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Christmas is coming…

Holiday Craft Beer Gift Guide

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Last minute craft beer gifts!

Only 12 6 shopping days left until Christmas and by the time you stumble upon this post the countdown is likely shrinking by the second. But, not to worry. We have put together a list of items anyone interested in craft beer, whether they are an avid homebrewer or just getting into the beverage, would be happy to open on any holiday morning.

Spiegelau Beer Classics 19 Ounce IPA Glass

Set of 2, 4, 6 or 12

ipa glassesClick Image to Purchase

Speigelau created their IPA glasses with a little help from their friends Sam Calagione of Dogfish Head and Ken Grossman of Sierra Nevada, guys that know a thing or two about hops. The unique shape of the vessel, which kind of reminds us of a goblet perched atop a shot glass, is designed to showcase hop froward American style IPA’s by enhancing mouthfeel and preserving the head for longer than your average pour. Not to mention the wide opening that allows for that bitter, fruity aroma to really travel straight from the glass to your nose. The best part about these is that Dogfish Head and Sierra Nevada are donating all their proceeds from sales of this glass to benefit advances in hop farming. So really everyone wins with this one.

Even more glasses:

 


 Brooklyn Brew Shop Everyday IPA Beer Making Kit

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The first time we ever home brewed it was using this kit, a Christmas gift from Alicia to Kevin. Unlike other beginner brewing kits, this one is “all-grain” which means no malt flavor extracts are used. Instead the brewer uses only water, grain and hops on their stovetop to create a hopefully delicious beer. We have to say that for having no idea what we were doing, our first batch came out pretty tasty and definitely something we were psyched to share with people. Be warned though, the home brewing bug might just bite your gift recipient and next years wish list may be a bit more technical (and costly!).

 Also needed but not included in the kit:

  • 6 quart stock pot (we recommend having an extra handy. It would have made our life easier on brew day)
  • Fine mesh strainer
  • Funnel
  • 10 empty non twist off bottles + capper or swing top bottles (no capper needed)
  • Honey
  • Ice

 


 Dogfish Head + Brooklyn Brine Hop Pickles

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Pickles made with Dogfish Head 60 Minute IPA, caramelized onions and cascade hops. If you know someone who likes hops, pickles, beer or preferably all 3, this is the edible gift for them. They are produced by Brooklyn Brine in their small kitchen located in, you guessed it, Brooklyn. Having tried these, we can tell you that they start out sweet and end on a very spicy note with the beer and hop flavor present throughout. Looking back through our notes on them, we did mention that they are on the pricey side and probably not something we would buy for ourselves too often. And isn’t that what makes something a perfect gift?

Other food + beer combos that look tasty:


A One Year Membership to the American Homebrewers Association

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The gift that keeps on giving, a membership to the AHA entitles the recipient to way more than a fancy card they can whip out at parties to impress people. Card holders enjoy a subscription to Zymurgy Magazine (which looks to cost about the same per year as an AHA membership) as well as their app, first dibs on Great American Beer Festival Tickets plus a special, members only session and the ability to be able to attend the National Homebrewers Conference, an event we highly recommend. Additionally there is a long list of retailers, restaurants, bars and homebrew shops across the country that offer discounts and perks to AHA members. All that for only around 40 bucks. Oh, and if you happen to buy this for someone who is already a member don’t worry, they can use it to renew for next year.


Everything Else

Here are a few other items that we either own, have tried or would appreciate getting as gifts. Let us know if you would add anything or what is on your holiday/birthday/Tuesday wish list.

Oh, and be sure to sign up for an Amazon Prime Free Trial for free two day shipping on almost all of these items. Not to mention the ability to stream Christmas movies until well into the new year. Happy Holidays!

Gift Guide for Homebrewers

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“What is the best gift to get for a homebrewer?”

Well, the answer really depends on a lot of factors. Are they just getting into the craft or do they frequently show up to parties with kegs full of their latest creation? Homebrewing, like lots of other hobbies, can require tons of time, money and equipment and as people get deeper into it the investment only gets larger. However, as we have learned, it is a super rewarding pastime and there is nothing quite like pouring a pint that you spent hours creating. So here are some helpful pieces of homebrewing equipment that we have used in the past, currently use or have our eye on for the future.

Gifts for the Novice Homebrewer

For the person extremely into craft beer and ready to make the leap to brewing their own

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Brooklyn Brew Shop Beer Making Kit is one that we have mentioned several times and always with good reason. It’s fairly easy to produce beer right on your stovetop using it and is a great introduction to all grain brewing. Had we leapt right into trying to put together a whole five gallon brewing system (and actually making beer on it) we likely would have been way more frustrated with the hobby. That’s not to say that using this kit is foolproof, as we still had a few issues along the way, but we were able to correct them and come up with a finished product we were proud of. We have never tried the Jalapeño Saison kit, but if we try another stovetop brew this is the one we will reach for.

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Whichever intro kit you go with, there a few essential accessories that every beginning homebrewer needs. First is a large stock pot, probably bigger than any you have in your kitchen, to be able to mash in your grain and boil the resulting wort. You will also need somewhere to house your finished beer, which is where the bottles and capper come in. If you’re really proud of your creation and want to get fancy with it, we have used chalkboard spray paint on bottles and then created our own labels with paint markers. Hey, that would make a cute gift!

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Brewing Classic Styles by Jamil Zainasheff and John Palmer is the Holy Grail of homebrewing books. It features 80 recipes, all to BJCP style, and gives the option of brewing with either extract or all grain. Probably 98% of homebrewers we know (us included) own this book and consult it before most if not all brew days. Though it’s sometimes easier and quicker to just Google “How to Brew a Brown Ale”, there is no guarantee you will stumble upon a tried and true recipe and may wind up with a batch of beer that doesn’t come out quite right. Brewing Classic Styles takes the guesswork out of that.


Making the Jump to Homebrewing 5 Gallon Batches

For people who have conquered stove top brewing and are ready to take it up a notch

 

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As you may have guessed, once you want to start brewing 5 or 10 gallon batches of beer you can no longer do so in the comfort of your kitchen. This is where an outdoor burner comes into play. We currently use the King Kooker, which is actually designed to heat a lobster pot. You may also have heard of people buying turkey fryers for their homebrew system. In reality, either option works since all you are looking for is a burner that will heat an extremely large pot of liquid. And you can feel good that you are saving a few turkeys or lobsters and making beer instead. {Note: you will need your own propane tank to hook the burner up to.}

Click Item to Purchase

Once your beer is brewed, it will need somewhere to ferment. This is where a plastic fermenter comes into play. This one is 6.5 gallons, which is ideal for a 5 gallon batch of beer. Depending on what type of beer you are trying to produce, you can put the fermenter in a temperature appropriate space and check it every few days. {Note: you will also need an airlock to place in the lid to prevent a beer explosion.}

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A keg (or two). Once the beer is fermented and ready to be packaged, many homebrewers make the leap from bottling their beer to kegging it. In our opinion, kegging is much easier (though a bit less portable) and it allows you to better control the carbonation of your beer. Also your brew will stay fresh in a keg, so if you tap it and don’t finish all five gallons you can simply store it in a cool place until next time you have a hankering for your homebrew. You will also need a CO2 tank to tap your keg or hook it up to our next gift idea.

Add on a CO2 Tank

Click Item to Purchase

Once you have a keg or two you will probably also want a jockey box. A jockey box is basically just a portable tap system that you can easily hook your keg up to. Ice is placed inside the jockey box, so the beer travels from the keg, throughout the coil in the box and by the time it comes out of the tap it is perfectly chilled and carbonated.

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Ater getting familiar with Brewing Classic Styles, you may want to start experimenting a bit. That’s where Radical Brewing by Randy Mosher comes in. Not strictly a recipe book, Radical Brewing explores techniques but also offers anecdotes about brewing history. We think beer legend Michael Jackson said it best in his foreword of the book:

“The world desperately needs more Moshers. If only we had more Moshers, the Tasmanian tiger might return from extinction. Mike Tyson at his peak would be able to step into the ring with Muhammad Ali. We would be able to see and hear the great performers who pre-dated the recording of sound. I might even now be sipping a pre-Prohibition beer and checking whether Buddy Bolden could be heard across Lake Ponchartrain. Or I might be sampling Harwood’s Porter in a London pub, or an India Pale Ale aboard a clipper heading for Calcutta.”


Gifts for the Experienced Homebrewer

Some practical, some a little lavish but all things any homebrewer would love to own

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A kegerator. It’s basically a fridge meets beer tap, which you can’t go wrong with. Just hook a keg of homebrew (or your favorite commercial brew) up and it stays chilled and ready to pour on demand. Can you really put a price on cold draught beer that you don’t have to leave your house for?

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Offbeat ingredients. Most experienced brewers already have some equipment they use for their more traditional beers and others that are reserved for experimentation. So why not gift them a more unique yeast, like Brettanomyces Bruxellensis which is used to produce Belgian style beers and lambics. Or mosaic hops which have very complex flavors of tropical fruit and pine and can be used to impart flavor, aroma and bitterness.


Gifts Every Homebrewer Can Use

From novice to aspiring pro, these gifts are perfect for every homebrewer

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Sanitizer is probably the most important ingredient in any brewing recipe and we have always had great results with Star San Sanitizer. Whether you are brewing in a stock pot on your stove or on a commercial brewery system, it is crucial that every piece of equipment used is properly sanitized. The brewing process is an extremely delicate one and even the slightest mistake can lead to an infection in your beer. Though not as serious as it sounds (no one will get sick from drinking infected beer) it can lead to off flavors or even worse, having the infection stay on your equipment. This can spoil future batches and no one wants to spend hours brewing a beer and months cultivating it just to have to pour it down the drain.

Click Item to Purchase

A refractometer allows you to measure the level of sugar in the wort before fermentation to obtain your OG (original gravity). This number allows you to estimate what your final gravity and eventual ABV will wind up being. The refractometer is a tool to let you know how your beer will finish ABV wise, and if it is not heading in the direction you want you can make adjustments. Also, it’s definitely helpful to know that a beer you were aiming to have finish at 4% ABV really wound up around 9%.

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A Fast Rack Bottle Dryer makes drying out sanitized bottles way easier than trying to balance them upside down on your countertop. Plus if you are getting bored waiting for your beer to ferment, you can always try the Fast Rack Speed Challenge.

Craft Beer and Christmas Joy in Vienna

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As you can probably see by the title, we are currently visiting Vienna, Austria for a little bit of Christmas cheer and craft beer (hey, that rhymes). Not only is Vienna beautiful city with great food, it becomes extremely festive around the holidays. Christmas markets are scattered throughout the city featuring dozens of stands selling homemade gifts, foods like roasted chestnuts and potato pancakes and hot mulled wines and punch.

Outside of the markets, Vienna has a thriving craft beer scene with several bars and breweries right in the city center. 7 Stern Brau has a beer vending machine right in their lobby which really can’t be beat. We even drank a version of Victory HopDevil, which is brewed at 1516 Brau using the Pennsylvania based recipe. Also at 1516 we met the quite famous “Beer Pope” Conrad Siedl who was very enlightening about Vienna’s beer scene.

We have plenty more sightseeing and beer sampling to do, but look for a detailed guide to Vienna coming soon.

Alicia with Conrad Siedl the "Beer Pope" at 1516 Brau, Vienna

Alicia with Conrad Siedl the “Beer Pope” at 1516 Brau, Vienna

Hopped Hefeweizen & Menu at Lichtenthaler Brau, Vienna

Hopped Hefeweizen & Menu at Lichtenthaler Brau, Vienna

The Packed Naschmarkt, Vienna

The Packed Naschmarkt, Vienna

Kaesespaetzle at the Am Hof Christmas Market, Vienna

Kaesespaetzle at the Am Hof Christmas Market, Vienna

7 Stern Brau in Vienna

7 Stern Brau in Vienna

Hot Open Face Sausge, Pepper & Cheese at Fischerbrau, Vienna

Hot Open Face Sausge, Pepper & Cheese at Fischerbrau, Vienna

The Festive Rathaus Christmas Market, Vienna

The Festive Rathaus Christmas Market, Vienna

Beautiful Belvedere Palace, Vienna

Beautiful Belvedere Palace, Vienna

Cuvaison 2014 by Greenport Harbor Brewing Company: Brewed Using Grapes From Jamesport Vineyards

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GHBC Account Manager Justin Wesnofske and Co-owner John Liegey

Loosely translating as a sense of place, terroir refers to the effect a region has had on the production of agricultural products. In the past such a thing was not possible in beer since brewery consolidation and expansion as well as environmental factors (like downy mildew) caused the closure of many malt and hop producers across the country. In fact, most malt used to brew some of your favorite beer is not made from grain grown in the United States. In recent years however there has been a shift, as in many things culinary, toward local ingredients. Large scale craft breweries like Rogue Ales in Oregon and Sierra Nevada Brewing Company in California cultivate their own hops and malt from which they craft beers expressing a sense of place. On a smaller scale, Greenport Harbor Brewing Company has taken the steps toward bringing terroir to the North Fork of Long Island.

Terroir is not a term which normally rolls off the tongue when discussing beer but NYS Farm Brewers, like Greenport Harbor Brewing Company are trying to change that. Each year GHBC uses grape juice and fruit from a local vineyard to brew their Cuvaison, bringing a local quality to the beer. As a NYS Farm Brewery, a license which requires the use of 20% of ingredients produced in NY with the percentage increasing as the years go on, Greenport Harbor not only includes local wine grapes and juice in their Cuvaison but also New York state hops and malt too.

“There are not a ton of all NY beers out there,” said head brewer DJ Swanson when we talked with him about Cuvaison. Each version of this Belgian Strong Ale is unique. It’s a beer which, “captures the whole North Fork thing,” according to Swanson. Co-owner John Liegey commented, “The thing I like about this series is that we do it with a different vineyard every year and it really kinda takes it’s own personality on with the vineyard that we choose.” The 2014 iteration of Cuvaison is a beer that definitely drinks with lots of personality.

This year Cuvaison was made with sauvignon blanc and chardonnay grapes as well as juice from Jamesport Vineyards. “We’re not the smartest guys, you know. It’s you look next door and, ‘Oh, a vineyard. Let’s do something with that,’ ” noted Liegey while contemplating their creation. This is a beer the affable Liegey “sees” on each drive to the brewery months before it is brewed. “There’s the grapes like hanging from the vines when it’s nearly harvest.” Thinking back to those trips he continues, “they are asking for us to brew with them,” something that comes through in the beer.

Cuvaison 2014 meets the drinker with it’s distinct Belgian yeast character as one approaches the glass. Upon sipping it express the white wine grapes used in it’s creation marrying them to the fruity and ester rich yeast characteristics. The experience of tasting this beer closes with a dry, bracing finish which leaves the taster refreshed. Liegey was really happy with the 2014 version remarking, “It kinda finishes with this good vinous thing at the end where you do kinda get the grapes pretty nicely and strongly but it’s super clean.” We share his view points as this Cuvaison appealed not only to us but our non beer drinking friends and family as well. With a lower ABV and overall lighter body than the 2013 version, which was brewed with Merlot grapes and juice from McCall Ranch, this year’s edition is one that could easily pair with food.

Cuvaison is linked to the local harvest as much as any wet/fresh hop ale. It is a beer which is brewed when the year’s grapes are ready to be brought in. Like the wine they are used to produce, variation will be seen based on weather and climate conditions in the finished ale. Cuvaison appears in the market place in limited quantities then is gone until next year but has, so far, never come back exactly the same. Could 2015 be the start of a new trend? “I actually think, ‘wow this is maybe what we should look at next year to try and hit somewhere in this space’ because I see myself having that beer and enjoying something to eat with it,” Liegey said echoing our enjoyment of his brewery’s beer. Look for Cuvaison 2014 at finer eating and drinking establishments over the next several months. This is a versatile and engaging brew which for us captures a sense of Long Island and a bit of brewing terroir.

Written by A+K

December 5th, 2014 at 12:30 pm

Another Movember in the Books for Team Blue Point Brewery

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On November 1st, men across the globe began growing mustaches in honor of Movember, a silly name that supports a very serious cause: mens health. You may already know that Movember raises money and awareness of prostate and testicular cancer, but even we were surprised to find out that they fund support of mens mental health issues as well.

This is the third year that Beer Loves Company participated on the Blue Point Brewing Co. team. Blue Point fully supports the cause, assembling a dream team of facial hair and rewards participants with prizes and awesome events. This year there was both a pre and post Movember party at the brewery; the former involved free shaves and the latter featured beer, raffles and an awful lot of moustaches that were noticeably absent just 30 days prior. Though Kevin was able to grow a modest mustache, we were all pretty surprised that Alicia had a full Tom Sellick going after only a couple days. We want to thank all our generous friends, families and supporters who donated and helped us and Team Blue Point raise over $8,000, with a few checks still in the mail . Though Movember is over, the support for mens health continues year round, so visit Movember Headquarters to get involved.

Written by A+K

December 3rd, 2014 at 4:44 pm

Turning the Tables: A Brewers Profile of A + K by Jim Thoms

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Brewers Profile of Alicia & Kevin (aka: A+K) by Jim Thoms

Appeared in the September 2014 B.E.E.R. Newsletter

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Alicia and Kevin joined B.E.E.R. just over 2 years ago and have become two of the most active members, organizing and participating in all sorts of club activities; truly the Dynamic Duo. Kevin was elected club VP last November. This is the first time I’ve profiled two member brewers at once.

JT: When did you start brewing?
A+K: The first time we ever brewed was a stovetop kit from Brooklyn Brew Shop. It was supposed to be some sort of IPA and though it didn’t really taste like one, it was still pretty enjoyable. They didn’t really list that we needed a straining/filtering device so that was a bit crazy and they also didn’t list at that time on the box that you needed a large pot. It was a full mash 1 gallon batch. It turned out lighter and fruitier than an IPA and with lots of natural carbonation. Weird experiment.
After attending a few meetings of both B.E.E.R. and L.I.B.M.E, we decided we wanted to try again on a bigger scale and brewed with Frank Filacchione. The first beer we brewed with Frank was a Rauchbier which was November or maybe December 2012 and was served at the 2013 RPAB Cask Fest. The beer ending up getting a little sour in the cask (perhaps a little lacto snuck in) but it tasted pretty good to us, or Kevin at least.
From there we went on to brew with a few other club members before finally purchasing some equipment and setting up our own garage mini brewery. It was through brewing with these other members that we learned the many different ways you can brew a beer. Our beers are still “not to style” though (screw the BJCP).
JT: That’s the longest answer I ever got to that question—and I’ve done 50 of these interviews in more than 13 years—but I love it!

JT: What were the circumstances that got you started brewing?
A: I thought, “Hey, Kevin likes beer. It would be fun to get him a homebrew kit for Christmas.” Little did I know what I would be starting.
K: I think this is pretty accurate. To me though it more seemed a gift we could enjoy together. Since we like cooking and spending time together it was cool to try out. Maybe the results weren’t what we hoped for but looking back it was all a lot of fun. Thank you Alicia (you have made a prison of your own choosing).

JT: What kind of brewing do you do?
A: We tend to not brew to style much but enjoy tweaking recipes and adding our own ingredients in. We currently have a few fermenters all filled with beer, cider and assorted fruits.
K: We have a BIAB [Brew In A Bag] system if you want to call it that. We have brewed on several other systems as well with all our brewing collaborators. Matt Bollerman has a gravity system which was a lot of fun. Frank also used a gravity system at first but then received a Blichmann “tippy dump” set up from Rick Sobotka. We also had the chance to brew with Andrew Luberto on his converted keggle rig and with Bobby on his gravity brew house. Wow, we brewed with a lot of excellent brewers and even better people.
We decided to go with the BIAB set up because it is both cost and space effective. BIAB is a process we still need to work at and fine tune but we have enjoyed our results. Plus we always enjoy adding herbs, fruits, vegetables and spices to our beers so our products are always in flux. I like the simplicity of our set up and the freedom to do what we like with the beer afterward. If we enjoy it or are giving it away at an event then there are no rules right?
A: I seem to have misunderstood the question but am sticking with my answer.

JT: No, that’s OK. What’s your favorite style of beer?
A: I am a porter or stout woman.
K: Hey Alicia, what about hefeweizen? Alicia was never really into beer and at first I gave her ligther beers to try (hefeweizen, fruit beers, etc) but nothing was to her liking. Eventually though she tried a darker beer and enjoyed the bolder flavors. Once she realized a beer could taste like chocolate and coffee it was over for her.
A: Well, Kevin and I attended an Oktoberfest at Finley’s years ago. The only beer options were light or dark and since I wasn’t much of a beer person I went light. Up until this point, Kevin had been giving me hefeweizens and other lighter options but I never really found one that I enjoyed much. True to form, I didn’t really like the light beer that day and when it came time to order a second mug I figured I’d roll the dice and go dark. Oddly, I really enjoyed it and from there I went on to discover I really enjoy porters and stouts. My beer drinking seems to have come full circle though, as I do now like a nice hefeweizen in the summer.
K: Jeez go on and on about it why don’t you? I really like trying everything. It’s interesting to see the diversity and variations of flavor that are available. If I had to pick one style though, it would probably be farmhouse ales (since it is fairly broad).

JT: What’s your favorite commercial beer?
A: North Coast Old Rasputin or Green Flash Double Stout. Founders Porter if I’m going with a more “sessionable” option.
K: Mine is probably Russian River Blind Pig or The Bruery Saison de Lente.

JT: Do you have a recipe you’d like to share?
A+K: We have really enjoyed “brewing” ciders over the past year or so. To plug our site a bit, you can find our guide to brewing a basic cider on www.beerlovescompany.com [Hey, that’s this website and here is the guide]

[I did and I highly recommend this blog/website to anyone reading this newsletter. Not just for the basic guide to making cider, but more so for all the other interesting stories A+K post about the craft and homebrew scene on Long Island, including one about the “Dynamic Brewmaster Duo of DJ Swanson and Joe Hayes” teaming up at Greenport Harbor Brewing Company, which is expanding to a new facility in nearby Peconic; plus many other articles relevant to our local beer culture including a touching tribute to B.E.E.R. member Ed Hahn, who will be missed by us all. (I hope the link above works in this PDF, if not, check it out any way you can.]

JT: Any biographical info you’d like to share (talk freely about yourselves)?
A: Kevin really enjoys drinking beer, making beer, comic books, Japan, the Islanders.
K: Alicia loves the TV show “The Life & Times of Tim” and Marc Jacobs. She tolerates beer but likes vodka (blueberry to be precise).

JT: Hmmm. OK moving on: Any comments or suggestions you have regarding the club?
A: Let’s get some activities going. It would be great to have brew days outside of meetings where people can get together and brew a few club beers together while showing newer members how to homebrew.
K: We would suggest the club branch out from the things we have been doing currently and that more suggestions from our membership should be taken.

JT: Well, with your enthusiasm, energy and team spirit I’m sure you two can bring those ideas to fruition. Thanks for the interview.

A+K: Our pleasure, Cheers!

 

Written by A+K

December 1st, 2014 at 4:01 pm

Turkey Eggs with Craft Beer Cranberry Sauce – What to do with Thanksgiving Leftovers

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As any good American knows, the day after Thanksgiving is the real holiday. Finally all of that pesky family time and thankfulness is out of the way and Black Friday is here. You’re probably just waking up or just arriving home from a morning of shopping, deals and hopefully minimal trampling. Either way, there’s a fridge full of leftovers that aren’t going to eat or artfully arrange themselves. Instead of just throwing everything on a plate and recreating last nights dinner, we decided to try something a little different this year and make “turkey eggs”. They’re the equivalent of putting a bit of every Thanksgiving delight on your fork and creating a perfect bite, but they look a lot classier if you’re trying to impress someone. Kind of like a Scotch Egg, American style. Since this is a leftover recipe, we’re not going to tell you how to make the original dish. And really if you’re going to make an entire Thanksgiving feast just to create these here eggs you have way too much time on your hands.

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What you’ll need for 4 eggs:

  • 1 decent sized slice of turkey
  • Scoop of mashed potatoes
  • Smaller scoop of creamed spinach (Or corn or green beans or whatever leftover veggie you have)
  • A chunk of stuffing about the size of a can of beer
  • About 1/4 can of cranberry sauce
  • Beer of your choice, preferably a brown ale. We used Cigar City Maduro

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As you can see, the measurements are not extremely precise. We eyeballed most of it and imagine you can too.

  1. So first preheat your oven to 350 degrees
  2. Then, dice the turkey and put it in a bowl with the spinach and mashed potatoes
  3. Mix that all together (probably with your hands) and roll into four small balls, similar to how you’d make meatballs
  4. Pop those back in the fridge for a couple minutes so they firm up
  5. Mash the stuffing with a fork to a bit of a stuffing paste. If it seems dry, add a little water or gravy
  6. Make four balls of the stuffing paste, flatten them and then carefully wrap the stuffing around the chilled potato/turkey/spinach balls
  7. Bake them on a small baking dish for about 15 minutes, or until the stuffing starts to brown a bit more
  8. While they’re baking, put your cranberry sauce in a small saucepan over medium heat
  9. Mash it up with a fork and once it starts to liquefy a bit add a healthy pour of beer (about 1/4 can)
  10. Cook until it reduces to a cranberry beer glaze (this should only take a couple minutes)
  11. Take the balls out of the oven, dip in your sauce and enjoy

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We paired them with the rest of the beer in the can and they nicely complimented each other. If you really want to impress and confuse your family, say you’ll heat up leftovers for dinner tonight and when they get to the table present them with these turkey eggs. It’ll probably only take you about 45 minutes tops to make enough for everyone and we bet they will be more memorable than Thanksgiving dinner. Happy Black Friday, get cooking.

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Written by A+K

November 28th, 2014 at 1:28 pm

The Five Beers of Thanksgiving

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It’s almost time for Thanksgiving. Get ready to sit around a table with family, give thanks for all the wonderful things in your life and eat and drink an absurd amount. Everyone knows what foods a traditional Thanksgiving feast consists of, but what would an all beer meal look like? Think Violet Beauregarde in Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, only instead of her whole meal being in the form of bubble gum yours is more on the liquid side. And hopefully minus turning blue and having to be rolled away from the table, but we make no promises there.

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Thanksgiving Dish: The star of the show. The big kahuna. Of course, we mean the turkey. Probably the only time of the year most people pop a 20 pound bird in the oven and get carving, but it just wouldn’t be Thanksgiving with out it.

Wonka Beer: You anxiously wait all year for Southern Tier Pumking come out and when it finally does you may overinduldge a bit. It’s one of the staples of the fall holiday season, but once April rolls around it somehow seems a little less appealing. Don’t worry though, if you get a hankering again it will be back in August.

Thanksgiving Dish: Canned, chunky, citrus infused, homemade from organic berries…cranberry sauce can be as basic or fancy as you please. However, the version most people picture is still shaped like the can it sits in on grocery store shelves, just waiting for its big day.

Wonka Beer: There’s 90, 120 and now even 61, but Dogfish Head 60 Minute IPA is the classic many have come to know, love and expect. Sure you can get a little more wild with it, but today is not the day to break tradition and be the one who shows up with something too out there for the rest of the group. 8 Minute IPA Abs can wait until one of those crazy holidays, like Easter with all it’s bunnies and eggs. Unless of course you’re our next combo…

Thanksgiving Dish: The kind of weird side dish your kind of weird aunt brings over; you either love it or hate it. A bizarre mix of canned beans, canned soup and pre-fried onion, the green bean casserole usually only appears once a year.

Wonka Beer: The Bruery Sour in the Rye with Kumquats is a bit elusive and you’re either really excited to see it or kind of skeptical about the ingredient combo. Unless you’re a huge fan, or a bit of a maniac, you’re probably never going to drink a whole bottle of this by yourself and will instead reserve it for sharing on a special occasion with friends and family. Get ready for some mixed reactions.

Thanksgiving Dish: Because straight up baked potatoes don’t scream “special occasion”, those babies are getting mashed in honor of turkey day. Mashed potatoes are a food that you, a refined gentleman (or woman), probably don’t make all that often. But when they’re part of a Thanksgiving spread you can bet you’re grabbing a scoop or two and making a little gravy volcano, for old times sake.

Wonka Beer: Sam Adams Boston Lager is a familiar go to when “fancier” options aren’t available. Sure, it’s no longer in the same league for you as your favorite craft beer, but you probably enjoyed it during a younger, simpler time. It’s welcome at a holiday feast but goes just as well with some leftover meatloaf and a side of nostalgia.

Thanksgiving Dish: After an insanely filling meal that was probably prefaced with a couple hours of picking on appetizers, what you really need is a pumpkin pie. All season you’ve been teasing yourself with lattes and candles and now it’s finally time for the real thing. A delightful treat that’s a little rich, a little over the top and doesn’t make it’s way to your dinner table every night.

Wonka Beer: Founders Kentucky Breakfast Stout is a beer for when you want to treat yo self. Strong yet sweet and though you know you probably shouldn’t, you keep wanting to go back for more. Oh, and we’d imagine it would be pretty delicious with a scoop of vanilla ice cream, just like it’s Thanksgiving counterpart.

 

Written by A+K

November 26th, 2014 at 11:36 am

Hops, Who Needs ‘em? A History of Gruit Ales.

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First published on Edible East End

The Mash Recirculating with Frank Filachione and Zippy

The Mash Recirculating with Frank Filachione and Zippy

“Gruit? Did you mean to write fruit?” was one of the edits we received after writing about a Taste of Long Island for the fall issue and the herbal gruits the Brewers Collective plans to make there. Similarly, when we brewed a gruit for the Spring Craft Beer Festival at Nassau Coliseum about half the patrons ordered the “herbal fruit”, which admittedly does have a nice ring to it. So all this confusion raises the question: What the heck is a gruit?

Today beer and ale are often used as synonyms, but there is a distinct difference between the two. Ales do not contain any hops, a key ingredient in beer for bittering and preservation. Hops are the female flowers of Humulus lupulus and were introduced to ale around 1079 in Germany although they did not truly catch on until the 13th century. Prior to hops becoming an integral ingredient in beer, ale was flavored with what is known as gruit. Gruit is a mix of herbs, flowers, seeds or other flavoring components used to balance out the malty flavor of an ale. Heather is the most traditional ingredient, but brewers can get creative and use any mixture they desire.

As homebrewers our favorite gruit that we brewed along with Frank Filacchione of Long Island Beer & Malt Enthusiasts used spruce tips, rosemary and citrus zest. The idea to brew a gruit developed slowly; we originally just knew we wanted to do something that would stand out among the hundreds of other brews at a beer festival. Since many breweries are producing beers with more and more hops, we thought it would be interesting to go another way. As Filacchione put it, “Regular beer can get boring sometimes. Where else can you taste and smell herbs in a beer?” The brewing process is very similar, with the only difference coming at the point where hops would normally be added. Otherwise most homebrew recipes can be adapted to include herbal bittering and flavoring agents instead of hops. If you’re feeling adventurous and want to try something new Williams Brothers Fraoch Heather Ale, The Beer Diviner Ancient Gruit (made upstate) and Professor Fritz Briem 13th Century Grut Bier are all commercial examples available on Long Island.

The Mash of our Gruit Ale

The Mash of our Gruit Ale

Blond on Blonde : November 20 at The Lark in East Northport

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Blond on Blonde

Back in May, the Brewer’s East End Revival hosted their 18th annual home brewing competition. Each year beers from around the country are sent in to the B.E.E.R. Brew-Off with the hopes they will receive positive feedback and perhaps take home a prize. Nearly 200 beers were judged in multiple categories at this years event with prizes being given out for best stout of the day all the way to best in show, but there was no award coveted more than the Brewer’s Cup.

“Why?” you may ask. Each year the Brewer’s Cup winning beer, which is selected by a local Long Island brewery, has their homebrew recipe scaled up and professionally brewed. Last years winner was Bobby Rodriguez, who is now getting ready to launch his very own venture: Poboy Brewery. His award winning Imperial Force was brewed by Port Jeff Brewing Co. and has now been aging for over a year, with a bottle release coming soon. At 2014’s brew-off, Greenport Harbor Brewing Company selected and would ultimately brew the wining beer. After a long day of deliberations where DJ Swanson, head brewer of GHBC participated in the judging, a winner emerged: Jim & Jean Thoms’ Belgian Blond Ale.

The Thoms’, who have been brewing together for years, frequently show up to monthly B.E.E.R meetings and festivals across Long Island with delicious and meticulously crafted homebrew. The Blond was no exception and a couple months ago it was recreated at the new Greenport Harbor Brewing facility in Peconic. In case you’re wondering about the spelling difference, J&J spell their Blond the Beglian way (no “e”) while Greenport went with the Americanized version Blonde.

The Thoms are avid fans of Belgian style beer trying everything from Blond Ales, the lightest brews, to Tripels, the strongest, and even sour ales. Like the brewmasters of Belgium they have razor sharp focus when it comes to brewing, always striving to make a better beer. Each ale they create is brewed again and again the recipe being tinkered with each time in an attempt to come close to their ideal. Since the competition, Jim & Jean have brewed their Blond five more times at home based on the winning recipe. They have cultivated and used the same yeast bed for each batch, making small tweaks along the way to perfect the beer.

Thursday will offer patrons a unique opportunity to taste both the homebrewed and professional versions of J&J Blond(e) Ale side by side at The Lark in East Northport. Additionally, Greenport IPA and 2014 Cuvaison will be on tap. Cuvaison is brewed using local wine grapes and this will be one of the first times it’s available this year. Specials for B.E.E.R members will be running throughout the event, and Karp’s was generous enough to donate grain for a raffle. We will be there, will you?