Saturday, January 22, 2011

Simple Beer Pancakes

In theory, neither making pancakes or blogging is difficult. In reality, I am absurdly neither ever really gets done. 2 weeks ago, while visiting Carolyn, I decided to do something about this: I made beer pancakes! Unfortunately, it has taken me 2 weeks to get around to posting this, but I guess that's better than never.

These pancakes are the original way that I made beer pancakes and are by far the easiest way to add beer to your breakfast. I just bought some instant pancake mix and instead of adding water, I add beer. No one can mess this up.

Ok, so here is one way you can mess this up: not having a griddle or any pans suitable for pancake making. This saucepan made flipping a little more difficult than expected (Carolyn and I were not in either of our home kitchens and had to make due).

Thank goodness I am a flipping master! I dug my spatula in there and got it under that pancake.

Once you can pick it up with the spatula, the flipping part isn't very difficult.

Carolyn made some nice apple wedges for the pancakes using apples, sugar, butter and cinnamon. Steps: melt butter; add apples, cook for a bit; add sugar and not burn. At least, we think that's what we did...maybe next time we will take notes.

My plating/garnishing skills leave a little to be desired, but you get the idea.


Thursday, November 18, 2010

"Deathly Hallows" Butterbeer

If you know me, you know that I am a big nerd. I can't wash a beer glass without thinking about surface chemistry, looking at carbonation in a beer reminds me of nucleation and growth. I can't be at a wedding and here "this ring" without thinking "precious!" I also own an English to Klingon dictionary. I am a big nerd.

It should not surprise you that I am also a Harry Potter fan. To get ready for the release of the next movie, "Deathly Hallows" I am working on a recipe for "Deathly Hallows Butterbeer."

I modified a recipe that is supposedly "historically accurate" (if its on the internet, it must be true!) that I found here. The beer I used was Dead Reckoning, a hoppy porter from Troegs. I thought it fit very well with the dark tone of the book as well as the name has "dead" in it. It is also a great beer by itself.

Here is what I did.

Heated up 3 bottle of the beer with the spices over medium heat (cinamon, ginger, cloves, nutmeg). While that came to a boil, I beat 5 egg yolks with 2 tablespoons of brown sugar and 1 tablespoon of white sugar (big deviation from the original recipe, but I didnt have 500 g of sugar). To avoid curdling the eggs, I beat them over a double boiler and slowly added in the hot beer mixture while whisking vigorously. Continuing to whisk, I added a stick of butter, small pieces at a time, waiting for a piece to fully melt before adding the next. The internet recipe says you can cut the beer but up to half using hot milk, but I only added a little bit (not sure of the exact amount).

I really enjoyed it (a non beer drinker complained that it tasted too much like beer) but I think a better cook could play with the spicing and make it better. At any rate, it is a good, beer centered replacement for egg nog come christmas time. And don't forget, when ordering a butter beer, say "Accio Butterbeer!"

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Random Update

Well I don't really write as much on here as I probably should, so I am trying to fix that now. Since I have been slacking off on the pancake front (I drink all the beer and leave none for breakfast) as well as homebrewing (just a lazy asshole), I have had nothing really pressing to write up. With nothing big going on, here is a bunch of little things going on:

-Ottos Pub and Brewery in State College finally got their license approved and will open up the doors at the new place on Monday at 11 AM. They are only moving slightly down the street, but it's still exciting.
-Gamble Mill's new brewery is getting pretty close to pouring beer. Apparently only 1 more hurdle to go. I wrote a bit about my visit with the brewer, Mike, here.
-Went to Stoudt's Microfest last weekend and had a great time. Tried beers from some PA breweries that I had never heard of before and also got to taste a nice variety of IPAs.
-Speaking of IPAs, I am drinking a Sly Fox Rt 113 IPA...great beer in a can.
-I did some research on beer glass washing, and saw people rinsing with water/baking soda solutions...this seems to work well.
-Despite not really being a blogger, I volunteered to do some blogging/tweeting for some work related activities (research conference) and got the position. That is some crazy shit.

I think that is about all for now, but hopefully there will be more updates either like this or with a more focused themes in the future. Maybe I will start reviewing beers or beer places in the area....who knows.

Saturday, September 18, 2010

Battle Beer Stout Beerfest

I didn't get to go to the Great American Beer Festival this year, but fortunately there is still beer for drinking here in Pennsylvania. Dr. Tom and I decided to have a beer tasting to celebrate the beginning of fall with some stout. With the variety of stout styles and places that brew stout, we did two head to head tastings and one random beer just for the variety.

The head to head competitions pitted two chocolate stouts against one another and two imperial stouts. Choosing one contender from the UK and one from the US in each category, we drank:

Rogue Chocolate Stout vs Young's Double Chocolate Stout

Sam Smith Imperial Stout vs Victory Storm King

While at the store, we wanted another beer but didnt want another head to head, so we bought a sixer of Dominion Oak Barrel Stout. A perfect choice since we were playing the card game Dominion (it's like Magic the Gathering....yes we are nerds).

We started with the Rogue which has a nice chocolate flavor with some pleasant bitterness. Dr. Tom described it as drinking a candy bar. A strong start to this battle beer. Next up was the Young's double chocolate, a less intense chocolate and didnt have the creaminess that I was expecting (it came in a normal bottle, not in the nitro can that I am used to). While the Youngs was good, the Rogue was much better and the clear winner.

For battle imperial, we started with the Sam Smith. Smokey and meaty. It smelled a little like port with a bit of apple on the tongue. Dr. Tom kept saying candy apple or spiced apple, something he thought was obvious in the beer, but I didnt pick up on it as strongly. The Storm King fought back with a big kick of bitterness. Actually that was about all that we got from it. Sitting here drinking one as I type this, I am tasting a lot more than bitterness but I think maybe with the 3 preceding stouts, the bitterness was the only thing standing out in comparison. Normally I am a big fan of Storm King, but it just didnt match up well tonight. The winner in this battle was Sam Smith.

Finally we just sat and drank the Dominion (smooth, with vanilla and oak flavors) while playing Dominion and discussing the beers overall for the evening. Dr. Tom ranks them as follows:

1. Rogue Chocolate Stout
2. Sam Smith Imperial Stout
3. Dominion Oak Barrel Stout
4. Young's Double Chocolate
5. Storm King

I would switch the Dominion with the Sam Smith, just because I was not a big fan of the port flavors I got from the Sam Smith. Also, I would move the Storm King up in the rankings just because I do enjoy a nice bitter kick in the face.

Friday, September 3, 2010

The Session

So apparently, there is this thing called "The Session" or Beer Blogging Friday where beer bloggers blog on the same topic, on the same day. Once a month one beer blogger "hosts" and gives a topic and compiles links for all the posts. I discovered The Sessions when The Beer Babe announced this week's topic via twitter. Since the topic is all about "the new kids," I figured it would be the perfect first session for me.

The general theme of this week's topic is centered around the large spike in brewery openings in the recent years. Chances are there is a new brewery opening near most of us, and as members of the beer community, we should welcome them. As it turns out, there is a new brewery going in to the Gamble Mill restaurant in Bellefonte, PA. This is only about 20 minutes down the road, so that counts as my neighborhood.

I was able to get in contact with their brewer, Mike Smith, and went down to the brewery to talk with him. He's a real nice guy who got his start with Dogfish Head and moved up to Ithaca Brewing Company for a bit and is now back in his hometown. Since I started my beer drinking career with Ithaca and I am also a fan of Dogfish Head, I was pretty excited to chat with him and taste some of his beers.

The idea of this session was to visit a "new" brewery, and the brewery at Gamble Mill is so new, that they havent even started serving their beers yet. Part of the reason is the PLCB (sucks) and the also had some equipment issues. Good news is they are on track to pour beer soon. The brewery itself is tiny (sorry, forgot to take any pictures)! The fermenters are 7 barrels, but they can only make 3.5 barrels of wort at a time, so a beer made over two brew days.

Right now they have 3 beers in the tanks and Mike poured a taste of each. This was my first taste of beer fresh from the tanks, so that was pretty cool.
1. Golden ale - This is Mike's "stepping stone" beer for those who may be new to the whole idea of beer with flavor. Mike adds corn to the beer because he likes some of the flavors it adds. The nose was very bready and yeasty, which was nice, but I am not sure if that will stick around once the beer is finished and filtered. This beer wasn't my favorite, but keep in mind it wasn't brewed for me.

2. Saison - This beer is closer to something that I would order at the bar. A little bit of spice and nice and refreshing. Nothing crazy here just a good beer. I dont think it will take long for people to step from the golden ale to the saison, I think anyone can enjoy this beer.

3. Pale ale - Mike prefaced pouring the beer by saying that it is a little dark to be really considered pale, but with all these crazy black pale beers, I dont think anyone will give him any trouble about it. As soon as the beer went under my nose, I knew this was a beer for me. Nice strong hop aroma. This is a great pale ale. There must be something about central PA water, because now I have 3 brew pubs within a 30 minute drive with pale ales that I really like (Ottos and Elk Creek are the other 2).

In addition to tasting, we just chatted about beer and brewing for about an hour and I got a feeling that there is going to be some incredible stuff going on here once they get rolling. Mike mentioned ideas for wild fermentations, barrel aging, traditional cask beer and beer dinners. He seems pretty excited about being a part of the community (especially, I'm sure, because he grew up around here) and wants to do a lot of things. Also, he seemed open to starting a twitter account for the brewery, and there is always room on twitter for more breweries.

It looks like Mike, and the guys at Gamble Mill are on the path to being a great to keep a look out for when they start pouring the beer!

Sunday, July 25, 2010

Pablo's Wit...takes 2 and 3

Ok, so my summer project did not go as planned. I didn't brew as much as I wanted to and I never really figured out a perfect wit recipe. As a last resort, I decided to do 2 beers at once...the best between the two gets kegged and brought to the wedding. I had 2 goals for these beers

1. The recipe needed to give the beer more body than take 1 (the beer turned out a little bland and watery)
2. The beer needed to have more pronounced spicing (nothing extreme, but noticeable)

Since I basically ran out of time, I had to brew 2 beers in one night, my first double-brew-day. Surprisingly enough, everything went well and both batches are fermenting away in Dr. Tom's basement.

I will post the two recipes separately either later this week or this weekend. Just wanted to give a quick update.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Belgian Wit Take 1

I have a project this summer...I need to make a beer good enough to serve at my friend's wedding. Pablo (his real name is Kevin, but I call him Pablo) asked me to brew one beer, and he would brew another to be served at the reception. We haven't discussed it in too much detail, but since it will be a summer wedding, his first thoughts were an IPA and a Belgian Wit. Since my first attempt at a belgian wit was not very good (no one even pretended to like it) I figure I should get some practice with the style. I decided to start easy, order a kit from Northern Brewer, and just swap out the bitter orange peel that it comes with (that stuff just looks like wood chunks) for fresh orange zest.

The plan was to do this in a scientific manner...I bought a notebook, I was only going to change one thing at a time, write down everything I did...but while setting up for brewday, I broke my hydrometer...aaaahhhh! Now I have to do this "science" project with only half of my "science-y" tools (the other being my thermometer). Oh well, even if I did take great notes and great measurements, the chances of me being able to repeat it is slim.

At any rate, this was my first all grain batch so maybe not knowing that I missed my gravity, or my efficiency is only 12% is a good thing. Here is the recipe (adapted from the directions that came with the Northern Brewer Belgian Wit kit)

3.5 lb Weyermann Pale Wheat
3.5 lb Belgian Pilsner
1 lb Flaked oats

Mash Schedule
Added 3 gallons of 163 degree water to bring to 152 degrees F (ok actually, the water was hotter, so I had to add ice cubes to bring it down to 152, but it went to 151, then dropped to 149 while it mashed for the hour)

Added 1 gallon of boiling water, to bring it to 156 F and started to drain to the brewpot.

Batch Sparged with 1.75 gallons at 172 degrees, plus some hot tap water (.25 gallons)

At this point I am not sure if I am even doing anything right, but I eventually got a pot full of wort, and put in on to boil.

60 minutes - 2 oz Strisselpalt
10 minutes - 1 oz coriander (whole)
10 minutes - Orange zest from 5 navel oranges

I pitched wyeast Belgian Witbeir yeast (I made a starter the night before, split between 2 growlers) and it is currently sitting in Dr. Tom's basement...we will see