Rack City

IMG_20160302_192707The second day of brewing usually involves racking the beer. Or at least it should.

“Racking” is the process of transferring wort (unfermented beer) from one vessel to another. Most often this is from the primary fermentor, where you initially pitched the yeast, into a second vessel that will become known as the secondary fermentor. A glass carboy is one of the best vessels to use for this, as it will be impermeable to oxygen (therefore ensuring your beer stays fresh). While glass carboys are quite heavy, especially when filled with wort, they are extremely sturdy and still quite easy to clean.

But what is the point of all this?

Many beer kits will recommend that you skip secondary fermentation altogether, opting to bottle your beer straight out of the primary. However, there are a few distinct benefits of racking your beer before you bottle.

The main reason most home brewers choose to rack their beer is to remove the beer from the yeast-cake at the bottom. The longer the beer sits on a bed of dead yeast, the more likely autolysis – self-destruct, loosely translated. Imagine you’re stuck in a big glass jar with all of your friends, a few of whom have already died of starvation and other causes. Once all your food is gone, you too might consider…well, think Marten Hartwell‘s harrowing tale. Other desperate historical figures have done the same. I think that’s enough detail for now. Sleep well, fellow home brewers!

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Before and after. No testimonial necessary.

Autolysis produces dead yeast cells and yeast metabolites, which can produce off flavours in your beer. Likewise, racking straight from primary may transfer a lot of sediment into the bottle. While a little sediment is OK, nobody wants a chunky beer. Nor do they need to eat more yeast corpses and poop (or “metabolites”, if you prefer) than are necessary. Many brewers are comfortable leaving a beer on the yeast-cake for 3-6 weeks, but I would prefer to be a bit more cautious and get it off of there after two.

Other benefits of racking include giving beer time to mature and mellow out. Kind of like your party-crazed friends from college. And like most college graduates, some beer styles need more time to mature than others.

What You Need:

  • Racking Cane
  • Siphon
  • Carboy or other secondary fermentation vessel
  • Airlock
  • Hydrometer

 

Step 1. Sanitize, sanitize, sanitize.

Does this sound familiar? It should.

Sanitize EVERYTHING you use. AGAIN.

Any time you transfer beer from one vessel to another, you increase the risk of contamination from outside sources. If you’re not sure if an item you’re using will touch the beer? Sanitize it anyway, and save yourself the heartbreak of throwing out an entire batch of spoiled beer. You can never be too cautious in this regard.

Step 2. Set-up

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Because it ain’t good for much else.

After your equipment has dried a bit, set up your equipment with the primary fermentor above the carboy, which will become the secondary fermentor. Always let gravity help, if it can. Towards the end of the racking process, you can also prop the primary up with a large book to tip it sideways to get the maximum amount of wort out of the vessel.

Don’t throw out your phone-book – while obsolete for every other reason, they are especially useful for this task.

Step 3. Siphoning

Make sure the tubing of the siphon is coiled at the bottom underneath the liquid to prevent splashing. The more you splash the beer around, the more oxygen it’s exposed to. The more oxygen the beer is exposed to, the more oxidation will occur. This can cause stale, cardboard-like flavours to form in your carefully crafted beer – not something you want.

After this part is done, you’ll be left with a big, yummy yeast-cake that is REALLY fun to clean out. Just ask my partner-in-crime how much he enjoyed that task.

Step 4. Air-lock

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The end product.

Lock out all the extra oxygen with an airlock. Place the “plug” of the airlock in the top of the carboy, and pour enough water up the side to seal it air-tight.

 

Step 5. And We Wait

More waiting? Yes, the boring part keeps coming back. After racking, you can leave the beer in the secondary fermentor for a minimum of 14 days before you bottle.

Now, you might be thinking: “is that all this girl has done over the past month? Transfer a bunch of liquid in a jar to another jar? That doesn’t seem too difficult.” And it isn’t, especially when you have an extra set of hands to help.

I did also have a chance to cook a pretty awesome turkey.

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I like to rub mine down with smoked paprika and orange zest. And baste it with beer, obviously.

 

Turkey dinner, like pumpkin-flavoured everything, is something that seems to only be consumed at certain holidays. People don’t seem to realize that they can, in fact, eat it at other times throughout the year.

Naturally, I made a poutine out of the leftovers. See below for details.

Turkey Dinner Poutine

with Beer Gravy and Cranberry Witbier sauce

 

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Next level leftovers.

Beer Gravy

2 tbsp butter or turkey drippings

2 tbsp flour

1 ¼ cups chicken broth

¾ cup beer

1 tsp Worcestershire sauce

¼ tsp onion powder

¼ tsp salt

¼ tsp finely ground black pepper

Cranberry Witbier Sauce

12 ounce bag of cranberries (3 cups)

3/4 cup sugar

1/2 cup wheat beer

1/2 cup water

1 tbsp. orange zest (optional)

 

Turkey Stuffing

Sliced turkey

French fries (I often just use oven fries)

1/2 pound fresh cheese curds

  1. In a saucepan, over medium heat, combine the butter and flour. Whisk to form a roux.
  2. Cook for 12 to 15 minutes for a dark roux.
  3. Gradually add beef broth and beer, whisking thoroughly to combine.
  4. Season with Worcestershire sauce, onion powder, salt and pepper.
  5. Bring the liquid to a boil. Reduce the heat to medium low and continue cooking for 15 to 20 minutes.
  6. Remove gravy from heat when completely thickened and keep warm.
  7. Combine the ingredients for the cranberry sauce in a medium sized saucepan. Over medium heat, dissolve the sugar in the beer and water, stirring gently until the sauce begins to simmer.
  8. Remove the cranberry sauce from the heat and transfer to a bowl to cool and thicken.
  9. To assemble the poutine, place a spoonful of stuffing in each bowl or plate. Top the stuffing with a mound of fries and top with cheese curds.
  10. Spoon gravy over fries, cheese, and stuffing to serve. Garnish with a spoonful of cranberry sauce and stuffing on each side.

 

References

  1. http://www.homebrewtalk.com/wiki/index.php/racking
  2. http://www.northernbrewer.com/connect/2011/08/glass-vs-plastic-fermentors/
  3. https://beerandbrewing.com/VW4F_ysAAKAAgOPa/article/population-density-a-yeast-wrangling-update

 

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Brew-ha-ha

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Home Brewing starter pack

A few weeks ago, I finally took the leap and dove head first into the world of home brewing. I wasn’t alone, and had ample support from a partner in crime and a few beer-savvy friends. However, I was sternly cautioned not to follow the directions on my convenient can of hopped malt extract (HME), as they can be misleading. In particular, they don’t tell you to rack your beer. Unless you want a chunk of yeast sediment at the bottom of each bottle, I highly recommend this step (more to come on this later).

 

 

The following description is not meant to give specific directions on how to brew your first batch, but an assurance that this process is more user-friendly than you might think. A dumbed-down guide for hesitant newcomers to the world of home brewing, if you will. Likewise, if your fist homemade beer sucks, there are plenty of people more knowledgeable than I on the internet that can help you troubleshoot a bad kit.

What you need:

  • Your Primary Fermentor (the big plastic bucket with a lid)
  • The lid of said fermentor
  • Your stirring stick
  • 1kg of corn sugar (Dextrose)
  • Your beer kit, which should include:
    • Hopped Malt Extract (HME)
    • Yeast
    • The instructions that came with the HME (give these a cursory glance)

Where to begin?

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Sanitize, or else.

1. Sanitize, Sanitize, Sanitize

This part is extremely important to prevent nasty bacteria from getting it on in your brew – be sure to sanitize ALL of the above items. The most effective product to use for this would be an acid no-rinse variety such as Star San.  This step didn’t take too long a time, since we only needed to sanitize a few items. And I had a lackey to assist with the heavy lifting. What did take a long time, was waiting for the primary fermenter to dry.

But seriously guys. Sanitize EVERYTHING.

2. Warm the malt extract

I did this by placing the can of HME in a large bowl and pouring some boiling water down the sides. This stuff is like molasses. And just like molasses, you need to trick this stuff into thinking it isn’t January (or, er…February, which is when we did this).

IMG_20160302_1923293. Boil some water.

For my particular recipe, this was specifically 3.5L. In a relatively large pot. On your stove. Most municipal water is fine for extract brewing, though if you . Don’t be too picky with the volume either – it’s going to be diluted anyway.

4. Mix it up.

Pour the HME into the dry, sanitized primary fermenter along with the boiling water and the corn sugar. And stir really, really well.

5. Add cold water

Add enough cold water to fill the fermentor to a volume of 23L (or 6 US Gallons). It’s a good idea to measure the volume you need ahead of time and draw a line on the bucket – lucky for me the actual owner of the brewing equipment had already done this for me.

IMG_20160302_192540This is also a good time to take a hydrometer reading. A hydrometer measures the specific gravity of a liquid, which gives an estimation of the sugar content of your beer. At the beginning, the specific gravity is usually between 1.040-1060, depending on the type of beer. As more sugar is turned into alcohol, the number will be lower.  A typical range for specific gravity at the end of the brew is usually about 32 points lower at 1.004-1.016, though some styles may be higher (approximately 4.5%ABV).

 

hydrometer
A chemistry term. Not what you tore in Senior year football

The Homebrew Manual website has an excellent infographic indicating the ranges of specific gravity you would see for different styles of beer.

 

The easiest way to get a reading is to use a (sanitized!) turkey baster to extract about  from your malty/sugary/water mixture and transfer it to a narrow plastic tube called a “trial jar.” Gently drop the hydrometer into the trial jar and measure the number at the bottom of the miniscus.*

*Break out your high school chemistry textbooks, folks. The meniscus is  the curve in the upper surface of a liquid, which can easily distort volume measurements.

6. Add the yeast

Sprinkle the yeast over the top of the malt-and-water mixture. No need to mix!

7. Cover and Wait

IMG_20160214_145230Put the (sanitized) lid of your fermentor back on, place it in a warm spot, and wait 5-6 days. During this time, be sure to take a few hydrometer readings to make sure the fermentation is taking place as scheduled.

Timing is everything in home brewing, so it’s a good idea to set aside time for each step. Five days is enough time for the yeast to chew up the delicious sugars in the malt and make some alcohol (the carbonation comes later).

And that was it for day one. Easier, than expected, don’t you think. Listen…if an incurable recipe-defying anarchist like me can do it, so can you.

 

References

  1. Love Brewing, UK. http://www.lovebrewing.co.uk/guides/wine-making/how-to-use-a-hydrometer/#.VteV0X0rKt8
  2. Homebrew Manual http://homebrewmanual.com/beer-gravity-chart/

 

 

 

Twist N’ Stout

ChzUb
I still feel this way.

A week or two ago I bought a beer kit that included can of Hopped Malt Extract (HME), yeast, and a little instruction booklet. I had discussed with the store manager my apprehensions about starting at this level (see World of Wort-Craft), but he assured me I’d be okay.

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Red (Ale) Leader, standing by.

I was pleasantly surprised with how smoothly the first day went. I was expecting this process to take several hours (more to come on my endeavors in a future blog post). Since it didn’t, I had time to create something else. And since it was also Valentine’s Day, I had to reward myself (and my partner-in-crime) with an obligatory dose of theobromine.

There are two types of brownie people: those who prefer a chewy texture, and those who prefer them to resemble chocolate cake (though I haven’t met many of the latter). The following brownies are a compromise for the two types. Cooled, they are chewy. Warm, the stout flavours are enhanced and the texture is more cake-like.
What’s that? You don’t taste the beer? You’re probably not doing it right. Have another bite.

Twix N’ Stout Brownies

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Serve with beer. Obviously.

3/4 cup unsalted butter

3 oz. semi-sweet baking chocolate (OR 1/2 cup bittersweet chocolate chips)

3/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder

1 1/2 cups granulated sugar

1/4 tsp. salt

1 egg, 1 white

1 1/2 tsp. vanilla extract

3/4 cup stout beer

1 1/2 cups all purpose flour

1 cup chopped Twix bars or Twix bites, or the chocolate bar of your choice

  1. Preheat oven to 350°F.
  2. Grease an 8×11” pan or line with parchment paper.
  3. In a large saucepan, melt together the butter and chocolate.
  4. Remove the chocolate mixture from heat and whisk in the cocoa, sugar, and salt.
  5. Beat together the egg, vanilla and beer. Slowly whisk this into the warm chocolate mixture.
  6. Add flour and fold into batter until just incorporated.
  7. Fold in chopped Twix pieces and chocolate chips.
  8. Spread the batter into the pan and bake for 30-35 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.
  9. Cool completely and store in an airtight container for up to 1 week.Makes approximately 20 brownies

References

Recipe adapted from: http://www.chocolatemoosey.com/2015/03/05/chocolate-stout-brownies/

Beer Smith. How to Brew Beer – 5 Steps for Making Beer at Home. http://beersmith.com/blog/2009/01/10/how-to-brew-beer-5-steps-for-making-beer-at-home-part-1/

 

 

World of Wort-craft

After talking about home brewing for a year or so (okay, a few years) it’s finally time to put my money where my mouth and liver are.

Heart set on purchasing a kit, I tromped on down to my local brewing store Prairie Vintner’s & Brewers, who were critical in helping me understand the different types of brewing kits. Like any astute padawan learning a new skill, I built an analogy around the concepts to improve my understanding. This is what I took away from the conversation.

There are a few different difficulty stages in home brewing. Let’s call them “levels.”

pacman_game

 

Level 1

Like any good video game, home brewing will make you think you’re moderately good at something to rope you into a complicated universe.

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Apparently they do.

This is as easy as home brewing gets – other home brewers may refer to this as the Easy Bake Oven (EBO) of beer making. Not that there’s anything wrong with that – I made some badass nachos 20-some years ago in my EBO. Do they even make those things anymore?
The beer kit contains 15L of unfermented barley juice (a.k.a. “wort”) that’s already been bittered and flavored. All you need to do is pour it into a carboy and add the yeast. This is probably where I should have started, were I entirely new to the home brewing game. But then again, I stood around and watched while a buddy of mine made a batch from scratch, so I like to think I’m a step above the typical beginner*. I don’t really do anything the easy way. Let’s skip ahead to level 2.

*I’m probably not.

brew-house-banner

If this is where you’d like to start, Brewhouse and Northern Brewer make a variety of beer styles to suit any home brewing virgin.

 

waluigi
This villain looks like your best friend. Except that he’s purple!

Level 2

Level 2 isn’t too much different than level 1. It builds on your previous successes, and might add in a boss with a few extra horns or something. Maybe it flies. Who knows!

In this type of beer kit, you’re usually provided a packet of yeast and a tin of malt extract that has the hop flavors pre-added. The only other ingredient you’ll need here is a kilo of corn sugar (or “dextrose” if you want to sound smart), though some equip you with this as well. And let’s not forget the all-purpose sanitizer – because no one wants to drink a can of fizzy band-aid flavored water.

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$25 HME + $5 dextrose = 23 litres of beer

All you have to do for these kits is boil up the hopped malt extract (HME) with some water and corn sugar. Once it’s cooled, toss in the yeast and let ‘er ferment. Expect more detailed instructions once I’m struggling through these steps on my own.

This is the level that I chose to start – mostly because I’m a penny-pinching skinflint. A tin of HME will cost you about $25, even in Canada’s crappy economy, and will make 60-70 bottles of beer. The level 1 kits will cost $50-80 dollars.

 

Level 3

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Keep grinding (not that kind of grinding).

Maybe you’re bored of using the kits, but aren’t quite ready for the big league. Not to fear – there’s still plenty you can do with a kit before jumping in the deep end.

Consider this the “mini games” section of your video game. Maybe you tried to beat the big boss and failed miserably. Maybe you’re afraid of failure. Now’s the time improve your skills and confidence before trying again.

Use this time to experiment. Keep using your malt extracts, but maybe add in a few grain adjuncts. Dry hop your beer with some cascade, or start playing with oak. Do what you want, I’m not your Mom.

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Or just sit in a vat full of hops and contemplate the meaning of life. That’s cool too.

Level 4

Time to face that lvl. 50 Paladin, yo! Now you have the skills to extract the yummy malt flavor from the grains yourself. This tends to be cheaper than using HME, and you also have more creative control. Plus you have substantially greater bragging rights.

I imagine the internet has a few recipes. Or if you’re from a generation that still uses paper books (like myself) check out your local library! I’m quite impressed with the innovative blends in Brooklyn BrewShop’s the Beer Making Book by Erica Shea and Stephen Valand.

Is that it? Have you beat the game? I doubt it.

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Expansion Packs

Unless you’re quite confident you have created the most wonderful beer imaginable, there’s always room for improvement. Even if you have, consider the following:

  • Have you crafted your own signature recipe?
  • Can you keep up with the latest beer trends? I certainly can’t.
  • Have you made a caramel latte flavored beer yet (like Calgary’s Last Best)? That actually tastes good?
  • Do you grow your own hops?
  • Have you tried roasting your own malt?
  • Have you started your own brewery? If so, please send me some beer so that I can give you rave reviews. Or give you some “constructive feedback.”
  • Does your aforementioned brewery also incorporate a pub?
  • The list goes on.

 

If you said no to any of the above questions, your brewing journey is far from over. You can do better.

 

References

Passion for the Pint. http://passionforthepint.com/what-are-the-different-types-of-home-brewing/

 

Bridge City Business

It seems I’ll have lots to keep me busy over the next few weeks here in Lethbridge. The following are a few highlights of the brewing world I’m particularly looking forward to:

1. Coulee Brew Co. is finally opening its doors in Lethbridge. After a long wait, this city will be home to a brew pub, complete with a restaurant, meeting space, and a growler bar. I had the opportunity to attend the soft opening, and was impressed with the stunning facility, trimmed to the nines with reclaimed wood.

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Shipping pallet chic.

The menu was innovative with just enough classic dishes to satisfy the most traditional eaters. While I was disappointed that Coulee Brew’s beer was not yet ready, they do offer a few great pics from other local breweries (Tool Shed, Bench Creek). I’ll be patient. Good beer takes time.

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Duck tacos with cherry salsa and goat cheese and some beer cheese soup off of Coulee Brew Co.’s new menu.

2. Theoretically Brewing – a lesser-known (but locally acclaimed) microbrewery that somehow flew under my beer-dar and opened earlier in December. More to come on this topic.

3. And of course, the aforementioned home-brewing adventures. While I haven’t yet started brewing, I have devoted a substantial amount of time to choosing a name for the first brew (soon to be revealed). That counts, right?

I’ve also had a bit more time at home and in the kitchen. As much as I enjoy meals cooked by others, there is a certain satisfaction I get from completing a demanding recipe, especially one I can eat when I’m finished.

I tend to use truffle oil in everything I add mushrooms to. While both the black and white truffle have strong, unmistakable flavors of their own, it’s especially good with other fungus-y foods. I liken it to  – sure they’re expensive, but you really don’t need much to get the job done. If you don’t have truffle oil…that’s really too bad. There is no substitute. You can either shell out the $25 for a bottle of half-decent infused oil, or make a less-delicious version of the recipe below.

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They’re delicious, I promise.

Shepherd’s pie is made with lamb. Cottage pie is made with beef. What then, do you call a turkey dish topped with vegetables and mashed potatoes? Suggestions, please.

WARNING: The following recipe makes a great deal of food – make sure to invite a few friends and use the absolute biggest pan you have. Likewise, you could easily divide the recipe in half or prepare and serve it in individual ramekins.

Turkey Mushroom Cottage Pie

with truffle, parsnip, and beer gravy

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Obligatory decorative vegetables.

4 large potatoes, peeled and quartered

3 medium parsnips, peeled and coarsely chopped

1/4 cup butter, room temperature

1/2 cup milk

4 tbsp. minced fresh rosemary, divided

1 tablespoon olive oil

1 onion, chopped

2 cups mushrooms, sliced

1 tbsp. truffle oil

2 tbsp. flour

3/4 cup dark beer

2 cups diced carrots (fresh or frozen), steamed

2 cups frozen cut green peas or beans, thawed

2 pounds (900g ground turkey)

3 cloves garlic, minced

1 tbsp dried sage

1 egg

1 cup Panko or breadcrumbs, divided

1/4 cup parmesan cheese

Ground black pepper to taste

  1. Combine potatoes and parsnips in a large pot of boiling water. Cook tender, 15 to 20 minutes.
  2. Drain potatoes and parsnips and add butter and milk. Season with 2 tbsp. of the minced fresh rosemary and salt and pepper to taste. Set aside.
  3. Preheat oven to 375 degrees F (190 degrees C).
  4. Heat olive oil and minced onion in a skillet over medium heat with a pinch of salt. Once the onions begin to release moisture and turn translucent (about 5 minutes), add mushrooms and truffle oil.
  5. Whisk together beer and flour. Add to mushroom and onion mixture, stirring gently. Reduce heat and simmer until the liquid begins to thicken.
  6. While the mushroom gravy begins to thicken, combine ground turkey, garlic cloves, sage, egg, 1/2 cup of Panko or breadcrumbs and remaining fresh rosemary in a large bowl. Combine well to form a thick meat-dough (almost like you were to make a meatloaf).
  7. Transfer meat mixture to a deep, greased casserole dish and press firmly into the pan.
  8. Cover meat layer with mushroom gravy, followed by steamed carrots and green beans.
  9. Finally, top casserole with potato/parsnip mixture and sprinkle remaining Panko and parmesan overtop.
  10. Bake in preheated oven until tops of mashed potatoes are lightly browned and the edges are bubbling, about 30 minutes.

 

Serves 8

New Beer’s Resolution

Christmas and New Years have come and gone. The gyms are filled with people struggling through their yearly work-out. The stores can’t keep enough kale, quinoa, or other so-called “Superfoods” on the shelves to satisfy the trendiest dieters.

I’m not really one to make New Year’s resolutions. January really isn’t different from any other month, and shouldn’t be the only time we set goals. That being said, I do have one project I’m looking forward to working on over the next year.

I’ll be babysitting a friend’s brewing equipment over the next year, which gives me an opportunity to venture into the world of home brewing. As with any goal, it’s a good idea to start small, and work up to where you want to be.

The first batch will be an easy one from a kit. And maybe adding a bit of personality with some dry hopping or flavorful adjuncts.

Step two will be more complex, brewing from malt itself. Any suggestions for techniques and potential flavours will be welcome, from fellow brewers and beer enthusiasts alike.

IMG_0436
These aren’t your typical cookie-cutter sugar cookies.

Contrary to popular belief, it is possible to make and eat cookies (even eggnog-flavoured ones) year round (not just in December). The following is one of my favorites – a successful experiment from last year.

Rum N’ Eggnog Sugar Cookies

 

IMG_0438
Christmas pig never gets invited to holiday gatherings.

⅔ cup butter

¾ cup granulated sugar

1 tbsp. rum or rum flavoring

1 egg

2 tbsp. eggnog

2 cups flour

1 ½ tsp baking powder

1 tsp. nutmeg

¼ tsp. cinnamon

¼ tsp salt

  1. Cream butter, sugar and rum together.
  2. Add egg and eggnog; beat thoroughly.
  3. Sift together remaining dry ingredients.
  4. Gradually blend dry ingredients into creamed mixture.
  5. Divide dough in half and cover or wrap in plastic.
  6. Chill at least one hour before rolling out.
    On a lightly floured surface, roll dough to ⅛” thickness.
  7. Cut into desired shapes with cookie cutters.
  8. Carefully transfer to cookie sheet and bake at 350°F (325°F convection) for 8-10 minutes.
  9. Let cookies cool before removing from pan.

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Makes about 36 cookies

Got any tips or tricks for a newcomer to the world of home brewing? Suggestions for a first or second beer style to try? Clever names for new brews? I’d like to hear about it – comment below or get in touch on twitter @theempirestrikesbock

Butte-y Queen

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Though he did lend his voice to mighty-fine Joker at one time.

I like comebacks…most of the time. Actors, musicians, and otherwise talented people who, instead of fading into oblivion, decide to get back on stage and relive their glory days.

Take Harrison Ford…wait, bad example. He had his chance and blew it with the fourth Indiana Jones. Take…Mark Hamill. Sure. That guy hasn’t seen much live action in a good long while. And here he is at age 64 picking up his lightsaber again in Star Wars Episode VII. Sure he might not have a long run of movies, but at least he’s getting back out there.

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The Butte Brewing Company could be considered a similar venture, though it’s one that I’m sure will last longer than Mark Hamill’s return to the big screen (no offence Mark). While Butte has an excellent in Headframe Spirits, it’s still been at least 50 years since a brewery has operated in this ole’ mining town.

This establishment opened just this year prior to the summer festival season, and has started to establish itself as a butte-brewing-co-logolocal watering hole. The building itself is 3500 square feet with high ceilings, an event room and an upper floor of tables – leaving lots of room for events and mingling. My favorite part? The brand uses the same logo used by the company more than 50 years ago.

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I had the opportunity to test their wares during a recent trip South to celebrate the American turkey day with some family. Currently the brewery offers 7-8 varieties on tap. I found the Rye Ale at first to have a pleasant earthy richness, with a hint of the grain’s unusual mineral finish. I was however, disappointed that I was unable to taste the IPA, which uses an intriguing balance of Simcoe, Centennial and Citra hops with Chinook varieties for bittering the brew.

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A collection of pertinent antique beer bottles.

While the Butte Brewery first of the breweries to grace the mining town’s streets, it certainly won’t be the last. Muddy Creek Brewing recently opened. Copper Wild Brewing is also set to open up soon. Not to mention the other 50+ Breweries in the state.

You might be thinking. “50 breweries! That’s a lot to see. Is there a benefit to visiting them all?” Or maybe you’re not. I’m no mind reader. But if you were, the answer is yes.

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The Montana Brewery Passport is a worthwhile investment for MT residents who appreciate craft beer. Likewise, it’s a fun project for Canadians who like to hop across the border every so often – for skiing, shopping, or otherwise. Participants who complete their passport by visiting all the open breweries can send in their passport for the official “Montana Brewery Passport” stamp (as pictured above left) as well as a pair of 16 oz. pint glasses, while other prizes are promised to come.

References

Montana Standard http://mtstandard.com/news/local/butte-brewing-company-open-in-time-for-festival/article_0b75fd99-a370-5f11-9243-fb3dbd399e6f.html

Monana Brewery Passport http://www.montanabrewerypassport.com/faq.html