Category Archives: Beer

How to Make a Beer Advent Calendar

Every year people flock to the store to pick up their annual advent calendar that is usually decorated in a cute holiday theme and filled with sub-par chocolates.  Instead of spending money on another cardboard calendar this year I decided to take it up a notch and learn how to make a beer advent calendar for the Englishman.  Not only is this calendar easy to make, it is also the perfect gift for the beer aficionado in your life.

Beer Advent Calendar Close UpThe important thing when making a beer advent calendar is to know your audience.  Do you want to make one with a bunch of cans of beer? (please say no), or how about a winter beer theme?  Or maybe a bunch of specialty beers from Belgium?  For the Englishman’s calendar I decided to go with a variety of different beers from around the world that I know the Englishman would love.

Once you have decided on your beers it’s time to go shopping.  For OC locals, I highly recommend Hi-Time Wine Cellars for all of your beer needs, but BevMo also has a decent selection as well.  Be sure to purchase 24 beers to ensure your calendar lasts the whole season!

Beer Advent Calendar BoxThe next step is procuring a box to house all your beers.  Some of the websites I looked at used cut up tubes for each beer, but since I was going with all bottles of different shapes and sizes, I needed a box.  Lucky for me the kind folks at Hi-Time had an extra box with 24 slots in it that was just waiting to be filled.

Beer Advent Calendar BoxFill your box with the beer and label them 1, 2, 3 and so on.  Then wrap your box and mark your wrapping paper with the number that corresponds with each beer bottle.  I wrapped the box and then cut out individual squares to cover each beer slot.

Now your calendar is ready to go!  Each morning open the number slot that corresponds with that day and enjoy your beer.  Since we have just started our beer advent calendar I won’t post all the beers, but here are some of the beers the Englishman has opened so far.  Once he has opened all the beers I’ll do a follow-up post with the big reveal.

Beer Advent Calendar PipPip wanted the beer for himself.  Too bad he’s too young to drink.

And that’s how to make a beer advent calendar!  Now maybe I need to make a wine one..

 

Potato Bacon and Beer Soup

Lately I’ve had this fascination with cooking with beer.  First it was the pumpkin beer bread, and now it’s a potato bacon and beer soup.

Potato Bacon and Beer Soup Close UpI call this a healthier potato bacon and beer soup because while there is still bacon and beer, there’s also potatoes, carrots, celery and leeks.  There’s no cream or cheese, just lots of bacon and beer flavor.

anchor steam beerWhen it came to selecting the right beer for this soup, I decided to go with Anchor Steam beer for a variety of reasons.  First off, this beer is corn-free which automatically makes it awesome in my book and second, it has a nice flavor that is strong but not too overpowering.  If you want a beer that doesn’t have as strong of a flavor, I would recommend a lighter wheat beer or pale ale.  Just no Coors or Bud Light please and thank you.

If you don’t like bacon, just leave it out!  And if you don’t like beer, well, I can’t help you there, but I’m sure a dry white wine would go nice with this recipe as well.  I’ve used wine in soup before and it is always fantastic.

Another thing that makes this soup great?  Some warm crusty bread served on the side slathered with some butter.  Just saying.

Bacon Potato Beer Soup and BreadPotato Bacon and Beer Soup

Ingredients:

1 cup diced carrots

1 cup diced celery

1 cup diced leek

4-6 slices of bacon

3-4 red potatoes, chopped

1 sweet potato

1 bottle Anchor Steam Beer

4 cups water

1 tsp fresh thyme

1 tsp fresh rosemary

salt and pepper to taste

Directions:

Preheat your oven to 350F.  Place your strips of bacon in the oven and cook for 20 minutes (depending on how crispy you want your bacon).

Bring a large pot of water to boil.  Add your carrots and celery and cook for 15-20 minutes.  Add your leek and potatoes to the pot and continue to boil until potatoes, leek, celery and carrots are soft.  Add your salt and pepper, thyme, rosemary and beer.

potato bacon beer soup close up beerChop up your bacon slices and add to the soup pot.  Continue to let the soup simmer for another 15-20 minutes.  Ladle into bowls, and serve with some crumbled bacon on top.  I also added some broccoli and green beans for a few extra veggies.

Bacon Potato Beer Soup closeupSuper easy to make and quite delicious.  The perfect soup for fall.

What’s your favorite fall soup?

I KNOW.  It’s more pumpkin.  What can I say?  I’m addicted and rolling with it all through fall.  Fortunately pumpkin is full of good things like beta-carotene, fiber and vitamin K, which is all the more reason to enjoy this vegetable in all sorts of forms.  Lately my new favorite way to enjoy pumpkin is in the form of pumpkin beer bread.

pumpkin beer bread close upI made pumpkin beer bread a couple of years ago using Smuttynose Pumpkin Beer, and this time around I wanted to make the beer bread using canned pumpkin.  I ended up using a German wheat beer since it was what we had on hand and I didn’t have time to get a proper pumpkin ale.  I also decided to use sorghum and brown rice flour instead of all-purpose.

With all these little tweaks, I honestly wasn’t quite sure how this bread would turn out, but it came out delicious!  You can definitely taste the beer in this bread, so if you want to reduce that beer taste I recommend using a little more sugar or reducing the amount of beer.

This bread is ridiculously easy to make and was promptly devoured in a matter of days.  Let the pumpkin obsession reign supreme!

pumpkin beer bread pinPumpkin Beer Bread

Ingredients:

1 bottle of beer of your choice (I prefer a wheat beer)

2 cups sorghum flour

1 cup brown rice flour

1/4 cup pumpkin

2 tablespoons maple syrup

1 tsp salt

1/2 tsp cinnamon

3 tsp baking powder

Directions:

Preheat your oven to 350F.  In a large mixing bowl combine your flours, salt, cinnamon and baking powder.

pumpkin beer pouring in breadSlowly pour your beer into the flour mixture and blend well.  Add your pumpkin, maple syrup and coconut oil and continue to mix until well combined.

Pour your bread mixture into a loaf pan and bake for 50-60 minutes.  The bread should turn a nice golden color when it’s done.

pumpkin bread slicedCool and enjoy!

I definitely want to try this bread again with a pumpkin beer.  I’ve heard Dogfish Head’s Punkin’ Ale is quite delicious, but are there any other pumpkin beers I should try?

Visiting the Silver Bullet

I remember the first time I tried a Coors Light.  I was a freshman in college, and my friend and I decided to try the infamous “silver bullet,” even though we both declared that we hated beer.  We were handed cans with the Coors Light name emblazoned across the side, took one sip, and promptly spit it out.  After that night, I made it a point to avoid Coors Light at all costs with the exception of a few incidents where Coors may have been poured into my red solo cup and I was none the wiser.

Now I’m not a beer snob by any means, but I prefer to only drink craft brews, with Deschutes, Full Sail, Russian River and Smuttynose being some of my faves.  I love supporting local brews and love smaller breweries that use high quality ingredients instead of just creating a generic flavor that can be shipped out to the masses.  And since the Englishman is quite the beer connoisseur, I know he agrees with me on that one.

But back to Coors.  Coors Brewing Company is the largest single brewery facility in the world and happens to be headquartered in Golden, Colorado, which isn’t too far from Denver, which was where we were staying.  Even though I’m not a big fan of Coors, I was intrigued to see how this behemoth of a brewery operated, so my parents, the Englishman, and I piled into the car and drove down to Golden for a brewery tour.

When we arrived at the brewery, I was impressed to find out that both the tour and the parking were free (a rarity these days).  We boarded a small shuttle and were taken on a brief tour of downtown Golden before being dropped off at the tour entrance.  The brewery tour was self-guided, and you were given a headset if you wanted an audio guide throughout the tour.  The Englishman and my parents took this very seriously.

I will say that the tour was quite informative and eye opening.  One of the rooms we walked in had GIANT copper brew kettles where you could smell the malt and hops being processed.

Mid-way through the tour we got to sample a “shot” of beer, and were given two options:  Coors Light or Coors Banquet.  Naturally I avoided the Coors Light and went for the Coors Banquet.

The Coors Banquet was alright, nothing earth shattering, but it was nice and cold which I appreciated.

The tour ended with a view of the distribution room where you could see cases of beer whizzing by on conveyor belts.  The distribution room was quite large and it was amazing to see just how much beer was produced in this brewery on any given afternoon.

Our tour ended, and we were taken downstairs to the tasting room where we could get up to 3 pint glasses of beer for free (well played Coors).  I decided to go with a Blue Moon hefeweizen with a slice of orange.  Definitely not my favorite hefeweizen, but it did the trick.

Even though I’m not going to run out and buy Coors beer anytime soon, I did find the tour interesting and was pretty impressed at how much beer is produced in that facility.  Plus, visiting one of the biggest breweries in the world isn’t anything to sneeze at.

Thanks Coors for a fun afternoon!  But when it comes to drinking, I’ll stick to my Deschutes and Full Sail beers for the time being.

*Also, if you have a favorite pumpkin beer, please share!  The season is right around the corner and I’m looking for some new ones to try!*