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Cascade Brewing (Portland, Oregon)
Sang Noir - 2012 Project
9.8%
A blend of red ales aged in oak and bourbon barrels for one year, then aged an additional six months on Bing and sour pie cherries.

Pours the color of vinous black cherry with a slightly burgundy two-finger head.  The nose is overwhelmingly tart pie cherry with a touch of wine and bourbon.

The flavor is similar to the aroma...tart cherries, very vinous. Bourbon is barely detectable when cold.  Lacto-tart and acidic at first, but as it warms up it becomes significantly more complex - the wine-like character comes out, more bourbon flavor and sweetness from the malt, creating a more balanced, pleasing character.  The bottle recommends serving at about 40-degrees, but I would recommend going a little warmer - more like 50-55.  It really opens up nicely. 

I always have a hard time spending $25 on a bottle of beer (and it seems there are more and more within this range these days, sadly for us poor craft beer lovers), but this is absolutely worth a try at least once.  Because of its sour, vinous flavor profile, it pairs really nicely with Italian food - even Trader Joe's frozen lasagna...not that I would know anything about that of course.

Available at Cascade Barrel House and in select bottle shops throughout Portland, Oregon.  Occasionally available on draft at Cascade.

 
 

    This is a survey for craft beer enthusiasts. 
    We assume that you love craft beer, but we want to know more about what you eat.  My goal is to determine demand for vegetarian or vegan beer-paired dinners within the craft beer community.  Your input really helps me.  Thank you!

 
 
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Worthy Brewing (Bend, Oregon)
Powder Keg Winter Ale

7.1% ABV, 65 IBU
Centennial, Cascade, Chinook and Columbus hops

According to Worthy Brewing, this is a “festive IPA”, which seems about right – robust, but not quite an imperial. Apparently, this one was dry-hopped – not once, but twice, lending to a fresh hoppy, resinous and lingering flavor without being overly dominant.

Pours a brilliantly clear deep amber with a nice copper hue and a two-finger head. Not a lot of head retention or lacing. Fragrant, piney and slightly floral hops aroma with a touch of honey and caramel malt. A lot more caramel malt in the flavor, smoothly fading into a decent amount of lingering pine and citrus bitterness. A lot of pine. A medium body and resinous feel that lingers on the palate. Overall, a really nice, drinkable beer. Not super-complex, but well-balanced – erring on the side of a piney IPA. Good for the price and worth a try.

To read more about this beer on Worthy's site...


 
 
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Boulevard Tank 7 Farmhouse Ale
8.5% ABV, 38 IBU
Pale malt, malted wheat, and corn flakes
Magnum, Bravo and Amarillo hops

You can't help but love this beer right from the start.  This is a classy, old-fashioned label with a gorgeous color scheme.  The beer pours a bright golden straw color, hazy, with a thick Belgian-style head deserving of a traditional Farmhouse Ale - which leaves some fine lacing behind, like grandma's best doily. 



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This beer isn't anything new.  It's available year-round, so one might say that it's nothing special.  But I would beg to differ.  With a slight barnyard funk to balance out the initial malt sweetness, beautiful cidery Belgian yeast character, refreshing lemon rind and tangerine, and a dry, funky finish...  Refreshing as hell in the summer, but rich enough for a winter night in front of a fire.

At 38 IBU, it may be slightly more hoppy than a traditional Belgian or French farmhouse ale, but it integrates and balances the beer well.  The use of Amarillo hops lends a great floral, fruity character without overwhelming the flavor profile or seeming out-of-place.  I don't use the term "perfect beer" lightly.  But Boulevard seemed to get this one right on all levels - and whether by intention or just dumb luck - all the details are there.


 
 
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Stovetop Beer Mac and Cheese (Parade)
If you've been thinking about cooking with beer, now is the time to do it!  It's not difficult - and you can impress your beer geek friends or REALLY impress your non-beer geek friends and family this holiday season.

Here is a selection of recipes I've been collecting from various online sources.  This is only a small sample of what is possible, but these should get you started...or at least get the creative juices flowing.



Soup and Salad


Chainbreaker White IPA Dressing
from the Deschutes Brewery recipes page
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You can use this dressing for a salad or as a dip.  Deschutes Chainbreaker is a great, flavorful white IPA and it may be difficult to find a good substitute as it's a pretty rare style.  You could probably get away with any good Witbier, but it won't have quite the hop character that you'll get with Chainbreaker. 

Ingredients
3 eggs
1 Tbs red wine vinegar
1 clove garlic, finely chopped
1 Tbs Dijon Mustard
1 tsp Tabasco
1 tsp lemon juice
1/2 C parmesan cheese, grated
1 pinch cayenne pepper
1 pinch black pepper
1 tsp salt
1 C olive oil
2 ounces Chainbreaker White IPA

Read full recipe here

German Potato Beer Soup
from The Cooking Channel
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Ingredients
4 cups chicken stock
3
large russet potatoes, peeled and cut into 1/2-inch cubes (about 4 cups)
1 Tbsp Dijon mustard
8 ounces sliced smoked bacon
2
carrots, 1/2-inch dice (about 1 cup)
3 stalks celery, 1/2-inch dice (about 1 cup)
2 bay leaves
1 small bundle fresh thyme, tied together with kitchen twine
1 leek, green top trimmed, 1/2-inch dice (about 1 cup)
1 cup pale German lager, such as Pilsner
1/4 cup sliced fresh chives
Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper

Read full recipe here


Butter Leaf Salad With Smoked Wild Salmon & Mirror Pond Vinaigrette
from the Deschutes Brewery recipes page
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Can substitute Mirror Pond with any of your favorite pale ales.

Ingredients for the vinaigrette
1 C Mirror Pond Pale Ale
5 Tbs white balsamic vinegar
1 tsp parsley, chopped
1 Tbs salt
½ tsp pepper
1 Tbs dijon mustard
3 Tbs apple cider vinegar
1 C blend oil

Read full recipe here

Beer Cheese Soup
from the Deschutes Brewery recipes page
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Substitute your favorite pale ale.

Ingredients

1/2 C butter
1 medium sized yellow onion, chopped
At least 1/2 C carrots, chopped (if you are a fan of peppers, you can use same amount of Red & Green Peppers instead of carrots & celery)
At least 1/2 C celery, chopped
1/2 C all-purpose flour
2 C chicken broth
1 12oz bottle of Mirror Pond Pale Ale
7oz extra-sharp Cheddar, shredded
7oz processed Swiss cheese, shredded
2 C half-and-half
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp dry mustard
1/2 tsp Worcestershire sauce
1 lb smoked sausage (if desired)
1/2 tsp Tabasco, to taste (if desired)

Read the full recipe here

Black Butte Porter Roasted Chicken Salad
from the Deschutes Brewery recipes page
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Can substitute any of your favorite porters.

Ingredients

Brined Chicken (see full recipe)
1 fennel bulb (two if it’s Oregon baby fennel)
2 Tbs extra virgin olive oil
1 tsp aged balsamic vinegar
1 C mayonnaise
1/4 C apple cider vinegar
1 sweet onion-fine dice
1/2 C slivered almonds
1.5 oz sea salt-fine
1 oz black pepper

Read full recipe here

Appetizers


Chainbreaker White IPA Steamed Manila Clams
from the Deschutes Brewery recipes page
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Simple and delicious.  Nothing quite substitutes for the flavorful Chainbreaker white IPA, though a Witbier may be used in a pinch.

Ingredients

1 lb Manila Clams
6 oz Chainbreaker White IPA
1/2 C tomatoes, diced
1/2 C green onions, diced
1 Tbs fresh garlic
1 Tbs olive oil
Pinch of Kosher salt
Pinch of black pepper

Read full recipe here

Hop Trip Shrimp with Mango Glaze
from the Deschutes Brewery recipes page
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Another simple but delicious recipe from Deschutes.  Add a dash of cayenne for a little extra heat, but be careful as hops can intensify the heat.  Hop Trip is a high-quality American pale ale with a sweet caramel malt backbone and a lot of fruity, citrusy hops.  Any substitute should have a similar flavor profile.

Ingredients
2 lbs prawns (or 1 lb if prawns are huge)
2 C mango puree
3" ginger root, fresh - cut into coins
2 oz honey
1 C water
1 C Hop Trip

Read full recipe here

Black Butte Steamer Clams
from the Deschutes Brewery recipes page
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A great simple recipe.  Substitute your favorite porter.

Ingredients

3 lbs clams
4 - 5 slices bacon, chopped
1 Walla Walla sweet onion, chopped
6 ounces Black Butte Porter

Read full recipe here

Meaty Main Dishes


Deschutes River Ale Braised Caramelized Onion Stuffed Trout
from the Deschutes Brewery recipes page
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Ingredients
4 Trout, 12-16 oz each
2 C caramelized onions
12 lemon slices
8 sprigs of fresh dill
½ C sour cream
Salt and pepper
2 Tbs olive oil
2 Tbs butter
2 Tbs brown sugar
1 bottle Deschutes River Ale

Read full recipe here

Daniel's Smoked & Savory Grey Monday Wild Boar Shanks
from The Bruery Recipes Blog
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The Bruery Grey Monday is a 19.5% ABV Imperial Stout aged on hazelnuts.  You could substitute with another imperial stout but you would be missing the nutty flavor of the hazelnuts.  As far as where you find wild boar shanks...well, you're on your own there.

Ingredients:
750 ml (1 bottle) Grey Monday (minus a few sips for yourself)
3 gm tonka beans
3 gm star anise
6 gm organic cacao nibs
20 gm blood orange peel
30 gm molasses
43 gm kosher salt

Read the full recipe here

Black Butte Porter Meatloaf with Gruyere
from the Deschutes Brewery recipes page
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Can substitute any of your favorite porters.

Ingredients

2 Tbs. extra virgin olive oil
1 medium yellow onion, chopped
1/2 C carrots, diced
1/2 C celery, diced
2 large cloves garlic, finely chopped
3/4 C Black Butte Porter
4 ounces bread, cut into 2-inch pieces (about 2-1/2 cups)
1 C whole milk
2 lbs ground beef
2 large eggs
1/2 C gruyere cut into small cubes
1/4 C fresh Italian parsley, chopped
1 Tbs Worcestershire sauce
2 tsp kosher salt
1/2 tsp freshly ground black pepper
3 Tbs BBQ sauce for a glaze

Read the full recipe here

Belgian Beer Geek's "Chicken a la Bruery"
from The Bruery Recipes Blog
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The Bruery's Saison Rue is a French/Belgian-style, unfiltered farmhouse saison with malted rye.  Can substitute with a similar style.

Ingredients:
4 chicken breasts, cut into bite-size portions
1/4 lb of smoked bacon in cubes
1 lb of green beans
1 onion, chopped
1 garlic clove, chopped
1 chili pepper, chopped
3/4 cup of cream
1 cup of Saison Rue
1 handful of tarragon leaves
2 teaspoons of Five Spice powder
Cooking oil
Pepper and salt

Read the full recipe here

Jubelale Marinated Breast of Duck with Festive Cranberry Ale Sauce
from the Deschutes Brewery recipes page
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Jubelale is a winter warmer with sweet caramel, dried fruit and spicy notes and a slight hop bitterness.  Subsitute any beer with a similar flavor profile if you can't find Jubelale.

Ingredients for sauce

1 C chicken stock
1/2 C white wine
1/2 C orange juice
1/2 C dates, pitted and chopped
1/2 C prunes, coarsely chopped
1/4 tsp ground mace
1/4 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp ground ginger
1 tsp sugar
2 Tbs red wine vinegar
1 C dried cranberries
1 Tbs butter
1/2 C Jubelale

Read full recipe here

Beer Salmon Recipe
from the Dogfish Head Alehouse
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Simple and delicious!  Use smoked porter for a little extra flavor.

Ingredients
Salmon filet slab or about 6 salmon steaks
2 teaspoons salt
1/4-1/2 teaspoon pepper (per taste)
1 chopped onion
1 tablespoon sugar
2 cloves
2 tablespoons flour
4 tablespoons butter or margarine
Two 12-ounce bottles of a favorite Porter–16 ounces for the recipe and 8 ounces to drink while preparing the salmon.

Read the full recipe here

Beer-Brined Turkey
from Brandon Hernandez, on the Stone Brewing blog
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If you can't find Stone Smoked Porter, you can substitute with another smoked porter.

Ingredients

1 gallon plus 1 quart water
1 cup light brown sugar
1 cup kosher salt
1/4 cup mustard seeds
2 tbsp black peppercorns
10 bay leaves
8 sprigs fresh thyme leaves
4 sprigs fresh rosemary leaves
3 onions, chopped
72 ounces Stone Smoked Porter
1 12-15 lb turkey

read the full recipe here

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Jubelale Pot Roast
from the Deschutes Brewery recipes page
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Jubelale is a winter warmer with sweet caramel, dried fruit and spicy notes and a slight hop bitterness.  Subsitute any beer with a similar flavor profile if you can't find Jubelale.

Ingredients

2-3 lbs top round
1/2 C flour
1 Tbs olive oil
1 onion, cut into eighths
1 carrot, rough chopped
2 ribs of celery, rough chopped
3 cloves garlic
1 bunch parsley
2 sprigs thyme
1 sprig sage
3 bay leaves
1 Tbs whole black peppercorns
1 Tbs Kosher salt
12 oz bottle Jubelale
2 C chicken stock
2 Tbs butter

Read full recipe here

Side Dishes


Beer Battered Asparagus
from The Bruery Recipes Blog
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Ingredients
1 cup white ale, heffeweizen, or pale ale
1 pound asparagus – ends trimmed and cut into 3 inch sized pieces
1 cup flour
1 tablespoon lemon zest
Salt & pepper to taste
About 4 cups vegetable oil

Read full recipe here

Spinach and Butternut Squash Gratin with Autumn Maple Sauce
from The Bruery Recipes Blog
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The Bruery's Autumn Maple is a beer brewed with yams, cinnamon, nutmeg, allspice, vanilla, molasses, and maple syrup and fermented with Belgian yeast.  You could substitute with a sweet, spicy pumpkin beer, as low as possible in hops character.

Ingredients

4 pounds of butternut squash, peeled (2 large ones should do the trick)
3 pounds of spinach, fresh or frozen (for this round I used fresh spinach, but next time I’ll use frozen. Way easier.)
1 small white onion, diced
3 garlic cloves, minced
1.5 tablespoons butter
1 recipe Autumn Maple sauce from above
1.5 cups grated cheese of your choice (2 if you want it really cheesy)  – Gruyere or Swiss work well
For the sauce
2 cups of the Bruery’s Autumn Maple
¼ cup all-purpose flour
4 tablespoons butter
2 cups whole milk
Pinch of nutmeg
1 tablespoon fresh thyme, chopped

Read the full recipe here

Beer and Sausage Stuffing
from Brandon Hernandez, on the Stone Brewing blog
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You can easily substitute with your favorite pale ale.

Ingredients
2 tbsp unsalted butter
1/2 pound spicy Italian sausage, crumbled
2 cups yellow onions, diced
1 cup leeks, white part only, thoroughly washed and diced
2 cups chicken stock
12 ounces Stone Pale Ale
2 tbsp fresh sage
2 tbsp fresh thyme
2 cups bread, diced and toasted to crouton consistency (preferably a combination of French and rye bread)
salt and fresh-ground pepper, to taste


Read the full recipe here


Bräuista's Beer Cheese Fondue Macaroni & Cheese
from The Bruery Recipes Blog
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This recipe was made with a home-brewed nut brown ale.  Any nut brown ale will do, as long as it isn't overly-hopped (most are not).  A stronger beer will add a stronger flavor to the dish.

Ingredients:
1 Package (16 Ounces) Gemelli Pasta
1/4 Cup Butter
2 Garlic Cloves, Minced
1/4 Cup All-Purpose Flour
1 Tbsp Ground Mustard
1 Tsp Salt
3/4 Tsp Fresh Ground Pepper
2 Cups Half And Half
1/2 Cup Heavy Cream
1 Cup Brown Ale
3 Cups (12 Ounces) Shredded Sharp Cheddar Cheese
2 Cups (8 Ounces) Shredded Fontina Cheese
2 Tbsp Fresh Grated Parmesan Cheese
6 Bacon Strips Thick Cut
2 Tbsp Butter
1 Cup Ritz Cracker Crumbs

Read the full recipe here

Stovetop Beer Mac and Cheese
from Parade
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This one is a simple, vegetarian mac and cheese which calls for a pale ale, but it might be interesting to experiment with different styles.  Because the beer doesn't simmer in the pot long, you don't need to worry too much about the hops bitterness becoming too concentrated.

Ingredients:

2 cups elbow macaroni
½ cup sour cream
1 large egg
⅔ cup pale ale beer
1 Tbsp cornstarch
4 Tbsp unsalted butter
2 Tbsp flour
8 oz cheddar cheese, fresh grated (pre-shredded has additives that prevents it from melting properly)
½ tsp black pepper
½ tsp smoked paprika
pinch cayenne pepper
¼ tsp salt

Read the full recipe here

Autumn Maple/Cinnamon Israeli Cous Cous with Napoleon of Sweet Potatoes and Maple/Brown Sugar Mascarpone
from The Bruery Recipes Blog
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The Bruery's Autumn Maple is a beer brewed with yams, cinnamon, nutmeg, allspice, vanilla, molasses, and maple syrup and fermented with Belgian yeast.  You could substitute with a sweet, spicy pumpkin beer, as low as possible in hops character.

Ingredients
2 cups Israeli cous cous
2 ½ cups Autumn Maple beer
½ cup vegetable stock
1 tsp cinnamon For the Sweet Potatoes
2 large sweet potatoes, in ¼ slices lengthwise
2 tbsp brown sugar
2 tbsp butter For the Mascarpone
¼ cup mascarpone
2 tsp ginger powder
1 tbsp brown sugar For the Autumn Maple Sauce
2 cups Autumn Maple beer
¼ cup maple syrup
¼ cup brown sugar

Read the full recipe here

Desserts and Breads


Spent Grain Coddodrillo Bread with Brown Ale
from The Bruery Recipes Blog
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For the sponge
1 package (2.5 teaspoons) active dry yeast
¾ cup dark beer, at room temperature (I used Lost Coast’s Downtown Brown for the nutty flavor, The Bruery's Rugbrød would also work great)
3 cups cool water
1 cup spent grain flour (dried spent grain processed to a fine powder in a food processor)
2.5 cups all-purpose flour

For the dough
3 cups all-purpose flour
1 cup spent grain
1 tablespoon sea salt

Read the full recipe here

Stacey's Bread Pudding with Spiced Black Tuesday Sauce
from The Bruery Recipes Blog
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The Bruery Black Tuesday is a bourbon barrel-aged imperial stout.  If you substitute, I would stick to the bourbon barrel imperial stouts because it's that nice warm bourbon flavor that makes it.

Ingredients:
8 large eggs
3 1/2 cups whole milk
2 cups sugar
1 1/2 cups whipping cream
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 1-lb loaf of cinnamon challah or cinnamon raisin bread cut into 1 inch cubes
1 cup golden raisins

Read the full recipe here

Great Northern Porter Bread Pudding
from Summit Brewing Company
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Can substitute any porter, or consider a chocolate porter or a low-IBU chocolate stout.

Ingredients

1 12oz bottle of Summit Great Northern Porter
1/2 cup whipping cream
1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons sugar
1 1/4 cups semisweet or dark chocolate chips
4 large eggs
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
1 baguette cut into roughly one-inch cubes.

Read the full recipe here


Autumn Maple Beer Crispy Treats
from The Bruery Recipes Blog
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The Bruery's Autumn Maple is a beer brewed with yams, cinnamon, nutmeg, allspice, vanilla, molasses, and maple syrup and fermented with Belgian yeast.  You could substitute with a sweet, spicy pumpkin beer, as low as possible in hops character.

Ingredients for the Salted Beer Caramel Sauce
1/2 cup sugar
2 tablespoons water
1 tablespoon light corn syrup
1/4 cup heavy cream
2 tablespoons butter
1 teaspoon sea salt
1/4 cup The Bruery Autumn Maple beer

Read full recipe here

Bacon Maple Pecan Bars
from Brandon Hernandez, on the Stone Brewing blog
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You can, of course, substitute with another Russian imperial stout.

Ingredients for the Filling

1 cup Stone Imperial Russian Stout
1/2 cup unsalted butter
2 cups pecans, chopped
2 cups light brown sugar
1/2 cup pure maple syrup
1/4 cup heavy cream
2 eggs, beaten
5 strips bacon, cooked and chopped

Read the full recipe here

Beer Brownies
from The Kitchy Kitchen
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This recipe sounds amazing, with the addition of cinnamon and cayenne to give it that Aztec chocolate charm...and there's a lot of flexibility with what kind of beer you can use - basically, whatever your favorite dessert beer is.

Ingredients
3 ½ oz dark chocolate (70% cocoa and up)
1 tablespoon instant espresso
8 tablespoons of butter
4 eggs, at room temp
1 cup white sugar
1 cup brown sugar, packed
1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder (I used Valrhona) 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
1 cup flour
2 teaspoons vanilla paste (or extract)
1/2 cup malty beer (I used the Bruery's Rugbrod, a Danish Rye Beer, but a Belgian Quad, a Stout, or a Porter would work)
1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
1 cup walnuts, halved and toasted lightly

Read the full recipe here

Pumpkin Beer Bread
from The Bruery Recipes Blog
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This recipe was originally make with The Bruery Autumn Maple, but you could substitute any high-quality, rich, spicy beer - such as a pumpkin beer - with a low IBU.

Ingredients
2 cup all purpose flour
1 cup whole wheat pastry flour
2 Tbsp sugar
1 Tbsp baking powder
1 tsp salt
12 ounces beer
½ cup pumpkin puree (canned or made from fresh)
2 Tbsp butter, melted

Read the full recipe here

Black Butte Porter Spice Cake
from the Deschutes Brewery newsletter
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Can substitute any good porter...

Ingredients
3 cups all-purpose flour
2 1/2 tsp baking soda
1 tsp salt
2 1/2 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp nutmeg
1/4 tsp ground cloves
1 cup sugar
1 cup vegetable oil
1 cup molasses
1 C Black Butte Porter

Read the full recipe here


Autumn Maple Oat Scones
from The Bruery Recipes Blog
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The Bruery's Autumn Maple is a beer brewed with yams, cinnamon, nutmeg, allspice, vanilla, molasses, and maple syrup and fermented with Belgian yeast.  You could substitute with a sweet, spicy pumpkin beer, as low as possible in hops character.

Ingredients
1 ¾ cup flour
½ cup whole wheat flour
½ cup oats
1 tablespoons baking power
1 tablespoon sugar
1 teaspoon salt
½ pound + 3 tablespoons butter, cold, unsalted and diced
1 + ¼ cup autumn maple (to be used separately)
2 eggs, lightly beaten
½ cup raisins (optional)
1 egg, beaten 1 tablespoon of water (egg wash)
3/4 cup powder sugar
½ teaspoon vanilla

Read the full recipe here

Autumn Maple Sweet Potato Cupcakes
from The Bruery Recipes Blog
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The Bruery's Autumn Maple is a beer brewed with yams, cinnamon, nutmeg, allspice, vanilla, molasses, and maple syrup and fermented with Belgian yeast.  You could substitute with a sweet, spicy pumpkin beer, as low as possible in IBUs.

Cupcake Ingredients

3 medium sweet potatoes, baked, skinned and mashed 1 stick (1/2 cup) unsalted butter, room temperature 1/2 cup granulated sugar 1/2 cup light brown sugar 2 large eggs 1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour 1 teaspoons baking powder 1/4 teaspoon baking soda 1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon 1/4 teaspoon salt 1/4 cup buttermilk 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract 2 tbsp Autumn Maple beer syrup

Read full recipe here

Hungry yet? Get in that kitchen!

 
 
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Zioglbier, paired with fried mortadella.
Before last night, I was a virgin to beer-pairing events.  This is not for lack of want by any means, but a product of the fact that for the better part of the past twenty-five years, I've been either a vegetarian or a pescatarian.  Have you ever seen a vegetarian beer pairing event?  I didn't think so.  I read that Stone Brewing did a vegan event a while back - god bless them - but that's the only time I have ever heard of such a thing.

Is it for lack of demand?  I don't think so, even in Portland - a place where people will wrap anything in bacon.  Three of my closest beer-geek friends are vegetarians and I would bet they've never been to any beer-paired dinners either.  I found myself one night complaining about the absence of vegetarian options at beer events to a couple of people when one of them said to me, "Why don't you just organize one?"

Because I am neither chef nor professional brewer, I had never even thought of such a thing...but why not?  So, I've taken on this challenge.  I have a couple of very talented (potentially) interested parties but have no idea where to begin.  Where does one begin with a new challenge?  Education.  Research.  Which leads me to the reason I found myself ingesting cow, pig, chicken and duck; pate and rillettes; liver, heart and breast last night.  Yes, I am taking one for the team.  I've signed up for multiple beer-pairing events - marrow and all - in order to better understand how these events happen and what makes them work - or not work.

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Presentation was impressive
I'd also never been to Imperial Bottle Shop and Taproom before and was really impressed by the owners' engagement with the customers -and despite the pervasive, new-development concrete, which always puts me off a little, and the slightly too-bright lighting (all the better to see the color of the beer though!) it was a pretty inviting atmosphere. 

The presentation of the food - provided by Laurelhurst Market - was stellar (except for serving on paper plates) and the pairing with The Commons beer was very well done - the flavor intensity of food and beer were SPOT-ON, and the flavors complimented each other well.

I have to admit, while I admire the shit out of The Commons for their creativity and experimentation (and they're one of my favorite Oregon breweries), I haven't liked ALL of their beers.  That being said, all five beers at the pairing last night was excellent and clearly mindfully-selected. 

I'd already tried three of the beers before: Madrone (a dry-hopped amber saison with a lot more flavor than the traditional version, a great balance, a touch of funky fruitiness, a mild sweetness with a dry, spicy finish), Walnut (a roasty Belgian-style porter with a dry, slightly bitter finish - much like a walnut, in fact), and the Ortucky Common (their collaboration with De Garde - another one of my favorite Oregon breweries.  This one is a unique dark rye sour, a bit of toasted chocolate and a lot of sour throughout).  All great beers.  You can often find bottles of Madrone in stores and I suggest picking it up. 

I've been wanting to try Fleur de Ferme for a while, and this was a treat which did not disappoint me.  Fleur is a dark farmhouse ale brewed with lavender, hibiscus and chamomile - and, as one might expect there are beautiful, bright floral, herbal notes which are well-balanced by a dark roastiness.  Probably not for everyone (in reviews, people seem to either love or hate it - which is usually a sign of a truly unique beer).  I, however, love the addition of lavender to certain styles of beer and I think The Commons pulled it off really well.

The biggest surprise of the evening (besides the fact that the beef heart was delicious) was the unfiltered Zioglbier, an obscure style from Franconian Germany.  It poured a hazy, medium-golden orange with great head retention and lacing.  The aroma was subtle, with distinct lager yeast character and a slight fruitiness.  The flavor was a lot more pronounced, refreshing with citrus and fruit, a distinctive lager yeast character - a slight bready malt profile, but not overpowering - and a great earthy, spicy finish.  I usually don't like lagers (don't judge me, I'm trying), but this one was exceptional - and the woman next to me said exactly the same thing.  If you have a chance, check this one out.

Thanks to the fine folks at the Imperial Bottle Shop and Taproom.  Check them out.