Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Mixology Time: Angry ElderBerry Mojito

One of the more interesting aspects of the rise in cider popularity in the US, is the rise of cider inspired cocktails.  I’m solidly a beer guy, but that said, it doesn’t take much to get me off course.  This, as my friends will attest to, is not surprising.  

While I like my standbys, I’m always looking for something different and something new.  Speaking of which, Angry Orchard’s seasonal offering, Elderflower, is on shelves now.  If you are a fan of mojitos, as well as AO Elderflower, you are going to love this.  For me, it’s something new and something good. I’m in.

Angry Orchard Elderflower Mojito

Angry ElderBerry Mojito

1 oz white rum
4 slices strawberry
4 blueberries
4 mint leaves
1/2 bottle of Elderflower Cider

Mojito Makings

Muddle the berries and mint in a pint glass.

Ready to Muddle

Fill a pint glass with ice.

Add in the rum.

Rum in

Add in the cider.

Angry Orchard In

With another glass, give it a solid shake.

Garnish with strawberry.

Serve.

Angry Orchard Elderflower Mojito

Note: Angry Orchard provided me with a few bottles of Elderflower AND the mixology to make the Mojito.  The opinions and now empty glass are my own.

Sunday, July 20, 2014

Summer Party (now with Jazz Band)

Every summer we host a small party for friends.  It is great to get everyone together at the same time.  The kids swim, the adults do mostly adult things (mostly with empahsis.)  It is always a blast and thanks to nice weather, this year was equally, if not more, awesome than usual.

Party Time

The Food

When I say I love a "multi-grill meal,” I know parties are the best time to make it happen.  It’s nice to see the grills sitting on the deck uncovered.  However, I like them more when all are being used simultaneously.  It’s a party for me.  It’s a party for them.

This year’s meats were brisket, baby back ribs, and Boston Butts for pulled pork.  BBQ is one of the best foods to entertain with as a little goes a long way.  I usually add in some chickens, but this year my goal was to work less and relax more.  Chickens, while good, involve a little more work to carve up.

Speaking of relaxing, my other goal was to have most of the food ready prior to our friend’s arrival.  For long cooks with the brisket or pork, I usually get up extra early to get them on and then most importantly, off on time.  There is nothing as patiently waiting for the thermometer to hit 190 while the party start time creeps up twice as fast.

There was no way I planned on dragging my butt out of bed any earlier, so my solution was an overnight cook.  While ZoĆ« wandered off to bed, I grabbed a beer, some tunes, and prepped the WSM for a nighttime mission. 

Night Smoking

I followed my typical brisket prep with the rub consisting of 2 T sugar, 3 T salt, 3 T freshly ground black pepper, and a cross-hatched fat cap.  For the pork, I made a rub, but it was on the fly, past midnight, and not written down…so sorry, no help there.  I also added injections of Angry Orchard Cinnful cider…to the pork.  It was late, but it wasn’t that late.

I locked the WSM temp in at 210 F versus more towards 250 since I knew I had a long time ahead of me till the party.  With the WSM, and its load of cherry chunks doing its thing, I went to bed….

Zzzzzz.

I slept great, although I woke up a tad early as my reoccurring dream of a cold grill was hard to shake.  Usually my bladder wakes me up, so at least that wasn’t in play!  In the end, I should have known I had nothing to worry about.  The temperature gauge on the WSM hadn’t budged a bit.

Checking Temp

As the morning went on, I added ribs to the 26-inch kettle.  It is times like these, where I absolutely love the space and versatility of this grill.  Kettles make great smokers.   One note, I should have swapped the racks out.  Notice how much more cooked the rack closest to the fire is?  

Ribs on the 26

The 26 makes for a ton of smoking space.

By the end of the day, I ended up with almost a 14 hour cook.  

Meat on Board

The brisket hit 190 F internal first and was wrapped in foil and moved to a cooler to rest.  Soon after, the pork followed.

With the pork rested, and the start of the party still an hour off, I effortlessly removed the bone and proceeded to smash, then chop, the pork.

I sliced the brisket and chopped the ribs.  

Brisket

Keith put his BGE to work in the afternoon and brought over even more ribs which he sauced on a kettle.  

Sauced Ribs

The Samuel Adams Bacon Blue Cheese Dogs also made a comeback.

Grilled Pigs in Blankets

Brian, always one to jump in, grilled brats on the Summit.

Brian and his Weiners

The meat was ready to go, and so was the party.

The Spread

Probably one of the biggest changes for this year’s party was the music.  In the spring, we successfully bid on a performance by the Stiver’s School for the Arts Jazz Band.

Stiver's Jazz Band

These guys, all high school students, played the most amazing set.  

Stiver's Jazz Band

While our neighborhood has its share of impromptu live outdoor music throughout the summer, I think this is the first time the tunes have been provided by a tight jazz quartet.

Stiver's Jazz Band

Golf carts could be seen driving down the side road of our house and stopping to take it all in.

Stiver's Jazz Band

As we opened the chow line, the guys hit their groove and provided the best party background music we could have asked for.

Stiver's Jazz Band

When they left, it just wasn’t the same.

Stiver's Jazz Band

The Beer

The Taps

Home-brews from me and Dave were bookends to Deschutes Inversion IPA and Samuel Adams Summer Ale along with a Pimms Cup, Sangria, and some crazy beer-liquor concoction "the other Dave” brought in a cooler.  The only thing missing from it was the international symbol for poison.

The Lights Dim.

Ballons and Girls

While the kids did their thing.

Elin

We helped celebrate Carla’s 40 birthday.  

Birthday Girl

Welcome to the club, Carla!

It was wonderful, as always, to have the ability to celebrate the richness of life with so many of our wonderful friends.  Even if Gary pulled something in his back and scowled from his chair most of the evening.

Gary....argh

It has been another awesome year.

Night Time. The Right Time.

I expect next year will be even better.  Now, where’s my jazz iTunes playlist….

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Re-Deconstructing: Samuel Adams Latitude 48 IPA

Samuel Adams has “deconstructed” their Latitude 48 IPA again and I couldn’t be more excited.

Deconstructing Latitude 48

Three years ago, Dave and I went through our first deconstruction.  While I don’t know where the time has gone, I do know we had a great time.  It’s fun to not only drink beer, but learn something in the process…and I don’t mean something like “gasoline doesn’t burn, it explodes.” I’m talking good solid sensory beer knowledge.  We’ll save fire safety for later.

Deconstructing Latitude 48

Latitude 48 is brewed with a combination of five hops.  By "deconstructing," the brewers at Samuel Adams created five different Latitude 48s each with just a single hop from the five varieties in the finished style.  

Deconstructing Latitude 48

By doing so, each individual hop is front and center and helps the drinker identify the flavors that go into the finished product.  

This year I had the help of Bryan to complete our beer homework.  If only school were this fun.  

Deconstructing Latitude 48

Changes in Latitude

Latitude 48 is a hop growing region, or “hop belt,” running rom the Pacific Northwest of the US through southeast England, to southern Germany.  All five hops in Latitude 48 come from this region.

Deconstructing Latitude 48

The Hops

Mosaic - Mosaic hops are a new addition for this year’s style.  I really tasted them in the bottom of my mouth.  They were quite earthy, with the interesting addition of pineapple.

Hallertau - This is one of the oldest hop varieties.  I tasted these on my lips.  Although subtle, I found them accentuating spice.

Simcoe - Ahhh Simcoe, while I love Simcoe hops, I didn’t enjoy them as much by themselves in Latitude 48.  Simcoe always has that citrus hit.  By itself, I would be hard pressed to drink this one all night.  As part of the chorus of hops, it is hard to put down.

Zeus - The piney notes here ride firmly in the front of my mouth.  

Deconstructing Latitude 48

East Kent Goldings - When I have these by themselves, I think one thing, an English Ale.  Subtle, smooth, and distinctive.  

Bryan and I poured out our tasters and worked our way back and forth.

Deconstructing Latitude 48

It really is interesting to compare one hop variety to another.  When we brew, the “passing of the hops” is a fairly common occurrence. There is something wonderful, if not magical, about the fairly non-magical act of sticking your nose into a bag of hops and taking in the pungent, yet magical, smell.

Deconstructing Latitude 48

While there is a lot I don’t know about beer, awesome ideas like the Latitude 48 IPA Deconstructed pack brings me one step closer.  For even the most causal fans of IPAs, this is a “class” I highly recommend!

My thanks to Bryan for spending some hard earned studying time.  It was probably our easiest task all week long.

Note: Samuel Adams was kind enough to provide me with samples of this year’s Latitude 48 IPA Deconstructed.  A 12-pack is available now, nationwide.  Run, do not walk, to pick one up before they are gone.