Monday, August 23, 2010

It's time, once again....

....for our annual Beer Brunch, and we've started plotting and prepping. As I write, there's a big pot of a rye wort reducing on the stove, which will be used in....well, I can't give any secrets away yet. Let's just say that Mr Cicerone has come up with a great work of genius with this one.

Because we both love soup, I made a test batch of, err, soup the other night, utilizing our insanely huge and luscious Caspian Pink tomatoes that are starting to overtake our garden and our house. 'Nuff said, but boy, was this just delicious with Mr Cicerone's Ginger Wheat.

Tomorrow night I do a test run on something made with Foie. The base recipe comes from La Julia, with a little twist of my own - we're trying to reproduce something we had on a fantastic Charcuterie plate at The Local Taphouse in Melbourne, Australia, earlier this year.

The coconut jam is on its way in the mail, the fresh sardines are not, as I couldn't find a source for them, and so it goes....

Now, if I could only find something to do with giant sunflowers......

We went to Bonny Doon!

That would be Great Taste of the Midwest, a rollicking beery good time held in Madison, WI, on the 2nd Saturday in August, each year. Followed by dinner the same evening at Bavarian Lodge, Lisle, IL. And.....Revolution Brewing and Fountainhead on Sunday (both in Chicago), and a nightcap at Saugatuck Brewing, where we spent the next three days. Saugatuck, not at the brewery, though we did find ourselves there more than once...

Highlights from GToM.....
*Kuhnhenn's Gueuze. Yes, gueuze. 'Twas strange to find this in the Real Ale tent though. It was good, though could have done with a wee bit more carbonation (but then it would not have been a Real Ale. Hmmm.) It certainly had some nice funkiness and sourness, but it was also a tad malty and sweet. I could almost call it Faro.
*Metropolitan Brewing's Crankshaft Kolsch. *Destihl Sour Strawberry *Gordon Biersch Gose
*Rockbottom Mango Chili Saison *Short's Nicie Spicie (of course) *Jolly Pumpkin Calabaza Blanca with Hibiscus *Fat Head Pils *O'Fallon Hemp Hop Rye *Goose Island Sofie
If you notice that most of my picks were sour beers, you're right! Bourbon-aged Imperial Stouts, Imperial IPAs and Barley Wines just don't go down too smoothly when it's 90 degrees and 75% humidity.

Check out the beer menu at Bavarian Lodge! Outstanding!
I finally got to try the Saison Du Buff collaboration, and it was worth the wait. I LOVE sage, rosemary & thyme, even in my beer, as long as it's just a nicely done tease. And, Port Hot Rocks steinbier was rich and full of burnt caramel notes. Victory Braumeister Pils snuck in while we were there; it's unfiltered Prima Pils. Wow.

The bacon fat popcorn at Revolution was decadent, as always.....And, three days of books and sorely needed beach relaxation in Saugatuck was sublime (despite our cutesy B & B accomodations). Good beers at Saugatuck Brewing, a fancy new smoking jacket from the local "Antiques Mart" for Mr Cicerone, and dinner two nights in a row at Everday People Cafe in Douglas was icing on the cake (or sage, rosemary & thyme in my saison).

...Full post

Sunday, August 8, 2010

Brew Day, Batch 324: Strong Golden Ale

Something new today, a Belgian style strong ale. Pils malt, some light candi sugar, 40 BU from Centennial, with a couple of late additions of Hersbrucker. OG target is around 1.070, and Wyeast 1214 will be doing the actual work. I expect to bottle at least half of this one....

Brew Day, Batch 323: Rye Peppercorn Pale Ale

'Bout time! Busy day yesterday, I had to evict a batch of IPA in order to take over its yeast for today's beer. For people that can chew gum and walk at the same time, kegging one batch whilst brewing another is probably easy, but for dumbass salt-forgetters, it's a challenge of the first order. Add in a visit from esteemed nephew Ian, and something's going to go wrong.

All things considered, all went OK, though the flaked rye had some unanticipated protein, and the mash runoff was hella slow. We had lots of beers to drink, so we were not going anywhere, anyway. Ian stayed until the last dog was hung, which was quite late. Good times....

Monday, August 2, 2010

At Long Last!

First tomato, and yes, it was delicious.