Monday, 12 November 2012

IBU and UB Me?

In the morning, I like my coffee to taste as bitter as I feel.  More often than not, I like my beer that way too.  My fellow Hopheads will understand.

The hop-burglar?
For years breweries have challenged themselves to produce the beer with the highest ABV.  Now several breweries have begun competing to produce the beer with the highest magnitude of IBU.  So far the Danish brewery Mikkeller has taken the lead with the juggernaut strength of 1000 IBU.

Bitterness in beer is measured in International Bittering Units (IBU), which reflect the alpha acids (as measured with solvent extraction using a spectrophotometer) provided by the hops in the brewing process.  However, the same level of IBU may be perceived as more or less bitter depending on the beer style.  A magnitude of 50 IBU in a heavy imperial stout may not be perceived as bitter as in in a crisp low-alcohol lager.  A higher IBU is often needed to balance the flavor in more full-bodied, high alcohol beers.

The India Pale Ale is known for a more pronounced hop flavor than other styles, and will typically have between 40-65 IBUs. I am especially fond of double IPAs, which can be between 60 and 100+.  I have previously mentioned the Dragon Series by Alley Kat, a series of double IPAs each single-hopped with a different variety.  The most recent release has been the Orange Dragon, brewed exclusively with Summit hops.

The bitterness of a beer can add an extra kick to your cooking.  This French onion soup can handle the of an India Pale Ale.  I used Hop Head from Tree Brewing company, a personal favorite.  A double IPA however, would undoubtedly overpower the pleasant pungency of the onions.  Enjoy as I did!

The toasted bread topped with cheese
is know as the "crouton"

French Onion Soup

 3 Tablespoons olive oil
5 cups thinly sliced yellow onions
½ teaspoon salt
2 tbsp brown sugar
3 Tablespoons flour
8 cups beef stock
1 cup beer (India Pale Ale or a Brown Ale works well)
1 sprig fresh rosemary
½ tsp dried thyme
Salt and pepper to taste
6-8 slices French bread, cut in rounds
1 cups grated cheese

Completely unlike those tasteless cubes
you put on top of Caesar salad.
Do it right.

  1. Heat oil over low heat in a heavy soup pot. Add onions, cover, and sweat until they are tender (15 to 25 minutes).
  2. Heat beef stock over medium heat and bring to a simmer.
  3. Remove the cover, increase heat to medium, and stir in the salt and sugar. Cook 30-40 minutes, stirring often, until the onions are golden and caramelized.
  4. Sprinkle in the flour; cook and stir for 3 to 5 minutes.
  5. Off the heat, whisk in beef stock. Add the beer, rosemary, and thyme. Season to taste.
  6. Return pot to range and bring to a simmer. Continue to cook, partially covered, for 40-60 minutes.
  7. When ready to serve, turn on oven broiler and toast bread rounds.
  8. Ladle soup into individual oven-proof bowls.
  9. Place a piece of toasted bread on top of soup and sprinkle generously with grated cheese.
  10. Place under broiler until melted and bubbly.
Makes 6-8 servings

Gamboa, BJ. Battle of the IBUS. Drinking Made Easy. November 3rd, 2012.

Sunday, 4 November 2012

Challenge Accepted

What can I add beer to?
A better question to ask is "What CAN'T I add beer to."

I don't have any food science or brewing tales this week.  Instead I'd like to issue a challenge to my fellow omnomnomnivores:

Name a dish I cannot add beer to.  Without making an inedible mess.

No, really.  So far I've made sauces, soups, meat dishes, pasta, baked goods...even a salad.I'm curious to see what others think would be impossible.  Although I have a running list of things to make, I'd like some new ideas.  From an unbiased third party.

In the meantime, enjoy this gratuitous recipe for cookies made with chocolate stout.

Chocolate Stout Pecan Cookies

I need to stop using chocolate stout.
It's just too easy.
1 cup butter, unsalted
2 cups brown sugar
2 eggs
¼ cup unsweetened cocoa
2 cups chocolate stout
2 ½ cups flour
½ tsp salt (omit if using salted butter)
1 tsp baking soda
1 cup pecan halves, broken into coarse chunks and toasted
1 cup bittersweet or dark chocolate chips

  1. Preheat oven to 375°F (325°F in a convection oven).
  2. Pour beer into saucepan and bring to a simmer.  Reduce beer until only 1/3 cup remains.
  3. Cream butter and sugar. Add eggs and cocoa.  Beat until smooth.
  4. Pour beer into butter and sugar mixture, and stir vigorously.
  5. In a separate bowl, combine flour, salt, and baking soda.
  6. Add dry mixture to butter mixture gradually
  7. Fold in the pecans and chocolate chips.
  8. For best results, chill the dough overnight to solidify the butter.  This gives the cookie more shape and prevents spreading.
  9. Scoop dough with a teaspoon and form into balls, placing them onto nonstick or greased baking sheets.
  10. Bake for 12-14 minutes or until edges are lightly browned.
  11. Place on wire rack to cool.

Makes approximately 48 cookies.