Tuesday, August 23, 2011

It's Tuesday, must be time to blend something

It may not be a black Tuesday here in Orange County, but that's not reason we can't break out some barrel samples of Black Tuesday ale and figure out just exactly how we want to blend it for this year's release.

This will be the third year that we've released the infamous imperial stout that is aged in bourbon barrels and for the third time, it will have subtle differences in it's composition.  With a beer this big that spends so much time in oak barrels, there are many nuances that are hard to control.  Creating a beer of this style is similar in ways to creating a fine bourbon or whiskey.  The reason that companies like Jack Daniels or Maker's Mark can release a very consistent product is that they distill tens of thousands of oak barrels for every release and blend the majority of them together, creating a standard flavor from year to year.  If, however, you've ever had a single barrel varietal or have had bourbon or scotches from one of the smaller producers, you've probably noticed that the flavor and aroma can change ever so slightly from batch to batch.

As we explained a few weeks back as we blended the 2011 Oude Tart, the blending process is extremely important in barrel aged beers and can help balance the different brews.  While one barrel might be particularly sweet and another be particularly hot (alcoholic), finding the perfect blend of batches can result in great balance and the ideal beer to release.

We were quite happy with the final blend we agreed on today and can't wait to hear what you think!

For further info, visit www.thebruery.com/blacktuesday

twitter hashtag #blacktuesday

Tyler measuring out exact blend percentages.

Gotta try the original one of course.

And gotta try last years while we're at it.

Several different blend variations...which one will it be?!

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Beer Battered Asparagus

We've teamed up with The Beerista to start bringing you some great recipes to go along with your beer, make using your beer or even make using the spent grain that many homebrewers just throw out (or in our case, donate to a farmer).  Stay tuned for more from The Beerista including some special recipes just for our own beers.

What better way to eat your vegetables then soaked in beer and fried! Your mom and dad would be proud. As part of an afternoon soirée I had at my house, I made beer battered asparagus for the first time using Allagash white. It was easy and they turned out great. In my experience I have found that you can fry almost anything and it would be good, but with a tempura beer batter, these were crisp, light, and not too greasy. I served them alongside a garlic lemon mayonnaise dip and they were a hit. Another plus with this recipe is that it’s a versatile dish that feels right at home at for an afternoon of college football or a fancy cocktail party.
If you want to whip up a batch of your own, here’s what you do:

  • 1 cup white ale, heffewizen, or pale ale
  • 1 pound asparagus – ends trimmed and cut into 3 inch sized pieces
  • 1 cup flour
  • 1 tablespoon lemon zest
  • Salt & pepper to taste
  • About 4 cups vegetable oil

What you do:
  1. Whisk the flour, beer, lemon zest, salt, and pepper in a bowl until smooth and well combined.
  2. Heat up about 3 inches of oil in a large pot or deep fryer. The temperature should be around 375 degrees. If you drop a small amount of batter into the oil and it immediately rises to the surface with bubbles around it, the oil should be hot enough and ready.
  3. Drop handfuls of the cut asparagus into the batter, ensuring they are completely coated. Pull them out, allowing excess batter to drip off.
  4. Drop the batter coated aparagus in the hot oil. You should fry the pieces in batches, being careful not to over crowd the pot–if you do, the temperature of the oil will drop too low, creating soggy, sad asparagus.
  5. Fry until golden brown, about 3 – 4 minutes. Pull out with a slotted spoon and drain on a paper towl.

And that's it!  We're talking about less than 15 minutes between you and beer battered asparagus goodness.  Mixing up a bit of mayo with lemon juice, lemon zest, salt and pepper makes a great dip.  But, get creative.  These would also be good with peanut sauce, a miso based sauce, or any kind of aioli.  And they taste great with beer.

View the original blog post and more by The Beerista 

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Pizza & Beer - 2

The easy part of having a great chef cook us a pizza and challenge us to create a beer to pair with it was eating the pizza.  The hard part is actually creating the beer.

After Kelly and Peter and the crew left us with nothing but the memory of a pizza a few weeks back, we sat down and started thinking about a few ideas that might pair well with the challenge pizza.

If you recall, that pizza was made using a special dough from Peter that incorporated rye flour and even a bit of caramel malt that had been crushed to a fine powder. The dough was then topped with super fresh burrata, squash blossoms, white sardines, fresh arugula sprouts and flowers, preserved lemon and fennel salt along the crust.  It was cooked in a brick oven that was close to 1000º F creating an incredible texture.

So what does one pair with such a unique pie?  Patrick had some ideas and they, as usual, were obscure.  A Biere De Garde brewed with roasted zucchini, lemon peel and fennel seed.  He laid out the concept and Tyler went to work figuring out how to actually make it a reality.

We work all summer with our BBQ, roasting yams for Autumn Maple, so that would work similarly to the way we'd work in the roasted zucchini which should give the beer just a slight vegetal taste to pair nicely with the fresh arugula.  Lemon peel, or citrus peel in general, is fairly common in brewing.  Fennel isn't something seen too often, but we know the flavor well, that of black licorice, and we know how to use spices around here in a subtle way.  Fennel, however, was the one thing we really weren't confident on the proportions for.  We had to do some small tests on a beaker of one of our other beers that was somewhat similar in flavor to get an idea of how much fennel we'd want to try in the pilot brew.

Today, we tasted the pilot and started in on a full scale batch of this pizza challenge beer.  We'll be unveiling the ale and it's accompanying pizza at an event in Denver surrounding GABF and we can't wait.

roasting some zucchini.

tasting the pilot.

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Spent Grain Coccodrillo Bread with Brown Ale

We've teamed up with The Beerista to start bringing you some great recipes to go along with your beer, make using your beer or even make using the spent grain that many homebrewers just throw out (or in our case, donate to a farmer).  Stay tuned for more from The Beerista including some special recipes just for our own beers.

In a quest to cram even more beer into my life, I came up with a recipe for spent grain bread that involves beer in the dough in addition to the spent grain. To my delight, this was my first really successful attempt at making spent grain bread. I have tried multiple times in the past and ended up with hard, dense bread that was not palatable, but this time I got it right.

I needed to create a recipe for the bread of a grilled cheese that I was entering into a competition (the Grilled Cheese Invitational – more on that later). The name of the sandwich I was entering was The Beer Baron and it consisted of homemade spent grain bread, porter braised pulled pork, Vermont cheddar, and picked onions. Bread is a pretty critical ingredient in a grilled cheese, so it had to be great. I started off by trying a few recipes I found online for spent grain bread, but was not happy with any of them. I needed a rustic bread with nutty flavors to hold up to the pulled pork and cheese. I decided to modify a recipe for Coccodrillo bread (a special Italian bread) from my Williams-Sonoma Essentials of Baking cookbook. The recipe called for dark beer, so thought I would try it. Spent grain and beer in the bread?!?! That was taking the sandwich theme to a whole new level. My modifications worked out great and the bread was perfect. The sandwich went on to win a judge’s award at the competition, complete with a ridiculous trophy. Here is what I did:

Spent Grain Coddodrillo – Makes 2 loafs (adapted from Willams-Sonoma’sEssentials of Baking)

For the sponge:
1 package (2.5 teaspoons) active dry yeast
¾ cup dark beer, at room temperature (I used Lost Coast’s Downtown Brown for the nutty flavor, The Bruery's Rugbrød would also work great)
3 cups cool water
1 cup spent grain flour (dried spent grain processed to a fine powder in a food processor)
2.5 cups all-purpose flour

For the dough:
3 cups all-purpose flour
1 cup spent grain
1 tablespoon sea salt

What to do:

Start by making what is called “the sponge”. To do this, in a large bowl combine:
The flours (spent grain and all-purpose)

Whisk them all together until combined, then cover the bowl with plastic wrap and let it sit over night or for 8 hours at room temperature. The sponge will grow in size and look like, um, a sponge when ready – light and airy with some holes in it.

  1. Once the sponge is ready, add the flour for the dough, spent grain, and salt to it. Mix with a wooden spoon until it comes together. The dough will look a bit shaggy and messy – that’s OK. It’ll get its act together later. You just need to give it some time.
  2. Scrape the dough out of the bowl onto a floured work surface. You will probably need quite a bit of flour since the dough will be sticky.
  3. Knead the dough until it is smooth and elastic, about 5 – 7 minutes. Continue to flour the dough as needed to prevent it from sticking. Don’t overdue, however. The dough is supposed to be soft.
  4. Form the dough into a ball and place it in a lightly oiled bowl. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and let the dough raise in a warm, draft-free place until it doubles in size (about 2 hours).
  5. When the dough has finished doing its magic, dust your counter and a sheet pan with some flour (yes, more flour).
  6. Get out a little aggression and show the dough who’s boss by punching it down (for those of you not familiar with baking, this literally means punch the dough to get the air out of it). Then, scrape it out of the bowl onto the floured counter. Bounce it around a few times shaping it into a large, round loaf.
  7. Put the loaf on the floured baking sheet, cover it with a towel, and let it have a little rest again in a warm, draft-free location to recover from all the activity. 30 – 45 minutes should give it enough time to rise again and double in size.
  8. When the bread is almost finished napping, move a rack in your oven to the lower third and pre-heat it to 400 degrees.
  9. When the bread is ready for action, sprinkle the top with all-purpose flour and using a sharp knife, cut the loaf right in half. Separate the two half’s and turn them a quarter turn so that the cut side is now facing up. You will end up with two oval shaped loafs
  10. Space the 2 loafs apart and bake until they are brown and hallow sounding (give the top a tap to determine this). Should take about 35 – 45 minutes.
  11. When they are done, turn the oven off and let the bread sit for 10 minutes without opening the door. I know it will be hard to not sneak a peek, but resist your temptations and leave the door closed!
  12. To reward your awesome baking skills and patience, take the bread out, let it cool, slice, and top with all sorts of goodness. I recommend cheese, peanut butter, pulled pork, jam, butter… (not necessarily all at one time)

The Beer Baron in all its glory.

View the original blog post and more by The Beerista on her blog www.thebeeristablog.com

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Meet The Bruery - Benjamin Weiss

We're starting a new feature here on our blog where we hope to eventually introduce you to the entire cast of characters that make up our company.  Since Benjamin is the guy who controls the blogosphere on a day to day basis, we'll start with him and add someone new every couple of weeks.

Benjamin came to us from the music industry where he used to work in the business affairs department for Interscope Records.  While the brewing world doesn't lend the opportunity to drink cognac with Snoop Dogg in the lobby or enjoy a private conference room concert with Dashboard Confessional during lunch, homebrewing has been a great hobby of Ben's and he wished to pursue that hobby as a career, leaving the Cristal, Alize and Dr. Dre behind.

The first true craft beer that Benjamin recalls ordering (and instantly loving) was Craftsman Brewing's "Orange Grove" ale from a bar called Lucky Baldwin's out in Pasadena, CA when he was a student at USC studying business.  In all honesty, he ordered it because he thought the row of simple, wooden Craftsman tap handles looked cool and rustic, plus he always enjoyed trying new things.  From that day on, he was always trying new beers when he was at a bar where they were available and while he wasn't yet a complete beer geek, he was well on his way.

Ben began homebrewing with his friend Jared in 2006 where they spent many of their Saturdays whipping up different styles of beer from pale ales to spiced holiday stouts.  A member of West LA's homebrewing club "Pacific Gravity", he'd attend meetings, learn about new beers and brewing techniques, buy the ingredients and go home to try it.  Ben and Jared even made a name for their little "brewery", but it isn't quite appropriate to post on this site.  We can let you know, however, that they had some fantastic brews, such as "Right in the Eye.P.A." or "Swallow Wit".

In a well documented moment, on November 9th, 2007, Benjamin took a small step for his afternoon, but a giant leap for his career by commenting on this very blog, letting Patrick know that he'd be interested in learning more about professional brewing and helping out at this fledging company.  A few months later, once The Bruery was built, Ben had left his job in music and was hired on part time as The Bruery's second employee, working right along-side Tyler and Patrick.  He bottled beer, labeled beer, and of course, brewed beer.  Infamously, Benjamin was present and involved in the Black Tuesday debacle in 2008 which was the first time he got some recognition on this blog.  Shame it couldn't have come for a slightly more inspiring day of work, but at least everything turned out well in the end with that particular beer.

Today, 3 years later, Benjamin is the manager of sales & marketing for The Bruery.  He hung up his boots to get back into an office and let some more skilled brewers handle the hard labor.  While he misses being on the brewing floor at times, he never planned on being a professional brewer his whole life and is happy handling some of the creative aspects of the brewery that don't involve recipes (and lifting heavy things).

Tune in soon to learn about some more of The Bruery's hard working staff like Kevin, our brewer with the biggest beard or Patrick, the warehouse worker with a heart of gold.