Wednesday, December 24, 2014

Cooking with Beer: Carbonnade Flammande

Carbonnade Flammade (or Flemmish Beer and Beef Stew) is a favorite cooking tradition in our house hold.  Not too difficult to make and sure to get raves from family and guests (and so good that our snobby French friends asked for the recipe).  You may use any dark, rich beer but let me assure you that Chimay Grande Reserve (Blue) is perfect.


2 lbs beef chuck, cut into 2" squares
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
1/4 cup flour
4 tablespoons unsalted butter
4 slices bacon, finely chopped
6 garlic cloves, finely chopped
2 large onions, thinly sliced
2 cups Belgian Quadrupedal Ale (Chiimay Grande Reserve)
1 cup beef stock
2 tablespoons dark brown sugar
2 tablespoons of apple cider vinegar or red wine vinegar
3 sprigs Thyme
1/4 cup Parsley
2 sprigs Tarragon
2 bay leaves
Bread and roasted fingerling potatoes for serving

Season beef with salt and pepper in a bowl; add flour and toss to coat.  Heat 2 tbsp. butter in a 6-qt. Dutch Oven over medium-high heat.  Working in batches, add beef; cook, turning, until browned (about 8 minutes).  Add remaining butter, garlic and onions and cook until caramelized (about 30 minutes).  Add half of the beer, cook (scraping the bottom of the pot) until slightly reduced (about 4 minutes).  Return the beef to the pot with the remaining beer, stock, sugar, vinegar, thyme, parsley, tarragon, bay leaves, and salt and pepper.  Bring to boil.  Reduce heat to medium-low and cook, covered, until beef is tender (about 1 1/2 hours).  Serve with freshly baked bread and roasted fingerling potatoes (or steak fries).  Enjoy/

Friday, December 12, 2014

World Beer Festival, Raleigh, NC

Not sure if they are ambitious or have delusions of grandeur .... either way, tickets go on sale Monday, Dec. 15 should you wish to attend.

Join us at the 10th Annual World Beer Festival Raleigh
Saturday, April 11th, 2015
Moore Square Park, downtown Raleigh
2 Sessions: 12-4pm & 6-10pm
Pre-sale begins Monday December 15th at 10am!

General Admission: $50
  • Tasting glass with unlimited 4oz tastings from over 250 of the finest beers
  • Access into the Art of Beer Experience for beer ingredient samplings, pairings, educational seminars, a mini commercial brewery and more!
VIP Admission: $100
  • Tasting glass with unlimited 4oz tastings from over 250 of the finest beers
  • Access into the Art of Beer Experience for beer ingredient samplings, pairings, educational seminars, a mini commercial brewery and more!
  • Enjoy a private lounge complete with private bathrooms, food and music!
  • 3 issue subscription to All About Beer Magazine
How can you fit over 250 beers into one stocking?
World Beer Fest tickets make the perfect stocking stuffer!Buy for the beer lover on your shopping list. 
Subscriber pre-sale begins Monday at 10am. Subscribers of All About Beer Magazine will be emailed the pre-sale code Monday prior to the on-sale time.
General public on-sale begins Wednesday (December 17th) at 12pm EST. 
Questions about the World Beer Festival-Raleigh? Send us an email!

Thursday, December 11, 2014

Restaurant/Brewery Review - Ulele

We finally were able to reserve a spot for dinner in one of Tampa's hottest new restaurants, Ulele. The most exciting aspect of the coming evening is that it is also a brewery, SCORE! Wait, sorry, we were wrong, it was wide to the left..

If I were a restaurateur and wanted to include a brewery, I would do so because I did not want to serve my clients fizzy piss water beers.  You know, the mass market corporate beers that every other hipster joint in town serves.  Why, oh why, then did the owners of Ulele decide to brew their own fizzy piss water beers to replace the mass market fizzy piss water beers?  The selection was stunningly boring.  Ulele Light, Water Works Pale, Honey Lager ....YAWN.  There was absolutely nothing on tap that interested me enough to order it .... truly one of the most boring, uninspired selection of beers that I have ever seen in a brewery and I quite literally ordered water instead.

The food was pretty good, a bit better than average, but not much more than average.  The fish was over-cooked, the asparagus was under-cooked and the food was all served tepid warm.  For all of the hoopla (including a Golden Spoon Award as one of the best new restaurants in Florida) we were quite taken aback by the lack of inspiration.  We would be willing to return to Ulele but will not put in on our list of preferred dining spots.

1810 North Highland Avenue
Tampa, FL 33602

Sunday, December 7, 2014

Beer Dinner w/ Rapp Brewing and Urban Brew & BBQ November 2014

Have you ever been to an expensive restaurant that serves you dinner as a series of courses served over several hours instead of a several different servings piled up in the middle of your plate?  You know, the meals that offer wine pairings for each course for an additional $50.00?  This dinner was exactly like that ... and exactly opposite of that.  "How so?", you ask.  Well ... it was exactly the same in that we were served several courses over the period of a couple of hours and we did have drinks paired to each course.  Other than that it was the complete opposite.

We have been lucky enough to have attend a great many events like this and some of these events come quite close to the lofty aspirations of a Michelin starred restaurant and their wine pairings with cuisine that makes your job drop and your taste buds dance.  BBQ is not usually described as 'cuisine' and beer is rarely mentioned as the drink of choice for the cultural elite.  Luckily, we are not the cultural elite and we were not expecting the finest of fine dining .... we came to eat.  And best of all the cost of the whole dinner was around what we usually pay for a wine pairing during fine dining

Our host for the evening, Andy Salyards, is not who you expect to find as an owner/operator of this kind of joint.  First of all Andy is from California.  Not Memphis, not Texas, not the Carolinas ... California.  Then he must be the product of a long line of restaurateurs, right?  Nope, he was a sailor ... a frigging sailor.  No, this charming fellow just always wanted to own his own bar and grill and when his wife was transferred to Florida he kind of fell into this place, and we are happy that he did.  Hell, everyone knows that the best BBQ is a creation of the culture of the dirty south.  Sweaty, grimy and grim BBQ joints make the best smoke ....
everyone knows this.  Urban Brew and BBQ is none of those.  Clean, tidy and in good repair, the building has enough architectural interest that if you drink a few too many and squint your eyes you can pretend that you are in one of those traditional dives.  But then there is the beer board mounted of the wall front and center, with their current craft beers listed that would never been seen in an old style barbeque joint.

The dinner itself would not win many accolades from the food writers in the large markets but was well prepared and tasty.  I would like to have seen a few more risks taken but they chose items that were safe and proven.  Sometimes risks = failures and on this night, we had no failures.  All of the beers were from Rapp Brewing.  If you know anything about Greg Rapp you need to know of his passion for brewing correct beers.  Rapp's beers are flawless reproductions of the styles that they are labeled.  If he says that he is making a Munich style Hefeweissen, then you may bet your last dollar that it will be a remarkable example of that beer.

Our first course was a simple green been casserole with house cured bacon that was tossed in a tiny cast iron skillet rather than the traditional gooey layered mess that you grew up eating.  It was nice, light and simply elegant.  It also took much convincing to keep one of the snobs from taking this cute little skillet home.  As is typical with beer/food pairings, the food and beer started light and moved toward heavier and more intense as the meal progresses.  Our beer was a delicious light and easy drinking blond/helles beer. 

For the second course the beer was more of the star for us.  The 8% Dopplebock was rich, malty and smooth that had a noticeable alcohol kick in it.  The prosciutto cup that it was paired with had a cooked egg inside, sprinkled with sea salt.  Pairing a dopplebock with a salty meat dish is a never fail option for a German style beer. 

Do you know the advantage of being the only child of a brewer?  You can pout and say "Daddy, I want a strong Belgian style golden ale", and viola, you get it.  Apparently his daughter, Candi, tried and loved this style in a brewery in Ashville and her father, being a brewing genius, whipped her out a version.  You can also call it an Alcohol Yeast Bomb, because that is exactly what it is.  Andy took a bit of a risk for our third course with this one in that he house cured a ham for this pairing.  Not that cured ham is a rarity, but this was the first time that he has ever tried curing a ham, which takes 8 days, and we applaud his efforts.  The smoky ham and the candied carrots were a perfect counterpoint to the yeast bomb.

Our favorite course, the fourth, was fried turkey paired with a robust porter.  Typically when you are serving poultry you want to use something lighter, like a saison, but the fried aspect of the brined bird made is strong enough to stand up to the porter.  The bird was tender and moist and served with mashed potatoes and gravy.  The porter was silky smooth and chocolaty, reminiscent of a chocolate silk pie served at traditional Thanksgiving Day dinners.

By the time the desert course came around we were packing a healthy buzz and our stomachs had little room left.  Sweet potato soufflĂ© with marshmallows?  This evil little bastard came with candied pecans and topped with marshmallows served in the mini cast iron skillets.  Rich, cinnamon decadence.  The malts in the Rapp Amber accented the sweet potatoes oh-so-well .... smoooooth.  The dish was so delicious that it was devoured before we even remembered that we were taking photos, sorry.

On the whole the event was very well appreciated by our group and we applaud the efforts of those involved.  Bravo, gentlemen.

We highly recommend that you try Urban Brew and BBQ as that their BBQ is among the best in the bay area.  And while Rapp Brewing is a bit out of the way in Seminole you are nuts if you haven't been or planning to go. Superior beers. 

Cheers - Bon

Urban Brew and BBQ
1939 Central Ave,
St Petersburg, FL 33713

Rapp Brewing Company
10930 Endeavor Way,
Seminole, FL 33777

Tuesday, December 2, 2014

Beer Review: Dogfish Head Theobroma Ale

Dogfish Head Brewery Theobroma Ale - 9% ABV

I am quite sure that by now you have had at least one Dogfish Head beer, probably one of the 60 minute or 90 minute IPA's.  The 120 minute IPA is a real treat but seemingly sporadically available at best.  So tell me, have you tried any of their specialty ales?  Like the one made from scrapple or perhaps the one made using spit?  No?  If there is one thing you can say about Sam Calagione is that he is adventurous when it comes to brewing.  He is also a bit of a beer scholar and loves to research ancient beer styles and has passed down what he has learned in Dogfish's Ancient Ales line. 

Perhaps the description of the history of the beer is better told by them: 

"Theobroma is a celebration of chocolate, the food of the gods.

This Ancient Ale is based on chemical analysis of pottery fragments found in Honduras that revealed the earliest known alcoholic chocolate drink used by early civilizations to toast special occasions.

The discovery of this beverage pushed back the earliest use of cocoa for human consumption more than 500 years to 1,200 B.C. As per the analysis, Dogfish Head's Theobroma (translated into "food of the gods") is brewed with Aztec cocoa powder and cocoa nibs (from our friends at Askinosie Chocolate), honey, chilies and annatto (fragrant tree seeds).

It's light in color, not what you expect from your typical chocolate beer (not that you'd be surprised that we'd do something unexpected with this beer!).

This beer is part of our Ancient Ales series -- along with Midas Touch, Chateau Jiahu, Sah'tea and Ta Henket -- so step back in time and enjoy some Theobroma."

After reading the importance of chocolate to the beer, it is a bit surprising that the beer isn't the color that you would expect, it is a rich orange gold with lots of floaties and sediment.  There is very little to no chocolate smell but you can smell the barnyard hints from the yeasts, honey, and a bit of the alcohol ethers as well. The texture is the comfortable richness that you get from a golden Belgian ale.  The flavor is quite unique and worthy of praise, but again, don't expect a chocolate bomb, the chocolate is very subtle.  Actually the chili peppers are more taste forward and provided a bit of a surprise kick with it's noticeable burn.  You will also notice the earthiness from the yeasts and very little hop bitterness (only 6 IBU's) but the chili burn will keep your tongue interested long after you swallow. 

I am quite please with this purchase and recommend that you try it when it is available, but I am not sure that I will buy it again.  Interesting, extremely interesting, but not earth shattering.  Cheers - Bon

Should you happen to be travelling to Delaware (yeah, right, no one happens to be in Delawar) and wish a brewery tour visit them at:
Dogfish Head Craft Brewery
6 Cannery Village Center
Milton, DE 19968