2014 Brewhouse Rarities Series Announced by Flying Dog 

Flying Dog BreweryThe Flying Dog staff have returned from the annual Brewhouse Rarities pitch session at Gambrill State Park, and craft beer enthusiasts can rejoice. Brewmaster Matt Brophy and his crew of brewers have evaluated the suggestions and selected eight to brew in 2014.

According to Brophy, the “pitches range from unearthing ancient beer styles to experimenting with new and innovative ingredients.”

Starting Jan. 1, Flying Dog will release a new Brewhouse Rarity every six weeks, exclusively in the mid-Atlantic markets (lucky us!) The chosen 8 are:

  • Mango Habanero IPA
  • Mint Chocolate Stout
  • Ginger Beer
  • Agave Lager
  • Lemongrass Rice Ale
  • Hoppy American Wheat
  • Honey Ale
  • Dopplebock

Of the 8, all will be available on draft, and Mint Chocolate Stout, Agave Lager, Hoppy American Wheat and Dopplebock will be available on draft and in 6-packs.

I’m really excited about getting my hands on some of these beers, especially the mint chocolate stout (oh, the things I could bake with it!)




5 Fall Brews You Need to Try 

Southern Tier PumpkingThere’s a lot to love about the fall season: the more comfortable clothes, the smells of chimneys and grills, and, of course, the autumn-only brews. And what better way to enjoy those beverages than by having a few while catching up on your gaming catalog? That goes for both console and online gamers, though especially the latter if you dabble in gambling. Online casino Betfair, for example, allows all the luxuries (i.e., winning money) of going to an actual casino without actually going to a casino. Because who wants to deal with parking, crowds, and lackluster beer selection. Also, when you stay home to do a bit of gaming, you’ll be able to enjoy tastier (and cheaper) brews than those available at a smoke-filled venue. Now let’s get to the brews:

  • Sierra Nevada’s devESTATEtion: Despite having a lackluster estate ale this year because of a bad harvest, Sierra Nevada went back to the drawing board and churned out a superb IPA with citrus notes and great hop flavor. The only problem is that it’s super-limited, so you might have some trouble finding a bottle. If you do, though, don’t pass it up.
  • Southern Tier’s Pumking: We just had to have one pumpkin-flavored beer on here. The ale is easily the best pumpkin-related brew you could imagine thanks to its caramel notes and one hell of a kick. Unlike others of its ilk, it boasts a strong ABV at 8.6 percent.
  • Avery’s The Kaiser: In addition to a pumpkin beer, we needed to include at least one Oktoberfest. And without question, the Kaiser is the way to go if you’re a fan of these full-bodied and toasty brews. It’s also got a huge kick to it at 10.2 percent ABV, so pace yourself.
  • Sixpoint’s Autumnation: If you like your beer to have a nice dose of bitterness in addition to citrus/berry notes, you need to try the Autumnation. What’s especially fun about this particular brew is that Sixpoint allows its fans to pick the hops used in the batch. The Mosaic hops chosen give away to the taste we just described.
  • Founders’ Breakfast Stout: Chocolate and coffee-flavored beer drinkers: You better be enjoying this brew or else you are seriously missing out. If you’re unfamiliar, save it for a cold and rainy day and it’ll for sure warm you up.

If you get your hands on one of these, let us know what you think in the comments!




Enjoying Flying Dog’s Brewhouse Rarities Green Tea Imperial Stout 

Flying Dog Brewhouse Rarities Green Tea Imperial StoutThanks to the generous folks at Flying Dog, I was able to try 1 of the 3 bottled Brewhouse Rarities, the 10% Green Tea Imperial Stout. The beer was released in February 2013 and follows the simple criteria that all the rarities are held to: “Too weird to live, too rare to die.”

Ray and I sat down with a 750 mL of the beer Wednesday night, and here are our thoughts:

The beer pours jet black and opaque with a fluffy mocha head that lingers. I picked up sweet chocolate notes in the aroma, while Ray found nutty and crisp notes.

There was a medium mouthfeel, and I found that the stout coated my tongue, but pleasantly (no motor oil slickishness here).

I found the Green Tea Imperial Stout to be mega chocolatey, yet still balanced. Ray noticed a lot of dark fruit and molasses, as well as chocolate.

Unfortunately, neither one of us could pick up any green tea notes.

As I let the beer warm in my glass for 15-20 minutes, I thought I dedicated a slight herbal bitterness, but it was so hard to tell. I had Ray check and recheck, because he drinks green tea regularly, while I do not. He was unable to taste any green tea.

That said, this is an excellent imperial stout. The higher ABV is obvious, but it doesn’t hit you over the head. Ray felt that this style wasn’t the one to pair with green tea—maybe a pale ale would have been better?

Either way, I’m excited to work this beer into a baked good, which I plan to feature on my baking blog, Cupcake Friday Project. Stay tuned!

Disclosure: Flying Dog provided me with two bottles of Green Tea Imperial Stout so I could review it and develop a recipe for it on Cupcake Friday Project. My opinions are my own.






ACHIEVEability’s Food for Thought 2013 Event Is a Tasty Success 

Food for Thought

Saturday night, Ray and I attended ACHIEVEability’s Food for Thought 2013. Hosted at Urban Outfitter’s GORGEOUS Philadelphia Naval Yard headquarters, it was a night full of amazing food, drinks, and charitable giving.

After looking at the list of Philadelphia restaurants and chefs participating, we were extremely excited. Our favorite dishes included:

  • Foie gras soup with rose petal garnish and pumpernickel garnish from Kevin Sbraga of Sbraga (this was our ULTIMATE favorite … so luscious and flavorful)
  • Salmon tartar with lentils and blood orange vinaigrette from Peter Woolsey of Bistrot la Minette
  • Duck foie gras meatballs (in a super tasty broth!) from Ben Puchowitz of Matyson/CHeU Noodle Bar
  • Mortadella hot dog with spicy pickles and cabbage relish from Alla Spina, paired with Yards Brewing Co.’s IPA.

Mortadella hot dog and Yards IPAThe pairing of the mortadella hot dog and the IPA was great, though I wish they had stationed the two next to each other (Shake Shack was wedged in between, which was a little confusing). After we finished sharing our half of a hot dog, Ray said, “I want more. I want another hot dog.” So that means we’ll need to finally get over to Alla Spina!

Marcie Turney of Barbuzzo, Lolita and Jamonera also had two amazing offerings at her station: her famous  salted caramel budino, as well as a small bite that was composed of bread, a fresh cheese and cured pork that she was carving right at her table (I don’t have the specifics of the dish because her table was signless and she was near the band, so we couldn’t quite hear her). It was absolutely delicious, with so many developing flavors that you didn’t want to stop chewing to swallow. Marcie always wows us, and I was glad to see her at the event, along with all the other chefs who took the time to serve guests their fantastic food.

Disclosure: ACHIEVEability gave Ray and me 2 press passes to attend the Food for Thought 2013 event.




Beer Serves America … Literally 


[Editor's Note: While AB InBev and MillerCoors are known as the main funders of the Beer Institute, I still found these numbers to be interesting and wanted to share.]

Washington, D.C.—A new economic impact study released today shows America’s beer industry—made up of brewers, beer importers, beer distributors, brewer suppliers and retailers—directly and indirectly contributes $246.6 billion annually to the U.S. economy.

The American beer industry includes:

  • 2,851 brewing establishment
  • 3,728 distributors
  • 576,353 retailers

Jointly commissioned by the Beer Institute (BI) and the National Beer Wholesalers Association (NBWA), the Beer Serves America study shows that the industry generates more than two million American jobs, accounting for nearly $79 billion in wages and benefits and more than $246.6 billion in economic activity. The industry also contributed $49.1 billion dollars in the form of business, personal and consumption taxes in 2012.

“Beer serves America at virtually every level of the economy, from the two million employees, to the small businesses in middle class communities, and the important tax revenues at the local, state and national levels,” said Tom Long, CEO of MillerCoors and chairman of the Beer Institute. “From farmers to factory-workers, from brewery-hands to bartenders, beer puts Americans to work.”

“As independent businesses, America’s licensed beer distributors are proud to provide more than 130,000 quality jobs with solid wages and great benefits to employees in every state and congressional district across the country,” said Bob Archer, president of Blue Ridge Beverage Co., Inc. in Salem, Virginia, and chairman of NBWA.

According to the study, the beer industry directly employs nearly 1.1 million people, paying nearly $31.8 billion in wages and benefits, among brewers, distributors and retailers, such as supermarkets, convenience stores, restaurants, bars and stadiums. Indirectly, the industry generates nearly $153.2 billion in economic activity in agriculture, manufacturing, construction, transportation and other sectors.

“In addition to providing quality jobs with solid wages, the independent, three-tier beer distribution system provides transparency and accountability and works to ensure alcoholic beverages are sold only to licensed retailers who in turn are responsible for selling only to adults of legal drinking age,” added NBWA President Craig Purser.  “This time-tested system, in which America’s beer distributors play a critical role, ensures that brewers of all sizes can reach a wide network of retailers and American consumers can enjoy tremendous choice and variety—13,000 different labels of beer—at a great value.”

“These numbers demonstrate that our industry continues to create quality jobs, build our economy and generate important domestic revenue in an economy that needs every job we can support,” said Joe McClain, president of the Beer Institute. “For this reason, it is important that state and federal officials consider equitable tax policies and avoid harming an industry that is so effectively aiding economic growth.”

The Beer Serves America economic impact study was conducted by John Dunham & Associates based in New York City and covers data compiled in 2012. The complete study, including state-by-state and congressional district breakdowns of economic contributions, is available at www.BeerServesAmerica.org.

The Beer Institute, established in 1986, is the national trade association for the brewing industry, representing both large and small brewers, as well as importers and industry suppliers. The Institute is committed to the development of sound public policy and to the values of civic duty and personal responsibility: www.beerinstitute.org.

The National Beer Wholesalers Association (NBWA) represents the interests of 3,300 licensed, independent beer distributor operations in every state, congressional district and media market across the country. Beer distributors are committed to ensuring alcohol is provided safely and responsibly to consumers of legal drinking age through the three-tier, state-based system of alcohol regulation and distribution. To learn more about America’s Beer Distributors, visit http://www.nbwa.org.




Yards Brewing Co. Steps It Up as Food for Thought Beer Sponsor 


On March 23, ACHIEVEability is hosting its 2013 Food for Thought fundraiser in the Philadelphia Navy Yard. The night will be filled with amazing small plates from more than 25 of the top chefs and restaurants in the City of Brotherly Love, and for all you beer lovers out there, you’re not forgotten: Yards Brewing Co. is the event’s exclusive beer sponsor.

If you’re a Philly beer fan, then you know and love Yards–their beers are solid classics. Not a lot of muss and fuss, no strange ingredients, just hitting all the notes in styles ranging from pale ales to stouts and porters and a spring-time favorite, saison.

The brewery with its brewing roots in British-style ales will be pouring 2 favorites: the Philadelphia Pale Ale (a favorite of mine … so crisp!) and Brawler.

But here’s an even more exciting tidbit: If you happen to find yourself attending Food for Thought (which you really should … it’s SUCH a great cause), then don’t miss the pairing that Yards and Alla Spina have in store for you. Yards will be pairing their IPA with Alla Spina’s mortadello hotdogs, which are typically served at the restaurant with spicy pickles and cabbage relish. And we all know how well IPAs pair with spicy foods, so this is going to be a real treat.

Food for Thought

ACHIEVEability is an agency that permanently breaks the cycle of poverty for low-income, single-parent and homeless families. ACHIEVEability provides housing and supportive services so parents can pursue higher education and become self-sufficient. Everything the organization does promotes accountability for families. This year, ACHIEVEability is celebrating 31 years of helping families achieve self-sufficiency.

The event is a dream for those who love the great food of Philadelphia. Attendees will be able to sample food, using sustainable VerTerra plates and flatware, from more than 25 of the top chefs and restaurants in the city. There are a lot of my favorite restaurants and chefs on the list, but I’m most excited to check out some that are new-to-me:

Jonathan Adams / Rival Bros 
Joseph Baldino / Zeppoli
Michael Deganis / Alla Spina
Dana Herbert / Desserts by Dana
Karl Isaiah / Cake Boulangerie
Ben Puchowitz / Matyson and Cheu Noodle Bar 
Kevin Sbraga / Sbraga
Sylva Senat / Tashan 

Aside from Yards being the exclusive beer sponsor, Capital Wines & Spirits is the wine and spirits sponsor for the event.

Now, on top of all the food and beverage goodness, there will be music and dancing, and an auction containing fantastic prizes, such as a romantic week for 2 in Belize.

The event is hosted at Urban Outfitters’ headquarters at the Naval Yard in Philadelphia (check the site for driving directions).

Purchase your tickets here and be prepared for a wonderful evening benefiting a great cause and a full belly!




Tartly Balanced Monk’s Flemish Sour Ale 

On 16th Street in Center City Philadelphia, you’ll see the black, red and yellow awning before you see the neon sign in the window:

Beer Emporium
Monk’s Café

Known as the soul of Belgium in the heart of Philadelphia, Monk’s Café is Tom Peter’s Belgian beer mecca, and possibly one of the most beloved craft beer bars in the city. Boasting two draft bars, a bottle list the size of a phone book and a top notch menu, Monk’s satisfies the thirsty and hungry, and is almost always packed.

But the Belgian bar takes it one step further: Monk’s Cafe has its own Flemish Sour Ale, brewed and bottled by Browerij Van Steenberge.

I’ve had the Flemish Sour on tap several times, but when I saw a bottle on my local liquor store shelf, I knew I had to have it for a night when I couldn’t make it out to Monk’s.

The beer pours a dark red-brown with virtually no head. There’s a nip of tartness in the nose, just to remind you that you’re drinking a proper Belgian sour. The beer is rich with plum notes and other fruit, and I was happy to see no strong traces of vinegar (I had a sour brown once at an Italian restaurant and the vinegar smell and taste were overpowering!).

According to the bottle, the beer is blend of young and old, which probably accounts for how balanced it is. At 5.5% ABV, the beer is a thirst quencher without being a stool-toppler. I think it would pair well with any red meat (perhaps steak frites?) or even venison. A must find if you’re in the Philadelphia area!




Hazelnut Brown Nectar Ice Cream with Brown Butter Almond Tuile Cups 

Making a dessert with beer can be one of the easiest “cooking with beer” tasks you can do, depending on the dessert (if you can’t bake a regular cake to save your life, then baking a cake with beer in it might not be any different, sorry to say). But, if you can crack open a bottle of craft beer, pour it in a goblet, and then scoop in your favorite ice cream, then voila! You’ve just made a beer ice cream float, and trust me, it’s delicious.

But that’s not actually making a dessert with beer. So let’s try a one that is: Homemade beer ice cream. If you have an ice cream maker and the ingredients, then you’re all set. If you don’t have an ice cream maker, but REALLY like ice cream, think about spending $40 and getting the machine. It’s worth it, and a great way to wow guests at dinner parties.

I did this just the other night when friends came over; I made a Rogue Hazelnut Brown Nectar ice cream with Spiced Brown Butter Almond Tuile Cups. Now, only the ice cream has the beer in it, but if you want to fancy things up a bit, I suggest making the tuile cups—they’re easy, they’re tasty, and you could probably figure out how to use a little beer in them as well.

But first, the ice cream.

I use a base recipe that is for a Philadelphia-style ice cream (it doesn’t contain eggs, so you don’t have to fuss with cooking it—bonus!)

Hazelnut Brown Nectar Ice Cream
2 cups light cream
1 cup beer (I used Rogue’s Hazelnut Brown Nectar)
1 cup sugar
Pinch of kosher salt

Whisk the ingredients together until combined; pour into your ice cream maker and process per the manufacturer’s instructions. I’ve noticed that when I make beer ice cream, the final product out of the ice cream maker is the consistency of soft serve, but once I get it into the freezer, it firms up. You could also use heavy cream, which thickens the finished product a bit, but I had light cream on hand and rolled with it.

If you were going to serve this without the tuile cups, then during the last 5 minutes of the processing time you could add nuts like almonds or hazelnuts to amp up the nuttiness. Or just add them as toppings when you serve them.

Now for the tuile cups. I originally found the recipe in Bon Appetit magazine, but have made a few changes.

Brown Butter Almond Tuile Cup Ingredients
7 tablespoons unsalted butter
2 large egg whites
1/2 cup sugar
Pinch of Chinese five-spice powder
Pinch of salt
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
2/3 cup minus 1 tablespoon all purpose flour
1/8 cup finely chopped almonds

Preheat to 350°F. Line 2 large rimmed baking sheets with parchment paper or nonstick silicone baking mats. Place 4 pint glasses, upside down, on the countertop.

Stir butter in small saucepan over medium heat until nutty brown and milk solids are dark brown, 6 to 7 minutes. Carefully pour browned butter into small bowl and cool slightly.

Combine egg whites, sugar, five-spice powder, and salt in medium bowl; whisk until mixture is foamy, about 1 minute. Add warm browned butter, leaving dark brown milk solids behind in bowl; whisk until blended. Whisk in vanilla. Add flour and whisk until blended and smooth.

Drop batter by tablespoonfuls onto the baking sheets, spacing so you fit 3-4 cookies on each sheet. Spread out using an offset spatula or butter knife, getting the batter thin and to the shape of a 4-5 inch circle. Sprinkle almonds over each.

Bake the tuiles, 1 sheet at a time, until evenly golden all over, about 11 minutes. Working quickly and using wide metal spatula (hint spray the spatula with a little non-stick cooking spray), carefully lift each tuile immediately drape over pint glass. Press the tuile to mold to the bottom of the glass, making cookie bowls. Cool until tuiles are set. Repeat making total of 12 cookie bowls, or less, depending on how many guests you may have.

Scoop the ice cream into a cup and garnish with a cookie shard on top. The nuttiness of the ice cream and the nuttiness of the brown butter and almonds go together well. Definitely give this a try!

A few notes on beer ice cream:
• I’ve found sweet, malty beers work best for this, though I’d be interested to see a big, citrusy IPA in ice cream form—I’m curious if the flavor and aroma would make it through the freezing process, or if you’d be left with bitter cream.
• If making a stout ice cream, add a little unsweetened cocoa powder (maybe a tablespoon or 2). This amps up the chocolate flavors in the beer, and is especially wonderful (I had great luck doing this with Middle Ages Brewing Co.’s Dragon Slayer Imperial Stout.
• Yes, you will taste the alcohol. You will taste the beer. If you have friends over that do not like beer, I suggest serving them French vanilla with the cups.




Feel the Burn: Rogue’s Chipotle Ale 

Rogue's Chipotle AleI grew up in a household that used the McCormick’s Mild spice blend when my mom made chili. I didn’t have a jalapeno until I ventured outside the realm’s of living with my family. So spicy food wasn’t really on my radar.

But things have changed; I make homemade chicken chili with jalapenos, I regularly make up batches of homemade sriracha (and nearly destroy my hands when I handled the peppers improperly), and I am always up for trying a chile ale.

My first was Patty’s Chile Beer from Wynkoop. I found it a bit too pepper-y for my tastes, but nonetheless very balanced and tasty. So, when I saw Rogue’s Chipotle Ale on the shelf at Wegman’s, I knew I had to snag a bomber and give it a shot.

According to Rogue’s website, the beer recipe is based off of the brewery’s American Amber Ale and the chipotle chiles are roasted, which is evident in the nose. Their smokey goodness explodes from the pint glass—you don’t even have to bring the glass up to your face to know that there is some serious chile action going down.

The beer pours a hazy amber, with a thick, fluffy head. Great for taking pictures. But possibly the best thing about this extremely drinkable ale is that the smokey chile flavor is completely balanced; you realize that you’re still drinking beer and not a liquefied chile. And the chipotle on top is the pleasant slow burn that lingers, begging you to take another sip.

Rogue’s Chipotle Ale took silver at the 2009 World Beer Championships and silver again at the 2010 Australian International Beer Awards. It’s definitely craft beer I won’t hesitate to pick up in the future, maybe to pair with a pulled pork or pull chicken sandwich. Yum!




Looking at the Bottom of the Glass: Oatmeal Stouts 

Oatmeal StoutI thought I’d take a moment to take a look at one of my favorite styles of beer since our carboys and most equipment for brewing have been packed up for the eventual move … now we just need to find a tenant and an adorable apartment to call out own! (More on that later)

Much like the oatmeal your mother encouraged you to eat during the winters of your childhood, oatmeal stouts have been described as “nutritional” in the past, especially for breastfeeding mothers (the practice of drinking stouts while lactating is still supported by many, as seen by a quick Google search).

But oatmeal stouts aren’t just for the ladies—mothers or otherwise—they are an excellent beer for anyone to drink and brew at home.

According to the BJCP Guidelines, oatmeal stouts are a subcategory of stouts (category 13) and have a medium-light to medium-full bodied, creamy mouth feel. Brewers can thank the oats for their beer’s mouthfeel; the grain’s addition to the brew kettle gives this type of stout its recognizable silky texture without adding too much sweetness.

Aroma is rich with coffee and roastiness—most often from the darker malts used, like black patent. Flavor mimics the aroma; oatmeal stouts are described as roasty, malty and sometimes chocolately, depending on the malt bill. Appearance is brownish-black, with a latte-colored head that can be thin-to-thick, depending on the glassware and pour.

Hops are not the stars of this beer, and should be selected to balance the malt; many brewers like to use East Kent Goldings, a traditional hop variety from the UK. More specifically, the IBUs for this style should range from 25-40 for a regular-strength (non-imperial) oatmeal stout.

The amount of oats used in each recipe differs, but most home brewers should shoot for 1-1.5 pounds of oats per 5 gallon batch. Also, something to note is John Palmer’s opinion on cooking oats before adding to the mash.

From his website:

Rolled and flaked oats have had their starches gelatinized (made soluble) by heat and pressure, and are most readily available as “Instant Oatmeal” in the grocery store. Whole oats and “Old Fashioned Rolled Oats” have not had the degree of gelatinization that Instant have had and must be cooked before adding to the mash. … Cook according to the directions on the box (but add more water) to ensure that the starches will be fully utilized.

If you’re not familiar with this style, it’s always a wise idea to try a few varieties from your local pub or liquor store first to decide what qualities you want to impart in your brew. Samuel Smith’s Oatmeal Stout is a classic, pouring a deep brown-black with a thick, mocha-colored head and giving off coffee and roast in its nose. But if you’re looking for something a little out of the ordinary, then Stone Brewing Co.’s 12th Anniversary Ale would have done the trick (if you can still find a bottle hidden somewhere in a cellar). This ale was more commonly known as the Bitter Chocolate Oatmeal Stout, and it packs an intense flavor punch in the way of dark chocolate, coffee, and roastiness. According to the label, the 2007 hop shortage contributed to the genius of this beer because the brewers opted to use unsweetened chocolate from Chuao Chocolatier for most of this oatmeal stout’s bittering.

For novice homebrewers, it might be best to lean more toward the traditional angle of this style, but if you have a bit of a creative streak, go hell-bent for challenging the style’s guidelines and try adding chocolate, fruit, or even infusions of tea.