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Archive for Beer & Hard Cider

ST. PATRICK’S DAY: Irish Nachos Recipe

Irish Nachos

Murphy's Irish Red

O'Hara's Irish Stout

[1] “Irish Nachos” for St. Pat’s. Find more recipees from the Idaho Potatoes. [2] and [3] Got beer? Serve the nachos with some Irish brew.

 

You won’t want to wait until St. Pat’s to enjoy this scrumptious snack.

Serve it with your favorite beer; or in the spirit of the holiday, these Irish beers.

How about an Irish beer tasting? Here are some of the most popular brands:

  • Beamish Irish Stout
  • Fuller’s
  • Guinness Draught, Extra Stout, and Foreign Extra Stout
  • Harp Lager
  • Murphy’s Irish Red
  • Murphy’s Irish Stout
  • O’Hara’s Celtic Stout
  • O’Hara’s Irish Wheat
  • Porterhouse Brewing Co. Oyster Stout
  • Smithwick’s Irish Ale
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    RECIPE: “IRISH NACHOS”

    This recipe, created by Idaho Potatoes, has no common ingredients with the popular Tex-Mex recipe—except perhaps for the scallion garnish.

    Instead, crisp slices of roasted potatoes are topped with corned beef, sauerkraut, melted Swiss cheese, and homemade Thousand Island dressing. It’s a crowd-pleaser for sure, for St. Patrick’s Day or any other day of the year.

    Variation: You can also turn these ingredients into a layered “Irish Potato Salad” in a glass bowl—like a layered dip, but a side dish.

    Ingredients For The Nachos

  • 1 pound Idaho Red Potatoes, cut into 1/8-inch slices
  • 1 tablespoon olive or canola oil
  • ½ teaspoon kosher salt
  • ¼ teaspoon black pepper
  • 1 and ½ cups chopped corned beef
  • 1 and ½ cups sauerkraut, drained well
  • 1 cup grated Swiss cheese
  • ½ cup pre-cooked crumbled bacon
  • 3 tablespoons thousand island dressing, plus more for serving
  • 2 tablespoons sliced scallions, for garnish
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    Ingredients For The Thousand Island Dressing

  • 1/2 cup mayonnaise
  • 2 tablespoons ketchup
  • 2 tablespoons sweet pickle relish
  • 2 teaspoons finely diced red onion (or other onion)
  • 1/4 teaspoon finely minced garlic (about half of a small clove)
  • 1 teaspoon white or white wine vinegar
  • 1/8 teaspoon kosher salt plus more to taste
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    Preparation

    1. MAKE the Thousand Island Dressing at least one hour in advance of using (and the day before, if desired). Combine all ingredients in a small bowl and mix well. Taste and add additional seasoning if desired. Refrigerate for at least an hour to allow the flavors to meld.

    2. PREHEAT the oven to 450°F. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper or silicone baking mats.

    3. PLACE the potato slices in a large bowl. Drizzle with the olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Toss to coat.

    4. TRANSFER the potato slices to the prepared baking sheets, spreading them out in an even layer (be sure not to overlap the slices). Bake for 12 minutes on each side, or until golden and slightly crispy. Turn the oven down to 350°F.

    5. LIGHTLY GREASE a cast iron pan or small baking dish. Layer the potatoes in the bottom of the pan. Top with the chopped corned beef, sauerkraut, and grated Swiss cheese (in that order). Sprinkle with crumbled bacon. Bake for 10-15 minutes, or until the cheese is melted.

    6. DRIZZLE the dressing over the top and garnish with the scallions. Serve immediately.
     
      

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    TIP OF THE DAY: A Hard Cider Party For Halloween

    Still looking for a Halloween activity?

    How about a hard cider party? It’s adult, it’s fun, and it’s an opportunity to taste and compare more hard ciders than most of us get to do.

    While in the U.S. and parts of Canada, the term “apple cider” is interchangeable with apple juice, in Europe a glass of cider is not kid stuff. It’s an alcoholic drink that that many prefer to beer—and if you look at the explosive sales figures, Americans are also discovering its charms: It’s the fastest-growing alcohol category.
     
    WHAT IS HARD CIDER

    When apples are pressed and bottled, you have apple juice—also called apple cider in the U.S., although in other countries apple cider refers to hard cider.

    Hard cider is made from fermented apple juice; over a few months, the sugars in the juice turn into alcohol. As with craft beer, each brand has a distinct flavor profile and alcoholic content, generally from 3% ABV (alcohol by volume) or less to 8.5% or more.

  • Hard cider uses a different blend of apples than apple juice. In fact, many more apple varieties are used to create a fine cider. The import Magners Irish Cider is made from 17 varieties of apples!
  • Pears are also turned into cider, called perry in the U.K.
  • The juice ferments for eight weeks after the apples are pressed. The cider then matures or several months, and afterward is blended, filtered and carbonated. The result is a drink with the carbonation and alcohol of beer and the flavor of apples.
  • Many cider apples are sour, and can’t substitute for eating apples.
  • Like wine, cider it has a relatively high concentration of antioxidants; it’s naturally gluten-free and is less filling than beer.
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    PLANNING YOUR CIDER PARTY

    Beyond Halloween, you can also have a cider tasting during Thanksgiving cocktail hour, for Mother’s Day, Father’s Day, and other celebrations.

    1. INVITE friends today: Halloween is eight days away.

    2. PLAN the number of ciders based on the number of people. If you’re serving 8 or more different ciders, estimate one bottle per four proper.

    3. PARE the list. There are many different styles of cider, and ciders from different countries (England, France, Ireland, Spain and others). Each country has its own preferred style, as you’ll see in the Top Artisan Ciders section below. You can’t try them all in one night—but you can have subsequent tastings to try the rest.

  • We recommend sticking with American cider brands for the first event. You want to try a good representation of artisan ciders. There are so many different types of local cider: dry , sweet, barrel-aged, At the next event, you can taste the winners against the Europeans.
  • Similarly, save the barrel-aged, flavored ciders (apple pie, cherry, honey, raspberry, orange, etc.), ice cider (like ice wine, it’s pressed from naturally frozen fruit), perry and spiced ciders for next time.
  • Look for Angry Orchard, Crispin, Strongbow and Woodchuck, for starters; they’re national brands. You can create an entire tasting just by gathering up the different expressions of each brand. For example, Angry Orchard features Apple Ginger, Crisp Apple, Green Apple, Hop’n Mad Apple, Stone Dry, plus a fall seasonal cider, Cinn-Full Apple.
  • Artisan ciders tend to be distributed in the limited area where they are produced—not just because small companies lack sales and marketing heft, but because each brand needs to go through approval of each state liquor authority. It’s daunting, but we’ve listed some highly-rated ciders below.
  • Do not mistakenly pick up a flavored apple beer, like Redd’s Apple Cider. These beverages are artificially flavored, and don’t belong on the same table as cider, an all-natural drink.
  • Do have some apple cider (apple juice) for designated drivers. If you buy a few different kinds, they can have their own “tasting.”
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    4. PLAN the eats. You can serve hard cider with any snack or food you’d serve with beer, but the sweetness of cider allows you to serve it with desserts, too.

  • For snacks: charcuterie and hearty cheeses.
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    Angry Orchard Cider

    Crispin Cider

    Woodchuck Hard Cider

    Strongbow Cider

    [1] Angry Orchard, owned by Boston Brewing Company (parent of Samuel Adams beer), is the nation’s #1 cider brand (photo courtesy Boston Brewing). [2] Crispin makes a variety of styles, as well as perry (pear cider) under the Fox Barrel brand (photo courtesy Crispin Hard Cider Co.). [3] Woodchuck, another popular national brand (photo courtesy Fletcher6 | Wikipedia). [4] Strongbow cider is produced by Heineken (photo courtesy Heineken USA).

  • For main courses: chicken, pork, sausages, soups, stews, fondue (you can substitute hard cider for wine in most recipes and drink rest of the cider along with the meal).
  • For dessert: Apple desserts pair beautifully. We like bread pudding, cobbler or crisp (the difference), pie and apple-topped cheesecake.
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    TOP ARTISAN CIDERS

    Here are some of the nation’s top-rated artisan ciders: Brand, variety and style. “Crisp/Dry” is the most common style. “Funky” refers to a style popular in France, with [what we really enjoy] barnardy aromas. They can also be crisp and dry. Off Dry/Semi-Dry is the classic English style: sweetness of fruit followed by a dry finish.

    Dessert ciders are sweet, like dessert wine; although off dry/semi-dry and crisp ciders can also be paired with desserts.

  • CALIFORNIA: Bonny Doon, Querry (sweet)
  • MASSACHUSETTS: Bantam, Wunderkind (off dry/semi-dry)
  • MICHIGAN: Virtue Cider, Lapinette (funky style)
  • NEW HAMPSHIRE: Farnum Hill, Extra Dry (crisp/dry style)
  • NEW YORK: Bellwether Hard Cider, King Baldwin (crisp/dry style), Doc’s Draft, Original Hard Apple Cider (off dry/semi-dry), Eve’s Cidery, Darling Creek (off dry/semi-dry), Redbyrd Orchard, Starblossom (funky style), Wölffer Estate, 139 Dry Rosé Cider (off dry/semi-dry)(
  • OREGON: E.Z. Orchards, Cidre Dry (funky style), Reverend Nat’s, Revival Hard Apple (crisp/dry), Traditions Ciderworks, Riverwood (off dry/semi-dry)
  • TEXAS: Argus Cidery, 2013 Perennial (funky style), Austin Eastciders, Gold Top (funky style)
  • VERMONT: Eden, Sparkling Cider, Dry (off dry/semi-dry
  • VIRGINIA: Foggy Ridge Cider, First Fruit (crisp/dry style)
  • WASHINGTON: Snowdrift Cider Co., Orchard Select (crisp/dry style)
  • WISCONSIN: AeppelTreow, Appely Brut; Bellwether Hard Cider, King Baldwin (crisp/dry style)
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    FOOD FUN: National Beer Holidays

    Got Beer?

    September 28th is Drink Beer Day (also called National Drink A Beer Day).

    But beer lovers can plan an entire year of beer celebrations:

  • American Beer Day, October 27th
  • National Beer Day, April 7th
  • National Bock Beer Day, May 3rd
  • National Homebrew Day, the first Saturday in May
  • American Craft Beer Week, the third week in May
  • American Beer Month, July
  • National IPA Day, the first Thursday of August
  • International Beer Day, the first Friday of August
  •  
    There are also local beer events. Check your state!
     
    THE DIFFERENT TYPES OF BEER
     
    A BRIEF HISTORY OF BEER
     
    WHAT ARE HOPS?

     

    Hops Growing

    There would be no beer without hops, a species of flowering plant that is cultivated on trellised vines (photo courtesy USAHops.org). The hop plant, Humulus lupulus, is a member of the Cannabaceae family, making it a botanical cousin of cannabis.

     

      

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    TIP OF THE DAY: Oktoberfest Party Beer Tasting

    Dogfish Head Punkin Ale

    Soft Pretzels Recipe

    [1] Pumpkin ales and beers can be found from late September through year-end, “while supplies last” (photo courtesy Dogfish Head Brewery. [2] Bake a batch of soft pretzels to go with the beer (photo courtesy Taste Of Home).

     

    We received this beer menu from Empire City Casino, in the suburbs of New York City, part of their Oktoberfest celebration:

    1. Spaten Lager
    2. Spaten Oktoberfest
    3. Goose Island Oktoberfest
    4. Franziskaner Hefe-weisse
    5. Coney Island Freaktobefest
    6. New Belgian Cranberry Pumpkin
    7. Two Roads No Limits Hefeweizen
    8. Captain Lawrence Pumpkin
    9. Victory Fest Beer
    10. BitBurger Pilsner
    11. Bells Best Brown
    12. Southern Tier PUMPKING
    13. Warsteiner Oktoberfest
    14. Badass Apple Cider
    15. Atwater Blueberry Cobbler
    16. Dogfish Head Pumpkin Patch
     
    They’ll be served with German-inspired foods, from brats and soft pretzels to schnitzel hoagies.

    While we don’t gamble, we do drink craft beer; and we’ve had only one beer on the list. The solution was simple:
     
    HAVE AN OKTOBERFEST CRAFT BEER TASTING PARTY

  • Craft brews with fall themes offer many choices.
  • For cider devotees, have an “Oktoberfest” cider tasting with fall-themed ciders: Angry Orchard Crisp Apple, Hop‘n Mad Apple Ginger, Cinnful Apple; Woodchuck’s Just Like Apple Pie, and others.
  • For Halloween, focus on Halloween beers and ciders.
  •  
    While the original Oktoberfest in Munich runs for two weeks, through mid-October, you can hold a party anytime in October.

     
    Unlike the beers at the Munich Oktoberfest, which represent just six breweries, you can try all the craft beer you can find, along the themes of:

  • Fall beer styles: brown ale, Dunkelweizen, English pale ale, harvest ale*, Märzen/Oktoberfest beer
  • Fall flavors: cranberry ale and kriek, nutty brews, pumpkin beer and ale
  • Halloween beer: It’s all in the name and the label design: Black Death, Ichabod, The Fear, Ghost Stories, Howling Wolf, Krieky Bones, Wytchmaker, Zombie Dust, etc.
  •  
    ________________
    *Harvest ale is not a defined style of beer, but a common name for different beers brewed for fall harvest celebrations and general consumption.

     

    HOW TO PLAN THE OKTOBERFEST PARTY

    1. DETERMINE THE ATTENDEES. Then determine how much beer you need. If you’re not buying all the beer yourself assign a brand to each person. The easiest way to do this is to have attendees scout out options and let you know what they’d like to contribute.

    Provide juice glasses or 4-ounce disposable cups. The idea is to taste smaller amounts of 10 beers, not to drink 10 bottles of beer.

    2. DECIDE ON THE FOOD. Brats, sauerkraut, soft pretzels (recipe) and mustard will do the trick. If anyone asks if they can bring food, German potato salad, Blaukraut (red cabbage sauerkraut) or a dessert (see #4 below). Or, they can bake soft pretzels. Here’s more about Oktoberfest food.

    3. BUFFET OR SIT-DOWN? The choice is yours. Be sure to have soft drinks, a non-alcoholic cider or punch, or other alternative to keep blood alcohol levels down.

    4. DECIDE ON DESSERT. Easy-to-make or -find desserts include the Berliner (a jelly donut sprinkled with powdered sugar), Black Forest cake, carrot cake, cheesecake here’s a no-bake pumpkin cheesecake), Gugelhupf (Bundt cake—here’s an apple streusel Bundt cake recipe), Lebkuchen (spice cookies—gingerbread is fine, along with a gingerbread dip), Linzer cookies or torte, pfeffernüsse (spice cookies with black pepper), strudel, stollen (fruitcake) and our favorite German treat, chocolate-covered marzipan.

    5. PLAY GERMAN MUSIC. See if anyone already has Oktoberfest music (there’s plenty of it on Amazon). Polka music, which originated in Bohemia (the modern Czech Republic), will also work. If you’d prefer German rock, here are the Top 10 German rock bands.

    6. BONUS: Consider a small prize for the best German folk clothing: Lederhosen or a dirndl skirt and apron.

    Some German mustard or Weisswurst†, perhaps?
     
    ________________
    †Weisswurst is the famous Bavarian white sausage made from ground veal and pork.

     

    Freaktoberfest Pumpkin Ale

    Samuel Adams Cranberry Lambic

    [3] Freaktoberfest Pumpkin Ale adds a layer of flavor with espresso beans (photo courtesy Coney Island Brewing Company). [4] You can even find cranberry beer, like this lambic from Samuel Adams (photo courtesy Boston Brewing Company).

     

      

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    TIP OF THE DAY: Pairing Beer With Summer Produce

    Grilled Mushrooms & Beer

    Elote - Mexican Corn

    [1] Grilled mushrooms and grilled pineapple with baby arugula and shaved parmesan. Enjoy the earthy mushrooms with a darker beer: amber lager, porter, or stout (photo courtesy Urban Accents). [2] Corn should be enjoyed with a lighter beer: American lager, German wheat beer or saison. Here’s the recipe for this delicious plate of elote, Mexican corn on the cob (photo courtesy Good Eggs | SF.

     

    Last Week was National Farmers Market Week, but all of us should support our local farmers every week. It’s where the season’s freshest local ingredients can be found.

    Even in the depths of winter, where there is no fresh produce in our region, we go to buy apple cider, applesauce, baked goods, kimchi, pickles and anything else they make.

    The folks at (Let’s Grab a Beer) took the opportunity to pair beer styles with particular types of produce. They selected some summer fruits and vegetables and paired them with beer styles that bring out the flavors in the food.

    For your next cook-out or hang-out, try these recommendations and see if you agree.

    If you need an explanation of a particular beer style, head to our Beer Glossary.
     
    Chile Peppers
    Beer Styles: American Lager or IPA.
    Pairing Notes: Spicy, hoppy beers are a great choice for chiles, whether served raw in a dish, grilled shishito peppers or roasted poppers (stuffed jalapeños). Lager can help to tame the heat if the dish is too fiery.
     
    Corn
    Beer Styles: American Lager, German Wheat Beer or Saison.
    Pairing Notes: A light and slightly sweet beer will complement each bite of the sweet corn and salty butter. Try it with everything from corn salad to elote, Mexican seasoned corn on the cob.
     
    Green Beans
    Beer Styles: English Brown Ale or Belgian Wheat Beer (Witbier).
    Pairing Notes: Green beans tend to go well with beers that are both malty and sweet like the English Brown Ale. If you prefer your green beans with a citrusy dressing, try a Belgian Wheat Beer instead.
     
    Grilled Mushrooms
    Beer Styles: Amber Lager, Porter, Stout.
    Notes: The roasted flavor of malted barley in these darker beers complements the earthiness of mushrooms. Try them with grilled stuffed mushrooms, or in a portabella salad with feta, this one with goat cheese or a grilled corn salad (no cheese). For a great beer snack or warm-up to dinner, try this Mexican layered salad, great as a beer snack.
     
    Melons
    Beer Styles: American Light Lager, German Wheat Beer, or Belgian Wheat Beer.
    Pairing Notes: The fruity flavors produced by the yeast in German Wheat beers will often match up well with certain melon flavor profiles.

     

     
    Spinach
    Beer Styles: Belgian Wheat Beer (Witbier) or German Wheat Beer (Weissbier).
    Pairing Notes: The lighter style and vibrant and citrusy flavors of wheat beer complement herbaceous greens. Mix greens into a salad with any fruit, accented with a crumbled dry cheese, like feta. Some of our go-to recipes: watermelon and feta salad (or strawberries, or both fruits) and spicy radishes with stone fruit and feta,
     
    Strawberries, Raspberries, Chocolate-Dipped Fruit
    Beer Styles: American Light Lager, American Stout, Chocolate Stout, Fruit Beer, Imperial Stout, Pale Ale.
    Pairing Notes: In addition to fruit beers like lambic and kriek, turn to American beers and ales: American hops impart citrus flavors and aromas to beers. With chocolate-dipped fruits, darker beers with more heavily roasted barley provide great fusion. For a true beer dessert check out this Chocolate Stout Float recipe. You can make it with chocolate stout or Guinness.
     
    Tomatoes
    Beer Styles:r American Amber Ale, American Lager, IPA.
    Pairing Notes: The hoppy flavors of these beers accent the acidity of tomatoes, while their slight sweetness harmonizes with different types of tomato sauces. Here are ways to use summer tomatoes for every meal of the day.
     
    BONUS PAIRINGS: CHEESES & NUTS

    For a cheese course, snack, or an accent to other recipes, try these pairings:
     
    Acidic Cheeses (e.g. Sharp Cheddar)
    Beer Styles: American Pale Ale, IPA, Porter.
    Pairing Notes: Sharp cheeses are generally more bitter, and thus well suited to the bitterness found in hoppier beers. For some contrast to an acidic cheese, also try porter.
     
    Nutty Cheeses (e.g. Gruyère)
    Beer Styles: American IPA, Dark Lager, Oktoberfest Ale.
    Pairing Notes: For harder cheeses that have a nutty aftertaste, pick a beer that is more barley-forward yet balanced. For contrast, try an American pale ale.
     
    Tangy Cheeses (e.g. Goat Cheese)
    Beer Styles: American Light Lager, Belgian Wheat Beer.
    Pairing Notes: The fruity and citrusy flavors of wheat beers sync up beautifully with tangy cheeses. These bright, carbonated beers are refreshing in warmer weather.
     
    Nuts
    Beer Styles: Amber Lager, English Brown Ale.
    Pairing Notes: For nuts that are both salted and roasted, go with a darker beer that has some complementary roasted barley flavors. These two styles also have a refreshingly crisp finish.
     
    Now, put some pairings together to see what you like best.

     

    Honeydew & Cucumber Salad

    Heirloom Tomato Salad

    Strawberries & Balsamic Vinegar

    [1] Melon dishes like this honeydew and cucumber salad are delicious with wheat beer and light lagers (photo courtesy Good Eggs). [2] The best tomatoes of the summer—heirloom tomatoes—are splendid with an American ale, lager or IPA. [3] A classic Italian dessert, strawberries with a balsamic drizzle (and optional shaved Parmesan) pair best with citrussy beers and dark beers. Here, the berries are served with raw sugar and lemon zest for dipping (photo courtesy Driscoll’s.

     

      

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