Saturday, December 25, 2010

Christmas Timing

I'm beginning to think 32 pounds of ham and turkey may be too much for 6 people.  Oh well, at least I have my ever important timing down:

Christmas Timing

1 Beer to Christmas

Meantime London Porter.  Wow, the last beer (well, of this countdown).  This entire process, while entirely enjoyable for the palate, reminds me why I don’t blog daily.  It’s a lot of work!

1 Beer to  Christmas

This was really a great beer. I’ve never experienced anything from Meantime in England before, but if this is a indication of what they are making, I’m impressed.

Bottled and corked in a champagne bottle, it poured black with a one finger head.  I find a lot of Porter’s really nail you on the roasted malt.  Here, the roast was present, but subtly smooth and really masked by the overall sweet malt.  A porter is one of my favorite beers and I want this one again.

Thanks for joining me on the countdown.  As always it’s a lot of fun.  Oh, and a thanks to Zoe for making it all happen.  I’ll be sure to grease the skids next November so she will be encouraged to do it all over again!  Well, judging by the number of empty bottles around me, I’d say Christmas has arrived!  Cheers!

Merry Christmas

King of the Grill

Thanks again to my good friend at work, Gary, for giving me yet another kick ass Christmas grilling ornament.  I post them a year after I get them so if they ever stop making them, or Gary decides to cut me off…, I will always have one left.

This has been a great year for me.  I hope the said can be said for you.  Thanks for reading Another Pint Please and participating in the crazy past time of mine.  Merry Christmas.

Friday, December 24, 2010

2 Beers to Christmas

Urthel Hop-It.  As they name subtlety suggests, this is a hoppy blonde ale.  It was really quite good.  All of the typical Belgian characteristics with a good bit of hop bite. I liked it and since this happened last night, that’s all I remember.  Sorry.

2 Beers to Christmas

Anyway, besides being the 12 Beers to Christmas, this has also unexpectedly been the 12 Days to Consistent Internet.  Time Warner was back out and confirmed my suspicions: squirrel(s).  Along with some 10 year old tech across the street, a squirrel along with her fiendish friend Mother Nature, tore the hell out of our drop.  With the problem fixed (the cabling, not the squirrel), we are back up and running.  It’s a good thing too. I have one more beer to go and prefer it be on time!

Thursday, December 23, 2010

3 Beers to Christmas

Imperial Extra Double Stout.  One might think by my haphazard posting schedule I was unable to get my shoes off to count past ten.  Although I have had some trouble counting down, the real culprit is Time Warner Cable.  Internet goes up...and Internet goes down.  Somewhere across the road there is a squirrel nibbling on our line.  I'm convinced.  Service guy #2 is due tomorrow.

Anyway, we are up now so I'm going to post last night's beer, Imperial Extra Double Stout, which after a few of these 9% ABVs, you will be unable to say correctly in rapid succession.  Oh, since Anne is in town for Christmas, I did the brotherly thing and turned her into a prop.

3 Beers to Christmas

This was really a different beer and by different, I mean not one of my favorites.  It was a corked bottle and poured with almost no head.  It's color was black as night.  This was a 2003 vintage and seeing this is a beer, it really had a lot of "wine" qualities.  Not overly malty, no hops and very, very dry.  Certainly a sipping beer.  I checked Beer Advocate to make sure I wasn't imaging anything and it looks like I wasn't.  Reviews were mixed.  I'm glad I tried it.  I won't have it again...unless someone gives me one.  Remember, I had a Natural Light last weekend.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Merry Christmas 2010

For the last two years, I have made grill centric Christmas cards.  Knowing there are only so many hats you can put on chickens, I was afraid I had run out of ideas.  Fortunately, this year's card sort of hit me during an early snow in December.  Unfortunately, I took it too late to have them made for this year's card.  So, what you are really looking it is our 2011 Christmas card. Hopefully by this time next year you will be surprised all over again.
Merry Christmas 2010
As we close in our Christmas, I wish you all a very Merry Christmas.  May your year and grill glow bright.
Mike

4 Beers to Christmas

4 Beers to Christmas

Hook Norton Brewery's Twelve Days.  It's Hook Brewery again.  I wish I could give a better review of Twelve Days, but I had a dentist appointment this afternoon and after all of the scrapping, banging and cleaning, my mouth is out of wack and slightly violated.  What i do know is that Twelve Days was full on malt with a little bit of nut.  Past that, all I could tell you is it looked nice.  Did I also mention I hate going to the Dentist?

5 Beers to Christmas

5 Beers to Christmas

Weyerbacher's Winter Ale.  Pours with a one finger head and has a sweet nose.  This is really a malty beer, which for some reason to me comes off almost as sour.  Maybe it's the vanilla that is doing funny things with my tastebuds.  It's devoid of hops, but has a pleasant medium mouthfeel.  A good winter beer.

Sunday, December 19, 2010

6 Beers to Christmas

Hook Norton Brewery's Double Stout.  This was quite good, even though the first thing I noticed was it poured with a huge head and no, it wasn't because of my inability to properly fill my pint glass.

6 Beers to Christmas

According to CAMRA, Double Stout is Real Ale in a bottle.  I guess technically true, but I prefer my Real Ale from a cask.  There is no substitute.

The nose was sweet and poured a nice rich mahogany color.  The taste was predominately roasted malt with hints of brown sugar and a little bit of hop.  A nice smooth finish that didn't really linger.  All in all, very drinkable.  A good brew.

What's on the Grill #200: Porter Marinated Flank Steak

Flank is a good cut of beef, but not one I turn to very often.  Because of its tough nature, flank typically needs a marinade which in my day is either a) not possible because of time or b) not possible because of a lack of planning or more likely c) a combination of a & b.

Well as these things go, I picked up a flank steak at the store with no real idea what I was going to do with it over than pay for it. After getting home and skimming Epicurious, I found a recipe which called for a two hour room temperature marinade.  Thinking to myself, I have two hours and I'm at room temperature, I decided to work with the ingredients I had and give it a shot.

Porter Marinated Flank Steak
Adapted from Epicurious
1 Flank Steak
1/2 cup Porter (or other Stout beer...homebrewed for extra points)
1/3 cup soy sauce
2 tablespoons ketchup
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 1/2 tablespoons minced peeled fresh ginger
1 tablespoon Asian sesame oil

Mix together all of the ingredients and place in a shallow dish with the flank steak.  Allow to marinade at room temperature for 2 hours.
Beerinade

Prep the grill for direct medium high.  What I do is prep the grill to direct high and then crank the heat down a tad before dropping the meat.

After two hours, drain the marinade (set aside) and pat the meat dry.  For medium rare, grill approximately 4 minutes a side.  Flank needs to be cooked hot and fast.

Place the marinade in a saucepan, bring to a boil and cook for approximately 3 minutes.  Serve with the meat.

Sliced Flank

Wow.  This turned our better than I expected.  Not only was it good for dinner, it's been great on sandwiches the last couple days.  I think the only thing I would do in the future is add some heat...maybe some diced jalapenos or maybe smokey heat with some chipotles.  Either way, I'm making it again, with or without proper planning and time.

7 Beers to Christmas

Daleside Brewery's Monkey Wrench (Sister brew to Old Leg Over from last Christmas).  I grabbed this one on a way to a friend's house and ended up sharing it.

7 Beers to Christmas

From what I can remember before having my palate tainted with Natural Light, Monkey Wrench was a full on malty traditional English Ale.  Drinkable and enjoyable...Monkey Wrench that is, not Natty Light.  Also for the record, it was proven last night 5 gallons of homebrew ingredients is cheaper than a 30 pack of Natural Light.  Just saying.

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Homebrewing Live Blogging

As I mentioned on Twitter this morning, early to bed, early to rise makes a man want to brew beer...apparently.  Certainly Ben Franklin had this thought too before settling on the whole wealthy/wise thing.  Anyway, 've been putting off my latest batch of brew for various reasons.  Well, not any more.

Need Heat

Although it is a balmy 16 degrees outside I've got the garage heated to a slightly less balmy 39 and hopefully enough air flow the CO2 from the heaters doesn't render me unconscious in a pool of my own slobber.

09:25

Coffee Time

I'm drinking coffee.  (See how exciting this is going to be?)

09:36

I'm heating my strike water and getting ready to mash.  I'm also trying to heat up my brew garden hose, as even though it's been in the garage, it's still frozen. Nice.

Adding the Strike Water

09:54

I added 2.7 gallons of strike water in three batches to my grain bill.  I'm brewing an ESB.  Here's my recipe:

6.5 lbs 2 Row

8 ozs Caramunich Malt

4 ozs Flaked Wheat

1.5 ozs Chocolate Malt

Hops: 1 oz Goldings, East Ken for 60 minutes

Although The Drew scoffs at the use of technology while brewing (this coming from an IT guru of all people too!), I use two apps.  Primarily, I use iBrewmaster.  It has a great database for storing/creating recipes and tracks the entire brew process.

iBrewmaster

iBrewmaster falls a little short when it comes to all-grain calculations like figuring stike/sparge water amounts and temperatures (although lately they have made improvements to better document the steps), so I turn to BrewPal for those figures.  I would also like to see improvements in both for recording boil gravity and temperature corrections to calculate mash efficiency.  Typically, I break out the calculator and figure it on the side, but it would certainly be nice to have these features built into the app.

Hey, good news.  Thanks to a friend at work, my new coupling and thermometer are working.

My New Coupling

11:06

Prepping for Sparge

Sparge.  Round one of my sparge is underway.  I'm sparging with 4.7 gallons of water.  I added in two steps.  I checked the mash halfway through and thanks to the cold, the temperature dropped. It looks like towards the end, it dropped below 150.  I should still be good, but time will tell....and damn, my heater just ran out of propane.

Sparge Water In

11:35

Vorlauf

Vorlauf & run off collection.

Collecting the run off

And a quick run into the house to battle my never ending cable modem reset problems...argh.

11:55

I've achieved boil and I'm adding in the whole leaf hops.  I'm also listening to a little Bing Crosby...it is that time of year after all.

Leaf Hops

According to "my math", I had an 82 % efficiency on my mash.  Hmmm, I need to check that...it's almost too good to be true.

12:45

Chiller Time

About 15 minutes left in the boil, so I'm dropping in my wort chiller. I'm also trying to rapidly de-ice (again) my water supply hose.  Thankfully, unlike last winter, I haven't blown out my outside faucet. I thought I had the hose all ready to go, but there must be some ice stuck in it somewhere. I'm making a mental note to do a better job walking the water out of it before I stow it today.

13:20

Chilled & ready for the bucket

The wort is chilled and I started to fill my fermenting bucket.  I typically aerate using an attachment on the drain hose, but instead I'm going to use a stone with a filter and some air from a compressor.  This is new, so hopefully there are no long term problems...ie: infection.

Getting my reading

My final gravity reading, 1.037, was right on the money.  The final ABV should clock out somewhere around 3.41%. This is going to be a total session beer...if it lasts that long with the guys around.

16:00

I get my Internet connection back!  Yeah, live blogging is a little difficult when the Internet goes down.  Looking back, the whole process went well.  I had to use hop leaves versus pellets, so I had some trouble getting the kettle screen clear capturing the last gallon of wort.  Because my brew time was off, I also had to just pitch a vial of yeast.  There was no starter and no handy smack pack.

All in all, a successful morning.  No gas poisoning, no fire and no frostbite.  Now to schedule the next brewday with the rest of the Society!

Done!

 

Friday, December 17, 2010

8 Beers to Christmas

Karma Ale from Avery Brewing Company.  Which, if Karma is good, I find it funny this beer is bad.  I also find Karma a strange thing as I’ve been busy the last day and thus am slightly out of step with my malty advent calendar.  I suppose this is what I get, a lesser beer.

8 Beers to Christmas

It’s an odd Belgian…and I love Belgian beers.  The fruit is there, the yeast, but past that it was somewhat forgettable.   No worries though, the weekend ahead is looking quite nice.  I will survive.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

9 Beers to Christmas

Hibernation Ale from the Great Divide Brewing Company.  Wow, I am 3 for 3 so far, as this is another great beer.  Hibernation Ale gets its name wisely.  A few of this 8.7% ABV will send you off to sleep with the bears, but at least if you do hit Hibernation, the journey would have been well worth it. 
9 Beers to Christmas
The beer poured dark mahogany and had a sweet bready nose.  The head was small, less than a finger with little or no lacing.  My first taste was full on malt sweet…brown sugar and maybe molasses and then a nice hoppy finish.  I love malty beers this time of year and the hop finish really melded well with the sweetness.  This was a great winter beer I must look for again.

What's on the Grill #199: Rosemary & Orange Grilled Lamb Chops

Typically when I talk about grilling lamb, I start off with a nursery rhyme or some other tongue in cheek comment about how my dinner just leapt from a kid's book and instead of landing on a pile of fluffy straw, nailed my hot grill grates.  Not tonight.  This evening's lamb didn't jump from a book nor does she posses anthropomorphic abilities.  Instead, she was a prominent guest at the Aullwood Audubon Farm, so I will take this a little bit more serious.

From time to time I pick up meat from Aullwood.  It is a wonderful local landmark.  My lamb this evening was a working animal on the farm, where after doing her thing, was eventually slaughtered and sold off (or as I explained to Zoe, the meat came from Kroger).  Anyway, I am the lucky recipient and at one time probably fed her.  If only I'd known about our future meeting, I would have fed her more.

Lamb Prep

Lamb is fast, easy and so good.  Grilling is a snap:

Rub each chop with freshly chopped rosemary, minced orange peel and salt & pepper.

Grill the chops direct, hot and fast, about four minutes a side.  Lamb should be served medium rare, or so she told me.

As a side, I prepared brussels sprouts and potatoes:

Cut up about 8 small potatoes (that you've scrubbed and cleaned), place them in a cast iron skillet, toss with olive oil and sprinkle with kosher salt.  Cook on the grill under indirect high heat (450ish) for approximately 30 minutes, stirring at least once half way through.

Spud & Sprout

At the 30 minute mark, add in about 10 brussels sprouts, 2 minced cloves of garlic and 1 tsp of chopped thyme.  Give a healthy stir and close the grill lid.  Drop the temperature to indirect medium (350ish).  Cook for 30-45 minutes, or until the brussels sprouts are cooked through, stirring whenever you brave the cold to rush outside.

Grilled Lamb Chops

In the end,  everything turned out happily ever after...for me.  The lamb was great, the sprouts were sprouty and and even though it was only 19 degrees outside, I still managed to follow my own snow grilling tips and cover the grill when I was done.  Tonight's life for the lamb went full circle and my belly couldn't be happier.

Fork, on

 

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

10 Beers to Christmas

The Point's St. Benedict's Winter Ale.  I was quite pleased with Zoe's evening selection.  The Point Brewery is located in Steven's Point, WI, where I am lucky to have family.  Although it has been years since I have been there, I can at least feel like I'm there by enjoying one of The Point's brews, which only recently started distribution to Ohio.

10 Days to Christmas

Simply put, The Point's Winter Ale is really enjoyable.  In a world full of big Christmas Ale's, The Point's 5.5 % ABV fits squarely in the category of session beers, and for a Winter Ale, I'm grateful.  I really wish I had more than one.  With a dark ruby color, malty sweet and lightly spiced taste, this is an easy beer to turn to on a cold night of frequent dashing to the grill.

Monday, December 13, 2010

11 Beers to Christmas

11 Beers to Christmas

Anchor Steam Brewing Company's 2010 Christmas Ale.  This one is rather interesting.  A little bit of raisin in the nose and then a taste that kind of comes in under the radar, but later springs forward with more raisin, a little cinnamon and some chocolate/hop bitterness on the finish.  Unassuming and very, very good.

Sunday, December 12, 2010

12 Beers to Christmas

Three years ago, Zoe started a tradition of buying me 12 unique beers to countdown the arrival of Christmas.  Here's a look back to 2009:

12 Beers to Christmas

Thankfully, I am thrilled to report in 2010, the 12 Beers to Christmas continues!

Buckeye Brewing Company

First up, we are keeping it local: Buckeye Brewing's Mammoth Stout.  This Foreign Stout poured with a one finger head and had hints of carmel on the nose.  I found it very bitter, with tastes of chocolate and roasted malt.  In fact, the roast really travelled all the way to the finish.  I really liked the full bodied mouthfeel too.  A simple no fuss beer which was quite enjoyable on a snowy cold night.

I'm off to a great start.  Roll on the next 11 days!

Monday, December 06, 2010

Holiday Beverages

Not only does winter bring snow, cold and frequent trips to the car wash, it also brings Sam Adam's Holiday Classic Sampler.  Within the confines of this ordinary cardboard box of beer holds one of my most favorite holiday beers: Old Fezziwig Ale.

Old Fezziwig

For more years than I can remember, I have anxiously awaited for winter to get my hands on Ole Fezzi.  It really is everything I ask for in a winter beer and one I wish I could pick up on a six, or better yet, a whole keg.

Of course while I enjoy my salute to Dickens, Zoe prefers something a little more...cosmopolitan.

Cosmo

Although our tastes may differ, it doesn't matter.  In the end we are both quite happy.

Sunday, December 05, 2010

Snow Grilling

There is a saying in Ohio (or fill in the midwest state of your choice...): "If you don't like the weather, wait 10 minutes.  It'll change." Well after a week of 50 and 60 degree weather, I waited 10 minutes and voila, snow.

First Snow

I am not one to winterize the grills.  While many may wait for spring to grill again, I grill all winter waiting for spring just because it's warmer outside.  So, what changes from fall when you brush leaves off the grill to winter when you shovel snow off the grill?  Here are some of my tips for survival of the white death:

1.  Get a shovel...for the backdoor.  Yes, it's important for the postal service to get to your mailbox.  However, it is more important for you to get to the grill.  Besides, no one has ever starved from not getting the mail.

The Most Important Path

2.  Dress warmly.  I know, this seems like a no-brainer.  Sure, the trip from the backdoor to the grill may seem short, but the minute the backyard shuffle is delayed for whatever reason, you will have wished you pulled a jacket on over your wife beater.  If you are bald, a hat is a must. Also, slip on shoes.  Snow belongs outside, not all over the house...or so I have been told.

3.  My Summit is natural gas and the kettles are of course charcoal.  However, if you are using propane, top of the cylinders before the real cold hits.  The only thing worse than running out of propane mid-cook is standing in the freezing rain at Ace Hardware watching someone fill one up.  Plan ahead by filling up and by a reserve while you are at it.  If you are on natural gas, just be sure to pay the bill and shut off the grill when you are done...trust me on the latter.  You never really "run out" of natural gas.

Nor rain, nor sleet, nor snow...

4.  Clean and cover the grill as soon as you are done.  Once you pull your feast from the grates, dash back outside, be sure everything is off, give the grates a quick clean and then replace the cover (Your grill should have cooled enough in the interim).  With snow covered knobs above, I obviously missed one of the steps.  The sooner you stow your outside operation, the longer you can enjoy uninterrupted warmth inside.  If for some reason I can't rush back outside, I leave a light on and a blind cracked to remind me I have unfinished business to tend to.  Depending on the beer choice(s) of the evening, things can sometimes be...cloudy.

5.  Your head knows it's cold and although your food can't talk (anymore), it knows it too.  In my experience, cold has a negligible impact on direct heat grilling.  However, the opposite is true of anything indirect or low and slow.  Whether grilling a chicken, spinning the rotisserie or smoking some pork, be prepared to lengthen cooking times and be vigilant on temperatures (both grill and food).

6.  Have fun.  In a way, I have more enjoyment and sometimes get more adventurous in the winter than I do in summer.  With so much downtime on cold snowy days, planning a great dinner and spending time at the grill is a fun way of spending the short frigid days of winter.

I'm sure there are a million more tips than this.  If you have some, help me out by adding them in the comments.   Now if you will excuse me, I need to put on a hat, cover up my wife-beater, slip on my shoes and fire up the grill.  Hopefully the path is still shoveled.

Friday, December 03, 2010

What’s on the Grill #198: Rotisserie Duck with Orange Chipotle Sauce

Me: Donald Duck is spinning on the grill.

My friend, Dave: Is he wearing the sailor suit?

Me: No, it burns before the glaze.

Donald Duck sans suit

Ahhh yes, it seems I can never make duck without somehow disparaging cartoon ducks.  Whether it’s Donald or Daffy, it just seems natural to imagine a crumpled sailor’s suit sitting on the side table while it’s owner spins around in preparation for my dinner plate.  I may have a few bruises and a face full of spittle, but in the end Donald is succumbed by the heat and I can rest and drink a beer.  Good times.

If you can grill chicken, you can grill duck.  Whether you are seeking duck’s amazing skin or just pure unadulterated fattiness, duck is a great changeup from poultry and something, at least in my case, I always come back to.

Rotisserie Duck with Orange Chipotle Sauce
Sauce adapted from Epicurious

1 5lb whole duck
salt
pepper

Sauce

2 1/2 cups fresh orange juice
1/4 cup fresh lime juice
3 tbls maple syrup
1 tbls finely chopped canned chipotle chiles in adobo
1 (3- to 4-inch) cinnamon stick
2 whole cloves
1 tsp salt

Potatoes

3 Russet potatoes cut into slices
4 sweet peppers, diced

1.  Prep the duck by trussing and mounting to your rotisserie rod.  Dry the outside of the skin well and season with salt and pepper.  (To achieve extra dry skin, The Flay recommends leaving the duck in the refrigerator uncovered for 24 hours.)

2.  Prepare the grill for indirect medium.  On the 650, I run the rotisserie burner on high and the two furthest outside burners on medium and then later kill the rotisserie burner 30 minutes into the cook. No matter what you do, seek to maintain 350 degrees F. 

3.  Mount the duck on the grill.  Be sure to use a drip pan.  The duck will render a large amount of fat and it is very important to catch it.  Why?  Besides not making a mess of the grill, fat in the pan goes great over 3 russet potatoes cut into slices.  Place them in the pan when you mount the duck.   

4.  While Donald gets dizzy, prepare the sauce by mixing together all of the sauce ingredients in a large saucepan over medium heat.  Heat the sauce until syrupy and reduced to about 1 cup.  Once reduced, let stand until the duck is finished.

Reduce(ing)

5.  Periodically, stir the potatoes in the drip pan. 

6. The duck will take about an hour to an hour and fifteen minute to cook.  Ideally, I like to serve duck medium to medium rare.  The longer you cook it, the tougher it can become.

7.  During the last 15 minutes of cooking, brush some of the sauce onto the duck.  Although the duck is probably cooked enough, I pour a little bit of sauce into a separate basting container to avoid any cross contamination issues.

Palm full of pepper

8.  Just prior to removing the duck, dice the sweet peppers and add them into the drip pan with potatoes.  Add some salt and pepper to taste and give a good stir.  If you have rendered an exceptionally large amount of fat, you may want to remove some before adding the peppers.  Your artery clogging plan is up to you.

9.  When the duck breast reads around 130-135 degrees, remove the duck from the grill.  NOTE: when replacing batteries in your digital thermometer, be sure the temperature doesn’t revert to Celsius.  Just saying…not that I didn’t overcook my duck…a little.

10.  Allow the duck to rest a few minutes and then carve.

Off the body, onto the board, no sailor's suit.

11.  Slice the breasts thin and drizzle with the sauce.

Sliced Breast

This turned out really well.  The sauce has a great balance of sweet and hot. I love chipotles in a lot of things (well, most things), so having them in the sauce really worked for me.  The duck?  Great as always.  In fact, after I worked my way through the breasts, I stripped the carcass for leftovers.  The next day, my duck tacos with the orange chipotle sauce drizzled over them were great.  Much like their cartoons, duck is a gift that keeps on giving.

Dinner