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Oct 25, 2014

Beer Break

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Beer Break Vol. 2, No. 15
Beer, food and football

Jan. 17, 2002

As the pro football playoffs wind toward the Super Bowl, watching each game becomes more of an event. Perhaps you are hosting a party, or maybe you just want to whip up something to have while watching the game at home or a friend's house. Here are a few recipes from brewpubs that should work well.

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Each includes beer suggestions, but if you want to be particularly creative then seek out local beers from the cities of participating teams (collecting them if you travel or asking friends who travel to do the same). It may be too late to suggest this, if for instance you live in Arizona and want to serve Goose Island Brewing's IPA or Honkers Ale from Chicago, but you'll end up trying some fine beers you might not otherwise experience.

BEER CHEESE SPREAD
Wynkoop Brewing Co., Denver, Colo.

This is a great cheese spread that's quick and easy to prepare. Wynkoop suggests using its Railyard Ale in the spread, but any full-bodied ale can be used. Its strong flavor can enough to stand up to the biggest, hoppiest beers, even a barley wine. Serve it with crackers, warm pretzels or beer bread.

6 ounces cream cheese, softened
6 ounces blue cheese, crumbled
12 ounces sharp white cheddar cheese, grated
1/4 cup minced green onions
1 teaspoon paprika
1/2 teaspoon celery seed
1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
1/2 teaspoon Tabasco sauce
1/2 cup ale

1. Combine all ingredients except beer in the bowl of a food processor or electric mixer. Mix or blend until everything is well incorporated. 2. Slowly add beer while processor or mixer is running. Place mixture into a crock or serving bowl, and chill for at least 2 hours.

Yield: 1-1/2 pounds

BISTRO RED BELL PEPPER HUMMUS
The Bitter End, Austin, Texas

This recipe is very easy to make. The roasted red bell pepper gives it a sweeter flavor than traditional hummus and a beautiful pale red color. It should be served with toasted pita bread triangles or crackers. A Belgian wit beer, a rye beer, or an amber ale all go with this appetizer.

1 cup dried chickpeas (garbanzo beans)
2 whole red bell peppers, roasted
1/4 pound garlic, roasted
1 tablespoon chopped fresh basil
1 tablespoon chopped fresh Italian parsley
1 tablespoon fresh thyme
1/2 teaspoon dried cumin
Juice and zest of 1 whole lemon
1/4 cup tahini (sesame seed paste)
1 cup olive oil
Salt and pepper to taste

1. Rinse and clean the chickpeas. Soak in water overnight.
2. Drain the chickpeas, and rinse several times with fresh water. Place the chickpeas in a large pot. Fill with water so that it covers the chickpeas by 1 1/2 inches. Simmer for 1 1/2 hours or until tender. Remove from the heat, and let cool. Strain, reserving the cooking liquid.
3. Place the chickpeas in a food processor or blender with the red bell peppers, garlic, basil, parsley, thyme, cumin, lemon juice and zest, tahini, and oil. Process until smooth, about 5 minutes.
Season with salt and pepper. Adjust the consistency with the cooking liquid if needed.

Yield: 8 servings

SMOKED CHICKEN NACHOS WITH BEER CHEESE SAUCE
Bluegrass Brewing Co., Louisville, Kentucky

Nachos can be found on many brewpub menus. These are more flavorful than many others, because they feature smoked chicken, and the cheese sauce is made with beer. Serve them with a hoppy pale ale.

Beer Cheese Sauce
(Makes 1 quart)
1 cup chicken broth
1 cup red ale
1/2 cup whole milk
1 tablespoon vegetable seasoning (such as Mrs. Dash)
1/2 onion, diced small
2 jalapenos, diced small
1 teaspoon pureed or granulated garlic
White pepper to taste
1 1/2 pounds American cheese, sliced
1/2 cup cold water
1/2 cup cornstarch

Nachos
Corn or flour tortilla chips
1 cup canned black beans
Salt, pepper, and chili powder to taste
1/2 pound smoked or cooked chicken breast, diced
1 cup shredded lettuce
1 cup chopped fresh tomatoes
1/2 cup chopped green onions
1/2 cup sliced black olives
1/4 cup sliced canned jalapenos (or to taste)
1/2 cup sour cream
1/2 cup guacamole (optional)

1. Prepare Beer Cheese Sauce: In a large pot, combine chicken broth, beer, milk, vegetable seasoning, onion, jalapenos, garlic, and pepper. Simmer for 15 minutes.
2. Over very low heat, add 1 slice of American cheese at a time, whisking constantly. Do not leave unattended. After all the cheese is melted and whisked in, remove the pot from the heat.
3. In a separate bowl, whisk together the cornstarch and water. Add cornstarch mixture in a slow stream to the Beer Cheese Sauce, whisking constantly. Add just enough cornstarch mixture to bring sauce to a nice consistency.
4. Prepare Nachos: Drain and rinse black beans. Heat over low heat and season with salt, pepper, and chili powder to taste.
5. Cover four individual small plates or one large platter with tortilla chips. Pour heated black beans over chips. Add diced chicken. Pour hot beer cheese over to cover but not smother. Top with shredded lettuce, tomatoes, green onions, olives, and jalapenos. Add a dollop of sour cream and guacamole to the top of the nachos. Serve warm with extra Beer Cheese Sauce on the side.

Yield: 4 servings

Pairing of the week

We promise to return to traditional food and beer pairings next week, but since there are already several of those above.... In his book "A Taste of Beer" Stephen Beaumont writes about a story he did for All About Beer Magazine in which he matched musical styles and beer styles. From the book: "Finally, I ended the exercise with a flourish and selected an imperial stout to accompany Opus 49 of Tschaikovsky's spectacular 1812 Overture, thus acknowledging the Tsarist pedigree of both music and beer."

Tasting notes
This week in the NFL playoffs the Philadelphia Eagles play the Chicago Bears. It gives us a chance to pit India Pale Ales from both regions.

GOOSE ISLAND IPA
Brewed by Goose Island Brewing in Chicago

Michael Jackson writes:
Attractive, distinctive, very bright bronze color. Wonderfully appetizing, piney hop aroma. The rounded, firm, smooth malt body provides a lovely foil for the zesty, lemony hop flavors. All beautifully dove-tailed. A true craft beer. Very clean, dry finish. Assertive, confident, known its own mind, but not aggressive. Not the steely hop dominance of a West Coast IPA, not quite as malty as some of the East Coast examples. Appropriate for a Midwestern interpretation.

VICTORY HOPDEVIL IPA
Brewed by Victory Brewing Co. in Downingtown, Pa.

Roger Protz writes:
Orange-amber beer with good foam. Bop! The hops just punch you on the nose. If you don't like old humulus lupulus, the Wolf Plant, stay clear of this beer. Intriguingly, after that massive hop start, the palate is rich, malty and creamy. Then the hop takes over again in a long and lingering finish with a fine balance of tart fruit and juicy malt.

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