Saturday, 12 October 2013

The Ale-pple of My Eye

What beverage is more essential to music than beer?  Recently, the Flying Monkeys brewery took this thought to heart when they collaborated with singer-songwriter Dallas Green of City and Colour to create the Imperial Maple Wheat Ale.

This is the second release from the Treble Clef Series, so be sure to expect some more colla-brew-ations with more Canadian musical talent.  The bottle is decorated in the typical Flying Monkey style: loud patterns.  A lime green label is decorated with images of Dallas Green’s face, a yellow marquee, and cryptic lyrics scattered across the bottle.

The beer itself is a nut brown ale, with an aroma of caramel and biscuit - almost like a Belgian waffle.  The beer pours with minimal carbonation, and a thin golden head.  The maple flavor dominates, adding a sweet, yet balanced finish to the rich malt.  And although the flavor is smooth, the brew is 11.5% alcohol by volume and is meant to be shared with several of your friends.

However, this beer needs to know its place.  Not to say that it’s a bad beer by any means.  It just doesn’t belong with your pizza or wings.  This beer is sweet in a dessert-for-breakfast kind of way.  It deserves to be sipped alongside a crème brulee.  Or poured over your pancakes.  Or turned into a delightful maple ale caramel.

Also see my article in the Gateway Newspaper about this beer.

'Tis the season for caramel apples as well.  As fantastic as caramel apples are without embellishment, they can't get any worse if I were to add my favorite flavor-boosting, of course.

Note: Be careful, young padawans.  Hot caramel is dangerous!  Don't dip your finger in, just because it looks delicious.  It will BURN you, as it did me (second degree!).

Maple Ale Caramel Apples

1 cup maple ale
2 cup granulated sugar
1 cup firmly packed brown sugar
1 cup unsalted butter
1 cup heavy cream
1 cup maple flavored breakfast syrup (corn syrup-based)
10 Apples

1 roll of wax paper

  1. In a small saucepan bring 1 cup of the maple ale to a simmer and cook until reduced and syrupy (about 20 minutes).  You should have about 1 tbsp of thick, syrupy, beer reduction at the end.  Set aside.
  2. Combine all other ingredients except ale reduction in a large heavy pot.  Cook over medium heat, stirring occasionally until the butter melts and the mixture boils.
  3. Continue to cook until candy thermometer reaches 244 degrees, this will take about 30 minutes.  To test your caramel, drop a small amount into a bowl of ice water - if it forms a ball, the consistency is right.
  4. When the correct temperature has been reached, stir in the ale reduction and remove from heat.
  5. Dip apples into caramel and spin to coat.  Place on wax paper.
  6. Let cool for several hours or place in fridge until firm.
  7. Makes about 10 caramel apples.

Feel free to decorate your ale-pples – crushed peanuts and Reese’s Pieces are my top choices.  One reminds me of carnivals, while the other of Halloween parties.

Flying Monkeys Brewery
Recipe adapted from Sprinkle Bakes.  June 16, 2010.

Tuesday, 8 October 2013

The Butte of All Jokes

Recently my partner-in-crime went on an excursion to visit some family in the states.  He made his way to Butte, Montana, and came back with my favorite kind of souvenir.  The drinkable kind.

Butte is an old copper mining town, and at one time had a population over 100,000.  Now there are just over 33,700.  Headframe Spirits are a local distillery that produces Neversweat, a bourbon whiskey named after an one of the mines.  While the mine originally had a reputation for having unusually low temperatures, the name grew ironic as the mines were dug deeper and the temperatures below rose higher.  While Neversweat is rich and spicy on the rocks, it makes a damn good old fashioned too.

Pick your poison..
You only get two drinks at the Tasting room.

The Headframe distillery also runs something called a “Tasting Room”.  Not to be mistaken for a “bar”, “pub”, or “club”, the tasting room is a place to imbibe one or two cocktails – no more.  This limit placed on alcohol consumption allows them to operate without a liquor license. It’s a brilliant concept, really.  Besides, by the third drink are you really “tasting” what’s in your glass?  Not likely.

Named after that wispy powder
that skiiers dream about.
My accomplice also visited a brewery in Missoula, MT.  The KettleHouse Brewing Company was the first brewery in Montana to pour beer in their tasting room, and was one of three breweries that lobbied the Montana State Legislature for the legalized on-premise consumption of beer in breweries.  They have since become a flourishing microbrewery and a popular neighborhood taproom.  The Cold Smoke Scotch Ale is the most popular brew, and is 2012 bronze medalist of the World Beer Cup.  My personal favorite is the Double Haul IPA.  Brewed with Montana-grown barley and Northwest grown Cascade hops, this is a full-bodied brew with 65 IBU – a real treat for hop heads.

With the advent of fall comes many of my favorite things:

- Cozy sweaters
- Boots
- Pumpkin flavored EVERYTHING
- Halloween (aka. an excuse for me to make themed desserts)
- and of course, soup.

Nothing feels better than coming home to a bowl of warm soup.  Here’s one for pumpkin-aholics like myself.

The seeds add bit of crunch for contrast.

Pumpkin Sage Soup

1 medium sugar pumpkin
2 cups chicken broth
2-3 sprigs sage
½ cup beer
¾ cup cream
2 tbsp brown sugar
Salt to taste

  1. Cut the pumpkin open from stem to bottom.  Use a spoon to remove the seeds and stringy bits.
  2. Place both sides face down on a baking sheet lined with parchment.
  3. Cook pumpkin at 300°F for about 1 hour.  Remove from oven and let cool.
  4. Once pumpkin is cool enough to handle, turn each half over and scoop out the flesh into a large bowl.
  5. Using a food processor or immersion blender, puree the pumpkin until a smooth consistency is reached.
  6. Transfer pureed pumpkin to a large pot, adding the chicken broth, sage, and brown sugar.  Bring to a boil.
  7. Stir in beer and cream, reducing heat.  Continue to cook for another 30 minutes, or until flavors are blended.
  8. Serve topped with toasted pumpkin seeds.

Makes about 8 cups of soup.

Kettle House Brewing Co.

Dorn, Ryan.  Distilling Butte.  July 9, 2012.