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

 

IMG_20160315_175725
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

 

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.

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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

 

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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

Wookiee Monster

There’s less than a month to go until the Force will supposedly awaken. And here I am baking cookies.

Wookiee cookies to be exact. With oats, coconut, toffee bits and a hint of chocolate. The toffee bits will melt a bit in the oven and make these cookies a little…wait for it…chewy.

Honestly, I don’t have a lot to say about beer this week. This whole Star Wars thing has occupied most of my attention. However, I did stumble upon this little gem last time I was at my favorite beer haunt.

wells-sticky-toffee-pudding-ale-63For this recipe I used Wells Sticky Toffee Pudding Ale. This isn’t the first oddball beer flavor for the Charles Wells brewing family – this is the same brewery that put out the Banana Bread beer among others. This one comes very close to conjuring up an accurate likeness of the British dessert: rich caramel malt tones and a hint of molasses-like sweetness.

Can’t find the aforementioned ale? An English Brown Ale (e.g. Newcastle or Naramata Nut Brown) or a sweet oak-aged brew would do just fine.

Toffee Ale Wookiee Cookies

IMG_20151119_210928
The wild cookie, in its natural environment.

For the cookies:
3/4 cup unsalted butter

3/4 cup brown sugar

1/2 cup granulated sugar

2 eggs

1/4 cup brown ale

1 tsp. vanilla extract

1 tbsp cocoa powder

1 cup large flake rolled oats

1 cup quick-cooking oats

1 cup shredded unsweetened coconut

1 cup flour

1/2 tsp. salt

1 tsp. baking soda

1 cup toffee bits

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 375°F (325°F in a convection oven).
  2. Cream butter and sugar.
  3. Add eggs and vanilla to butter mixture and beat until smooth.
  4. Gradually stir in cocoa, oats and coconut to butter mixture.
  5. In a separate bowl, combine flour, salt, and baking soda.
  6. Add flour mixture to butter mixture gradually, stirring well.
  7. Add toffee bits to dough and fold to combine.
  8. Chill dough for at least one hour and up to 24 hours. The more time the dough has to rest, the more moisture the oats will absorb and the less it will spread out on the cookie sheet.
  9. Scoop dough with a teaspoon and form into balls, pressing down lightly onto nonstick or greased baking sheet.
  10. Bake for 12-14 minutes or until edges are lightly browned.
  11. Place on wire rack to cool.

IMG_20151119_200826

 

Wookiee Cookie Icing

Chocolate:
1 1/2 cups confectioner’s sugar

2 tbsp. dark cocoa powder

3 tsp. milk

3 tbsp. corn syrup

1/2 tsp. vanilla extract

Vanilla:

1 1/2 cups confectioner’s sugar

3 tsp. milk

2 tbsp. corn syrup

1/2 tsp. vanilla extract

  1. Stir confectioner’s sugar, cocoa and milk together.
  2. Add corn syrup and combine until smooth. If icing is too thick to put in an icing bag, add a bit more corn syrup.
  3. Pour icing into piping bag fitted with a small round tip.

To Decorate:

  1. With the chocolate icing, draw two lines across the cookie’s “chest” to make the outline of the ammo belt.
  2. Fill in this line with more of the chocolate icing and smooth over the top.
  3. Use the vanilla icing to make those cute little snaggle-teeth and eyes. Add a little bit of food coloring for the eyes if you don’t want your wookiees to look possessed.
  4. Draw lines or add silverettes to the ammo belt to make your wookiee look more vicious.
  5. If you’re seriously having trouble with this and need more detailed instructions, Ro from Nerdy Nummies has an excellent tutorial on her Youtube channel using melted chocolate.

Ginger Beer

DSC08724I really like ginger. Like, a lot. I’ve added it to pretty much every meal I’ve cooked this week. Which you’d think would make me an afficionado of ginger beers – not without some exceptions. Today I’ll primarily discuss the alcoholic varieties, with a few exceptions.

I can handle the occasional Crabbie’s, but I usually tap out after half a glass – I just can’t handle the high sugar content. This is my usual complaint with ginger beers – either they are too sweet or the ginger flavour isn’t “kick-in-the-face” sharp enough. The contrast to this is Fallentimber’s Ginger Mead – it’s refreshing and surprisingly dry, considering the prominent honey flavor, though it is without the other spices that we associate with a “ginger beer”. Learn more about Fallentimber’s meads here.

RobinsonsOldTomGinger
http://www.beersofeurope.co.uk/

My current favorite though, is Old Tom. No, not your crazy neighbor that wears ten different hats at the same time. Nor the cat that wanders your neighborhood yowling for lady-cat affection. Originally labelled as Ginger Tom, Old Tom is a traditional ale mixed with a ginger beer – the best of both worlds. This way you get the flavors of a lemony, herbal ginger beer cut with a crisp traditional ale.

The Phillips brewing company also makes a legitimate beer with (that bears little to no resemblence to the aforementioned varieties). This one is a legitimate beer brewed with ginger. Much like the thinly sliced pink pickled ginger, this stuff is great with sushi. Not a fan of that pink stuff? This might not be the beer for you.
CNB-original-label

Are mixed drinks more your style? Traditionally served in a copper mug, a Moscow Mule is made with ginger beer, lime, and vodka. Headframe Spirits out of Butte serves up their own version, the Montucky Mule, with their signature Neversweat Bourbon and Cock and Bull Ginger Beer. Not in the area? Fentiman’s Ginger Beer makes an excellent mix for any of the above spirits.

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Image sourced from Serious Eats

Korean cuisine is rife with ginger and strong, spicy flavors. This recipe literally translates to “mixed rice and vegetables” – creative, I know. But incredibly tasty. Keep in mind this is a non-Korean girl’s boozy attempt at Korean food, and it should not be considered authentic in any way. FYI, Gochujang is a spicy fermented bean paste that is pretty indespensible in this recipe. It’s pretty easy to find at any Asian Grocery store if you know what the container looks like – they’ll probably have this kind there (see image left). If not, good luck reading Korean!

Bi Bim Bap with Ginger Beer Sauce

Marinated Beef

  • 1/2 cup ginger beer
  • 1 tbsp fresh ginger, minced
  • 2 cloves fresh garlic, minced
  • 1 Tbsp soy sauce
  • 1 Tbsp sesame oil
  • 1 lb steak, thinly sliced

Sesame Steamed Bok Choy

  • Bok Choy
  • 2 tsp sesame oilIMG_20150924_204238
  • 2 tbsp soy sauce
  • 2 tsp mirin

Other Ingredients

  • Matchstick carrots
  • Pickled radish
  • 4 serving portions of steamed rice
  • 4 eggs

Ginger Beer-bim-bap sauce

  • 3 Tbsp gochujang
  • 1 Tbsp sesame oil
  • 1 Tbsp honey
  • 1/4 cup ginger beer
  • 1 Tbsp roasted sesame seeds
  • 1 tsp vinegar – I used apple vinegar
  • 1 tsp minced ginger

Directions:

  1. Combine the first 6 ingredients in a medium bowl. Add steak; toss to coat. Cover and chill for 30 minutes or up to 3 hours.
  2. Combine sesame oil, soy sauce and mirin in a wok and heat over medium. Add bok choy and stir gently. Add 2 tbsp water (or ginger beer, if you have a bit extra). Cover and steam until dark green.
  3. Meanwhile, heat 1/2 tablespoon oil in a large heavy skillet over medium heat. Add one-quarter of beef and cook, turning once, until cooked through and lightly browned, about 3 minutes. Transfer to a bowl. Repeat in 3 batches with remaining oil and beef.
  4. In a small mixing bowl, whisk together ingredients for sauce.
  5. Divide rice among bowls. Assemble steamed bok choy and beef overtop of rice, along with additional vegetables.
  6. Right before serving, fry one egg (over-easy) for each portion. Top each bowl with a fried egg and serve with bi bim bap sauce.

Serves 4

References

Recipe adapted from: http://mykoreankitchen.com/2013/07/12/bibimbap-korean-mixed-rice-with-meat-and-assorted-vegetables/

http://www.ratebeer.com/beer/robinsons-old-tom-with-ginger–ginger-tom-bottle/91576/

Honey for Nothin’

Brooks, AB is not the first place I’d think to spend a summer vacation. But every year in early August, the entire city (or at least the cool citizens) get dressed up and go to feast and joust at the Brooks Medieval Faire. Think of it as their version of the Calgary Stampede. Except set in the 1400s. But no jousting tournament is complete without a horn of mead. Enter the Fallentimber Meadery from Water Valley, AB.
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fallentimber_logo_griffintop_blackI’d never been much of a mead drinker in the past. I had always expected something made of honey to be overly sweet and cloying. After meeting up with Nathan Ryan and Cole Boyd from the meadery, I now understand that there’s a mead for every taste.

“My Dad’s been a beekeeper for almost 40 years now,” said Nathan Ryan of the family-owned and operated business. “Growing up around that, we didn’t have a ton to do with it. I was allergic to bees, so there was no way I could be involved.” With a brewing background though, the Ryan family was bound to expand their scope. “Under the Cottage Winery license we were able to open the meadery, doing small-batch production.” The doors of Fallentimber Meadery opened in 2010. Current production is about 1800 litres at a time – not a terribly small production, but still a home-grown organization.

Mead selection
(Right to Left) Dry Mead, Saskatoon Mead, Traditional Mead, Spiced Mead and Sweet Mead.

I soon learned how versatile honey could be – not only can it be made into mead (which in ABV terms is more alike to a wine), or in the case of the hopped mead, more like a beer. “The Hopped Mead comes with a bit of a story, ” Nathan began. “We had been making our still mead for a while, but since we had a brewing background we decided to do a Braggot. This is a drink that’s about 50% malt and 50% honey, and kind of a grey area for legislation. When we started talking to AGLC in 2013, we had already bought a lot of brewing equipment. they were going through a review of legislation and ended up rejecting our application. This was the same review that got rid of the minimum requirements to breweries – while this was good for microbreweries, it made us the ‘exception to the rule.'”

Rather than wait and waste the equipment, Nathan and his brother decided to use the equipment and “act” as if DSC08727they were making a beer. Thus, the Hopped Mead was born. They’ve since seen the policy change to allow for the Braggot to be made, but the Hopped Mead has already become a signature product. The sweetness hits you right at the beginning, and quickly mellows into a rich, earthy hop flavour. It’s definitely worth a try for any hop-head.

Like the hopped mead, the Ginger Mead is also brewed with more of a beer-focus and a fraction of the sweetness of your “typical” ginger beer. “Drinking a pint of 14% mead is tricky in the afternoon. We wanted something you could have a pint of – the ginger mead is ultimately our ideal patio drink.” The honey flavour is subtle upon first sip, but the sharp ginger flavour is the star of the show.

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Cole and Nathan of the Fallentimber Meadery
Centred upon a rustic quonset, the Falltentimber Meadery is becoming one of Alberta’s forefront destinations for beer and wine-lovers alike. Much like the wineries of Kelowna, the Fallentimber Meadery is a place to visit and enjoy the scenery with a beverage. “We would like more people to come visit the meadery. We’ve got the place on Google maps. I mean, we’re in the middle of nowhere, but it’s a nice middle of nowhere.”
The Fallentimber Meadery
The Fallentimber Meadery

Want to learn more about mead? Fallentimber Meadery will be at the Calgary Oktoberfest near the end of September. The following weekend, October 3rd, will be their 5th Anniversary party at the apiary complete with live music, dinner, dancing, an informative K-Country show, and vikings. Yes, vikings. Tickets are currently on sale at their website.

Honey is a common ingredient in many sauces for meat. Mead is therefore the only logical next level ingredient.

Chicken Thighs with Ginger Garlic Mead SauceIMG_20150912_193554

12 chicken thighs or wings

3/4 cup ginger mead (or ginger beer)
1/2 cup brown sugar
4 garlic cloves, minced
2 tbsp grated ginger (one 2″ cube)
4 tbsp. soy sauce
4 tbsp. honey
1 tbsp. rice vinegar
1 tsp. sesame oil

1/2 tsp. Worcestershire sauce

  1. Preheat an oven to 375 degrees F (190 degrees C).
  2. Arrange the chicken on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Bake until cooked through, about 35 to 45 minutes.
  3. While the chicken is cooking, prepare the sauce. Combine the ginger mead, brown sugar, soy sauce, honey, garlic, ginger, honey, soy sauce, rice vinegar, sesame oil and Worcestershire in a saucepan. Increase heat to medium-high and bring to a boil.
  4. In a separate small bowl, whisk together the cornstarch and 1/2 cup water. Pour into saucepan and whisk rapidly until combined. Cook over medium heat until liquid begins to thicken.
  5. Transfer the chicken to a baking dish once cooked through. Pour sauce over the chicken to coat.
  6. Return chicken to oven and bake until the sauce is bubbling and sticky, about 15 to 20 minutes.Serves 4 hungry knights or vikings.

It’s a Trappist!

its-a-trappistBelgium is high on my places to visit. Why? Perhaps because it is home to three of my favorite things: chocolate, waffles, and Trappist beers.

Abbey and Trappist ales may appear similar in a liquor store. While there are no rigid brewing styles they must conform to, they tend to be dark, rich, and strong with notes of fruit and spice. There are some defining differences as well – all Trappist ales are abbeys, but not all abbey beers are Trappists.

st-bernardus-abt-12
Not a Trappist. But still good.

The term “abbey beer” refers to a beer brewed in the style of Trappist monks, but could easily be brewed by a monks, a secular brewery or some guy in his basement. An actual “Trappist” beer must be recognized by the International Trappist Association to be considered as such.

At the moment there are only 10 of the trappist monasteries that produce beer, six of which are located in Belgium. It is unlikely there will ever be more, due to the strict criteria a Trappist brewery must comply with.

  1. ivt_logo 800The beer must be brewed within the walls of a Trappist monastery, either by the monks themselves or under their supervision.
  2. The brewery must be of secondary importance within the monastery and it should witness to the business practices proper to a monastic way of life.
  3. The brewery is not intended to be a profit-making venture.  The income covers the living expenses of the monks and the maintenance of the buildings and grounds.  Whatever remains is donated to charity for social work and to help persons in need.
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Trappist ales. Image sourced from Belgian Beer Journal.

I say unlikely, but not impossible. After all, Spencer Trappist Ale has already defied the odds by producing the first and only certified Trappist ale in the United States.

A list of the Trappist monasteries that currently brew is as follows:

  1. The Trappist beer and the Trappist cheeses of Orval Abbey (Belgium)
  2. The Trappist beers of Achel Abbey (Belgium)
  3. The Trappist beers and Trappist cheeses of Westmalle Abbey (Belgium)
  4. The Trappist beers and Trappist cheeses of Scourmont-Lez-Chimay Abbey (Belgium)
  5. The Trappist beers of Rochefort Abbey (Belgium)
  6. The Trappist beers of Westvleteren Abbey (Belgium)
  7. The Trappist beers, Trappist cheeses, breads, cookies, chocolate, jams, and honey of Koningshoeven Abbey in Tilburg (The Netherlands)
  8. The Trappist beers and liqueurs of Stift Engelszell Abbey (Austria)
  9. The Trappist beer of St. Joseph’s Abbey in Spencer (USA)
  10. The Trappist beer of Maria Toevlucht Abbey in Zundert (The Netherlands)
  11. The Trappist beer of Tre Fontane Abbey in Rome (Italy)
Orval Abbey http://www.orval.be/
Orval Abbey http://www.orval.be/

If you noticed the Orval, Westmalle, Scourmont-Lez-Chimay, and Koninghoeven Abbeys also produce cheese. Other Trappist monasteries exist, but may choose not to brew at all. For example, Mont des Cats in France does not produce beer, instead focusing their efforts on cheese. Likewise, Echt-Tegelen in the Netherlands produces an interesting selection of liqueurs.

The following recipe makes 4-5 crispy, fluffy Belgian waffles with a rich Belgian ale syrup. If you don’t have an abbey or a Trappist on hand, any beer will do.

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Bacon Belgian Beer Waffles

4 eggs, separatedIMG_20150908_125029

1/4 cup brown sugar

3/4 cup dark Trappist ale or stout

1/4 cup milk

5 tbsp melted butter

1 tsp vanilla

1/2 tsp salt

2 cups all purpose flour

1/2 tsp baking soda

6 strips maple bacon, cooked crispy and chopped

Maple Caramel Ale Syrup to serve (see below)

  1. Pre-heat waffle iron according to manufacturers instructions.
  2. Separate the eggs, placing the whites in one medium bowl and the yolks in another. Do not get any yolk in the whites, or all is lost.
  3. Add the sugar, beer, milk, melted butter and vanilla to the yolks. Whisk gently until combined.
  4. Add the salt to the whites and whip vigorously with a hand-mixer or stand-mixer until stiff peaks form. Or do it by hand, if your biceps are up to it. This should take about 4 minutes.
  5. In the large bowl, sift together flour and baking soda. Add chopped bacon to the bowl and stir to combine.
  6. Make a well in the centre of the flour mixture. Slowly add the yolk mixture and stir until just combined.
  7. Gently fold the whites into the batter, making sure not to crush .
  8. Pre-heat a waffle maker, cook waffles according to manufactures specifications.
  9. Serve with Guinness Caramel Syrup.

Serves four somewhat-hungry humans.

Maple Caramel Ale SyrupIMG_0324

3/4 cup Guinness

1/4 cup water

3/4 cup maple syrup

  1. Combine all three ingredients in a small saucepan.
  2. Stir over high heat for 1-2 minutes.
  3. Once mixture begins to foam, reduce to medium-low heat.
  4. Simmer until syrup is 50% of its original volume. Keep a watchful eye on the pot while this occurs – the syrup (if overcooked) will harden upon cooling.
  5. Serve over waffles or pancakes.

Makes 1 cup of syrup

Note: If you do overcook the syrup (and it hardens when cooled), it’s not the end of the world. Re-heat the caramel prior to pouring over pancakes. Let the syrup-coated pancakes cool a minute or two before eating.

References

  1. http://www.trappist.be/en/pages/trappist-beers
  2. Recipe adapted from The Beeroness. http://thebeeroness.com/2015/03/04/maple-bacon-beer-waffles/
  3. Image sourced from http://bensbeerblog.com/2012/12/12/beer-and-star-wars-a-pairing-guide/its-a-trappist/

Taco the Town

For the last week or two I’ve working on a compendium of Alberta’s craft breweries. Unfortunately though, breweries in Alberta are like weeds – as soon as you think you’ve got them all, another one bursts through the cracks of the sidewalk.

I figured I’d start in the fawild-craft-logor South. Partially because I live there, but also because I’m too lazy to start on researching the Calgary ones. There isn’t too much to talk about here in Lethbridge. Yet.

Wild Craft Brewery was set to open in Lethbridge in Spring 2015. For a while I could find the Wild Hops IPA and Pilsner varieties in most liquor stores, though they were brewed in BC. But days and months went by with no opening date set.

Then they were gone. Nothing to be found bearing the brand but a lone six pack at the bottom of the shelf.

Turns out this brewery is currently undergoing a name change to Coulee Brew Co. Named after the  carved by glaciers that line the Oldman River, Coulee Craft will be the first brewery in Lethbridge in 25 years since the Molson-owned House of Lethbridge Brewery closed its doors. However, the countdown on Coulee Craft’s website still reads 102 days left to go – I’ve circled December 6th on my calendar.

I’m disappointed I have to wait a while longer for a brew-pub in my town of residence. I’ll have to explore the myriad of available brews from Calgary in the meantime. But you can’t always get what you want. Fortunately, you can always get tacos.

IMG_20150807_162602

Marinated Steak Tacos with Tequila Guacamole

2lb (600g) lean top sirloin steak

1 tsp chili powder

1/2 tsp smoked paprikaIMG_20150804_194208

1/2 cup beer

2-3 tbsp hot sauce (I use Valentina*)

2-3 ripe tomatoes

1/2 cup shredded white cheddar

2 cups shredded iceberg lettuce or cabbage

1/4 cup fresh cilantro, minced

10 small corn tortillas

Tequila Guacamole

3 ripe avocados

2 tbsp lime juice

2 tbsp tequila (1 oz. shot)

½ cup diced fresh tomato

½ tsp salt

  1. Pre-heat your BBQ to medium-high for cooking over direct heat.
  2. Prepare the top sirloin for marinating using a meat tenderizer or by stabbing it repeaatedly with a fork. The latter is far more satisfying. Transfer to a bowl or zipper-seal bag.
  3. Combine hot sauce, beer and spices in a small bowl. Whisk to combine and pour over meat.
  4. Marinate for at least 20 minutes at room temperature, or cover and refrigerate for up to 1 day, turning occasionally.
  5. Meanwhile, prepare the tequila guac. Scoop the avocado pulp into a large bowl and toss with lime juice, tequila and salt. Mash avocado pulp with a fork or potato-masher. Fold in diced tomato. Cover and refrigerate at least 30 minutes before serving.
  6. Remove the steak from the marinade (discard the marinade) and grill, turning halfway through cooking, for a total of about 10 minutes or until medium-rare.
  7. Transfer the steak to a cutting board and let rest for 5 to 10 minutes.
  8. Toss the tortillas over the grill for a few seconds to warm them. Serve with tequila guac, sliced steak, lettuce, cheese, diced tomato and fresh cilantro.Valentina

Serves 4

*P.S. If you’ve never tried Valentina, you’re missing out. Smoky, spicy and slightly vinegar-y. You won’t regret it. Plus it’s $2 a bottle at Wal-Mart. I go through about 4 in a month.

References

Global News http://globalnews.ca/news/1520718/southern-albertas-first-craft-brewery-opening-this-spring/