Monday, November 29, 2010

Mid-Week Brew

With both of our better halves out of town, Brian and I opted to spend our down time brewing.  Now at first, we were both supposed to brew.  Unfortunately, the installation of my new kettle thermometer gave me an unexpected "fail".

My new thermometer

The hole I drilled ended up being a hair too low and hit one of the bends of the kettle, destroying my ability to get a good seal.  Hole placement, coupled with washer destruction, awarded me a leaky and unusable kettle.  Swell.  I plan on having a coupling welded on later, but for now, it has sidelined my brewing.

To the garage!

Although I was out of service, Brian was in.  This was his second official batch of homebrew.  His first batch, from last February, suffered from an infection issue and was rendered undrinkable.  For us to describe something as undrinkable is saying something.

Brian

With his extract kit spread out and ordered, Brian made quick work of his batch and all was seemingly going well.  While he tended to the boil, I went inside to prep the BBQ pork calzones we were having for dinner.  I left my phone in the garage, where Brian shot me a message I obviously didn't get.

We have a problem...

Trouble was afoot.  No worries, although these beer kits are great, the number of packets and steps can sometimes seem more complicated than going all-grain.  Some crushed grains weren't steeped, so we steeped them while the kettle boiled, adding in the infused water half way through the boil.

A stir

A couple hours in and his holiday ale was ready for the fermenter and 24 hours later it was busily fermenting.  With the amount of cleaning and sanitizing Brian did, this batch will certainly be destined for success.  Not bad for an Ohio State fan.

Bubbling

Sunday, November 28, 2010

What's on the Grill #197: Goat Cheese & Sage Stuffed Tenderloin

This is one of those meals where I open up the fridge and try to figure out what goes together.  No recipe, no plan and as is often my case, no clue.
After playing a little bit of Sesame Street's "One of these things is not like the other...", I decided pork tenderloin, sage and goat cheese went together.  Pork tenderloin, sauerkraut and peanut butter did not.
I took both of my one pound tenderloins and cut a slit in each, lengthwise, being careful not to cut all of the way through.  Once sliced, I opened the tenderloins like a book.  With the tenderloin spread out flat, I covered each with a piece of plastic wrap and then pounded the pork with my meat mallet.  Ahhh yes, there's another errant sentence which, when taken out of context, will send me unwanted Google search traffic.
For the stuffing, I sautéed half a yellow onion and a red pepper which, once cooked, I spread over the pork.  Next, I added in crumbles of goat cheese and a handful of chopped sage.  Lastly, I rolled the pork and secured it with butcher twine.
The Filling
Because plankin' is my thing, I placed the tenderloins on a cedar plank, rubbed them with oil and sprinkled them with salt and pepper.  I did not soak the plank, because one, they are thick and two, I was only going to use low heat under the plank and a higher heat, indirect, away from the plank.
Stuffed, Rolled & Tied
Now while the pork did it's thing, I turned my attention to my last bottle from Sam Adam's Barrel Room Collection, the Stony Brook Red.  I've talked about my somewhat distant relationship with fruit in my beer, but wow, this was great. The tart and sweetness of the cherries hit you right up front, but then quietly faded away.  This is a big beer and I'm quite bummed this was my last bottle.  I need to get to Boston!
Stony Brook Red
Next up, I had a choice.  Goose Island's Fleur or Left Hand Brewing Company's Warrior IPA.  Thanks to the help of friends on Twitter, I opted for the Warrior IPA.
Choices...
The IPA was good, but not one I would return to right away.  As much as I love wet hopped beers, this one had a little too much of the "I feel like I'm eating grass" thing going on. I would give it a second look, but "I'm grazing" was my first thought.
Warrior IPA
Back at the grill, the loins were done.  They were small, so cooking time was only about 30 minutes.  Verdict?  Good.  Sage & Goat Cheese are big bold flavors and a little can go along way.  I didn't give measurements because I was winging it, but in the future, I think I would add more goat cheese and drop the sage a little bit.  Regardless of the tweaking, it was all good and on my "do again" list. Oh yeah, the beer wasn't too bad either.
Goat Cheese & Sage Stuffed Tenderloin

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Happy Thanksgiving

May your grills be hot and your bellies full. 

Turkey...on black

Sunday, November 21, 2010

ManNight 2010: Super Hero Edition

I don’t take myself very seriously and thankfully, my friends are in the same boat.  Which, if we actually were in a boat, we would more than likely dub it the SS Silly.  The wives, of course, would call it the SS Stupid.

Over the last four years, we have taken it upon ourselves to hold a testosterone filled night about once a year to celebrate all things Man and thus, ManNight was born.  A friend of Eric asked, “Can’t you just sit around and drink beer and play poker?”  Sorry, no. Remember, we’re on the SS Stupid Silly.  Every ManNight has two things: a lot of cooked meat and a theme.  Typically we drum up a theme at a BrewDay, or some other gathering, and then spend several weeks planning/ordering/making our “costumes”.  We’ve done leisure suits, a luau, a Viking invasion and this year: Super Heroes.

However, before we enter the Hall of Justice, let’s talk food.

A Cold Morning to Grill

I was pressed for time on Friday (a little thing called work), so I opted to cook two 10 pound Boston Butt’s on the Summit’s Rotisserie.  I opted for the Summit, because I can maintain an even low temperature and could essentially set it and forget it. 

Speared Butts

It was quite chilly at 6:30 in the morning and after wiping the frost off the grill, I crossed my fingers in hope the Summit would handle 20 pounds of pork.  Thankfully, it did.  I’ve abused the Summit’s roto motor and it continues to perform.  Love it.

11 hours spun by

The Butts were rubbed with my slightly fine tuned Coffee Rub from a couple weeks ago and smoked with a little bit of hickory.  They spun for 12 hours before being pulled off.

Pulled Pork

Since this is ManNight, we typically have a vegetable-less dinner.  So, the second meat serving was a stack of thick cut strip strip steaks.

Someway say Steak?

With The King’s “help”, the 26 inch kettle easily fit all 12 pieces of meat.  I say “help”, because all he did was stare at me.  It was somewhat disconcerting.

A helpful, albiet creepy, King

Meanwhile…back at The Hall of Justice:

Stacked Strips

The Table of Man was set.  There are three symbols of ManNight:  The Man Trophy, the Tiger and the portrait of James T. Kirk. All were present.

The Tiger

Now although this was a Super Hero theme, the definition was rather loosely followed in some cases.  For example, I have already mentioned The King.  The only time he is associated with the word “super” is when it is followed by “creepy”. 

ManNight 2010

Rounding out the rest of the Super Best Friends were Major Jackass (although not pictured with ears), Neo, Wolverine, the Greatest American Hero(s), Mr. Incredible and James T. Kirk (the real one!).  My costume?  I wanted the dumbest Super Hero that was “legitimate” and then once removed.  I was Aqualad, Aquaman’s emotionally distant nephew.  It was because of me there was no fish for dinner.

"Rockin"

As with any ManNight, we made outlandish plans for the next ManNight and then retired to the basement to rock out on plastic instruments and impress all of our virtual fans with our “superness”.  Yes, it was Rockband time.  Although, the only person at ManNight with a tail wasn’t always happy with the setlist.

An unhappy Rockband participant

I should note it was a mostly homebrew night.  Dave brought a keg of his Power Pack Porter and I had the remains of my Porter as well as my relatively new Belgian I kegged last week.  Drew brought a bottle of his ManNight barleywine.  Lacquer finish was one reaction.  Yes, but very, very tasty lacquer finish.  It was deadly, but good.

Well, if you made it to the bottom of this long post, you are more super than we are.  It is a whole bunch of silly/stupidness, but if you don’t take goofy pit stops on life's journey, what are we going to have to laugh at when we hit 60?  ManNight was a whopping 9 hour affair, but when you have Wolverine serving poppers form his adamantium claws, it goes by real fast.

Monday, November 15, 2010

Bastard Week and Things

As I talked about before, Arrogant Bastard Week kicked off Friday at Midnight, which for old folk like me translates to kick off time: Saturday afternoon.  Keeping up with traditions, we swung down to Boston’s to help the cause.

Bastard Week

Entirely unplanned, the whole gang mostly wanders in minutes after one another.  Odd how those things happen.

Helping the Bastard Cause

After having a Bastardastic good time, Zoe and I headed home to enjoy our last few days together before she shot off to Singapore this morning to holiday with her friend Michelle.  I mention Michelle specifically, because it was for her wedding, or rather my experiences at her wedding, this blog was originally created. 

As long time readers of this blog also know, when Mrs. APP is out of the country, there is only one definitive date on the horizon: ManNight. 

Trophy of Man

The Man trophy is out, as well as pictures of two of the most prolific symbols of Manhood: James Tiberius Kirk and some pissed looking Tiger. Good times await.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Calling all Bastards

Tomorrow, the competition for the Most Arrogant Bar Pub in America starts again.  For the uninitiated, this is the annual contest run by Stone Brewing Co to award the aforementioned title on whoever sells the most Arrogant Bastard Beer between Nov 13-19th. 

AB in a keg

Our local, Boston’s, has previously won this quite worthy title twice in the last four years.  We are hoping this year makes it three.

Oaked Arrogant Bastard with my macaroni stained beer menu...thanks to my sister.

Although sitting around drinking ye old Bastard is fun in and of itself, this year Boston’s is donating 50 cents of every pint or $1 of every pitcher to Diabetes Dayton & the Miami Valley Astronomical Society at Boonshoft.  I’m a huge fan of the Astronomy team at Boonshoft, so the fact that I can get my Bastard on and help two great organizations at the same time will help me feel even better.  If, that is even possible.

West meets Midwest

Last year I had the extreme luck to start Bastard Week at Stone Brewing in Escondido, CA and finish it up here in Dayton.  This year, I will be local the entire time.  Make time next week to swing in and help drink Boston’s on to victory and enjoy some great Stone beer while you are at it.  You can, be worthy.

Duh!

Sunday, November 07, 2010

So, it's a Society

After quite a bit of discussion, it was finally determined that the Backyard Brewer's are a Society and not an Association.  I'm not really sure what the difference means.  In my mind, both get an emblem...perhaps as a Society we get a flag too?  Certainly, as a Society, we at least get an excuse to wear smoking jackets as we retire to the lounge.  Whatever we want to call ourselves, some of us shouted "present" as we brewed at Dave's house this past Sunday.

Fall

Compared to last winter, this was probably our chilliest of outdoor brew sessions.  With the leaves still falling, the temperatures followed suit and dropped like a brick too.  The cool weather led us all to donning jackets and hats while avoiding the spontaneous combustion of denim as we warmed ourselves at Dave's fire pit.

Fire, fire!

Since our little brewing society is as mobile as a fleet of gypsy wagons, we have gotten pretty good at being self-sufficent no matter where we are.

My traveling brew supplies

Thanks to my buddy Matt, I put my spanking new (to me) tackle brew box to work.  I was planning on adding a new thermometer to my kettle today too, but the thought of screwing it up and being left with a keg with a half inch hole in it didn't set to well for me.

Style wise, Drew brewed a Belgian Tripel, Dave a Double IPA, Eric a Christmas Ale and for me, a Pale Ale.

As host, Dave did a great job of keeping us fed, which is always a brew day tradition.

Slicing the Fatty

First up, was some grilled bacon that Dave had previously home cured.

Grilled Bacon

Around mid-day, Dave cranked out some fattys.  Thankfully, there is a picture to give that sentence context:

Fatty Time

Another brew day staple. One fatty was with regular pork sausage and the other with spicy.  Both were great.

Sliced Fatty

Dave's wife Abby finished off the day with some amazing cabbage rolls.  Dave knew we had to incorporate pork into everything and accomplished the mission effortlessly!

On the brew front, everything went well.  My aeration stone failed me again, but outside of that, everything else seemed to be spot on.

Drew's Pour

Along with all of the beer making, we of course participated in some beer drinking.   We all marveled at Dave's new draft system and enjoyed Eric's portable keg.  After a quick hit of the bung, his gallon of homebrew was ready for dispensing.

Tapping the keg

The name of his IPA? I'll leave it for the label...and it's accompanying illustration.

Prostate IPA

For the record, it was great and I wasn't walking funny afterwards.

Burner

After six hours from beginning to end, we all walked away with full bellies and a combined 20 gallons of soon to be fermenting beer.  Zoe was kind enough to chauffeur me and all of my "stuff" home too.

Drew & Eric

Drew and I realized it has been just over 2 years since we first started brewing together.  Honestly, I don't know where the time has gone.  Since it's inception, we have gone from a bunch of stumbling homebrewers to just a bunch of homebrewers who happen to stumble late in the day.

Run-off

Each brew day we eat a little more than the last, get a little more judgmental on our creations and continue to learn quite a bit from our own mistakes.  To me, the association moniker connotates a loose group of guys who get together to brew.  This is not a loose group.  We are bound by more than a common interest.  We are passionate, we are homebrewers, we are friends, we are a society and I wouldn't name us any other way.  Now I'm off to find a smoking jacket.

Aeration

What's on the Grill #196: Planked Lobster Tails

I'm not sure how this almost passed me by, but I forgot an important part of my previously blogged about planked seafood night: planked lobster tails.  Even though I'm in landlocked Ohio (ocean wise, that is), I keep an eye out for fine frozen seafood, since that is about all we get.  Enter the lobster tails.  Typically, I can pick up a pair at Sam's Club for around $24 dollars, which isn't too bad. A little thawing time in the sink and voila, we are ready to grill.
Everyone on board
Lobster tails are no stranger to my grill.  Although, this is the first time I've planked them without any kind of pre-grill parbroil.  Lobster is one of those finely timed foods, miss the mark and you will probably be disappointed or at least spend a lot more time chewing than previously anticipated.  Parboiling just makes it a little bit easier and a whole lot faster.  Which is, of course, why I eschewed it from this entire process.
I removed the bottom membrane of the tails, which is partially documented here.  I did not, however, cut the tails in half. Because they were planked, I knew the pressure of he boards would keep them flat as they cooked.
With the planks soaked, I arranged one plank directly over the coals, placed the tails flesh down and then stacked the second plank over the tails.  A kind of lobster tail sandwhich, if you will.
A grill full of the sea
Due to the lack of a parboil to pre-cook the tails, I left them on the grill for around 45 minutes (this wasn't entirely planned...I thought it would go faster, but my temps were really low since I had about 5 feet of cedar spread out across the grill!).  It is easy to spot the tails as cooked, as their shells turn bright red.
Planked Lobster
As the tails finished up, I removed the top plank and flipped the tails on to their back.  Then, making a mixture consisting of 1 stick of butter and 2 tablespoons of pureed chipotles, I brushed the tails for their last 5 minutes of cooking.
Planked Lobster with Chipotle Butter
The result ? Lobstery heaven.  When I set out for this planked smorgasbord, I totally blew the timing on the tails.  Regardless, it was well worth the time because they turned out great.  Frozen tails may seem like a special occasion meal, but truthfully, anything standing by in the freezer can be a last minute delight too.