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.


  • 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.


Holiday Craft Beer Recipes


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.


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


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,


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


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.


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:


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.


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.




Cooking with Beer: Glazes with a Beer Base

A ham with cloves for flavor in the background and Nettles country Sausages in the foreground,
A ham with cloves for flavor in the background and Nettles Country Sausages in the foreground.

I haven’t fired up the smoker in a while and decided today would be the day. I had a ham in the fridge I have been wanting to put in the smoker for a bit but haven’t had any wood for smoking until I finally went to Walmart and picked up some hickory wood chunks. Tip #1: If you need to go to Walmart on a Sunday, do it so you’re out of there before Noon. It was kind of quiet when I got there but by the time I got all of my goods and headed for the checkout it was a cluster.

When I got home I put some of the hickory chunks in a bucket and filled it with water then started cleaning the grill and getting it ready for a fire. I then started a fire under the chimney containing the charcoal briquettes and went inside to prep the ham while the briquettes started heating up. I removed the wrapping from a simple shoulder ham and began piercing the flesh with some cloves, and old trait of my mother’s. I was beginning to feel a bit peckish so I opened up a pack of Nettles Country Sausage while I was at it. I could cook those fairly quickly and let the ham cook at the same time.

Now if you have never used a smoker before it takes practice to learn how to keep your smoker at the right temperature. Too hot and you’ll over cook the outer part of the meat. And too cold and you risk bacteria getting into the food that you are cooking because you’re taking too long. And every style of smoker has its own way of controlling the temperature, though in general it usually involves controlling how much air you let into the fire and how much smoke you let out. If you don’t have a smoker and only have a gas or charcoal grill you can still use them for smoking you just have to use the right accessories to do so. Tip #2: Don’t try smoking indoors in your oven. The smoke smell will permeate every part of your house and you’ll be forever getting that smell out of the oven. It will make everything you cook after that tastes like smoke and unless you smoke cigarettes that is probably not a good thing. Even using the artificial smoke flavoring can let the smoke smell permeate the oven.

My combination gas/charcoal; grille and smoker hard at work.

You read earlier that I was using hickory for my smoking wood. There are several different types out there; Cherry, Pecan, Oak, Applewood and Mesquite are a few. I prefer hickory myself. Though I may try others down the road as they all have different characteristics. But I just really like the flavor that hickory leaves in the meat.

The charcoal coals were glowing red then so I knew it was time to put the meat on the grill. I arranged the ham on tin foil shaped to catch any drippings like a bowl and placed it on the grill furthest from the flame box. Then I laid out the sausages on the half closest to the flame. This would allow them to take the brunt of the heat so they could cook faster. With the lid closed the ham would also get heated and begin cooking. After I closed the lid I opened the door of the fire box and added a few chunks of hickory that had been soaking in water. The red hot coals began converting any water trapped in the wood to steam and the wood itself slowly began to burn releasing the smoky flavor I was looking for.

Inside the firebox
Inside the firebox

After about 15-20 minutes I rolled the sausages 180 degrees and let the other side get some of the heat from the fire. Then after 15-20 minutes I flipped the sausages end to end so that the end furthest from the firebox got some equal treatment. I also moved the sausages around on the griddle so those in the middle were swapped with those on the outside. And about 15 minutes later I rolled the sausages 180 degrees again. Each time after I opened the lid I added a couple chunks of wet hickory to the firebox.

After the sausages were cooked I removed them from the grill and slid the ham onto the side of the grill closer to the firebox. I put a couple more chunks of wood into the firebox then went inside and had a sausage for my lunch. If you have never had a Nettles sausage then I recommend them. They’re very tasty and if you like heat then the hot ones are for you. I like mine in a roll or sausage bun with a slice of cheddar and some mustard. I decided to drink a Shotgun Betty Witbier with my lunch which went with the sausage very well. Tip #3 Nettles sausages go very well with a witbier.

I spent the rest of the afternoon adding a couple of Hunks of wet wood to the firebox every 20 minutes or so, and supping down a nice saison while doing so. About 3 hours into cooking the ham I knew I needed to make my glaze. Now normally I make a pineapple-brown sugar glaze. But I didn’t have any pineapple juice or pineapples in either the whole or canned form to get juice from. So I decided to make a glaze with a craft beer base instead. Tip #4 When you run out of ingredients improvise with Craft Beer.

Now I know some folks have talking up Craft Beer marinades and I have used a couple myself but I have not heard of anyone making a glaze yet. Glazes are different from a marinade. First of all the marinade soaks into the meat helping to tenderize it. A Glaze is an outer coating that only imparts flavor to that portion of the meat. After cooking the juices from the meat combined with the glaze make a nice little topping for the meat.

My normal pineapple-brown sugar glaze is pretty much just that: pineapple juice, brown sugar and some mustard to balance out the sweetness. I lso place the pineapple rings around the ham with toothpicks. A good glaze compliments the meat so for a ham which is normally saltier a sweet glaze is desirable. But adding a craft beer base to the glaze instead of pineapple juice would change the flavor aspects depending on the style of beer used. A strong hop flavor with it’s bitterness would probably amplify the saltiness of the ham which isn’t what I wanted so that filtered out IPAs, APAs, etc. I also had to take into account the hickory smoke flavor I have been adding all afternoon. I still wanted to taste that flavor so I decided against a wheat beer or a gose as those would probably dampen the smoke flavor.

I was leaning toward either a porter or a stout when I realized I had the perfect accompaniment already selected… a scotch style ale. And to be more specific, Founder’s Dirty Bastard scotch style ale. I can hear some folks out there now, “What on Earth are you thinking?! Why waste such a great beer on something like a glaze?!”

To you I will reply, any great recipe is only as good as the ingredients you put into it. And anything that deserves to be done well should be done right from the beginning. Besides, whether it’s in a glass or a glaze I’m still going to be consuming that beer.

I’ll tell you the ingredients now:

Mustard, Brown Sugar, a bottle of founder's Dirty Bastard and a bowl and whisk for mixing.
Mustard, Brown Sugar, a bottle of founder’s Dirty Bastard and a bowl and whisk for mixing.
  • 4 Tbsp brown sugar
  • 4 oz. scotch ale
  • 2 Tbsp yellow mustard

Now I will add the disclaimer that these measurements are ballpark and not exact. I’ve been making the normal glaze for so long than I kind of eyeballed the ingredients. The best practice though is to taste the glaze as you’re making it and adjust the ingredients accordingly.

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First I put the brown sugar into a large enough bowl for mixing then I added the beer and using a whisk mixed them thoroughly. This combination became expectedly frothy and foamy once the sugar began dissolving. On top of the foam I added the yellow mustard. You can use ground mustard in place of the paste I used but then you may want to add a dash of vinegar to get the same flavor. Then I mixed this in thoroughly with the beer-sugar combo.


By the time this was done mixing it was time to start the last half hour of smoking. So I took the glaze and began applying it with a silicone brush trying to cover as much of the ham with the glaze as I could. Once I had that applied I loaded the last of the wet wood chunks into the firebox and let the smoker do its thing. I took any unused glaze back inside the kitchen and set it aside for later.

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When the smoking was done I placed the smoked ham in a dish for carving and poured any of the glaze that in the bottom of the tin foil I had cooked the ham in on top of the ham in the dish. The ham carved fairly easily, even through the caramelizing on the skin section where the glaze has made it chewy. Once I got done carving I placed a couple of pieces on a plate and served it with the remainder of the Founder’s Dirty Bastard in a mug. If I have to say so myself, it was delicious!

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The hickory flavoring came through in each bite of the ham and the glaze complemented it well. I could taste the sweetness of the sugar, the spice of the mustard and the dark malty flavor of the scotch ale. None of the flavors over-powered another. Well worth the effort and the wait.

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Good results like this can only lead to more experimentation.  Try some yourself and…

Tip @#5