Wednesday, October 14, 2015

Halloween Beer Pairing

Whether you're going to a Halloween party, throwing one or will be passing out candy to the neighborhood kiddies you're going to need some sustenance. Give that sustenance a festive twist by pairing McMenamins Black Widow Porter with a grown up version of caramel corn. Sweet and salty with just a touch of heat it pairs beautifully with robust roastiness of Black Widow.

Spicy Peanut Popcorn
Adapted from Cooking Light

1/2 cup unpopped popcorn kernels (to yield 12 cups popped)
1/2 cup roasted and salted peanuts
1/3 cup sugar
1/3 cup brown sugar
2/3 cup light corn syrup
2 Tbsp butter
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp chipotle powder

Pop popcorn in air popper (or alternative desired method). While popcorn is popping, rough chop peanuts. When done mix popcorn and peanuts in one very large bowl or split between two bowls.

Combine remaining ingredients in a small saucepan; bring to a boil. Cook 1 minute, stirring constantly, making sure to break up any clumps of sugar or spices. Remove from heat; cool 1 minute.

Pour hot syrup mixture over popcorn mixture; toss well to coat. Immediately spread popcorn mixture out into prepared jelly-roll pan. Cool completely.

Cooled mix may be stored in an airtight container for up to two days.

Friday, October 9, 2015

More Than Just Another Beer Festival

A week ago I was stoked for the Willamette Week's Beer Pro/Am. This week has me already excited for next year's event and here's why.

The biggest reason is that this is one of the few, possibly the only, beer festival in town where you'll be able to talk to each and every brewer and they'll be pouring the beer. I'm not talking about just the amateurs. I'm talking about the professionals, too. Most festivals utilize volunteer pourers, many of which who have never tasted the beer they're pouring and I consider it a huge disservice to the beer and the brewer/brewery that made it.

A very close second reason is that this is a huge opportunity for both amateurs and professionals. On the amateurs' end, they collaborate with a professional and brew on a commercial system, things even well-seasoned homebrewers can appreciate. On the professionals' end this is a way to stay connected to the homebrewing and craft beer drinking community in a way that is increasingly difficult yet important to the heart of craft beer.

Beyond that the beers made for the festival rank right up there in creativity with those of the Fruit Beer Festival and tend to reflect the signature style of the brewers. For example, Capsaison from Upright Brewing and Ritch Marvin, was a barrel fermented saison with chili peppers. Saisons are in Upright's wheelhouse and anyone that knows Ritch knows his thing for growing and using chili peppers.

This year marked the third year of the festival and it's grown by leaps and bounds. Starting out in the Con-Way Warehouse in NW with a mere 12 Pro/Am pairs, last year it moved to Zarr Studios in SE where it filled the space to its gills and this year, now with 21 Pro/Am pairs, expanded to the former Metalcraft Fabrication location, now called The North Warehouse, just down the hill from Widmer. The space easily accommodated the event and I'm hopeful that it will be utilized next year. Regardless where it's held you can bet I'll be there to see what the Pro/Am pairs have brewed up.

In case you didn't attend or missed the subsequent coverage below are this year's winners and here is a full listing of the pairs:
Judges' Choice - 1st Place
13 Virtues and Bill Schneller
OG Stout, Historical 19th Century Imperial Brown Stout

Judges' Choice Honorable Mentions
Culmination and Jim Sullins
Kludde, Belgian IPA

Baerlic and Paul Key
First Crack Coffee Pale Ale

People's Choice - 1st Place
Coalition and Cullen Conway
Figtory! Saison with roasted figs

People's Choice - 2nd Place
Baerlic and Paul Key
First Crack Coffee Pale Ale

People's Choice - 3rd Place
Breakside and Larry Clouser
Palekaiko, Hawaiian Farmhouse Ale with Calamansi Lime and Habanero

Thursday, October 1, 2015

George Washington Ordered Growlers?

A few weeks ago a buddy of mine heard a rumor that George Washington had included "growlers" in the list of supplies for his troops. Wanting to find out if there was any truth to this he wrote to the VP of Historic Preservation and Collections at Mount Vernon. Being good folks that they are, they delivered to him a 10-page document relating to George Washington and beer. Alas, there does not seem to be any documentation of him ordering growlers but there were some interesting bits included in the document.

"Take a large Sifter full of Bran Hops to your Taste.-Boil these 3 hours then strain out 30 Galln. into a Cooler  put in 3 Galln. Molasses while the Beer is scalding hot or rather draw the Molasses into the Cooler & Strain the Beer on it while boiling Hot let this stand till it is little more than Blood Warm then put on a quart of Yest [sic]  if the weather is very Cold cover it over with a [Blanket?] & let it work in the Cooler 24 hours then put it into the Cask-leave the bung open till it is almost done working- Bottle it that day Week it was Brewed."1

Regarding the above recipe, "Washington was probably a bachelor when he wrote down the above recipe; perhaps he had to concern himself with this task, as well, until he found a wife."2 This was because, "Brewing was generally done either by a housewife herself or under her direction by the butler or another servant and was undertaken every two weeks to once a month."3

Beer may have been a common beverage consumed by all - adults, children, servants and slaves - but that doesn't mean George was drinking it out of just any old vessel. "Special glasses were purchased for serving beer throughout Washington's lifetime.  In 1755, his rather spartan bachelor quarters were cheered by the addition of a "Beer Glass and Pepper Box."  He received twelve "beer glasses, Mugs &ca" from England in 1757, which were augmented with a dozen beer and cider glasses ordered in 1760.  Two sizes of white enameled beer glasses arrived in 1763, while another six were ordered in 1765, with the injunction that they be "handsome."  Three years before the Revolution, Washington placed an order for six more "Neat and fash[ionabl]e Cut Beer Glasses," which he specified were to match a set of decanters.  Still more were purchased on April 6, 1795 and December 19, 1796, presumably for the table in the executive mansion."4

Thanks to my friend, Leafy, for passing this on to me and huge thanks to the Mount Vernon staff for pulling it together. That concludes today's history lesson. Now get to happy hour and impress your friends with your new-found knowledge.

1 George Washington, “To make Small Beer,” [1757-1760] (manuscript, New York Public Library; typescript, Mount Vernon Ladies’ Association)
2 Hess, Martha Washington’s Booke of Cookery, 17
3 Paston-Williams, The Art of Dining, 220; Hess, Martha Washington’s Booke of Cookery, 17; Dorothy Hartley, Lost Country Life (New York:  Pantheon Books, 1979), 192-193
4 Ledger A, 2/1/1755, 19a; Orders & Invoices, 8/1757, 9/1760, 4/1763, and 9/1765; George Washington to Robert Cary and Company, 7/15/1772, The Writings of George Washington, 3:92.