As Janet and Rachel can attest, I grew up in the mountains of Connecticut (actually to be quite honest, our house was just around the corner from their house). Surrounded by the woods, bugs and small town New England, every other home seemed to have its personal garden for summertime, home cooked, veggie goodness! My next-door neighbors were the sweetest people; I forget what the husband did, but the wife was the retired home economics teacher for the town’s high school. They maintained a garden (to me, it was a small farm… but they referred to it as a garden), and always had fresh fruits and veggies throughout the spring summer and fall!
As part of our plan to add more bloggers to the LTIR mix, we’re happy to introduce Mike, the Gay Beer Guy, as a regular columnist. He first posted a fabulous beer/food pairing post in December and we got a good response from folks, so we asked Mike, who we’ve known for years, if he’d be game to become a regular. Happily he was.
If you’ve ever thought about brewing beer but weren’t sure how to go about it, or maybe you just like to think about beer and drink it, this column is for you. Mike will be posting the first Friday of the month, offering ideas on how to brew different beers and letting us know how he’s doing in his beer experiments. Let him do the failing for you! You can just pick up on the successes. (Oh by the way, Mike is a mighty fine homebrewer. He just entered 3 beers in the Upper Mississippi Mashout, a beer competition out of Minneapolis that is the 2nd largest in the USA, and his Barleywine won a silver medal, and his Light Belgian Ale (which we’ve had the pleasure of tasting) won a gold.) He’ll also periodically add some food ideas to go with his beers. So, without further ado, heeerrre’s Mike!
We have known Mike for years in various capacities, including music (he and I played in an orchestra together while he was in high school and drove to rehearsals each week together, including one snowstorm where neither one of us could see the road) and Rachel playing regularly with his sister and then it all just moved from there for her and Mike and that’s all I’m going to say.
We were thrilled to learn Mike is a regular LTIR reader AND that he makes his own beer. When he noted on facebook he was hosting a beer pairing party, I asked him to share … which he has in wonderful detail and with photos aplenty. So, without further ado, let the beer pairing begin!
Hi Janet and Rachel -
My little beer dinner the other night was a HUGE success. Everything was paired perfectly, and overall, we were very happy with how the food turned out. Big thanks to my sister (who was in town for my graduating recital a few days earlier) and my boyfriend, who is an excellent cook and an even better party planner…
I’ve been making my own beer for a few years now; I started when I was living in Boston and it has progressed and evolved into a crowd pleaser for my friends and family. And of course, if you bring your own homemade alcohol to any party, you INSTANTLY have tons of friends. As my friends and I have been partying together for the last few years, I have consistently been bringing different styles of beers to our gatherings. The problems becomes that as I only bring a single growler (about 4 pints worth), many of my friends don’t get a chance to drink any!!! I just run out!!
So I decided to host a party pairing my favorite styles of beer with food to go along with them! I must admit, though, that I did make a beer that I had never made before. .. BUT it turned out amazing! All of my decisions basically had to be made 3 months in advance, since that’s the amount of time I needed in order to get all the styles done, have them ferment, and age and condition properly.
So here is everything that I have done, including the beer recipes. The food recipes are either things we just put together from epicurious.com, or from family/friends’ recipes. The beer recipes are mostly based on recipes by Jamil Zainasheff (available in publication and free online … just google it all) and have been changed by me over time. I’m not going to write out all the steps needed to brew the beer. If people are interested in recreating the recipes, there are tons of resources out there if they are novice brewers; try northernbrewer.com, howtobrew.com, or they can email me for my specific process. All of the recipes were designed to please a crowd of people … I’m sure you could increase or decrease as needed!
Carrot and Squash Soup with Bacon & Rosemary
Paired with a Scottish 60/- (reads “60 shilling”)
Not subtle, just quiet… with notes of toast, honey, and very smooth
1 acorn squash
3 lbs of carrots, peeled and diced into 1-inch chunks
2 medium onions in 1 inch pieces
Chicken stock to cover
1 rounded teaspoon ginger, peeled and grated
1/2 rounded teaspoons each of Allspice, ground cloves
Red pepper flakes (just a dash)
Salt/Pepper to taste
Garnish with rosemary and bacon
Heat oven to 300 degrees. Cut the squash in half and scrape out the seeds; place two pats of butter on a rimmed baking sheet and top with brown sugar; invert the squash halves on the butter, and bake for 45-60 minutes. (We added a bit of water to the bottom of the baking sheet to keep the squash from sticking).
While the squash is baking, prep the carrots and the onions and put them in a big stock pot. When the squash is done, scrape out the flesh and add it to the stock pot. Cover the veggies with chicken stock and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to a simmer, add the spices, and cook until all the veggies are tender. To finish, let the soup cool overnight (first on stove top and later in the fridge), and then puree in a blender. Reheat and serve! Garnish with bacon and rosemary chopped up (the rosemary is from my indoor herb garden … ok ok, I have this plant and a basil plant, but it’s a garden, right?!?!?!).
This is an easy-drinking pub ale. Like many people, I use a beer like this to grow yeast. I’ll pitch 1 commercially bought package of yeast, ferment the beer, and then collect the “offspring” to re-pitch into more beers (usually I can get 3 or 4 beers off of a first generation). This is one of the ways I maintain my house culture. When I feel the yeast has given me all it’s going to (after about 5 or 6 generations), I’ll either buy another commercial package or build up a culture off of a plate (my friend, who is a scientist and works in a lab doing all sorts of experiments, plated the yeast for me!). So I keep this beer on hand, not only for function, but it has a lot of flavor for an easy drinking beer.
1.038 SG, 1.010 FG
5 ½ lbs base malt (I use American 2-Row for just about everything. Continental malts will definitely add more flavor, but I don’t always have it on hand.)
½ lb Munich malt
1 lb Crystal 40
½ lb Honey malt
¼ lb Crystal 120
3 oz Pale Chocholate
⅔ oz East Kent Golding hops for 60 min
House Yeast (I have been keeping an active culture of Pacman yeast for a while now, which is what I used… Jamil uses WY1056 or WLP001, available from Wyeast and White Labs)
Mash at 158*, sparge and lauter as normal. Add hops as indicated. Cool and pitch a good amount of yeast. Ferment WY1056/WLP001 at 65*, but I went around 62* with Pacman. Cold condition for a few months will round out the flavors and mellow the bitterness. Carbonate on the low end. When I served this at the party, I brought the keg up to cellar temperature (we have an area of the basement level that is just around 52*) and served off of a portable CO2 charger rather than with my big tank. The result was very similar to cask, which would be more authentic. If I were to try this again for a party, I would naturally carbonate in a “cube,” which is available online, and serve with gravity rather than forced CO2.
Traditional Belgian dish of Mussels in broth with Potato Pancake “frites”
Paired with a Belgian Saison
Sweet, spicy, sour, funky
This is a traditional Belgian dish with an AWESOME Belgian/French style beer. Both are some of my favorites (if you’re not familiar with Saisons, it can be sweet or dry, high or low in alcohol, spicy or fruity, sour or clean; it’s a very versatile style. Jamil writes that it should be dry, and I agree to some extent, except that I think some residual sweetness adds to the spicy complexity. But he is an expert, so it’s ok to trust him and not to trust me!!! Regardless, this is probably my favorite style of European beers). We were very lucky to find Cape Cod mussels flown in right on the morning of the party. Instead of fries, we opted for Potato Pancakes, just to make it a little different. The pancakes were made a few days before the party; the mussels were done right before serving!
5 lbs potatoes
3 medium onions
Lots of oils… to fry with
We started (and when I say we, I actually mean my sister) by grating the potatoes and the onion. Poor Sarah did this by hand, since we don’t have a food processor. Add a few eggs to hold everything together; add another if you think it needs it. Same thing with the flour. Please season liberally (there’s nothing worse than bland fried potatoes!) and fry away. We drained the excess oil with paper towels. Since we knew we would keep them in the fridge for a day and then reheat in the oven, we slightly under-cooked the pancakes.
The pot that was big enough to cook all of the mussels (we used about 4 lbs for a crowd of 20, with enough to go around for people to have seconds, thirds, even fourths!) had a flimsy bottom, so we had to build the broth in one pan and then transfer it to the big pot.
Heat a pan; add the olive oil and, after it’s hot, saute the shallots and garlic. Deglaze with the wine, add stock, and bring to a boil. (From here, we transferred the broth to the bigger pot and added more wine and stock so that we didn’t scorch the bottom of the pan. if you’re using the same pan or pot, just keep everything happy where it is!) Add tomatoes and bring everything back to a boil. Add the mussels (make sure they are all washed first), and steam just until the mussels open, about 6-7 minutes. Because we were making so many, we stirred the mussels every so often so that the ones on the bottom didn’t cook faster than the ones on top.
This beer is very difficult to ferment. I actually made 2 batches for the party, since I didn’t like the way the first came out (it’s the same recipe for both batches; I just monitored the fermentation better). In the past and in the batches I made for the party, I used WLP565, but in the future I will try a blend of yeasts that White Labs has available. Supposedly, you get all the flavors of the straight-up Saison yeast, but without the crazy fermentation problems!
1.066 SG, 1.012 FG
7 ¾ lbs Light LME
1 ½ lb Cane Sugar
½ lb Munich LME
½ lb Wheat LME
2 oz CaraMunich (steeped)
1 ½ oz East Kent Golding hops for 60 min, ½ oz EKG hops at end of boil
WLP565 Saison Yeast
Do your normal extract with steeping-grains process: steep, add your extract, boil with hop additions, cool, ferment, etc. I began fermentation around 70* and raised to about 80 or 85 over the course of a week. Carbonate on the high end, but not too high, since that will mask many of the subtle yeast flavors!
Korean Style Braised Beef
Served with Mushrooms, Carrots, Kimchi, and Pickles
Paired with a Dark Belgian Saison
Dark as Midnight, earthy, musky, and funky
Partially fermented with Brettanomyces
ABV about 5.5%
Many of my friends in Boston are of Korean decent. One friend in particular, who is also an amazing violinist, had a few of us over to her family’s home one night for Kalbi-chim, which is Korean Braised Short-ribs (I guess “kalbi” is the word for beef and “chim” is the word for braised). My boyfriend and I ended up making this for our Thanksgiving dinner, and it was so good I decided to use it for my party instead of what I had originally planned; this probably worked sooo much better! To make our Thanksgiving meal, I contacted my friend’s mother for her recipe, which is what I’ll give you below. It is a little confusing (seriously, I’ll give you exactly what I was given), but if you make it like a Korean mom with lots of time and love, it will be excellent. I wanted similar flavors for this dish, but didn’t want to spend a ton of money on beef ribs, so I opted for 1 ½ inch thick steaks of chuck roast. And I didn’t use chestnuts but substituted carrots instead. The pickles are homemade as well. This is the only beer I had not made before figuring out what I wanted for the party… definitely Belgian inspired (Belgian brewers are notorious for coloring outside the lines!) and certainly experimental!
10:2:1 ratio of Water, Cider Vinegar, and Salt (I did 5 cups, 1 cup, ½ cup)
Bring the water, vinegar and salt to a boil and keep it going for 20 min or so (I don’t know if that is what you’re “supposed” to do, but it made me feel better than if I didn’t do it). Meanwhile, quarter the onion and slice the peppers into ½ inch rounds; put all the veggies in a container (I used a big plastic thing with a sealing lid. I’m sure most people would use canning jars.) Once the boiling is done, let the liquids cool slightly and then pour it over your veggies. I let my pickles cool on the counter before putting them in the fridge. I had then heard from some source (which of course I can’t remember) that you should boil your brine again, just to ensure that it is sanitary. Being a beer brewer, this seemed reasonable to me. So 24 hours later, I drained my brine into a pot, boiled it again for about 10 minutes, and put it back over my veggies. I prepared the pickles about a week and half before the party, and they were amazing. As I write this a few days later, I tasted the pickles and I can feel the intensity strengthen from just sitting a few extra days!
I bought this from a local Asian market. I don’t think my roommates would like it if I fermented cabbage in our basement!
ingredients AND method
(I’ll list the ingredients I changed and my comments in parenthesis. Otherwise this is exactly what my friend’s mother, Yoo-kyung Kim, gave me.)
1.) Soak Kalbi in cold water for about an hour to get rid of the blood. (Again, I used mostly chuck, although I did add some thinly sliced short ribs and bones for flavor.)
2.) Boil Kalbi in water with an onion, quartered, until the meat becomes tender.
3.) Add sauce: 5 tablespoons soy sauce, 3 tablespoons sugar, 1 tablespoon farlic, 1/2 tablespoon ginger, 1/2 teaspoon pepper. She also writes, for one pack: you might have to put 3-4 times the amount, I never know (I just kept the ratios close when I made this for the party)
4.) Simmer until the meat becomes somewhat dark. Add Asian turnip, chestnuts, Shitake mushrooms, and simmer a bit longer (I didn’t use any turnips or chestnuts; I let my mushrooms soak for a few hours in water and added that juice along with my sauce in step 3, and, again, I used carrots.)
5.) Add green onions, sesame oil, and sesame seeds (I didn’t use green onions. I think I just forgot! And, I had looked up some other Kalbi-chim recipes online just to compare; some used honey or corn syrup to glaze the beef just before serving, so I did that too for the party)
For No. 2 you should have enough water to cover the Kalbi, since there will be less later as you simmer, and after No. 2, you should leave the Kalbi in a cool place overnight to get rid of the solidified fat. It is basically simmered Kalbi with sauce
This is the only beer that I had not brewed before. It turned out AMAZING! The recipe is based from a kit Northern Brewer used to sell with a limited edition Saison yeast. I just used the same WLP565 yeast and added the Brett. when the Saison yeast stopped.
1.061 SG, 1.015? FG (the Brett. fermented out some of the residual sugars)
10 lbs Base Malt
1 lb Cane Sugar
1 lb Munich Malt
½ lb Carafa III Special
2 oz East Kent Golding Hops for 60 min
WLP565 Saison Yeast
Brettanomyces Culture (I had a small culture stored in my fridge, so I made a starter and pitched that)
Mash low around 149* for 1 ½ hours. Ferment low and raise over the course of a week to 80 or so. Cool down to room temp as soon as the first yeast finishes, and pitch the Brett.; you can transfer the beer and then pitch the Brett., but I just used one carboy. Carbonate moderately (or less or more… it’s a Belgian Specialty Ale, after all)
1 cup flour
½ teaspoon baking soda
½ teaspoon cinnamon
¼ teaspoon salt
10 tablespoons butter
½ cup sugar
½ cup packed brown sugar
1 large egg
1 teaspoon vanilla Extract
1 cup old-fashioned oats
½ cup each semisweet, milk, & white chocolate chips
½ cup dried Cranberries (I used the orange infused from Trader Joe’s)
Heat oven to 350 degrees. Mix together dry ingredients together in a medium bowl. Beat together butter and sugars in a separate bowl (with an electric mixer, if you’re not strong enough!); beat in the vanilla and the egg into the butter bowl. Add the flour mixture and the oats nto the butter mixture, and then mix in the chocolate chips and the cranberries. Drop by rounded tablespoonfuls onto the baking sheets about 2 inches apart. Bake for 16 minutes until the edges are slightly brown. Cool on wire racks. You can also make an “icing” of melted chocolate if you want (or your favorite recipe)!
I’m not really sure what I would call this. My original intention was a clone of a Belgian Trappist beer, Orval, but something along the way made me change my recipe slightly. I used a different yeast strain than I should have, and I think I intended to use more hops, but didn’t. Regardless if it is a clone or not, the beer turned out wonderfully, and I am very happy with the result!
1.064 SG, 1.008? FG (again the Brett. took care of some of the residual sugars)
10 lbs Base Malt
1 ½ lbs CaraMunich
1 lb Cane Sugar
2 oz Hallertauer hops for 60 min, 1 oz Styrian Golding hops for 15 min, 1 oz Styrian Golding hops at flameout, 2 oz Styrian Golding hops for dry hops
WY1368 Belgian Strong Ale
Mash low around 149* for 1 ½ hours. Ferment low and raise over the course of a week to 70 or so. After fermentation has finished (about a week) pitch Brett. culture and hold at cellar temperatures for 4 week. Dry hop when you have 1 week left. (I think I kept the beer fermenting with the Brett. for about 6 weeks total). Carbonate high (nice and spritzy!)
Assorted Cheeses, Crackers, Olives, & Fruits
Paired with an American-style Barley Wine
Smooth, aged, hoppy, and complex
Barley Wines are very strong in alcohol and flavor, and require some age to meld all the flavors; they are perfect as an aperitif with a cheese place. I am fortunate to have an expert cheese shop in my area. I told the nice lady thre EXACTLY what I was serving, and she gave me some very tasty options for cheeses. We ended up with a Welsh Cheddar (very creamy), an Iowa Cheddar (very sharp and pungent), and a Dutch Gouda (very complex). I also served Mediterranean olives, crackers and dried papaya for some sweetness.
This beer was about a year old. I only have a few bottles left and I am clinging on to them with every day that passes. The bottles showed no signs of contamination, oxidation, and hopefully will last for a few more years! Because my mash tun doesn’t fit 25 lbs of grain, I mashed about ¾ of the grain, and made up for the remaining gravity with DME. Rather than make a big yeast starter (I think I calculated I needed a starter of 2 gallons), I made a small gravity batch of a generic wheat beer, and pitched right on top of the trub… I may have over-pitched, but the result still worked out.
15 lbs Base Malt
3 lbs DME
1 lb Crystal 80
1 lb Crystal 10
¼ lb Special B
¼ lb Pale Chocolate
3 oz Warrior hops for 60 min, 1 oz each Centennial and Cascade hops at flameout
Mash at 149* for 1 ½ hours. Even though Pacman yeast can ferment as low as 60* and create be very VERY clean, I fermented at 65* for a little spice. Again, the beer is amazing and it has worked for me. Carbonate low to medium-low. Serve small quantities as you would a fine scotch!