Sunday, March 24, 2013


So yesterday I decided enough daytime sobriety....let's do some day drinking!  Headed over to one of my favorite watering holes, Logan's Alley here in Grand Rapids for a quick one.  Logan's always has great craft beer picks on tap, and they have a HUGE bottle collection.  For some reason, I don't think I've ever, ever, in all my years drinking here, gotten a bottle of beer at Logan's.  Only drafts.  I wonder why that is?

Well, most likely, it's because they always have such good ones on tap, I never look beyond the chalkboard.  No need.  And since I really like stouts and porters (especially in the winter) I always look for those on tap first, because in my mind they just taste better on line.

Yesterday was actually sunny here in GR, and I was feeling the need for some hops.  It could be I wanted to match my bitter mood yesterday, for despite the sun, I wasn't feeling too happy.  I know, I know, I'm always pretty on, right?  Not yesterday.  So what's that taste?  Oh, yeah, bitter.

After checking the chalk board, I was struggling.  I didn't want to get was 1:00 in the afternoon after all.  I just wanted to enjoy a couple low alcohol would be pertinent.  I'm kind of skinny, so it doesn't take much.  This is why I drank Guinness all the time before the craft beer boom...nice low booze rating with big flavor.  So the lowest ABV on the board was Short's Reverend La Ale at 4%...surprisingly low, especially from Mr. Extreme Beer, Joe Shorts.

After I took I slug, I was even more surprised.  Although low in the ABV's, this one kicked me right in the face with the hops.  Bold, citrusy, bitter, cold and crisp, this beer is a good one.

This brings me to the point of this post. Earlier this year, I gave my 5 craft beer predictions on the Brew Trails facebook page, just for fun.  I thought I might go more in depth with how these are panning out throughout the year.  One of my predictions was that brewers would start to move away from the super extreme beers we have loved in the past, and move more towards session beers.  This was  a great example of a good session beer, low alcohol, but no compromise on flavor.  I've had a few others I've loved in the past, one that comes to mind is the Solid Gold on tap at Founders during the summer months.  I drank that one all day at Founder's Fest just so I could maintain some semblance of decency on camera, and worked perfectly in that capacity.

So here's to spring and summer drinking, and to lots more sessions of drinking good craft beer.  If you have a favorite session beer, share it in the comments!

Friday, March 15, 2013

St. Patrick's Day Chocolate Cake


So I wanted to make sure you all got the recipe for the chocolate stout cake that I made today on Eight West.  According to TDB...that's what my husband calls Terry DeBoer....this is one chocolatey cake.  I agree.  Isn't that the point?  If you are going to make something that's called chocolate cake,  it better damn well taste like some serious chocolate.  And the beautiful thing about this cake is that the stout in it actually makes it taste even more chocolatey.  It also helps provide a lot of moisture, and give the cake some lift.  Of course, WE know how magical beer is, but I like to introduce it's amazing properties to the masses as well.  Eight West is good for  that.

So the could make this all in one bowl with a spoon if you wanted to, it's that easy.  Now the recipe calls for stirring the dry ingredients together in one bowl, then adding it to another bowl...blah blah blah.  In the real baking world, just dump all the shit together and mix.  That doesn't always work, but it does for this cake.  Pour it into some prepared 9 inch pans.  The original recipe called for three 9 inch pans.  I couldn't find my third one, so instead I poured about 3/4 the batter into one pan, and the rest into the other one.  When they are done, cut the fatty cake into two pieces, and leave the thin one alone. Viola!  Three layers.

The icing for this cake is NO JOKE.  One pound of chocolate.  It's good.  Really really good.  I find it hard to actually put it on the cake, I'm always busy sampling it.  And don't buy crappy Baker's chocolate.  Get something good.  Your cake will thank you.

So really all you care about is WHAT BEER DID YOU USE IN THE CAKE???  I know, me too.  I would NEVER recommend this, but I used New Holland Dragon's Milk.  WHAT??  It's not that I don't love this beer....I do...I love love love it.  I drank so much of it when we taped at New Holland that I think I started to sweat out Dragon's Milk (it was in the summer, and kind of hot if I remember).  But to spend that much money on a beer to cook with, I can't recommend.  Also, the beautiful nuances of that beer are lost during the baking process.  

So why the hell did I bake with it then?  Because this week, I had a beer sampling at Aquinas College for an upcoming event.  I had a lot of opened beer left over, and a girl can only drink so much.  So, after a few days, not so great for drinking, but PERFECT for cooking.  In fact, if this ever happens to you, you can freeze the beer in ziploc bags and save it to use later.  This is how I happened to have Dragon's Milk to cook with.  And I will say that it was spectacular in this cake.  But any stout, or even a porter, will work like a dream in this recipe.

So get your bake on!  Try something new, maybe not so traditional, but awesome for St. Patrick's day.  
Here's a picture of my friend Barak trying the cake, while watching me on TV.  Did I mention he's crazy?
Happy St. Patrick's Day!

Sherman's Stout Cake

1 cup stout beer
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter
3/4 cup cocoa powder

2 cups all purpose flour
2 cups sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
2 large eggs
3/4 cup sour cream
1 teaspoon vanilla

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Spray two 9 inch round cake pans with pan spray.  Cut out two parchment rounds to fit the pans.  Lay them in the pans, spray again, and then dust with flour.  Tap out any excess flour.

In a saucepan, bring the stout and butter to a simmer.  Add the cocoa powder and stir until the mixture is smooth.  Let cool slightly.

In a bowl, whisk together the flour, sugar, soda and salt.  In another bowl, using an electric mixer if you want, mix the eggs and the sour cream.  Stir in the stout mixture and blend well.  Stir in the flour mixture and blend until completely combined.  Don't over mix the batter, you are mixing them totally together, but then that's it.  Transfer the batter to the prepared pans.  Put about 3/4 the mix in one pan, and 1/4 the mix in the other.  You will be cutting one cake in half, and leaving the other cake whole, to get a total of three layers.  Or if you happen to have three 9 inch cake pans, you can prepare all three and then divide the batter equally.  Place the cakes in the oven.  The thin cake will be done in about 20 minutes.  The thicker one will take about 35 minutes.  Either way, when they spring back in the middle, they are done.  Let cool.  Cut the thick cake in half.

Stout Icing

2 cups heavy cream
1 pound bittersweet chocolate, chopped
4 ounces unsalted butter, diced
1 cup powdered sugar
1 cup sour cream
1/4 cup stout beer

Heat the cream to a simmer in a saucepan set over medium heat.  Place the chocolate and butter in a bowl.  Pour the hot cream over the chocolate and let sit for a few minutes.  Whisk to combine them.  Add the sugar and whisk well.  Stir in the sour cream and the beer.  Let the icing sit until it is spreadable, usually about an hour.

Place 1 cake layer on a plate, top with about 2/3 cup icing.  Top with second cake layer, more icing, then the third layer.  Spread a thin crumb coat over the top and let sit until firm, or refrigerate until firm.  Spread the remaining icing over the cake.

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Here it is!

Well, here it is!  My first blog post!

Not that anyone out there is going to read this, however.  But, in my never ending desire for blatant self promotion...all for the good of the Great American Brew Trail, of course.....I've been told that this might be a good idea.  We shall see.

Now that being said, this could be like a diary.  The deepest and darkest secrets of the girl who drinks beer on TV.  It might read something like this:

Today, I actually took a shower, cause I had to.   I put on my whore makeup.  I drank some beer.  On TV.  I drank some more beer.  Not on TV.

OK, I'm just kidding.  Maybe I'll use this to show you all how crazy my life seems to be when I'm not drinking beer on TV....and share my love of beer, food, friends and family with you all at the same time.  So enjoy my musings little ones, and hopefully this will be just one more step in the long line to second season!