Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Honey Ale Sweet Potatoes

Well, America's most honest holiday is upon us .... Thanksgiving.  A time for feasting and spending time with your loved ones.  And if it was up to you, you would skip the cooking part and just spring for a feast cooked by someone else at Oystercatchers, right?  But you don't get a vote, do you?  Mom wants everyone to get together at her house.  Joy.  Of  course, Mom is making the turkey and the stuffing, but she wants everyone to bring a side dish.  You could gloop out a can shaped mass of cranberry sauce on a plastic plate OR you could actually bring something that will impress even your jaded, uninspired family.  This is easy.

                                                     Honey Ale Sweet Potato Casserole

- 8 large sweet potatoes, peeled and cut into chunks.
- 2 bottles of a Honey Brown Ale
(There are a few breweries in Florida that make Honey Brown Ale ... You should be able to find a good honey brown ale at Leukens in Dunedin or perhaps at Total Wine on Dale Mabry. Worst case you can find the Dundee Honey Brown Lager in many locations).
- 5 tablespoons of butter (the real kind, damnit, no margarine for snobs).
- 2 tablespoons of brown sugar
- 1/2 cup of pecan pieces
- 1/2 teaspoon of salt
- 1/4 teaspoon black pepper

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.  Boil the sweet potatoes in 1 1/2 bottles of the beer and enough water to submerge them until they are tender (about 25 minutes).  
Drain the potatoes and add the remainder of the beer and the other ingredients but hold the pecans for later.  Whip with an electric mixer until creamy.  
Butter a large casserole dish and place the potatoes in and scatter the pecan pieces evenly over the top.  Bake for 20 minutes until the top is browned.  
DONE!  Now let's eat!

Thursday, November 20, 2014

Our Thanksgiving Day 2014 Beer Recommnedations

Thanksgiving, the day when we Americans celebrate life and family, or as it is called at our home
Gluttony and Bickering Day. What a delightfully honest holiday.  We Snobs would like to help you annoy your yellow fizzy water swilling family members by allowing you to show your prowess at choosing the correct beers for Thanksgiving.  You can then look down your nose and sneer "Instead of Bud Light for every dish, why don't you try this ... it has flavor".  Absolutely guaranteed to infuriate your bumpkin kin so that they will be happy to see you leave early, so that you can go to your local pub or brewery and spend Thanksgiving afternoon with the people you really like.

First Course - Appetizer
"Start light, finish heavy" is our motto so we  are going to start with a Goat Cheese Salad..  We recommend Hoegaarden as a light, refreshing delight to begin the day of decadence.  The oh-so-slight citrus and light texture do not overpower the delicate flavor of the cheese.  Make sure the you pronounce the beer name the Dutch way (Hoo-garten) and correct everyone when they pronounce it the American way (Hoe-garden).
Should you wish to support your local producer, we heartily recommend Saint Somewhere Saison Athene to fulfill your needs.

Second Course - The Feast
Turkey is such a delicately flavored meat that it is easy to overpower the flavor.  You hop heads are reading this and yelling "Double IPA!", which is, of course, the exactly wrong answer.  If you are a hop monster your palate has already been destroyed and you can stop reading now.

There are two ways to consider this pairing .... if turkey is the star of your show, you should consider something light and slightly citrus with ample carbonation.  Unibrou's Ephemere is very slightly sour with the classic holiday flavors of cranberry, coriander and orange peel.  The effervescence is light and friendly on the tongue, cleansing the palate as you progress through the meal.

If the turkey less important to you and you live for the dressing and sides, let's talk brown ales.  Actually, let's go super geek with this one and suggest Westmalle Trappist Dubbel.  This magnificent brew is so superbly crafted that none of the flavors are identifiable.  It is slightly sweet and malty with a clean dry finish and so complex that almost any food will match perfectly.  It has the added bonus of being a trappist ale, which means that you can drone on and on for hours about the history of the monks toiling away in their monasteries and creating these wonderful beers as a food substitute during fasting.  So very snobby, so very annoying.

Your local substitute should be the venerable Maduro Brown from Cigar City
Ham or roast beef instead of Turkey?  Think British Pale Ales or Belgian Tripels.
Vegan or Vegetarian?  As that the fats are missing and that flavors are .... muted, let's recommend that you go big.  Heck, in this case drink anything you want.

Third Course - Dessert
So many desserts ..... so many flavors.  For conversations sake, let's make this easy.  Try to match the flavors based on the type of dessert.  For example a pumpkin ale to accompany a pumpkin pie, a chocolate stout for chocolate cake, a lambic for a fruit pie, etc., is the easiest way to go.  However, you may choose to skip the food part altogether and just have a dessert beer....that is a decision that we can stand behind.  May we suggest the Rapp Brewing Peanut Butter Stout?  Or perhaps 610 Brewing Horchata Shout?  Both of these can only be gotten from the brewery but worth the trip to fill your growler.  If you happen to have a bottle of Marshal Zhukov laying around this would be the time to tear into that beast, don't you think?

We hope that you are able to enjoy your holiday with family or friends and wish you health and happiness.  Cheers - Bon