You are currently browsing the monthly archive for February 2007.

I recently had the opportunity to have a sneak-peek of Brooklyn Brewery’s new still-fill bottling line, along with a preview tasting of the first beer soon to be released from the new bottling line, “Local 1”, courtesy of brewmaster Garrett Oliver.  This excellent bottle-conditioned Belgian-style ale is due to be released at the end of February.

My account of this great event can be found in February  issue of the Malted Barley Appreciation Society newsletter.  Just click on the link below:

http://hbd.org/mbas/pdf/feb07.pdf

Cheers!

Advertisements

While Germany and the Czech Republic are wonderful historic centers of brewing, and brewing in the U.S. has grown by leaps and bounds since the start of the craft beer movement, ask any true beer connoisseur what the ideal destination is for beer, and the reply will most likely be Belgium. The relatively tiny country of Belgium (about the size of Maryland) is home to well over a hundred breweries, among them some of the most renowned, unique and eclectic in the world. Saison, lambic, gueze, dubbel, tripel, and witbier are among over a dozen styles initially created by Belgian brewers.

It’s no wonder that many American brewers have looked to Belgium for inspiration. Phil Markowski, Brewmaster at Southampton Publick House, has created his own take on a classic Belgian Wit (a.k.a. White) beer. Southampton Double White Ale is essentially a double-strength (7.2% ABV) rendition of the traditional Belgian wheat beer brewed with orange and coriander. It has a perfume-like floral and spice aroma, and a rich golden slightly hazy hue. A taste starts with clover-honey sweetness, followed by the distinctive citrus and spice flavor, with notes of white raisins. Tiny bubbles of carbonation lighten the slightly syrupy mouthfeel. Altogether, a complex, rich, yet refreshing brew. Typically released during summer, the relatively high alcohol means it will keep just fine through winter.

And while beer may be the beverage of choice in Belgium, the national dish of Belgium is mussels. So what better pairing for a Belgian-style ale than mussels steamed in beer?

Mussels in White Ale
(Makes 2 main courses, or 4 appetizer portions)

3 strips of bacon, chopped
1/2 stick (1/4 cup) unsalted butter
1 medium onion, chopped
3/4 cup chopped fennel bulb
1 can diced fire-roasted tomatoes, drained
3 garlic cloves, minced
1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
1 bay leaf
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
2 cups of beer
(I used 1 cup Southampton Double White and 1 cup amber lager, but feel free to experiment with different Belgian-style ales)
2 lbs mussels, scrubbed with beards removed
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
2 tablespoons sour cream

Cook bacon in heavy pot over medium-high heat until browned, then add butter. Heat the butter until foam subsides. Then add onion, fennel, tomatoes, garlic, thyme, bay leaf, salt and pepper to the pot, stirring occasionally until vegetables get soft, about 5 minutes.

Add beer and bring to a gentle boil. Add mussels to the pot, and cover, stirring occasionally. Once mussels open wide, in about 5 minutes, remove open mussels from pot and transfer to a bowl. Discard any unopened mussels. Remove pot of remaining broth from heat, and add mustard and sour cream, whisking until combined. Divide mussels between 2-4 bowls, and then pour the broth over the top.

Perfect with a glass of Double White, or whatever Belgian-style beer you used for the broth. This makes a hearty, warming, but not too heavy meal on a cold winter’s day, but is equally enjoyable any time of year.

Beer Quote

“The Good Lord has changed water into wine, so how can drinking beer be a sin.”
                                                                    – Sign near a Belgian Monastery