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Monthly Archives: March 2012

Cooking with Beer

Seeing as how I really enjoy both beer and food, it’s natural I’d want to cook with beer.  My favorite appetizer is a beer and cheese dip with pretzels; it’s actually way too good and I had to stop making it because I couldn’t help myself and overindulged every time.  Last week I whipped up a batch of Ranger IPA mashed potatoes.  And last night I decided to try my hand at beer macaroni and cheese.

I’ve always loved mac & cheese, and I went with one of my most favorite Colorado beers to put in it: Ska’s Modus Hoperandi.  It was pretty much delicious.  Want to see for yourself?  Here’s my recipe:

2  c. macaroni, cooked according to pkg. directions, and drained

2 tablespoons butter

2 tablespoons flour

8 ounces milk

8 ounces beer (your favorite kind, though I don’t know if dark beer will work)

8 ounces freshly grated cheddar cheese

4 ounces freshly grated parmesan cheese

1/4 teaspoon paprika

pinch of black pepper

pinch of nutmeg

1/2 cup panko bread crumbs (I think I end up adding a bit more than this)

basil leaves, chopped for garnish (optional)

Preheat oven to 375.

Heat a saucepan over medium high heat and add butter. Once melted and sizzling, whisk in flour to create a roux and cook until bubbly and golden, about 2 minutes. Add milk and beer into saucepan whisking constantly, then add cheeses and stir until melted. Turn heat down to medium and continue to stir, cooking for 5-6 minutes while mixture thickens. It might not thicken like regular mac and cheese because of the beer, but you want it to thicken a little bit by adding a bit of flour. Stir in pepper, paprika and nutmeg.

Add noodles to a casserole dish, then pour cheese over top, mixing gently to combine. Top with panko bread crumbs and bake for 25-30 minutes or until bubbly and golden on top.

Remove from oven and let cool for 5 minutes, then top with fresh basil.

I’ve always got my eye out for new and interesting ways to cook with beer.  If you have a recipe I must try, please share.  I’ll try it myself as long as it’s vegetarian.

Beer & Cheese Pairing at Copper Kettle

Copper Kettle Brewing hosts a beer & cheese pairing on the second Thursday of every month.  Cheeses from The Truffle Cheese Shop (2906 E. 6th Avenue Denver) are paired with Copper Kettle’s brews.  $20 gets you four pairings.  I attended my first one last night, and I must say I was not disappointed.

When I arrived shortly before the event was to begin, I ordered a Mexican Chocolate Stout, as I’d heard great things about it but had yet to try it myself.  And not only had I heard great things about it, it won a Gold Medal at GABF in 2011 in the category “Herb and Spice Beers.”  Herb and spice is pretty much dead on.  I’d describe this beer as tasting like a piece of toast with cinnamon sugar, lightly sprinkled with finely diced jalapenos.  I fell in love with it at first sip!  It’s one of the best stouts I’ve had. 

Once the event began, it started off with the most mild pairing:  Bavarian Helles, a German style blonde lager, and Flat Rock cheese, a raw cow’s milk cheese modeled after the French mountain cheese Abondance.  While I’m not a fan of lagers, the cheese really brought out the flavor of this light-tasting beer.  The Flat Rock was my favorite cheese of all four. 

Next came Copper Kettle’s American Amber and Toma Maccagno Rosa cheese.  As with lagers, I’ don’t love ambers either.  But this one was very drinkable compared to most.  And the cheese, which reminded me of brie, made the beer all the more enjoyable. 

The third pair was Better Half IPA (which I raved about in a prior post about Copper Kettle) and Camembert Normandie or, as it was described by the hosts–stinky cheese.  And stinky it was; to me it smelled like an old pair of gym shoes.  I hoped it would taste better than it smelled.  It did!  It was very pungent and strong-tasting, and it was paired with the IPA because it too is bursting with flavor.  If this cheese was paired with a lighter beer, it would have completely overpowered the taste of the beer.  So that was nicely done.

The final pairing of the evening was Copper’s Bloody Best (British Best Bitter) with Caciocavallo Afumicato, a smoked cheese similar to provolone.  I don’t like things that are too smoky, and this was just right.  Though the beer is called a bitter, I did not find it to be so.  In fact it tasted a little sweet and buttery, which I was not expecting.  It was quite different but went well with the cheese, which was fairly salty (salty=good) and delicious. 

I truly enjoyed all of the pairings.  Jeremy (owner and head brewer), Kristen (owner and manager), and Justin (lead bartender) were very friendly and wanted to make sure everyone was pleased with the experience.  My only wish is that I would have been able to hear Jeremy and the guy from the cheese shop (sorry–I did not catch his name) talk about the pairings.  But there was so much extra noise from the patrons at the bar (who were not there for the event) it was extremely difficult to make out what the gentlemen were saying.  Jeremy did apologize and mentioned the event normally takes place in the brewery iteslf, but they did not have the space to do so on this particular night.  But it was still a good time and an overall great experience.  Excellent job, Copper Kettle and Truffle Cheese Shop!  You’ll see me again in the near future.

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