Beer Syrup

Yes, you read it right – beer syrup. What, you ask, exactly is that?

It’s a lovely elixir of almost unbelievably luscious flavors made by using beer in reductions and, well, to make syrups. On pages 197 & 199 of the new (totally fantastic!!) Beer Pairing book by Julia & Gwen, they cover making syrups.

goodies simmering in beer....

goodies simmering in beer….

I’ve got some in my fridge from the prep I did for the Big Beers festival in early January. For the seminar I lead, I had simmered various fresh citrus fruits & dried vegetables in beer. Once the fruits and vegetables were done, I saved the liquid. Almost every liquid in my kitchen finds a new life in other dishes. At a minimum the worms in my compost pile are extremely happy with what we give them!

Making beer syrup is quite simple with perhaps the most difficult part simply deciding which beers to reduce. Caveat: very bitter beers are not good candidates, as they can get very unpleasantly tannic. (I first learned this in cooking prep for the TFOB). It’s not what you or the beer really wants. All the same, experiment and cook a variety of beers down to see what you get, taste every few minutes to learn more about what’s happening and how the flavors change until you find what you want.

In preparation for my Vail session, I simmered ruby red grapefruit, lemons, limes, blood oranges, valencia oranges, and kiwi in 3 different beers: New Holland Dragon’s Milk, Allagash Nancy, and Bruery Terreaux Oude tart with Bosenberries. WOW! Talk about a very fun and tasty experiment – or shall I say exbeeriment….in all events, the syrup in my fridge from those exploits is deliciously awaiting being included in recipes. So far, I’ve used some for baking sweet potatoes (yum), smoothies (yum), and punch

I love sharing new ideas with hungry audiences - Vail rocks!

I love sharing new ideas with hungry audiences – Vail rocks!

(yum). They’re quite versatile so get creative.

Lucy Saunders, long time food & beer pro, is an outstanding resource for cooking with beer. Her books are useful, fun and a delight for the enthusiastic cook using beer in the kitchen. And I’m just starting to get to know Adam Dulye, beer chef for the BA.

When you find yourself looking for a new idea, make some beer syrups. I guarantee it’s beer as you’ve never had it before and well worth while. Oh, and sipping on a beer while you’re cooking is the best way to happily wait for the alchemy to happen.

Cheers!

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Holiday Gift Ideas

Good Grief, Charlie Brown!! It’s the giving season again….

And where ever and however quickly it came from (seriously, only 300+ days ago??), tis the season. While I give the gift of books in particular year round, I want to share a few favorites with you today for beer & flavor lovers everywhere.

Books:

yum yum yum...Beer Pairing, by Julia & Gwen

yum yum yum…Beer Pairing, by Julia & Gwen

Beer Pairing, The Essential Guide From The Pairing Pros, Julia Herz & Gwen Conley *just* released  (2015 Voyageur Press). I’ll have Julia sign my book when next I see this dynamo of the beer gospel. Both she and Gwen have cut a smart swath to helping people enjoy beer. It’s a comprehensive book on what, why, when, how and why not of beer and food pairing. A great read and flavorfully inspiring, once you buy one for yourself get a few for others.

Cheese & Beer, Janet Fletcher (2013 Andrews McMeel Publishing). Janet’s written a few dozen books on food – cheese being her forte and oh-so-deliciously so! Others include Cheese & Wine, The Cheese Course, Yogurt (a personal fav go-to), and Four Seasons Pasta. All dandy and mouthwateringly fun and functional. Her writing style and the information she gives us is timeless and well rounded by smarts and broad world view.

Ambitious Brew: The Story of American Beer, Maureen Ogle. Maureen is an historian and was inspired to write about beer upon wondering what her next book was – and at that moment having a Budweiser truck cross her path while driving. Inspiration struck and she’s tells the story starting in the 1880’s to modern times. Great read like many with herstorian context: you learn way more about way more than you think.

The American Craft Beer Cookbook, John Holl (Storey Publishing 2013). John’s an accomplished journalist and definite flavor lover. I’ve had the pleasure of sharing many beers with him as well as having hosted a book signing party when the book came out. He’s collected recipes with beer in them and paired with beers from brewpubs across this fine country. With sidebar stories and additional beer suggestions included, this book is a winner winner beer for dinner.

Beyond books, I’d invite you to find a few Women Enjoying Beer & Men Enjoying Women Enjoying Beer goods on our shopping page. Since we’ve exited a very successful festival circuit run, we’ve got a few goodies remaining looking for great homes. Be ahead of the curve as they may be collectors items soon!

Your Local Brewery

SSBC Gift Six pack

SSBC Gift Six pack

Our local breweries need our business. They pump ridiculous amounts of effort & money into our local economies, all the way up to the federal level (ask them about excise taxes, for example). Visit them all, as you can and see fit. Ask them questions, listen, share, buy and support. One of my locals, Standing Stone Brewing Company, sells Brewer For The Day packages as well as the holiday Gift Six Pack. Order a keg in advance to help celebrate in tasty fashion, give the gift of lovely glassware.

Homebrewing

Home brewing abounds in America! It’s a fabulous opportunity to learn to cook a whole new recipe: Beer. Locate your local shops and go to a demo, hang out with the local clubs, and start making your own. Like food cooks, many professional “beer cooks” start by homebrewing. The American Homebrewers Association is a super place to start.

Whatever you do, give the gift of flavor this season – and year round. Start with flavor first, experiment, try, share and repeat. Beer changes as does everything else in life so pour it on.

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2011 CBC Sensory Panel Presentation

This topic will come up again: Sensory. Yesterday I found this particular seminar to be a very useful and interesting one. Especially considering it was geared towards brewers and brewery operations and WEB is focused on developing and serving the female craft beer consumer.

Being in the education arena, the session given by 4 very knowledgeable sensory professionals was loaded with info on how to, when to, what to, and the like on setting up and utilizing sensory panels for beer in the breweries. Plenty of swirling info too – like if you are really small, then perhaps this is the best way; if you’re big, then try this. One resounding concept came across loud and clear: have a budget for the panel (as you should for everything – like marketing to women…).

Lauren (w/WEB sticker on her computer), Gwen, Whitney & Cathy

The 4 panelists were:

They swiftly presented and shared a ton of info on sensory panels and why each part is important as well as variations to keep it interesting for the panelists. We’re looking forward to re-reading the available notes post conference.

As fate would have it I saw them all shortly before they presented and finally met Lauren and Cathy and Gwen (although Gwen and I have emailed to and fro). Coolest part – Lauren has a WEB sticker on her computer! That’s what caught my eye and got me over to their table.

The Sensory experience is a huge part – if not the biggest part – of what makes beer delicious to us. Monitoring and knowing how to gauge the beer before it goes into any other glass is critical to the health of your beer and therefore your business.

This group is proof positive – with a full room of listeners – that women are into beer and that sensory is a very important part of the quality of ‘good’ beer. Thanks to them all.

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