The Session #47 — Cooking With Beer 

Welcome to The Session, a monthly event for beer and brewing bloggers! This is Session #30, for which Beer 47 writer David  have chosen the topic Cooking With Beer.

Looking back at our archives, the last Session we participated in also was hosted by Beer 47, discussing beer desserts. Small world right? While poking around in our archives, I did find an excellent cooking-with-beer recipe from Ray, dating back to May 2009. So I decided to dust it off and share it again.

Pulled Pork in Kolsch Sauce with Sauerkraut
3 lbs pork shoulder
12 fl oz kolsch
3 or 4 star anise pods
2 tbsp dried rosemary
4 or 5 bay leaves
salt and pepper to taste
3 tbsp dark brown sugar
1 tbsp minced garlic
1 Tbsp ground cinnamon
1 tsp ground cloves
1 tsp cumin
1 tsp ground cardamom
1 Tbsp coriander
1 tsp ground ginger
1/4 tsp ground cayenne
freshly ground nutmeg to taste
1 15 oz can sauerkraut
1/2 c minced onion
1 Tbsp olive oil
A few pinches salt
2 Tbsp Dijon mustard

Pulled pork in kolsch sauce, sauerkraut and wilted dandellion greens

Pulled pork in kolsch sauce, sauerkraut and wilted dandelion greens

Cut pork shoulder into 2″ steaks. Make sure to cut perpendicular to the grain so the pork will be easy to shred when it’s cooked. Season liberally with salt and pepper.

Combine shoulder steaks, kolsch, star anise, rosemary, and bay leaves in a large saucepan over low heat. Cook for at least three hours, flipping the pork halfway through.

Remove pork and set aside. Strain herbs out of the kolsch and scrape the bits of cooked meat stuck to the bottom of the pan. Add brown sugar and garlic and simmer over high heat until thickened and caramelized. It will smell like burnt sugar when it’s ready.

While the sauce reduces, shred the pork. The easiest way to to this is to hold the meat in place with tongs, and use a large-toothed steak knife or bread knife to gently pull the meat apart. The slow cooking will have weakened the connective tissue, allowing you to shred the meat without much force.

When the sauce is dark and thick, add the spices and stir. Return the pork to the pan and turn it with tongs to coat it evenly with sauce.

While the meat rests, prepare the sauerkraut. In a separate pan, combine oil, onion, and salt and cook over medium heat until the onions are tender. Add sauerkraut and mustard, mix until ingredients are evenly distributed, and cook over medium heat for five minutes.

Serve pork on toasted kaiser rolls with a little bit of sauerkraut.

The recipe here calls for kolsch, but any malty beer will do. Your best bets are probably kolsch, anything Belgian (especially dubbel), brown ale, malty English beers and sweeter stouts (perhaps even a coffee stout).

Check out Ray’s original stroke of genius here. Cheers!




Session #30 — Brewing Up Dessert 

Session Logo -- High-ResWelcome to The Session, a monthly event for beer and brewing bloggers! This is Session #30, for which Beer 47 writer David  have chosen the topic “Beer Desserts.”

Ahh dessert. The realm where I feel most comfortable because it’s one of my specialities — so much so that I just left my desk to go bake my favorite chocolate chip cookie recipe, although it doesn’t contain beer.

I have made 3 beer desserts I can recall. My first was a spice cake using Victory’s Storm King Imperial Stout, frosted with a quadrupel-spiced buttercream. I baked it for my 26th birthday, and guests seemed impressed.

We’ve made stout floats with Stone 12th Anniversary Bitter Chocolate Oatmeal Stout and a mocha java chip ice cream — and I think we’ve also used North Coast Brewing’s Old Rasputin and Stoudt’s Fat Dog.

Geeeez, those were some delicious floats.

I’ve also baked with liquid malt extract in place of molasses, creating my cherry oatmeal cookies, which were insanely good. Mmmm … cookies.

While baking my chocolate chip cookies and pondering beer desserts, I picked Ray’s brain for ideas. He thinks that any Belgian Strong, Tripel, Dubbel or Barleywine could be used with fruit somehow — so I suggested their use in a pie filling. Hmmm … a mincemeat pie dressed with a little English Barleywine in the filling? It could be delish. Ray also suggested making a reduction of a beer with some brown sugar and serving it over warmed fruit, with a spot of fresh whipped cream.

As for desserts we’ve ordered out, we have to tip our hats to the folks at Dogfish Head. We have shared the  Chocolate Chicory Stout Cheesecake, which interestingly enough, is made with blue cheese and is insanely rich, and we have also shared the DFH Stout Sundae, which consists of vanilla ice cream, Chicory Stout chocolate sauce, whipped cream, and a hop-infused brownie.

What I think is important to consider when creating a beer dessert is that you must have a plan of action for dealing with the bitterness. Balance is crucial. If you’re going to reduce a beer for a sauce, you don’t want to reduce it to an unappetizing sticky mess.

So I think this might mean no IPA-infused cookies. Nevertheless, I’m sure there’s a place for bright, grassy beers, just maybe not dessert.




Session #29 — The Marketable Mecca 

Session Logo -- High-ResWelcome to The Session, a monthly event for beer and brewing bloggers! This is Session #29, for which Beer By BART writers Gail and Steve have chosen the topic, “Will Travel for Beer.”

As if our recent road trip wasn’t enough, we spent a 3-day weekend at the end of June in Rehoboth Beach, Delaware to relax our way up and down the boardwalk and partake liberally in the offerings at Dogfish Head’s brewpub, Dogfish Head Brewings & Eats. Over the course of two delicious meals, we got to try several Dogfish rarities.

I started with a pint of 90 Minute IPA, already one of my favorite Imperial IPAs, piped through Randall the Enamel Animal. After a trip through Randall, a lot of the carbonation is lost due to the turbulence, which allows the malt to shine through a bit more, and the extra helping of whole leaf hops adds a pungent flowery, citrusy aroma and flavor that takes a beer already cranked up to 11 well beyond the next level.

Dogfish Head Yum YumsThen there was Mel’s pint of Grau Dunkel, a German style Dunkelweizen brewed with wheat malts smoked over the oak chips that Dogfish uses to age their Brown Honey Rum, giving the beer a complex combination of smokey vanilla, honey, and molasses flavors that could not compliment each other better.

Finally, Pale India Ale was a Belgian style pale ale brewed with Fenugreek, Big Elachi, Green Elachi, Kalonji Onion, Garam Masala, and Tamarind Paste. I don’t know what most of those are, either, but the result is nothing short of fascinating, with sweet, Belgian pale malt flavors and neutral hop bitterness mixing with prominent Indian spices, of which I found the two Elachi spices (cardamom) to be the most pronounced.

Each beer was completely unique, and only available at the brewpub. These were alongside various vintage beer offerings and Dogfish Head’s extensive line of delicious spirits. We picked up a bottle of Squall IPA, Sah’tea, a 2006 bottle of Immort Ale, and a bottle of BE, a distilled honey mead. These exclusive items got Mel and I thinking about the business strategy of building a wide-spanning bottle distribution while also maintaining a pub to call home base.

When it comes to raw numbers, I can’t imagine that Brewings & Eats contributes more than 10% of Dogfish Head’s yearly revenue stream. That may even be a bit high, actually. On paper, the pub appears to be nothing more than a nice little value-add for the books.

But man does it ever please the fanboys. Many, many people enjoy Dogfish Head’s beer; that is a given. Most of them will probably never go to the trouble of trekking through Slower Lower Delaware to get to the pub, but for potential hardcore fans, Brewings & Eats provides a sort of Mecca to which one can make a rewarding pilgrimage, drawn by visions of exclusive beers and unique souvenirs.

After a weekend of feasting on the pub’s excellent food and limited edition brews, weighed down with t-shirts and branded glassware and high on beached relaxation, patrons return home transformed into loyal minions spreading the news of just how very immensely great Dogfish Head is. If each visitor convinces even one acquaintance to take a trip to the pub for themselves, the word-of-mouth will explode into a cascade of consumer awareness.

As far as buzzwords go, you can’t get much more apt than “viral”.




Session #28 — Think/Drink Globally 

Session Logo -- High-ResWelcome to The Session, a monthly event for beer and brewing bloggers! This is Session #28, for which our friend and beer odyssey writer at Red, White, and Brew Brian Yaeger has chosen the topic, “Think/Drink Globally.” Brian writes: … “in honor of Global Craft Beer Forever, I pose everyone writes about the farthest brewery (including brewpubs) you have visited and specifically the best beer you had there.”

For me, the farthest brewpub I’ve been to is Gordon Biersch in Las Vegas. As you may remember, last October I was out there on business, amid a sea of Miller Lites and rum and Diet Coke. It was a sad, sad situation.

But on the last night out there we had our group dinner at Gordon Biersch. I remember that I started my evening with Gordon Biersch’s seasonal, which was a festbier. This style is not normally my thing, but this brew was nice and malty, as well as crisp. I ordered the goat cheese ravioli in brown butter sauce with spinach, mushrooms and pine nuts, and the festbier was a nice complement.

Now, we don’t have any festbiers lurking around the house, though Brian did instruct us to either drink some of the same beer, whether it be the exact beer, or a similar style. Because I rarely drink festbiers, the only brew I can think of to compare with GB’s would be Victory’s Festbier. I’ll go even farther to say that I think I may have preferred GB’s fall seasonal, but overall and pound for pound of malt, I have to say I prefer Victory’s beers.

RayI think I’ve had a Heineken in Amsterdam, back when I was a kid. Technically, I guess I should be writing about that, but, yeah, no.

The place I’d like to talk about is Glacier Brewhouse, way up in Anchorage, Alaska, where the sun goes down for months at a time, sidewalks are in the middle of the street, and local ordinances prohibit male babysitters, toilets that require the user to jiggle the handle when flushed, and rhyming. Anchorage is very very weird and you should never let anyone tell you that it’s actually perfectly normal and resembles a less populated Philadelphia with wider streets. These are falsehoods.

(Now that I think of it, Anchorage is probably farther away from South Jersey than Amsterdam is, actually, so this works out.)

Glacier Brewhouse was a welcome and surprising discovery during my trip to Alaska with my sister and my parents a few years ago. Days of cruising and bussing with nothing to drink but salmon had left us aching for some Good Beer, so we were thrilled when the tour guide made a passing mention of the place when we asked about nearby restaurants.

The interior is immensely spacious, with enough dining area for probably 100-150 people spread out amongst tables, a capacious bar, and a long high top that could probably seat 10-15 people on either side. The building has a feel that blends rustic and plush styling. A big fireplace sits in the middle of the dining room.

Glacier has an exhaustive line of beers aged in oak barrels from Jim Beam distillery in Kentucky. The only one available when we were there was the Beam Scottish Ale, which is the beer that stands out in my memory above all others from the brewery.

Unfortunately, I believe their beer is unavailable outside of the brewhouse (or at the very least isn’t available here), and strong Scottish ales are just now coming out of season for me and my habits, so I don’t have anything comparable on hand, but I can easily describe this beauty from memory: Big, slick body with lots of caramel notes that swirl around a dark orange pint of delight with delicious (and pungent!) bourbon and vanilla flavors. Very malty and sweet, it was an unusually long-term sipper for a beer that was only around 6-7% alcohol.

We hit the place twice on our trip, and remarkably, the beer tasted noticeably different between the two visits. On the first dinner there, the beer was much heavier on the vanilla, but on the second night several days later, the bourbon was much more aggressive. We must have gotten a fresher barrel the second time.




Session #27 — Ginpel 

Session LogoWelcome to The Session, a monthly event for beer and brewing bloggers! This is Session #27, for which Beer at Joe’s writers Joe and Jasmine has chosen the topic, “Beer Cocktails: Beyond the Black & Tan”.

This is probably going to be the shortest Session post ever. I call it a Ginpel. Ready? Add a shot of gin to some tripel. Imbibe.

I’ll wait until you’ve picked yourself back up off the floor.

Let’s make it official with a formal recipe:


2 oz gin
12 oz Belgian style tripel

Pour tripel vigorously over gin to raise a good head. Drink. Seek local non-profit organization to help you recover.

The first time I did this, I used our homebrewed tripel and Dogfish Head Jin. Dogfish makes the best gin ever, but unfortunately it’s almost impossible to find if you don’t live in Delaware or South Jersey. We’ve only ever seen it at their brewpub in Rehoboth Beach, ourselves.

What makes their gin special, apart from the spelling, is the use of rosemary, pineapple mint, and green peppercorns in addition to the usual juniper berries, giving it a crisp mix of citrusy and spicy flavors, and also making it immensely fragrant. All of these qualities blend superbly with the sweet and fruity tripel.

If all you have on hand is regular gin, the cocktail will still taste good, but it might pay to steep some of your gin with the missing herbs and spices for a few days, at least if you can find them. Pineapple mint and green peppercorns will probably be difficult to locate, but I’m betting regular mint and black or white peppercorns will be a decent approximation. If anything, you should be adding a branch of rosemary to every bottle of gin you bring home anyway.

Okay, so I guess that wasn’t as short as I thought it would be.

This discovery inspired us to try adding juniper and rosemary to our next batch of tripel. We’ll probably do it in August or September, so keep an eye out for that.




Session #22 — Repeal Day and the Failure of Representative Government 

Welcome to The Session, a monthly event in which beer and brewing bloggers get together to all write about a chosen topic on the same day! This is Session #19, for which 21st Amendment Brewery writers Nico Freccia and Shaun O’Sullivan has chosen the topic, “The Repeal of Prohibition”.

Happy Repeal Day! 75 years ago today, the United States of America ratified the 21st Amendment to the Constitution, repealing the 18th Amendment, which banned the manufacture and sale of alcoholic beverages, and returning to the people the right to consume alcohol! The system works, and no harm done! Obviously!

Agh, my head…

A lot of people, especially beer drinkers and brewers, view December 5th with a great deal of reverence. In ways, it’s justified; not having a freedom restricted is probably something to celebrate — I certainly wouldn’t begrudge anyone their revelry. To me, though, Repeal Day symbolizes the inherent failure of modern democracy to govern effectively.

Prohibition was one of the most universally reviled pieces of legislation in American history. It was an act of cut and dried oppression that, despite public disapproval, lurched through Congress and state legislatures on a platform of moral and religious activism (separation of church and state indeed!), turning the American people into a nation of criminals overnight.

Few people are still alive who remember the days of Prohibition vividly enough to appreciate the gravity of the 18th Amendment’s passing. It forced higher federal income taxes — thanks for setting that up, 16th Amendment! — to counter the loss of revenue from alcohol taxes. It created violent black markets. It turned some law enforcers into corrupt pawns of gangs looking to smuggle their newly illegal wares around the country, and turned the rest of the police into goons enforcing an unjust law.

Though remarkable, it should not be the least bit surprising that such an unpopular piece of legal detritus could ever appear in the United States Constitution. I stress this to people all the time: No public official at any level of the United States government is required to execute the will of his or her constituents. We expect our legislators to answer to us, and in many cases, they do, but a Republic is nothing more than a dictatorship with the blessing of the people.

We give our elected officials free rein the moment they enter office, rarely removing them for misbehavior until their term of office is up, usually long after the damage has been done. But we tolerate this by comforting ourselves with the belief that we’ve got freedom and democracy right and that no other country has figured it out. Meanwhile, our government erodes our freedoms on a daily basis under the marionette strings of wealthy benefactors and pious zealots.

Repeal Day reminds me of the inherent flaws in representative governance, and of the lolling complacency that Americans have given themselves to about it. It reminds me that in politics, it is far less important to be right than it is to be convincing. Most of all, it reminds me that the desires of the powerful few will always outweigh the needs of the common many, so long as the people remain so ignorant as to believe any suited figure that tells them that it knows what’s best for them.




Session #20 Latecomers 

A couple people came forward with Session #20 posts in the last week. Just so they’re not left out, here they are:

  • Suzanne, the Beer Lass, whom Mel had the pleasure of meeting at The Royal Stumble this year, was late to the party with her first ever Session post, but she has quite a lot of memories to share — so many, in fact, that they have palpable mass when combined.
  • JP has a handful of memories himself, one of which is about grad school, which made me cry due to sympathy pain.

Okay? All right, that’s enough.




Session #21 Announced 

The 21st topic for the monthly beer blogging event The Session has been announced by Matt over there at A World of Brews. He writes:

When looking at the past topics I felt that they were all a little to easy. They weren’t loaded enough for me. No one has asked the the one question that I am guessing all of you have heard. This question has probably come from friends, family, stangers from the bar, etc everytime you bring up you are really into beer.

That question is: What is your favorite Beer and Why?

Before you say I don’t have a favorite beer or how do I pick just one. I say BS everyone has a favorite. There will always be a beer that you would grab above all others, your go to beer per say. The one beer you will almost always choose over the others. When I get asked that question I almost always say I don’t have one but then when I came up with this topic I realized I did and I know you do too.

I would like to take this topic one step farther for purely selfish reasons. I am trying to do better reviews on beers that I drink and I would like to see how other rate and review their beers. So put on your BJCP hat and Review and Rate your Favorite Beer.

November 7th is the date of the next Session. Best of luck, Matt! You’re gonna love doing the roundup!





Session #20 Roundup 

Mel’s idea for Session #20 seems to have been a hit! Of course, now I have to round up everyone’s posts. Hurrrrr…

Here are all of the Session #20 posts that I know of, in the order that I found out about them. Email me if I missed you, and I’ll write a secondary roundup post on Friday.

  • Keith at Brainard Brewing channels some enchanted headwear as he reminisces about the early days of his home.
  • Matt comes to us from A World of Brews to talk about his rugby days, and the warm, flat can of Bud Light that stood between himself and his ride home. Because he is a rugby player, I advise against hugging him.
  • Steph Weber née Merkler (which is to say, she’s my sister, but I guess isn’t anymore ’cause we don’t have the same last name now) from beer.cook.pair.joy really liked the idea of moving to Malvern, PA, so much so that she and her husband drank and brewed quite a lot of beer there. PA greats Tröegs and Weyerbacher helped move them in. I helped, too. It was delicious, but the couch was awkward and heavy.
  • Al from Hop Talk drank some Brooklyn Brewery Oktoberfest at their Octoberfest celebration. Imagine! Sorry, that came out more sarcastic than I meant it to. Actually, it’s more like just a get together. Geez, I am not flattering this guy…
  • Alan has a good beer blog. He forgot his memory, though. He says he’ll get back to us, but for now, here’s some philosophical waxation.
  • Beer and memories: Captain Hops chimes in his way. He wrote some haiku.
  • Dan and Ethan at Beer-O-Vision had trips to Scotland and Ireland, respectively, making me painfully envious. Ethan has more to say about stuff from after he got back from Ireland, actually, but I wanted to point out that he went to Ireland because seriously guys I am very jealous by which I mean envious because jealous is technically the wrong word in this case.
  • Fun fact: Bionic Laura was the name Nintendo was originally considering for the main character in Metroid. I think it’s better than Samus Aran, personally. This sounds unbelievable, but Aran is in Laura’s blog’s name. No way that’s a coincidence. Anyway, she’s been all over the freaking place, apparently. Very cool.
  • Ted at Barley Vine talks about his introduction into a whole new world of beer. I think this is a dear memory for just about all of us.
  • Rob DeNunzio of the onomatopoeically named Pfiff! has a peculier memory to talk about. He made a “peculier” pun in his title, too, so I guess I’m not very original.
  • Jon at The Brew Site points out effectively that his brain is full.
  • Brian Yaeger of Red, White, & Brew, writing in with his very first Session post, has been to Russia. He’s been a lot of places. You might say he’s been on an Odyssey.
  • Bryon at Home Brew Beer has fond memories of Bass Ale. I heartily endorse his taste. I drank quite a lot of Bass in college. Mmm mmm mmm.
  • Lew Bryson, award-winning brewery guidebook guy, shows us just what a prolific beer fiend he is. Kudos!
  • Troy at Great Canadian Pubs and Beer takes us back to Henry House in Halifax before indulging in some well-earned name dropping.
  • Mario from Brewed For Thought sips a few Belgians and transports his psyche back to his olden days. Ah, the olden days. So olden.
  • E. S., whose Thirst is Relentless, has been followed through life by Bell’s Two Hearted Ale. It has been lurking in the shadows. Ooooooo.
  • Stan Hieronymus (whose name I am finally capable of spelling correctly) at Appellation Beer stops off in Germany during his trek around the world for a Zoigl.
  • Roger of Bottled Llama has the best name for a beer blog out there. Best, that is, unless he ever wants to form a band, because he’ll never beat Bottled Llama as far as band names go. This will make him very sad, which will affect his music. He talks about cowboys and Old Milwaukee. Cowboys and Old Milwaukee would also be an awesome name for a band.
  • Over at Legal Beer, we hear of a trip through the Chunnel with Duvel. Does anyone else think Chunnel sounds like a brewing term? “Wait for the chunnel to settle before bottling.” “Boil the chunnel for ten minutes to sanitize it.” “Slightly cloying, with just a hint of chunnel.”
  • Jay at Brookston Beer Bulletin reminds us that it’s the memory that counts, not the beer. His romantic stinger seals the point.
  • Finally, everyone’s favorite Dublish Beer Nut talks about his trip to Belgium and his first taste of Rochefort 6.

A great big gooey thanks to everyone who participated in The Session this month!




Session #20 — Beer and Memories 

Welcome to The Session, a monthly event in which beer and brewing bloggers get together to all write about a chosen topic on the same day! This is Session #20, for which we, Ray and I of Bathtub Brewery, have chosen the topic, “Beers and Memories.”

It was March 19, 2003, in the heart of Armory Square in Syracuse, NY. I was home from SUNY Brockport for spring break, and I had met up with my friends Eric and Laura (also Brockport students) and Peggy, my awesome assistant manager from work, at Clark’s Ale House, undeniably one of the BEST bars in NY, the East Coast, the US, and yeah, everywhere.

I had been going there ever since I could drink, joining Eric and Laura for trivia night every Wednesday we were home from college. Clark’s boasts 20+ beers on tap, serves it’s own Clark’s Armory Ale on cask, and provides wine enthusiasts with an exceptional selection of NY state wines. Oh, and I almost forgot: Clark’s makes the best damn roast beef and cheddar on an onion roll sandwich in the WORLD.

We were gathered around a small table near one of the windows. Laura and Eric were undoubtedly sipping a brew from Middle Ages Brewery, I had a pint of Lindemans Framboise, and I think Peg had a diet coke. It was the eve before the US invaded Iraq, and our small group sat quietly wondering what this was going to mean.

I remember Laura telling me that we should become ex-pats and live in France, polishing off bottles of wine nightly and writing (we were both English majors). Eric was fairly quiet, and I recall Peg chiming in with her views about Bush, I, myself, laughing between sips of the framboise, a beverage that I often referred to as “liquid raspberries.” (This was still during the time that I was a novice about beer, and only got hooked on framboise due to a suggestion from Eric when I found out that Clark’s did not serve cocktails. It’s been love at first sip ever since.)

To this day, when I drink Lindemans Framboise, I remember that cold winter night, the cozy warmth of Clark’s and the uncertainty of what lay before us.

Wow, tough act to follow. I think I might have had a Yeungling on 9/11.

My beer-memory pair involves probably my favorite Dogfish Head brew: the 90 Minute IPA. This beer is especially important to both Mel and me because it’s what I was drinking the evening Mel and I began our relationship. We didn’t officially ratify said relationship until a whole freaking year later, when I finally worked up the nerve to say, “You wanna be my girlfriend?” but Dogfish Head’s 90 was there the night I was set inexorably on the path to that question by the bone-rolling hands of fate.

Mel’s gonna kill me, but I can’t remember what the date was…

It was either June 12 or 16, 2006. Wait, let me look at a calendar … ah, it was the 16th, a Friday. It was at the party I was throwing with a former room mate, which we dubbed “Halloween in June.” Ray was dressed as Homestar Runner, and I rocked a post-apocalyptic Mad Hatter outfit. I was drinking some disgusting rum and Coke cocktail, and most likely crap beer. Good thing he saved me from that life!