over 23.5 billion dollars of income in the US in 2016.

So in honor of National Beer Day why don’t you and your fellow beer guzzlers drop on down to the local brewery, or micro brewery or pub and hoist a cold one. You certainly have enough to choose from.

Papabear

Celebrate the Season with Blackadder Brewing Company!

If you have read my blog before you have probably seen my mention of anticipating the opening of  new Brewery in Gainesville, Blackadder Brewing Company! Well, the day has finally arrived and they have opened and in my opinion, it was worth the wait!

Last Friday, a little before 10 AM I got a message in my email that Blackadder was opening it’s doors that day (see above). I sent a pic of the email out to my fellow beer bacchanalians and suggested this for happy hour that afternoon.

Unfortunately, I immediately succumbed to a flu bug going around town, (fever, chills, aches, digestive disorders, etc.) and ended up going home early that day. I told the crew I wouldn’t make it but to send me pics or the new place so I could see how it had turned out. The Doctor, Rowdy and the Maestro both obliged with the following:

While I was kinda ticked that I was too sick to make it to the opening day festivities, I was certainly glad to see that the business had a good turn out for their first day.

If you don’t know anything about Blackadder Brewing Company here is a quick quote about the owners/brewers from their website Blackadder Brewing:

Chris and Sissy Hart have been married for 20+ years.  Sissy is a Gainesville native and Chris has been here since coming to the University of Florida in 1987. Brewing has been a part of their lives for over a decade. For more than 6 years, Chris has worked at and managed the local homebrew supply shop and is a BJCP judge. Both Chris & Sissy are active members of Gainesville’s homebrew club, the Hogtown Brewers.  Collectively, they have earned over 30 medals in beer competitions throughout Florida and the US.  Their love of creating craft beer and sharing it with others led to the establishment of Blackadder Brewing Company.  They look forward to sharing their award winning beers with the Gainesville community. “

Whether you bother going to the website or not (and I would recommend you do) all you really need to know is that they not only know good beer, they make good beer as well.

Now it really took me a few days to get over the bug I caught. I was pretty much sick all weekend and while I went back to work on Monday I was still drained physically of any energy. But by Tuesday I was feeling much better. Well enough that after work I headed over to the west side of town to do some Christmas shopping for the niece and nephew at Toys R Us, which is just west of the Oaks Mall. After I was done there, I decided to stop by Blackadder on the way home and see how it was.

If you are trying to find Blackadder, the address is 618 NW 60th Street, Suite A. It’s on the Southeast corner of the same building that is home for Honey Baked Ham, McAllister’s Deli and Painting with a Twist.

As you approach the business you will easily see the sign on the front, and they have a front and side entrance.

Once you enter you immediately feel like you have stepped into something much akin to an Olde World Pub. The tables are Pub style, and the wood brace accenting, fireplace and chandelier definitely lend themselves to that feel.

At the bar you can see they took their time in decorating and picking out the right look for that area. The dark wood cabinetry, raised white accent paneling and Olde World Style map behind the bar go great together.

But now let’s talk about the best part… The Beer!

First, it looks like they have around 40 taps available. I know they had 4 of their own brews (signified by the Blackadder tap handles) and well as two sodas they brewed themselves as well. But they also had a wide selection of good quality craft beers.

But I didn’t care about the other craft beers. You see I have had samplings of their beers before at some Beerfests and other activities and I know the kind of quality they are capable of producing. So I went their flight deal, which includes a sampling of all of their taps.

That evening they were serving the following from right to left in the pic above:

Prince Ludwig the Indestructible: which is a lager with really good flavor. If you or someone you know is not that familiar with craft beers I would recommend this as an introductory beer.

Zakziskie: A Smoked Wheat Beer. The smoke definitely hits the nose when you bring the glass up to the lips, but the smoke flavor combines with the wheat and almost makes it taste like a Belgian, in my opinion.

Warm Cockles: This Old ale is very tasty and you can tell it has a higher ABV. Loved the flavor! I would put this up against Founders Dirty Bastard, maybe even the Backwoods Bastard. This was probably my favorite of the evening but it was close tie with the next one.

Riders of the Lost Oat: This was an excellent stout! It was smooth tasting with a good mix of coffee and chocolate flavors!

I can’t think of any reason why you wouldn’t want to go to this establishment. It has a great atmosphere, a great staff that knows the product and good quality selection of beers to choose from. The only drawback for me is that it isn’t closer to my side of town, but for this place I will make an exception and brave the traffic.

One little disclosure statement: If you sit at the left hand side of the bar and look up on the wall you will see a plaque with some names on it called the Blackadder Founders Club. My name is one of those on that plaque. But I do not receive any funds or profit from the business and am not associated with it in any way other than as a patron. I donated some funding to their Kickstarter campaign because I wanted to see another brewery in the Gainesville area and I always like to see a small business get a good start.

In my opinion, it was money well spent.

Papabear

 

Holiday Craft Beer Recipes

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In case all of the commercials and ads for Black Friday and Cyber Monday, all of the shiny glowing decorations along the streets, all of the radio stations playing holiday music related to their format and all of the chintzy holiday related TV shows wasn’t a hint enough for you that we are in full blown holiday mode, then all of the seasonal releases of holiday craft beer flooding the shelves, should be.

I thought I would offer up some recommended ales and holiday recipes involving craft beer for spicing up your seasonal favorites. Now for me, the holiday season starts out on November 11th, Veteran’s Day. Being a Vet myself, I always like sitting back and remembering those who have served, especially those who served with me. That remembrance included Ayinger’s Hefeweizen and their Oktoberfest Marzen, both excellent examples of German beers, where I served for 2 years in the 50th TAC Fighter Wing.

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The next day I spent the afternoon at Intuition Ale Works in Jacksonville for the Florida Brewer’s Guild Barrel Aged and Sour Beer Fest. This was the second year in a row I attended this beerfest and it was, again, worth it. I could name all of the beers I enjoyed but that in itself would be an article. Instead I will recommend going to the FBG website and download the list yourself. I didn’t have a single one that wasn’t worth trying, but I couldn’t try them all.

On Thanksgiving Eve I began the holiday weekend with Funky Buddha’s Sweet Potato Casserole. An ale so good I had to fight Tucker off from trying to steal it from me.

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For Thanksgiving Day, I decided to smoke a turkey and a ham, and while the process was going on I enjoyed supping back the Big Deal Chocolate Cherry Imperial Stout from Darwin Brewing, a really tasty stout with a great finish.

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After the turkey and ham were done cooking I accompanied them both along with some other traditional fare with a bottle of 2013 Trignac XII, a Tripel aged in Cognac barrels, which accompanies all the dishes well.

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The day after, Black Friday, after coming home from happy hour I decided to make my annual egg-nog, But I also wanted to try a little experiment and decided to make a double batch, with a portion of the second batch I would add a wee heavy ale to the mix. I thought the flavors of the ale, especially a good one, would enhance the bourbon, cognac and rum in the eggnog. For the ale I chose a bottle of Founder’s Backwoods Bastard. Only one more week to wait before it will be ready for sampling. To give credit where credit is due, for my egg-nog recipe I use Alton Brown’s recipe which you can find on Foodnetwork.com.

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Which brings us to this weekend, where today I used the remainder of my leftover turkey to make Turkey Chili. Now you may remember reading above where I smoked a turkey and a ham on Thanksgiving. When I cook a turkey I include the giblets and the neck in the pan for roasting or smoking, so that I can get the rich flavors and juices from those parts into any gravy I make. In this case, I used the cooked liver and heart along with the white and dark meat from the bird and cut them up into small pieces. I also used a Pilsner along with some other ingredients (see below) and cooked them in a crockpot all day. The results were not only delicious but if you’re in a cold climate I highly recommend it. Definitely something to keep you warm in the winter months.

Papabear’s Smoked Turkey and Pilsner Chili:

  • 2 Medium sweet onions – chopped
  • 1 ½ Cups of chopped celery
  • 1 ½ cups of chopped carrot
  • 3 large jalapenos (deseeded and sliced)
  • 3 cans of navy beans
  • 1 can whole kernel corn
  • 2 pounds of smoked turkey (cubed)
  • 3 tablespoons of flour
  • 1 tablespoon of chili powder
  • 2 tablespoons cumin
  • 1 tablespoon of curry powder
  • ½ tablespoon of Cajun seasoning
  • 16 oz. Pilsner (I used Marten’s in this case) – you could also use an IPA or a Wheat beer.

Add all ingredients in the order above into 6 quart crockpot or dutch oven. Top off with enough water to just cover ingredients, then cook on high for 8 hours.

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When serving top off with shredded cheddar cheese and serve with corn chips, crackers or rolls.

More recipes will be coming in the days to follow but wanted to get these, and the list of beers of to you while I had time.

Happy Holidays,

Papabear

Homemade Belgian, Mushroom and Beef Stew – In With the Cold & Out Comes the Crockpot

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It’s that time of the year in North Central Florida where the temperatures have finally dropped to a comfortable range. The last few days have been in the 40s and 50s overnight and in the 70s during the day. Doors and windows are being opened to let fresh air in and some folks are breaking out the winter wear.

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This is also the time of year that will see an uptick in the types of foods that provide warmth, particularly chilis, soups and stews. My first creation of the crockpot season is a variation of an old fashioned beef stew.

Sometimes I follow a particular recipe and sometimes I like to experiment with flavors I may available or may be craving. When I purchased some of the ingredients I had a hankering for beef, potatoes, carrots and zucchini. If I had been grilling it might have been kabobs or grilled steak with a side of these veggies mixed with olive oil and cooked in tin foil.

The other ingredients are spices that I normally have lying around, Vidalia Onions which are my favorite onions, and a bottle of Shipyard Brewing’s Blood Orange Belgian Style.

Ingredients for Belgian Mushroom and Beef Stew:

  • 2 lbs. Stewing Beef
  • 1 lbs. Portobello Mushrooms (sliced)
  • 3 Yukon Potatoes (cut into half inch cubes)
  • 2 Vidalia Onions (cubed)
  • 2 cups of cut carrots (cut into 1 inch pieces and halved)
  • 4 cloves of garlic (minced)
  • 1 12 oz. bottle Belgian
  • 1 teaspoon Soy Sauce
  • 2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 teaspoon Cajun seasoning
  • 1 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 1 teaspoon thyme leaves
  • 1 bay leaf
  • salt to taste
  • additional water as needed

I prepped the night before by taking two pounds of stewing beef and putting it in a bowl with a teaspoon of Soy Sauce, a tablespoon of Worcestershire and the 12 ounces of Belgian beer and mixing them in a bowl. Place a cover on the bowl and put into the refrigerator overnight. (Overnight may seem long but I wanted to start the crockpot cooking before I went into work.)

In the morning I began the crockpot build by adding the remaining ingredients in this order:

  • carrots
  • potatoes
  • onions
  • garlic
  • bay leaf
  • thyme
  • marinated beef pieces
  • black pepper
  • Cajun seasoning
  • remaining tablespoon of Worcestershire sauce
  • Mushrooms
  • leftover marinade juice

I turned the crockpot on low and went to work. When I got home at the end of the day this is what I saw:

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I sampled the stew and liked the flavor but added a little more salt and a cup of water, and let it cook for another hour.

While it was cooking I tried to decide what to pair it with and decided to go with the Victory Brewing’s Liquid Luxury V12, a Belgian Quad and very delicious on it’s own.

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After the stew was ready, I turned the crockpot off and sliced some French bread into 1 inch slices and smeared some butter and garlic powder on them then toasted them in a toaster over.

Okay, let’s be honest Belgians go with pretty much anything so the Victory V12 was no risk at all. And I always prefer a hard roll or garlic bread to go with my soups and stews. So for me that seemed natural as well.

The stew was a little risky, but I was shooting for a flavor similar to a French onion, which I believe I got as close as I can without actually making a French onion soup. The onion flavor was subtle and if you substitute Yellow onions for Vidalia onions it would certainly enhance that flavor. The carrots and zucchini added a sweetness, which is why I used the Cajun seasoning to balance it.

Overall it was a great stew. I loved the texture of the ingredients and the flavor combinations along with the pairing of the garlic bread and the Belgian beer.

Give it a try and let me know how it works for you.

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Papabear

 

Ode to Craft Beer Badges

If the title worries you that I may begin waxing poetic…. don’t worry. My word-smithing is more direct and not as open to interpretation as most poetry is. And to be honest trying to emulate the styles of any poets I admire (of which there are admittedly few) would be a wasted effort. And I like to add visual aids to my posts to drive home my point… Like this one!!

stones-badge

If you are a craft beer fan then you probably have an App on your phone. You may use this App for keeping track of beers that you like with a rating system. You may use it to find businesses near by that sell craft beers. You may use it to find specific beers that you are looking for, There are other uses for Apps as well. Some craft beer bars have their own Apps so you can track the beers you consume in their establishments and see how many points you have toward their next level/prize.

My fellow beer bacchanalians and I primarily make use of the Untappd App for various reasons, one being that we can use it in multiple places. Another is the addictive nature of the App because as you try more and more different styles and brands of beer you get badges. So it has the usefulness of helping track and find beers, as well as a bit of a social media touch with the friends aspect attached to it, but also has the addictiveness of a game.

While I am talking specifically about this App, this is in no way an endorsement of this particular App or any other App for that matter. In fact there was a point where we were so focused on getting badges we weren’t anywhere near as concerned about the quality of beer. Both the Doctor and I would look at upcoming or newly created badges and see what beers we would need to get them.

In honor of the craziness we experienced with this App and other similar Apps out there, the following is a list of Badges we would like to see Untappd make available (but probably never will because they are really too appropriate for our group).

 

shittee-beer-badge

For all the nasty beers we drank just to get a badge. A habit which has now fallen by the wayside. Life is to short to waste it on a nasty beer!

 

da-fahder-badge

One of our haunts has a priest who visits and works on his paperwork while he enjoys a brewed beverage. If he’s there when we stop in we take as a sign of good luck.

 

queen-of-badge

If you use this App, or one like it, with your friends, then you probably have that one friend who leads the pack in badges and has to let everybody know about it.

 

dont-picture-badge

We all also have that one friend who doesn’t want their picture taken or to checked in on Facebook. The reasons ay vary but you know you have one.

 

im-at-work-badge

You also probably have the friend who works the job where the hours aren’t 9 to 5, so they often are absent when you are out trying to collect badges. This one is for them.

 

on-call-badge

This is for the friend who has a rotating schedule and only drinks every other week. So their badge collection suffers.

 

liquid-courage-badge

Karaoke and beer go together like ham and eggs.

 

beer-goggles-badge

Some times this can accompany the karaoke badge. But it also can stand on it’s own.

 

too-much-abv-badge

This is for the brave souls who really just don’t know their limits.

 

dirty-glass-badge

This probably ends up accompanying the High ABV badge.

 

dont-put-1-badgedont-put-2-badge

Unfortunately these two badges come as a set. I don’t think it’s intentional it just turns out that way.

 

brewer-wanna-be-badge

Every group of beer drinkers has the one guy with the long beard. Mea culpa!

 

stinkin-badge

And finally this either for those who don’t use the App. You have a badge waiting for you. It can also be applied to those who have finally quit keeping track of how many badges you have. But then you would probably never know you got it.

Whether you use this App or another, enjoy the beer and the camaraderie, the badges can wait.

Papabear

Lord of the Drinks: The Fellowship of the Drink

It’s been a while since an epistle has been posted here so I thought I’d better blow some dust of the keyboard and give you all something to read before you lose interest. The title for the article comes from two sources:

1 – The Doctor seems to want to keep comparing me to Gandalf from the Middle Earth tales of J.R.R. Tolkien, which I just don’t get….

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2 – And it occurred to me during one of my evenings out during the last couple of weeks that quite often in life strong bonds of friendship, camaraderie and fellowship are often formed in our lives with the aid or at least accompaniment of alcohol.

Now this may seem obvious to some of you. But really strong bonds with other people are usually formed in the following ways:

Strong shared emotional distress – the birth, serious illness or death of a family member is an example.

Strong shared physical and mental stress – this is why men and women who have served in the military together have a bond with each other that last the rest of their lives.

And when barriers have been removed and open and honest words and feelings are exchanged – this is where the alcohol comes in.

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Now since my last posting I have had more than a few outings involving craft beer. On July 4th weekend I visited my sister in Coral Springs and the night that I arrived we went to a nearby eatery, Nick’s New Haven Style Pizzeria and Bar, and enjoyed some Italian food and Craft Beer.

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The next day we sat beside the pool and grilled out and drank craft beer that I had brought with me and some that my brother-in-law had bought at Lucky’s market, We also had some very good Dominican Rum and cigars as well.

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The next weekend I started by meeting Rowdy and the Cooler at Gainesville House of Beer, along with the Doctor and the Deck-orator joined us as well. The standout that day was Weyerbacher’s 21st Anniversary Ale, and the fact that Rowdy had returned from a trip to Cuba with some hand-rolled cigars and some Cuban beer, which I drank later that weekend.

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A few days later Rowdy and I met at First Magnitude brewery after work where they were having a Funky Buddha tap takeover. I had Funky Buddha Wide Awake It’s Morning chocolate stout and then had First Mag’s British Strong Ale, which was a very good strong ale by the way.

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That following Friday I met up with the Maestro at the Hop Top which isn’t far from his place, and we were joined by Rowdy and the Amester. I started by toasting my father’s birthday with his go=to beer, a PBR. I finished that as quickly as I could. They also had a few taps featuring Funky Buddha which we availed ourselves of. For me the stand out that evening was Funky’s Vanilla Espresso Piiti Porter.

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Again on a Tuesday, the 19th, I went to another craft beer related event at a local sub shop called Hogan’s Heros. They were starting what they called a Craft Beer Tour, where you get a card featuring beer’s from local breweries Swamp Head and First Magnitude. As you get different brews from the breweries you get symbols signed off on the card and when it is full you get a t-shirt of some kind. The Maestro joined me there on his way back from some event.

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That following Thursday I met the Doctor and the Maestro at BrassTap, where they were having a Founder’s Brewing Tap Takeover. And the same rep from Founder’s, a pretty young lady named Kelly who really knows her beers, was also at this event. I got a chance to talk to her this time about how great the beer pairing dinner at the Top was and asked if they were planning any other dinners like it. And she asked me if any other restaurant’s in town had the quality of food that the Top had and served craft beer. I gave her a few names but we’ll have to see how that plays out.

The maestro ended leaving after two beers to go bowling and the Doctor and I hung out with Allen while Trivia night was playing out. Then after a bit we went out on the patio and smoked a Cuban that Rowdy had given to each of us. We sat out there for a while, enjoying a nice beer with a cigar, then after a bit we were joined by a young veteran who was looking for a friend of his. We started talking for a bit and I offered him a cigar and he and the Doctor and I enjoyed some Philosophying for a bit.

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My next event was not Craft Beer related but was just as much fun as it was the last Tuesday of the month so that meant that the Wine Pairing Dinner at Leonardo’s 706 was going on. That evening was little different as both Maestro and the Muse were out of town as was Rowdy and Cooler and another couple who normally joins our table. But Sam and Barbara, whom I know from the Wine Tasting Class days, were there as were Will and Edo, who have recently started doing the wine tasting dinners.

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The theme was a taste of Maine so the main course was lobster, and even though I can’t eat a lot of shellfish without digestive problems, the little bit of lobster that I did have was delicious. And it paired very well with the Merlot that Gonzolo had brought for the dinner. Which brings us to this weekend…

Last night I met the Maestro at House of Beer after I got out of work. And we caught up with each other, drank beer and philosophied for a bit. The he called the Muse and she joined us there and had a glass of wine while we finished our beers. When that was done we decided to go down to the Artwalk, which is an annual event in Gainesville. We specifically went to see one lady’s showing because she used to work with the Maestro way back. Her name is Leslie and I have to say I was very impressed with some of her work.

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After the art, we decided to go around the corner and see if we could get a table at Emiliano’s for dinner. Luckily the students aren’t fully back in town yet, and we could get a table. We ordered some food and switched to a bottle of red wine for dinner. The Maestro and I both ordered the Puerco Rico and the Muse had a chicken dish that I have had before and enjoyed but now can’t remember the name. Honestly, though, it doesn’t matter because I haven’t had anything yet from Emiliano’s that I didn’t like. And last evening was no exception.

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So this morning I reflected a little on the last month and realized that most of the social activity has involved alcohol in one form or another. And it was not over-indulgence in the drinks, just enough to relax you and make you feel like talking. The company I kept was the most important part of it. And it was family and friends who I mostly had some strong bonds with. But during this time those bonds were strengthened. We all enjoyed each other’s companies and grew closer as friends and family.

If there are any folks out there who think alcohol is the devil’s work and would advocate for a return to the days of prohibition, I would like to remind you of a couple of things. One, prohibition was more responsible than anything else for the rise of organized crime in the United States when it was enacted.

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Two, it isn’t alcohol that’s the problem for folks that have problems with it. It’s the over indulgence of it. Over indulgence in most things isn’t a good thing. And while it’s never good to see people suffering from their weaknesses, is it just to prohibit other’s from enjoying themselves because of others weaknesses??

So if anyone out there thinks that try to get Prohibition enacted again is a good idea, I have a message for you from Gandalf…

shall-not-pass

Papabear