Ranger Pale Ale and Garden Vegetable Soup with Basil Pesto
Spring has come but things haven't quite warmed up yet. We're still dealing with the 60'sand 70's here in LA and after a non-existent summer last year, I'm ready for some heat. While we wait, this is a delightful spring soup that ties the seasons together.
This vegetarian soup can use either Great Northern or Cannellini beans to give it some girth and the blast of pesto adds a vibrant touch that ties it all together. It may require some chopping and prep work but once that is done, assembly is easy and you can scale the recipe up to feed Napoleon's army of keep some for another rainy day in the freezer.
We were approached by Foodbuzz's Tastemaker program to come up with something that pairs well with the beers from New Belgium Brewing Company. We jumped on the idea - New Belgium is one of our favorites and on any given day, you'll have a good chance of finding one of their Folly Packs (a variety of different brews) in our fridge.
Garden Vegetable Soup with Basil Pesto
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 yellow onion, chopped
3 medium carrots, sliced
3 celery stalks, chopped
3 garlic cloves, minced
2 fennel bulbs, chopped
2 zucchini, chopped
1 red bell pepper, chopped
5 medium tomatoes (or 2 cans chopped tomatoes), peeled and chopped
2 quarts vegetable stock (homemade or store bought)
2 cups cooked cannellini beans (fresh or canned)
salt and pepper, to taste
Basil Pesto Garnish:
2 cups fresh basil leaves
2 cloves garlic
1/4 cup pine nuts, toasted
1/4 cup parmesan cheese, grated
1/2 cup-3/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
salt and pepper, to taste
In a large stockpot, heat olive oil over medium heat and sauté onions, carrots and celery seasoned with a little salt and pepper for 2-3 minutes. Add in garlic, fennel, zucchini and red bell pepper and continue to sauté for an additional 3 minutes. Add in tomatoes and cook until tomatoes break down, about 3-5 minutes.
Pour in vegetable stock and bring up to a boil, turn down heat and let simmer until vegetables are almost cooked through, about 10-15 minutes. Add in beans and continue to simmer until beans are warmed through. Taste soup for seasonings and add additional salt and pepper as necessary. Ladle warm soup into bowls and garnish with a tablespoon of basil pesto.
To make pesto: In a food processor or blender add basil, garlic, and pine nuts and pulse until finely chopped. With the motor running slowly pour in olive oil until everything is incorporated. Stir in parmesan cheese and taste for seasonings. Add in salt and pepper as necessary.
I've been homebrewing for about 16 years now and after tasting nearly everything on the shelf, I enjoy pushing the boundaries. I don't see the joy in duplicating Guinness when you can buy it for a heck of a lot less work and likely cheaper than to make your own. If the Reinheitsgebot was the Wicked Witch of the West, I'm a bucket of water.
A Witbier is a Belgian style that uses spices besides hops to flavor. Coriander and bitter orange peel are standard but black pepper, grains of paradise, chamomile, vanilla, cinnamon, and ginger are sometimes (albeit rarely) added by brewers to add a little more depth.
Today we take a more-or-less common Witbier and add chocolate malt to it. This gives it a dark color but also a smokiness and a little toasted earthiness. I added a little more spices than usual to compensate for the added flavor of the dark malt.
Besides the normal bitter orange and coriander, I also added ginger. I first tasted a Wit with ginger from Shmaltz Brewing Company's "Coney Island Albino Python." It has a distinctive ginger bite, and although I wasn't going for that so much, it is an excellent beer.
Disclaimer: I've been brewing for so long, I haven't read a recipe in a while. If I make some what you may consider "errors," please leave them in the comments. I have made, quite possibly, a ton of beer and this technique works.
3 gallons of water
5 pounds dried pale malt extract
1 pound crushed chocolate malt
1 packet of dry Belgian yeast
2 ounces of Cascade hop pellets
3 tablespoons bitter orange
3 tablespoons Grains of Paradise
2 tablespoons of powdered ginger
5 pound bag of ice
Put all the chocolate malt into a brew bag. Add it to your largest brew pot and fill with water, leaving 6 inches from the rim, bring the water to 140 and keep it there for 40 minutes, stirring continuously.
Once that step is done, hold the bag over the pot and rinse the grains with fresh water to extract the most from them. This is called the wort (pronounced wert). Take 2 tablespoons of the wort and pout them into a bowl, when it has cooled completely, sprinkle your yeast on top (called pitching the yeast).
Add the 5 pounds of malt extract and 1 ounce of the hops and bring to a boil. Keep it there for 45minutes. Add 1/2 ounce of the hops, boil for another 15 minutes. Kill the heat and add the remaining 1/2 ounc of the hops along with the spices.
Add the bag of ice to your clean and sanitized primary fermenter and dump the wort into it. Once it has cooled to 80 degrees add the yeast/wort slurry. Cap and wait 10 days.
Once primary fermentation is done, rack into a second bottling bucket and bottle. Give the bottles another 2 weeks to carbonate at room temperature. Once they are ready, chill and drink!
I've been getting up really early these last couple of weeks - "and for my next trick I will make an iced coffee and make it disappear in 90 seconds!" Instant coffee, milk, stir, drink.
I had been using the Starbuck's VIA but recently bought a jar of Folger's instant and it isn't bad; that's my new trick for cutting through the fog of sleep when the sun hasn't yet made its appearance.
Some highlights, food-wise, were the homemade cauliflower and chickpea curry, a little sushi, [not one but] two trips to Pizza Port, and finishing off the SWAG from the Foodbuzz Festival.
This week was brought to you by the Firestone Winery (which is now owned by Foley), Sebastopol Hills Winery, the Sacred Hill Winery, and New Belgium Brewery.
With all the fresh produce of summertime, we've been eating a lot of salads. Did I say a lot of salads? I meant to say almost exclusively salads. Steak Salad, Greek Salad, Peach Salad, Roasted Potato Salad, Tomato Cucumber and Feta Salad - it's Salad Season.
I also discovered, with some help with my friends, what a real Gordita is. Don't "Run for the Border" for one of these - the ones at Taco Bell have little to do with bone fide Gorditas. I am now the Foursquare Mayor at La Gordita in Vista, CA.
Real Gorditas are thick corn cakes that are fried on a skillet, then deep fried so that they puff up; then the pouch is opened and they are stuffed with a multitude of items. Much like how pita bread has a center that can be stuffed, these come however bearing carne asada, carnitas, or chorizo and potato.
We were given a tomato plant as a gift from the padre and have been enjoying real tomatoes. There's nothing like a tomato that came right off a vine, we've been eating half of them with just salt and pepper. I also ate two pulled pork sandwiches in one week, that's OK, right?
This has been brought to you by Trader Joe's Pinot Noir, Odwalla's Superfood, The Yard Semillon, Primo Beer from Hawaii, and Clos LaChance Winery.
Coffee and pastries, beer and ice cream, burrito after burrito after burrito. I had sushi twice in one day, (always a treat) and I made it to two coveted venues, Stone Brewery and 85C Cafe.
The former is like Disneyland for beer-lovers and the latter is a Korean Cafe that's been transplanted to Irvine, CA. Business is booming at both despite the economic turn-down. It goes to show how luxury can come in either a frosty mug or a cellophane bag.
Unfortunately, I've never eaten anything at Stone that I've really liked. This trip we stuck to the hummus. At 85C however, we grabbed some garlic toast, some sweet rolls and a blueberry roll, and a mocha bun - and a Sea Salt Iced Coffee. All the pastry was fluffy and the Sea Salt Coffee had just the perfect amount of salt to make it interesting.
The highlight of the week was a Kava Kava session with one of my closest friends, Kris. He flew in from Fiji where he lives and he brought not only Kava Kava but Fijian snacks like candied plums, Mixed Bhuja, and Salted Peas (Matar?).
He also brought some of Fiji's new beers. For the longest time, there's been only one brewery, Carlton Brewery with its iconic brew, Fiji Bitter, "The Sportsman's Beer." Now a second brewery, Island Brewery, has begun cranking out Vonu. And in reaction, Carlton began brewing Fiji Premium. A beer war has begun.
This week was brought to you by the Carlton, Island, and Stone Breweries.
I grew up in Long Beach California, and like every town in America, there's one bar that everyone, and I mean EVERYONE knows. Enter Joe Jost's - the place is an icon, practically representing the fair City of Long Beach in all corners of the earth. You could be at a secondary school rugby match in Fiji and see some guy wearing a Joe Jost's T-shirt.
It's been around since the early 1920's and if you're not up on American history, that means it survived prohibition. (By the way, the only good thing that came of Prohibition was women's suffrage, but that's another post). Joe Jost's has survived 80+ years by sticking to the basics and doing them well.
They serve cold beer, very cold, 29 degrees cold. That's below freezing for you literary types and they serve it in giant frozen 15 ounce glasses called Schooners. The sheer mass of the Schooner keeps your beer cool drastically longer than a standard pint glass, and while they stay cool, they look a heck of a lot cooler too.
Besides cold beer, there's root beer, peanuts, pickled eggs, and five different kinds of sandwiches: cheese, liverwurst, hot dogs, a salami sandwich, and Joe's Special.
Joe's Special is it. While I'm sure the other sandwiches are good, the Special is the only sandwich anyone in my company has ever ordered. In their own words, a Special is, "A Polish Sausage made from our family’s own blend of spices, slice of Swiss cheese and pickle, mustard on rye bread."
With a Schooner in one hand and Joe's Special in the other, life can be pretty grand. Recently we recreated them in our own home, and while I omitted the Swiss cheese, I added an onion relish. You could do them together, the combination of flavors will be delicious. Try this at home:
1 healthy slathering of Dijon mustard, about a tablespoon
1 slice of Swiss cheese
For the onion relish:
1/2 yellow onion, diced
1/4 cup red wine vinegar
1 teaspoon sugar
1 tablespoon water
Put all of the ingredients for the onion relish in a pan over medium heat. Cook until the onions soften and the liquids reduce, about 12 minutes.
Put the cheese on the piece of bread. Place the Polish sausage into the slice of rye and configure the dill pickle spear to fit like a key inside of the split in the sausage. Add a slouge of mustard, a table spoon of onion relish, and fold together like a taco.
Wrap up in a paper towel or parchment paper. Try not to drool in your beer.
A Chelada is the name for the drink when you add lime and salt to a beer. Sometimes people add hot sauce, herbs and spices, sometimes tomato juice, sometimes even Clamato. They are also called Micheladas and what you may have gathered by now is that they're no real rules beyond salt and lime.
Well, ever since the weather started to warm up here in San Diego, we've been making more and more cheladas. So when Honeysuckle White approached us to come up with a grilled turkey recipe, Chelada Turkey Tacos came immediately to mind. They sent us the turkey and they even sent us a Flip HD camcorder to make videos. Boo-yah!
The Chelada Turkey Tacos encompass four recipes: the Chelada brine, a Roasted Corn Salsa, the Chipotle Sour Cream Sauce, and Alfredo's Tortillas. Make each separately and assemble them to order, grill-side, for some delicious summertime BBQ-ing.
The morning of, we butterflied the turkey, removed the backbone, and quartered it. This would allow for the turkey to grill more evenly since the dark meat takes slightly longer to cook than the breast. We then made a chelada brine to season the meat and to keep the meat moist on the grill. Here is a video on how to make the Chelada Brine:
3/4 cup freshly squeezed lime juice plus the zest from the limes
1/2 cup of salt
1/4 cup of sugar
1 tablespoon of dried Mexican oregano
5 chipotle peppers in adobo sauce, smashed well
Once the meat has spent 2-3 hours in the brine it is ready for the grill. Place the meat on a hot grill and cook, turning occasionally until the meat is done. This can be anywhere between 25-45 minutes depending on the thickness of the meat and the temperature of your grill. Turkey should be cooked to an internal temperature of 180 degrees F.
When the turkey goes on begin to roast your corn and red bell pepper for the Roasted Corn Salsa. Go ahead and shred some cabbage and prepare the Chipotle Sour Cream Sauce also. Make sure to keep the sour cream sauce in the fridge or cooler until it is ready to serve.
I'll be honest, the star of this recipe and the key to making them absolutely amazing is "Alfredo's" tortillas. Alfredo was a guy in Mexico who taught my friend's father the technique of dipping the tortillas into a dressing before you grill them. There is nothing quite like it.
We didn't make Alfredo's exact recipe, we modified it to pair more closely with the Chelada turkey but the technique remains. Below is our recipe and at the end of the post I will give the original Alfredo dip.
Alfredo's Dip (our version)
1 cup soy sauce
1 cup canola oil
1/2 cup lime juice
1 tablespoon sesame seeds
6 cloves garlic, smashed and minced
1 tablespoon seasoned salt
1 teaspoon pepper
Simply dip the tortillas into Alfredo's for 2 seconds on each side before throwing them on the grill. Cook them, turning once, for about 60 seconds a side. Plate and fill with toppings for tacos or burritos.
Roasted Corn Salsa
2 cobs of corn, shucked and grilled until they become spotty with grill marks, the cut from the cob
1 red bell pepper, grilled and diced fine
The juice of one lime
2 tablespoons finely minced cilantro
Salt and pepper
Mix all of these together and set aside in a bowl. This is a wonderful universal salsa that goes great on almost everything.
Once the turkey is done, shred it into bite-sized pieces. Shred some cabbage. Dip a tortilla, grill for a minute or two, add some turkey, the cabbage, the Roasted Corn Salsa, and squirt some of the Chipotle Sour Cream Sauce on top and you have yourself a Chelada Turkey Taco!
Alfredo's Original Tortilla Dipping Sauce (which is also a marinade)
I met fellow hop-head Brian Yaeger at a local beer tasting about a year ago at San Francisco's world-famous Jug Shop because I overheard someone in his group say something about Isla Vista. "Did you say Isla Vista?"
You know how it goes, you're not paying any attention but all of a sudden you pick up a poignant word out of the background noise and your attention follows. There is a real psychological term that describes the phenomenon, the Cocktail Party Effect; it was first coined in 1953 by Colin Cherry. Anyways...
So, Isla Vista is this very-little town, for which I have very-fond memories of, and we both used to live there. We got to talking, mostly about beer, but also his book, Red, White, and Brew: An American Beer Odyssey. He tells me that he traveled cross-country going to all these great micro-breweries and wrote a book about it.
If I remember correctly, I muttered something like, "You bastard! That's so cool." - We have since sipped a slurry of suds together and I more recently asked him for an interview. Here's what transpired:
Me: Let's get this straight, you wrote a book about beer?
Brian: Yes, I wrote a book and that book is about beer. Mostly.
Belgian Ale. Light but full bodied. A hint of fruit. Possibly the best BBQ beverage ever.
The other day, a sunny but cool day (unusual for Sacramento anytime after St. Patrick's day) we ventured to the farmer's market and bought some fresh, wild coho salmon (we just missed the wild king). Next, we headed to Taylor's Market which is known for their old-school butcher shop.
This was our first visit and we enjoyed the charm and friendly, helpful staff. We did pick out some meats but the treat was their selection of Belgium ales. I picked out the La Chouffe as I hadn't tried it before and they didn't carry Chimay's white label (just the blue & red).
What caught my attention was the description of a white ale with spice, this is due to the addition of coriander (what makes the Lost Coast's Great White Ale one of our favorites). My first sip was just as I had hoped. Full, malty, sweet - and while I finished my glass long before the salmon was done, I was in a great mood and ready to chow down! Incidentally, we paired the fish with a grilled corn and potato salad with red onion, tomato, ricotta and basil.
Someone somewhere at sometime decided to adjoin a phenomenal authentic Thai restaurant with a classic English pub. I want to shake that someone's hand.
The pub/restaurant is the Churchill Arms located in London's posh Notting Hill. As I sit here now, sleepily allowing my food coma to abate, I reflect on the sublime combination of spicy Thai, Winston Churchill memorabilia, and refreshing Albarino. All this following five hours without food. I lift the bottle of Pol Roget - Churchill's favorite Champagne - perched on a shelf next to me. It is empty. I don't know what I was expecting, but I don't care either way. Right now I am reflecting.
This euphoric condition began with nothing more than toast, marmalade, and musli about 300 miles northeast of London. As the drive back to London came to a close, the hunger set in. The perfect answer turned out to be pad ga praw (one order of chicken, one of beef); kaeng kiew waan, or green curry (chicken); and the classic pad Thai. With shrimp. Spring rolls kicked off the feast, which was enjoyed by no more people than my tiny girlfriend and myself. Halfway through the feast, two words escaped my mouth: goodness gracious.
I am honoring the Patron Saint of Rustic Food and Booze: Good Old Saint Patrick. Tonight in his honor, I am making one of my all-time favorite peasant dishes, Shepherd’s Pie.
Shepherd’s Pie is traditionally made from ground leftover lamb, mixed with veggies, topped with mashed potatoes and browned to perfection under the broiler. Since I didn’t have leg of lamb for dinner last night, I’m using lean ground beef mixed with pan roasted veggies and topped with silky mashed russet potatoes.
This is a peasant dish that is really hard to mess up. Cook with good ingredients and a little skill and you’ll end up with a hearty and delicious meal. Feel free to add peas and/or mushrooms, which are pretty traditional. My wife isn’t a fan of peas, so I’ve chosen to omit them; and I normally would have used mushrooms sautéed with the mirepoix, but I forgot.
4 Russet Potatoes
Half a stick of Butter
Less than 1 cup Half & Half
2 LBS. Ground Meat
1 Yellow Onion, medium dice
2 LG Carrots, medium dice
Fresh Herbs (I’m using thyme and oregano from my garden), chopped fine
½ Cup Worstershire Sauce
1-2 Cups Red Wine
1: Make your mashed potatoes- clean and wash the potatoes, cut and half and cook in cold water over high heat until very tender. I cook the potatoes in very large chunks, which results in a less water logged spud.
2: Using a ricer, rice the potatoes smooth and add half & half, butter, salt and pepper until silky smooth and well seasoned. If you don’t have ricer, mash with a regular masher. The ricer gives the finished product a silky texture that I love.
3: Cook the onions and carrots in olive oil until nicely browned.You want a nice carmelization on the mirepoix for best flavor. Once the veggies are golden, add the meat, Worcestershire sauce and red wine and cook for about 20 minutes, mixing well and reducing the cooking liquid until you have a rich, meaty stew. Remove from heat and put in an oven-proof roasting dish. For this amount of pie, I like to use a deep 9” x 9” dish.
4: Preheat your oven to Broil. Top with mash potatoes and cook in the broiler until golden. Serve with a nice green salad and a glass or Magner’s Hard Irish Cider on ice and enjoy!
We went to another great beer tasting at San Francisco's world-famous Jug Shop and they were showcasing Abita Beer from New Orleans. Since Mardi Gras (literally "Fat Tuesday") is next week, they were handing out beads, shouting "Laissez les bon temps rouler!" (Let the good times roll), and having a grand time.
They started us off with their Purple Haze, a raspberry-wheat that has a ruddy tint from the raspberry puree they add to it. The fruit was not overpowering and added a nice tartness to the earthy wheaty-ness. They say it pairs well with Brie, I could see that.
Their Pecan Harvest was also a stand out. They say it's made with real pecans and most nut-beers are not. I didn't know that, but then I haven't had many nut flavored beers. No matter how you pronounce pecan, it has a bold nuttiness that's superb.
We tasted about 8 beers and what made the night extra special was...
The power went out making everything pitch black. Immediately people began to break out their cell phones to illuminate the counter and the Jug Shop crew didn't skip a beat. They kept pouring drafts. Someone even had an umbrella with a LED shaft that they hung from the existing light fixtures (see the photo above).
They finished the tasting with two amazing brews; their Andygator and their Abby Ale. Both ring in at 8% but both are surprisingly NOT heavy or cloying. Andygator is done in the style of a Dopplebock (like Paulaner), Abbey Ale done like a Belgian Trappist (like Leffe). The power didn't come back on by the time we left. I'm a new fan of Abita's beers.
"Perfect for bar mitzvahs, weddings, and circumcisions."
Dan thinks he's a Jew, but he loves He'Brew!
Last night we took part in a beer tasting at San Francisco's Jug Shop of choice brews from Schmaltz Brewing Company's West Coast beer guru Zak Davis. From their invitation email:
"Known for their highly irreverent slogans, the Shmaltz Brewing Company in Saratoga Springs, New York, has established itself as one of the nation's premier craft brewers. Founded in 1996 by Bay Area proprietor Jeremy Cowan as an "experiment" for Chanukah, the award-winning He'Brew line of beers was launched with just 100 cases...
In the past 5 years, what started an inside joke is now an all-American success story. Shmaltz Brewing has grown over 550% and includes 11 beers between two brands: He'Brew and the recently launched line of Coney Island Lagers. The He'Brew beers include Origin: Pomegranate Strong Ale, Bittersweet Lenny's RIPA (a rye-based double IPA), and Jewbelation 12, American's only (12% abv) Extreme Chanukah Beer."
We were impressed across the board with everything they poured and some particular standouts included the Coney Island Albino Python; a white beer made with ginger in addition to traditional Wit Bier aromatics. I love ginger and thought the lever of ginger was perfect, they said it goes very well with sushi and I could imagine they would pair well.
Another was the Coney Island Lager - strong, well malted, and with a considerable level of dry hops. There was a great floral nose, so much that I swear I could pick out Cascade hops and name it. Another big winner was Bittersweet Lenny's R.I.P.A. A Rye-based double I.P.A. wieghing in at 10%, this had a body like karate and a smooth finish.
To finish off the tasting they poured their Jewbelation Twelve; they combine 12 malts with 12 different vatieties of hops and make sure it kicks 12% alcohol by volume. A heafty brew that is well balanced, I found it to lack many of the clove and iso-amyl acetate [banana] flavors you find in Belgian beers with a similar heat... which was a wonderful change of pace.
Thanks to the crew at the Jug Shop and Zac Davis with Schmaltz Brewing company for hosting a great event!
I did a beer tasting at The Jug Shop in San Francisco. 13 beers for $15. All of them were Belgian except the Sammi Claus'; of which they had the original and the Helles. The helles being even stronger on my palate and tasting a bit like cherries. Maybe that was because it comes in a red label. Funny how the mind works like that.
Now I swear that Sammi Claus used to say on the bottle, "the strongest beer in the world. " That was most likely the reason why I bought it in the first place. Even when I was broke, beer was still something I would splurge on.
The Sammi Causes were the only two that came in 12oz. bottles. Everything else was in a 750ml, some of which resembled the Champagne silhouette more than anything else. The first beer they poured was aged in oak barrels for, I believe he said, two years - and it sells for $50. People simply refered to it as, "The Expensive One."
I started geeking-out with a guy named Brian Yeager, modest as he may have been, it was his girlfriend who told me he has just published a book... on beer. They gave me a sticker and I found his website the following morning. www.beerodyssey.com - "Red White and Brew," it looks like a fun travel book about driving across the country in a Prius and drinking beer.
Today marks the 75 anniversary of the ratification of the 21st Amendment which officially ended prohibition. I'm going to celebrate by going to a beer tasting at one of my favorite establishments in San Francisco, The Jug Shop.
The process began with Michigan on April 10th, 1933 and was completed on December 5th later that same year when Ohio, Pennsylvania, and [I'll bet the slightly reluctant] Utah joined in.
This was in the email I received from The Jug Shop and thought it was so interesting, I would relay it here:
"Christmas beers, also known as Winter Warmers, are a tradition dating back at least 2,000 years, with the ancients making highly intoxicating brews to celebrate winter's Saturnalia. This brewmaking evolved into a holiday celebration when medieval monks, the world's first professional brewers, pulled out their finest ingredients to produce soul-warming styles for the occasion.
Today brewers continue the custom, either with centuries-old recipes or newfangled concoctions with spices and herbs, enabling thirsty beer fans to put aside their everyday favorites each winter and deck the halls with the world's most flavorful ales and lagers, brewed especially for the holidays." from Don Russell's Christmas Beer: The Cheeriest, Tastiest, and Most Unusual Holiday Brews"
I find it especially poignant that some historians have pointed out that it took a year of sobriety to grant women suffrage. Prohibition began with the 18th Amendment in 1919. The 20th Amendment granted women the right to vote in 1920; and 13 years later the 21st ended the nation's teetotalling.
So let's all thank the temperance movement for spurring Congress into action, finally allowing our mothers, grandmothers, aunts, sisters, cousins, and daughters the right to be heard.
• that the word bar is short for barrier? Yes, that’s right—to keep the customers from getting at all the booze. • that Winston Churchill’s mother supposedly invented the Manhattan? • that the Pilgrims landed at Plymouth Rock because the sailors on the Mayflower were running low on beer and were tired of sharing? • that you have a higher chance of being killed by a flying Champagne cork than by a poisonous spider? • that the Code of Hammurabi mandated that brewers of low-quality beer be drowned in it? • that beer was so popular with medieval priests and monks that in the thirteenth century they stopped baptizing babies with holy water and started using beer?
Homebrew beer fermenting in carboy - photo by geoffeg
I've been brewing my own beer at home for 14 years now and although it is easy... it does require some specialized equipment and quite a bit of homework. I could have never done it without Charlie Papazian's The New Complete Joy of Home Brewing - AKA "The Bible" for novice and experienced homebrewers alike. Basically, anyone who enjoys making their own suds. You can brew as basic or as complex of beer as you like to.
I have gone as far as making "Mocha Stout" by adding cacao powder and espresso to a stout. "Chile Lime Pulque" which was brewed using Agave malt extract (instead of barley malt extract), adding lime, and then dropping a chile into every bottle. Spicy spicy stuff. "Kava Kava Cranberry Mint" started as an American Ale with Kava Kava, cranberry, and you guessed it... mint. Go nuts.
After you are all set up and prepped, it takes about 4 hours to make 5 gallons. I'm already including extra time in there for clean up too, which can get a little messy. That's enough beer to fill (53) 12-ounce bottles, or if you're lazy like me, (21) 22-ounce bottles and some change.
There is really only a 2 hour commitment (at minimum) to cook the wort [which is pronounced WERT], 10 days or so in the fermenter, and about 2 hours to bottle. Two more weeks to ferment in the bottle and you're ready to drink it!
Recently I discovered MR.BEER , and at first I doubted the efficacy of brewing without 5 gallon buckets, a carboy, an air lock, and all those tubes that my wife adores when I hang them all over the kitchen to dry! But then I saw this video of Garrett Oliver demonstrating it on YouTube. He's the Brewmaster of The Brooklyn Brewery, and the author ofThe Brewmaster's Table: Discovering the Pleasures of Real Beer with Real Food. So in my game, he's legit!
This is not going to replace the bucket method and grain pushers the world over don't have to worr. But what I like about ths system is that someone can TRY homebrewing without much investment; in their time or money. They offer a pretty large selection try experiment with different styles and the starter kits are only $40 here.