Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Tuesday Boozeday: BEER-witzer!

Tuesday Boozeday continues......

Had to take last week off, my apologies, due to the last minute arrival of friends from out of town, unexpected and totally welcome.  But we are back with the latest edition, this time featuring a twist on one of my families favorite cocktails, The French 75.  Now a traditional French 75 is made with gin, simple syrup, lemon juice and then topped off with champagne.  My family loves a good cocktail, in fact, I could pour a perfect martini by the time I was six (no comments, please, my parents are great!).  One Christmas, we were all home from college with friends over.  We decided to mix up a batch of these from a recipe that we found in Gourmet (my mom was an avid subscriber).  The next day,  we promptly renamed them HOWITZERS, because they kicked our ass.  So imbibe with caution, this is a sipper for celebrations.

I've renamed it the beerwitzer, since we are going to sub beer in for the champagne.  I always have at least three bottles of champagne in the fridge (because there is always a reason to celebrate SOMETHING), but for some beer is usually more available.  I suggest a nice Belgian style ale for this one, that subtle sweetness and nice yeastiness is going to be a great match....as well as a nice contrast to the herbiness of the gin and tartness of the lemon.  I picked Farmhand from Brewery Vivant for it's pleasant lemon quality, nice carbonation, and general drinkability.  That's me outside Vivant when we taped the GABT there, oh so long ago.


1 ounce gin (I used +New Holland Brewing Company Knickerbocker)
1/2 ounce simple syrup or agave syrup
1/2 ounce lemon juice
Belgian style beer (I used Brewery Vivant Farmhand)

Mix up the gin, syrup and lemon juice in a shaker filled with ice.  Pour into a glass, and top with the beer. Sip gently.

Tuesday, July 1, 2014

Tuesday Boozeday! Momma Says Knock You Out!

Momma Says Knock You Out

When making a cocktail with beer in it, it is imperative that you choose the right beer.  This is where people tend to get a bit flummoxed.  There are so many craft beers to choose from, how do you know if it's right?  My advice is to practice, practice, practice.  Try lots of different beers in different drinks to see how they react, and what flavors they complement.  Mix a cocktail, split it in half, and try two versions with two different beers.  However, if you just don't have the time for all this experimenting (or the tolerance), you should pick a couple "go to" beers.  These are beers that will pretty much go with anything, because of their light flavor profile.  This is not to say these are LITE beers, far from it!  They are styles that are traditionally lighter in the hops realm, mellow in the malt, crisp and easy drinking.

One of my go to beers for making a cocktail is +New Holland Brewing Company's Full Circle Kolsch.  Now, I know that a true kolsch must be brewed in Cologne.....but despite this, this beer is true to style.  And a style like this is actually pretty hard to nail....there is nothing to hide behind, no wacky flavors to cover up bad brewing,  not a lot of hops to overwhelm the palate.  It's straw colored, crisp, full flavored, and nice and bubbly.  Perfect for your cocktail.

So New Holland has this new "brew", part of their spirits line.  Clockwork Orange, an orange flavored liqueur with spices.  It's pretty strong...this is NO triple sec.  Lots of booze up front, with subtle hints of orange and just a breath of spice.  Hence the name of this rum punch.  Enjoy a  pitcher of this over the Fourth, and Go 'Merica!

Momma Says Knock You Out

To make a pitcher:

1 cup rum (whatever kind you like)
1/2 cup Clockwork Orange (or triple sec)
3 cups coconut water
2 cups orange mango juice
1/2 cup grenadine
1/4 cup lime juice
a couple bottles of beer (light, like a pilsner or kolsch)

In a pitcher, mix everything together except for the beer.  Pour into individual glasses filled with ice, then top with about 1/2 cup beer each.  Serve with a straw.

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Tuesday, Boozeday! Beer cocktails with Amy, every Tuesday!


Beer cocktails with Amy, every Tuesday!

So I couldn't find a picture of a margarita in my files, but I DID find a picture of my two favorite ladies to DRINK margaritas with.  We've indulged all over the country, and in Mexico on a hair raising trip that we unanimously agree was the dumbest (and funnest) thing we have ever done.  If I'm going to have one at home, I really prefer the BEER-RITA.  The beer cuts the alcohol (and I'm not being facetious).  With something as cloying as sour mix, and strong as tequila, adding a beer, full of carbonation, cuts the strength, the sugar, and the booze, with something a little lighter, and makes the whole drink much more refreshing.  Any light lager is going to work, you don't want any bold flavors  to compete with the drink.  This is honestly when I clean out my fridge, and get rid of any swill beers that rogue friends have brought by.  If I had to buy a beer to make these, the new Cerveza de Julie from +Short's Brewing Company, with it's hint of lime, would be perfect.  Now I could squeeze my own limes, and make syrup, but let's face it, it's summer!  I'm lazy!  Keep it easy!

 1 can frozen limeade
-Dump this into your pitcher.

Fill the can up with 
-1 can tequila (nothing fancy)
-1/2 can triple sec

Stir this up with the limeade.

Pour in one beer.

Serve this crazy concoction over tons of ice, sprinkle some salt on the top, maybe float a lime slice.

Dream of Mexico.  But not of that crazy bus trip that we thought we were going to die on.

Friday, May 30, 2014

Asparagus Risotto


Love going to the farmer's market to get fresh vegetables?  Do you always come home with WAY TOO MUCH?  I do, every time!  I just get so excited at all the cool things there that I just can't help myself.  Then I get home and think, now what?  Asparagus is one of my big weaknesses, and when it's in season here in Michigan, I go a little crazy.  We will eat it every single night during it's short season, so I need lots of recipes to go along with all of those spears.  Here is a favorite of mine, which of course, also uses beer.  Enjoy!

Asparagus Risotto

1 pound fresh asparagus, trimmed, and cut into 2 inch pieces

6 cups chicken stock
olive oil
1 large onion, chopped
2 cups arborio rice
1/4 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
1 bottle beer, wheat, pilsner, or kolsch
1 lemon
2 tablespoons parsley
3 tablespoons butter
1/2 cup grated parmesan cheese
salt and pepper

Bring a large pot of water to a boil and add 2 teaspoons salt.  Prepare a bowl with ice water in it and have next to the stove.  Also get a colander and place in the sink.  When the water boils,  add the asparagus and cook for about 2-3 minutes, or until bright green and slightly tender.  Drain in the colander, then plunge the asparagus into the ice water to stop the cooking process.  When cool, drain from the ice water and set aside.

Place the chicken broth in a saucepan and bring to a simmer.  Have a soup ladle ready by the stove.

In a large pot, saute the onion in some olive oil until soft and translucent.  Add the rice and cook until the rice is opaque, about 2 minutes.  Add the nutmeg.  Pour in the beer, and bring to a simmer, stirring.  When the beer is absorbed, start adding the broth a ladle full at a time. Stir after each addition until the liquid is absorbed.  You may not use all the broth, you want to cook the rice until it is creamy and slightly al dente.  This process will probably take you at least 30 minutes.  When the rice is done, grate the lemon zest into the dish, then squeeze in some juice.  Add the parsley, butter and parmesan cheese and stir to combine.  Season with salt and pepper.

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Brewery Vivant Zaison Release

One of the (many) things that I love about craft beer are the seasonal releases that breweries put out.  I have many “go to” beers that I habitually grab off the shelves and am always happy with those choices.  But the beers that get me really excited are the ones that are only available at certain times during the year, the ones I look forward to, the ones I have to search out.  This week, Brewery Vivant, a Grand Rapids brewery, releases their spring seasonal, Zaison.

Zaison follows all of Brewery Vivant’s beers by being “Belgian inspired”.  Saison style beers are traditonally brewed in the southern region of Belgium as a way to welcome spring.  Vivant’s version is an Imperial Saison, meaning not only does it have that distinct Belgium taste from the yeast used, it’s also higher in alcohol. The term “imperial” in American brewing is used to imply big, bold beers, usually brewed with double or triple the amount of grains and or hops.  All this malt means more alcohol, and in the case of Zaison it clocks in at 9.0% ABV (alcohol by volume).  Which means watch it!  It’ll pack a punch!

Enhanced with tellicherry black peppercorns and orange peel, this is a delicious beer, especially with food.  Try it with barbecue for a Belgian twist on a classic American dish, or go simple and let it shine with a well curated cheese plate.  And be sure to use a tulip glass for this special beer, it will concentrate all of those amazing esters and really bring out the flavor.

You can grab a four pack of cans of Brewery Vivant’s Zasion starting Tuesday May 20 at D&W Fresh Market.  There are also tons of fun release parties all around the state:

May 20th - ZAISON RELEASE at Brewery Vivant on Cherry Street & statewide!
May 20th - Zaison launch party, Speak-EZ, Grand Rapids
May 20th - Zaison launch party, Hunter's Ale House, Mt Pleasant
May 20th - Zaison launch party, Clubhouse BFD, Rochester Hills
(leading into a week of funk including special tapping of Escoffier ('11) and Coq D'Or (Golden Bretta Ale)
May 20th - Zaison launch party, Alamo Draft House, Kalamazoo
May 20th - Zaison launch party, Zingerman's Roadhouse, Ann Arbor
(rumor has it the Zaison recipe was concieved right here while enjoying delicious roast beast!)
May 21st - Zaison launch party & tap takeover @ Crunchy's, East Lansing

Friday, February 21, 2014

Winter Beer Fest 2014, My List

My Top Tastes at Winter Beer Fest 2014

Christmas + Super Bowl = Winter Beer Fest
While many, many people were disappointed this year with the ticketing process for Winter Beer Fest (myself included), if you got a golden ticket, you are one excited person right now.  Beer Fest is TOMORROW...and I know that I feel like it's Christmas Eve.  If you aren't going, be sure to check out the many events that are happening around town (the brewer's breakfasts at Brewery Vivant and Logan's Alley would be my picks), or pick up some Michigan beer on sale this week at +D&W Fresh Market .

These are the beers that I'm looking forward to tomorrow.  I have never had a plan at Beer Fest, I always just kind of go with the flow, hit the shortest line, try something totally new, or visit my brewing friends and have them pick.  There's a little bit of all of this in my list.  Have fun tomorrow!  Say hi if you see me!  And get a ride home!

Mt. Pleasant Brewing Company-Peach Gruit
-Head brewer Kim loves to share the story of Gruit, and brews up a couple different styles to show his love.  Not only is Kim super fun to hang out with (you can see the evidence above of us laughing our heads off at Summer Beer Fest), but his Peach Gruit tastes just like summer.  Fruit beers aren't always my favorite, but this one is so fresh and downright peachy that it will be just the thing to shake off tomorrows chill.  The real treat, however, is to get to talk gruits with Kim!

Tapistry Brewery- ANYTHING because I haven't been there yet, and that is a shame!  But I might go for the Dubbel Standard with candy sugar.  Let me know what to try here!

Greenbush Brewing- Vanderbush with Vandermill's Cider
-Love love love +Greenbush Brewing Co  (here's Scott and me), anything they make is delish.  I like this collaborative beer/cider hybrid.  I think hybrid beers are a new trend, with cider and even wine in the mix.  Interesting and different, get in line for anything from these guys EARLY as they will have long ones, with good reason.

Falling Down Beer Co.- Ninja Chicken
-A beer I got to try with +John Gonzalez on our search for Michigan's Best Brewery, but haven't had since.  There are LOTS of smaller breweries that don't distribute, or don't distribute where you live.  Beer Fest is chance to revisit favorites, or try something not available here.  Check these guys out, and note that NO chickens were harmed in the making of this beer.

New Holland Brewing Company- Blackbeerd's Sweet Potato Stout
-This beer just sounds weird.  Reason alone to try it!

@Wolverine Brewing Company-Gulo Gulo IPL
-From my friend the Beer Wench (pictured above) comes a unique offering.  An India Pale LAGER.  If you know anything about beer, you know that running an all lager brewery is CRAZY, at least financially.  I love the clean crisp taste of their beers, and since they are not widely available yet on the west side of the state, I can't wait to have my favorite tomorrow.  And hang with the WENCH.

Witch's Hat-anything barrel aged
-When +John Gonzalez  and I were on the tour, we loved the different barrel aged beers that Witch's Hat offered.  Especially after we saw the size of their aging room/ brewing facitlity/ brew pub.  Who says you need a lot of space to make great beers?  Not this brewery!

+Kuhnhenn Brewing Co LLC - DRIPA
-Kuhnehenn is also not readily available (yet) on this side of the state.  And their beers are carefully crafted, amazingly awesome, delicious beers.  The DRIPA they served us on our search haunts me to this day, it was one of my all time favorites.  Can't wait to have it again!

So there it is!  It's a very personal list...hitting up my friends, old favorites, new tastes, and beers I can't get here in GR.  And if I actually make it to these beers, it will be a miracle.  You'll find me with these two chicka's, my sis and my BFF, and we tend to get distracted, get laughing, get talking....and the next thing you know, we don't know what's what.  But that's the fun of Beer Fest: great beers, great friends, great weather!

See you tomorrow!

Monday, January 6, 2014

A New Year, a New YOU!


One thing I will never, ever tell you to do is DIET.  I hate diets.  So I hate all the new year's resolutions that involve a diet.  They don't work.  Like, not ever.  I don't care what kind you are on.  The key to being healthy and to being happy with your body is to just eat pretty good ALL OF THE TIME.  And to treat your self when you want to.  And eat when you want to, just don't eat too much.  In other words, to just live good.  And the rest will follow.  A true lifestyle is much easier to maintain than some crazy diet.  So just make good choices most of the time, and you won't ever need a new you, you'll just love the you you are!

So here is a go to salad that is full of lots of healthy kale.  But I really just like the way this tastes, which is why I eat it.  It just happens to also be good for me.  Pick up some kale at +Family Fare Supermarkets  and be sure to totally submerge it in water and swish it around a while.  Then just let it float, while all the dirt sinks.  Kale is usually pretty sandy, and you don't want a gritty salad.  Then put is in a salad spinner to get rid of all the water.  Once you make the salad, it actually gets better after sitting for a little bit, so feel free to make it ahead.  And make sure you use real parmesan cheese, NEVER EVER buy the green can!

A great, healthy, seasonal salad for the new year, this one is packed with vitamins and flavor!

Amy Sherman's Dark Green Salad

about 10--12 cups dark leafy greens, like kale, swiss chard, or spinach
1 large shallot, minced
1 tablespoon dijon mustard
pinch of sugar
1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil
1/4 cup lemon juice
1 teaspoon worcestshire sauce
salt and pepper
chopped toasted pistachios
shaved parmesan cheese

Rinse the greens well, then thinly slice into strips.  Mix the shallot, mustard, sugar, oil, lemon and worcestshire sauce together, season with salt and pepper.  Toss with the greens, then lay them out on a platter.   Top with nuts and cheese and serve.