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Bacon and Beer Cheese Brussels Sprout Gratin

Bacon and Beer Cheese Brussels Sprout Gratin

Bacon and Beer Cheese Brussels Sprout Gratin

I judged a beer competition last year with the primary assignment of the IPA category. A fantastic assignment under normal circumstances but this day, there were some logistical issues.

Pound for pound I was the smallest judge and this was the biggest category, 35 beers in total, all that need to be sampled. But that was just issue one. The biggest hurdle was issue two: I had a co-judge that didn’t know beer. He was a prominent local chef, and clearly knew flavors but wasn’t well versed in what makes, not just an IPA, but a great IPA.

We didn’t agree. He chose a beer that was so terrible that the other judges and I had wondered how they had reached the designation of IPA for this malt bomb. The beers I picked, mostly bold, dry hopped IPA’s, he said tasted "too vegetal." He needs malt, I need big hop aroma and flavors. We spent an hour crossing off beers that we absolutely could not get behind. He crossed off some of my favorites, I crossed off his. But I fought for Hop Valley’s Citrus Mistress, it seemed like such a great choice. I loved it! It gives me the hops I need and had enough malt to keep him happy. I made him try it again and reconsider. He liked it, a lot. We’ve found it, I though. Two people from very different ends of the IPA flavor spectrum have agreed.

Then, he changed his mind. Maybe it was him not wanting me to win. Maybe he was still resentful that I have given a big fat veto to an "IPA" with only 22 IBU’s. But he crossed it off. I fought harder, tried to get him to see my point of view, but 35 IPA’s rattling my bones muddied my ability to form logical arguments and blocked his ability to hear them. We ended up giving the final award to a different beer. A beer that was good, one that I liked, but one that I didn’t love nearly as much as Citrus Mistress.

So now I buy it when I see it in the bottle shops and whisper a small apology for letting it down at a beer event that really meant nothing more than a stadium full of people having a good time. Maybe next year, Citrus Mistress, maybe next year.

Hop Valley Citrus Mistress

Bacon and Beer Cheese Brussels Sprout Gratin

Servings 6 to 8 servings


  • 4 strips thick sliced bacon chopped
  • 1.5 lbs Brussels sprouts trimmed and cut in half
  • ½ lbs parmesan shredded
  • ½ lbs mozzarella cheese shredded
  • 2 tbs cornstarch
  • 1 ¼ cups IPA beer I used Citrus Mistress
  • ½ tsp black pepper
  • ½ tsp salt
  • ¼ tsp mustard powder
  • 2 tbs butter melted
  • ½ cup bread crumbs


  • Preheat oven to 450
  • Cook the bacon in a large skillet over medium heat (medium heat will render more fat and crisp the bacon more than high heat). Once the bacon is crisp, remove from pan with a slotted spoon, set aside.
  • Place the pan back on the burner and turn heat to high. Add the sprouts, cut side down, cooking until browned but not cooked through. Add sprouts to a baking dish, sprinkle with chopped bacon.
  • In a blender add the parmesan, mozzarella, cornstarch, beer, pepper, salt and mustard powder, blend until smooth.
  • Pour the cheese mixture over the sprouts.
  • Toss the bread crumbs with melted butter, spread evenly over the top of the cheese.
  • Bake, uncovered, until breadcrumbs have browned, about 15 minutes.

Bacon and Beer Cheese Brussels Sprout Gratin4

Beer Cocktail Recipe: Cucumber Basil IPA Cooler

Beer Cocktail Recipe: Cucumber Basil IPA Cooler

Beer Cocktail Recipe-Cucumber Basil IPA Cooler1

Citrus IPA’s will rule the summer of 2016, and with good reason.

Ballast point, and their well-distributed Grapefruit Sculpin is often pointed to as the genesis of the grapefruit beer obsession when it fact it was more of a large scale manifestation of our growing love from the beautiful flavors citrus gives to beer.

While IPA’s get the brunt of the citrus infusion, no beer style has been immune. From blood orange stouts to orange witbier, beer will always play nicely with citrus fruit. In part because so many hops already carry nice citrus notes into your beer, so chances are it’s a flavor you’re used to tasting.

This summer more breweries than ever plan to give you a fruit infusion in one way or another. How are they going to do it? Let us count the ways:

Hip hops:  The cool kids in the hop world right now are those ripe with citrus flavor. Some of the most common are Amarillo, Citra, Centennial, and Cascade all have a nice natural citrus flavor.

Beer Cocktail Recipe-Cucumber Basil IPA Cooler5

These are hops, fresh from the hop bine

Radlers: A radler is a bit of a beer cocktail that can be carried out in a variety of ways. A radler is basically beer and grapefruit. It can also include sparkling grapefruit soda, or lemon-lime soda plus grapefruit juice. It can be mixed at the bar or pre-mixed and bottled or canned ahead of time.

Shandy: The lemon version of a radler. Same as above, it’s a beer cocktail that includes beer, lemonade or lemon soda. It’s most often pre-mixed.

Brewed with fruit: This is a trend that will take over your bottle shops in the next few months and I couldn’t be happier about it. Brewers are including peels, fruit, juice, and any other incarnation of citrus that their creative minds can think of. From sours to little known German styles, all types of beer are being experimented with.

 Extracts: This is fairly rare. Occasionally brewers will use a flavor extract (think vanilla extract when making frosting) to infuse a beer with flavor. Most often this is a last resort when working with an ingredient that is either incredibly inconsistent (like peppers) or when the flavors are hard to work with in the brewing process (like mint). Citrus isn’t either of those things so extracts are pretty rare when making citrus beers.

Randall: Imagine one of those plastic tubes that goes into a vacuum that drive up bank tellers use. Now imagine it’s filled with cut up grapefruit. Now imagine it’s between a keg and a tap handle at your bar and your beer is being pumped through it before getting into your glass. This is a Randall and it’s a fun way to experiment with flavors without having to brew a new batch. Look for them at hardcore tap-rooms and beer bars. Next time you’re at a beer bar or tap-room ask if anything "is on randall."

Beer Cocktail Recipe-Cucumber Basil IPA Cooler3

Beer Cocktail Recipe: Cucumber Basil IPA Cooler

Servings 1 cocktail


  • 1 ½ ounces vodka
  • 2 basil leaves chopped
  • 6 slices of cucumbers
  • 3 ounces sparkling lemonade*
  • 3-6 ounces IPA with citrus notes
  • Garnish: cucumber slices and small basil leaves


  • Add the vodka, basil, cucumbers and sparking lemonade to a shaker half filled with ice. Shake several times, pour into an IPA glass.
  • Pour beer into the glass, gently stir. Add cucumbers and basil. Serve immediately.


If you use lemon flavored sparkling water, or any other soda that is unsweetened, make sure to compensate for the lack of sweetness with about 1/2 ounce of simple syrup or agave.

Beer Cocktail Recipe-Cucumber Basil IPA Cooler2

Southwest Beer Cheese Dip + The Definitive Beer to Pair with The Super Bowl

Southwest Beer Cheese Dip

Southwest Beer Cheese Dip4

We talk a lot of pairing beer and food. About the sensory experiences of flavors, textures, and ingredients that compliment each other. We’ve known since the accidental and unfortunate childhood pairing of toothpaste and orange juice that some flavors are a combative train wreck once they comingle in our mouth.  We know that espresso and chocolate cake are magical in partnership, and that greasy cheese pizza is made that much better with a highly carbonated pale ale.

What we don’t talk enough about is pairing beer and experiences. Because if you and I are in a deep fireside chat, late in the evening, warming our bones near the fire of a ski lodge, I’d want to share a barrel aged beer with you, the boozier the better. But if we’re hiking through the woods on a hot August afternoon, tank tops sticking to our backs and dust from the trials clinging to our legs, a crisp Kolsch would be awesome (but the boozy bourbony beer would not).

We are right around the corner from a shared experience that most of us will take part in one way or another. Football lover, casual fan, or just along for the commercials and the food table, you’ll likely find yourself in a room with sports fans screaming at the TV on Super Bowl Sunday. I have just the beer for you, sports fan, wagering enthusiast or just-there-for-lack-of-anything-better-to-do guy.

Southwest Beer Cheese Dip8

This is a day filled with intense emotions, highs, and lows, and the beer should match. You’ll also need to take into consideration the food as to avoid the aforementioned combative train wreck possibility. Food at these gatherings tends to be intense as well: hot wings, buffalo beer cheese dip, jalapeno nachos; that sort of primitive bar food that you love more than you’d probably ever admit to. Another consideration: time. You’ll be drinking all day, several hours and several beers, and when you’re done it won’t even be night yet.

In summation, these are the considerations when pairing The Super Bowl with a beer: intense flavor, pairs well with spicy and greasy food, can be consumed for long hours. The conclusion we come to is a session IPA. (Quick Beer 101 lesson: “session” means lower ABV, usually 5% or lower). You’ll get the intense flavor to match both the food and the emotions, you’ll get the nice carbonation for the greasy cheese and meat, and since the ABV is lower you’ll avoid becoming a cautionary tale.

Here are some Session IPA’s that will pair well with the Super Bowl. These are a few that I’m personally excited about, let me know what your favorite is.

Southwest Beer Cheese Dip3

Southwest Beer Cheese Dip

Total Time 20 minutes
Servings 6 to 8 servings


  • 8 wt oz cream cheese
  • 2 cups 226g cheddar cheese, grated (packed)
  • 1 cup 113g mozzarella (packed)
  • ¾ cup 170g IPA beer
  • 1 tbs 8g cornstarch
  • ½ tsp 2g smoked paprika
  • ½ tsp 2g garlic powder
  • ½ tsp 3g salt
  • ½ tsp 2g pepper
  • 1 cup 172g cooked black beans (rinsed and drained)
  • 1 cup 135 corn kernels
  • 1 cup 140g diced bell pepper
  • 1 small jalapeno diced (seeds and internal membrane removed for lower heat)
  • 1 avocado diced
  • ¼ cup 28g cilantro, chopped


  • Preheat oven to 350.
  • Add the cream cheese, cheddar, mozzarella, beer, cornstarch, smoked paprika, garlic powder, salt and pepper to a blender. Blend until smooth.
  • Add to a large oven safe bowl, stir in the black beans, corn, bell pepper, and jalapeno.
  • Bake at 350 for 15 minutes or until warmed through.
  • Remove from oven, top with avocado and cilantro, serve warm.

Bacon Beer Cheese Stromboli + Our Real Issue with Buyouts

Bacon Beer Cheese Stromboli, just 30 minutes to make the best football food ever. 

Bacon Beer Cheese Stromboli1

I’m sitting in my kitchen on a phone interview with a reporter from Bloomberg answering questions about the buyouts. You know the ones, the ABI, Miller-Coors, Constellation, Big Bad Macro Beer comin' in and buying up OUR beer. The ones that ignite twitter with angry, witty, outraged messages that amount to a digital foot stomping tantrum.

I’m trying to put my finger on what it is, why this sets off a shockwave of indignation. Because the truth is, other than the normal issues that come with scaling up a recipe (which happens with or without buyouts), the recipes don’t change. The beer is, as far as our experience with the bottles that come across our bottle shops, the same as it always was. Even if we had an absolute guarantee that the beer would never, ever, ever change, we would still take issue with the buyouts.

But it threatens the smaller beer brands! Maybe, but what if it didn’t? What if it actually increased demand for the small guys, we’d still take issue with it. So that isn’t it either.

What is it? We are afraid beer will lose its soul. We drink craft beer for the flavor but we are in love with it for the people. For the soul of it. I saw the same thing when I ran around LA with rock stars. I was very well acquainted with the analog recording console from Sound City music studio, the one Dave Grohl was so attached to that he not only bought this machine that recorded music onto dat tapes he made a documentary about it and recorded an album on it. Could you tell by listening to it that it sounded different? Probably not. Maybe that wasn’t the point. As the music world shifted from analog to digital, there were holdouts that feared music would lose its soul. That was what we felt when the mixing boards were replaced with lap tops, auto tune and pro tools. Of course older music sounds different, but not because of the tapes. But because Led Zeppelin decided to record it all in one take, errors and all, in a grain silo. The issues was never really the sound, which is arguably better with digital methods. We were all afraid music would lose its soul. Arguments can be made for or against that actually being the case, but the reality is that more people are able to make music. Due in part to the digital revolution A&R guys no longer hold the keys to the kingdom and more small independent musicians can make a living off their art, sans recording contract.

Beer is in the same metamorphosis. We can’t stop buyouts any more than the drummer from Nirvana could stop music from being recorded digitally and we are scared of what that will mean. We are afraid the people will be removed in favor of shiny new machines and the heart and guts of the industry we love will change. The photos of bearded men in old brewery shirts mashing in, picking hops, cleaning fermenters, will be replaced by an industrial process that takes no more than a switch flip to initiate. We don’t want a brightly lit cafeteria of a taproom. We want a brewery that’s a little bit dingy, with miss matched brew kettles and slightly dented bay doors. We don’t want uniforms and sterility and soulless masses. That’s the real fear.

So what now? As craft beer lovers and consumers we don’t get to make the decisions about the who has what stake and how much in our favorite breweries. We aren’t the ones trying to make ends meet with a high grain bill and a low profit margin. We aren’t the ones with a billion dollar check in our faces. The truth is that we can’t stop it, the buyouts will continue, more in 2016 than ever before and it will become increasing more accepted, thats how these things always go. What can we do? We are the soul. We can keep that. We can make it known that even with the paperwork shuffle and the distribution deals and the administrative headaches that go one outside our reach, we want our beer to stay our beer. This is what we are attached to, and we can make it known that we have our eye on you, newly acquired brewery, do well by us. We brought you here, and we don’t want to walk away now.

This is not a defense of buyouts in any way. It’s just to say that our issues with big beer buying craft beer isn’t as much about small breweries as we’d like to think. Even if we had a guarantee that it’s actually GOOD for small beer, we’d still hate it. We’d hate it because we don’t want corporate beer. Sterile, emotionless beer. We want the community that we’ve build and we don’t want that taken away from us. We want to be punk rock, not boy bands. That’s also how we will survive this. Big beer has distribution and dollars, but that can’t replace the community and the soul we’ve built. That’s ours, that won’t change.

Bacon Beer Cheese Stromboli3

Bacon Beer Cheese Stromboli

Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 15 minutes
Total Time 25 minutes
Servings 8 servings


  • 8 wt oz cream cheese
  • 1 ½ cups 168g mozzarella
  • ½ cup 56g parmesan
  • 1 tbs cornstarch
  • ½ cup 115g pale ale
  • ½ tsp 2g garlic powder
  • 1 tsp 3g salt
  • 1 lbs pizza dough raw
  • 10 strips 155g bacon, cooked and chopped
  • 1 tbs melted butter


  • Add the cream cheese, mozzarella, parmesan, cornstarch, beer, garlic powder, and salt to a blender, blend until smooth.
  • Roll the pizza dough out on a lightly floured surface to form a rectangle.
  • Place dough onto a sheet of parchment paper about the size of a baking sheet.
  • Add the beer cheese to the center of the dough, sprinkle with chopped bacon, reserving about 2 tablespoons of bacon.
  • Fold both long sides in towards the center to form a tight log, fold the short side over about two inches towards the center.
  • Roll the log over so the seam sides are down, transfer the parchment paper onto a baking sheet.
  • Brush with melted butter, sprinkle with remaining bacon.
  • Bake at 425 for 14-18 minutes or until golden brown.

For homemade pizza dough, try this pale ale pizza dough recipe.

Bacon Beer Cheese Stromboli5

Sriracha Beer Mac N Cheese (15-minutes Stove Top)

Sriracha Beer Mac N Cheese (15-minutes Stove Top)

Sriracha Beer Mac N Cheese 2

These photos were taken at the beginning of a power outage that lasted two days.

Luckily, the light from my window was filtering through breaking storm clouds in an eerie but beautiful way that made it possible to shoot the macaroni I’d finish making by candlelight. It also tastes fantastic in the dark, although the gorgeous slightly pink hue of the Sriracha cheese sauce is lost in the low light, it didn’t matter.

I spend the night trying, and repeatedly failing, to keep the fireplace going and the candles lit. Instinctively trying to flip light switches when I’d enter a room. Reminding myself that I no longer have a gas stove, it’s electric, so cooking is not an option. Realizing that I’m much more dependent on the comforts of electricity that I’d like to admit.

Sriracha Beer Mac N Cheese 3

It gave me a profound appreciation for things I take for granted, the things we refer to as "little things" are only little when you have them, they turn into a giant beast that has your comfort and convince in a stranglehold when you don’t have them. You realize they are so huge they consume your life and hobble your ability to function in the way you’re accustomed to.

So today, as the lights flickered back on, I’m thankful. I’m grateful for warmth, electricity, and the ability to cook again. Tonight I’ll raise a pint to the fact that I almost never have to go without, and in the grand scheme of the world today that makes me fortunate.

Sriracha Beer Mac N Cheese 5

Sriracha Beer Mac N Cheese

Total Time 15 minutes
Servings 6 servings


  • 1 lbs elbow macaroni
  • 2 tbs 30g unsalted butter
  • 3 tbs 24g flour
  • 2 tbs 12g cornstarch
  • 2 cup 480mL whole milk
  • 1 cup 240g IPA or Pale Ale
  • 1.5 lbs 681g white cheddar cheese, shredded
  • ½ tsp 3g salt
  • ½ tsp 2g garlic powder
  • 2 tbs 64g Sriracha red chili sauce


  • Cook the macaroni in lightly salted boiling water until just before al dente, about 5 minutes. Drain, set aside.
  • In a large pot over medium high heat, melt the butter. Whisk in the flour and cornstarch until well combined. Add the milk and beer, bring to a low simmer, do not boil.
  • A hand full at a time add the cheese, whisking until all the cheese has melted before adding more.
  • Sitr in the salt, garlic powder and Sriracha (add additional to taste).
  • Add the noodles, stir until well combined, allow the noodles to finish cooking in the sauce, about 3 minutes.
  • Serve warm.


If the sauce breaks, use an immersion blender to bring it back to life.


BBQ Beer Brat Tailgate Pizza & How To Prep A Grilled Pizza For Tailgating

BBQ Beer Brat Tailgate Pizza & How To Prep A Grilled Pizza For Tailgating -6

I grill pizza more often than I grill anything else. Unless you have a pizza oven in your backyard, it’s likely your best option when it comes to at home pizza cooking. Or, in this case, parking-lot-back-of-a-truck-with-a-portable-grill cooking. You get those lovely grilled char marks that you want when open flames are cooking your food, and it’s easy to modify to your guest eating persuasions.

Tailgate Pizza Tips:

Prep as much as you can ahead of time. If you’re making more than one pizza, write down the toppings you want for each, prep them all and store them in small containers to take with you. The dough can, and should, be made in advance. Just make sure to punch down the dough  every 12 hours (literally just punch the middle of it to deflate, you can also grab the sides and pull to deflate). Pizza dough is best if it’s able to cold ferment in the fridge for a few days.

BBQ Beer Brat Tailgate Pizza & How To Prep A Grilled Pizza For Tailgating

Don’t forget to bring a surface to roll out the dough. Some people like to use a rolling pin, while others think hand shaping the dough is the only way to go, it’s your call.

Brush the grates with olive oil to keep the dough from sticking. I sometimes oil the dough and flip it onto the grill like a giant pancake, but that’s just me.

You only want to grill the underside until it holds shape. It’s going back on the grill to heat the toppings and melt the cheese, undercooking it the first time will prevent overcooking it the second time.

Pizzas take about 8 minutes to cook, so they are easy to make as-needed. Plus they don’t take up too much room in the cooler, leaving you way more space for beer. Which, really, is the most important part.

grilled pizza


I used Stout & Sriracha BBQ Sauce

BBQ Beer Brat Tailgate Pizza & How To Prep A Grilled Pizza For Tailgating

Servings 4 to 6 servings


For the Pizza Dough:

  • 3 cups 360g bread flour
  • 1 packet 2 ¼ tsp, or 21g rapid rise yeast
  • 2 tsp 8g sugar
  • 1 cup 226g wheat beer
  • 3 tbs 42g whole milk
  • 1 tbs 14g olive oil, plus 2 tbs (28g), divided
  • 1/2 2g tsp salt


  • 2 to 3 large beer brats raw
  • 24 ounces beer wheat, pale ale, or brown ale
  • Stout & Sriracha BBQ Sauce link above
  • 2 cups shredded mozzarella cheese
  • 1 roasted red bell pepper chopped (from a jar is OK)
  • 2 tbs chopped fresh parsley or cilantro
  • Oil for the grill



  • In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a dough hook, add the bread flour, yeast, and sugar, stir until well combined. In a microwave safe bowl, add the beer. Heat until 120F. Add the beer to the flour and stir until incorporated. Add the milk, salt and 1 tablespoon oil, stir with the dough hook until smooth and elastic, about 8 minutes. Allow to rise in a warm room until doubles in size, about one hour. You can bake the dough at this point, but it’s best to punch down the dough, cover and allow it to rise again in the fridge from 12-18 hours.
  • Make the beer brats. In a pan with a lid add the brats and the beer, cover and simmer until the brats are cooked through, remove from pan.
  • Preheat the grill to medium high. Grill the brats until grill marks appear on all sides, about 3 minutes. Remove and slice.
  • Brush the grates with oil to prevent sticking . Place the dough on the grill (a pizza peel coated in flour or cornmeal will help) until grill marks start to appear. Flip the dough and very lightly grill on the underside, just until the dough holds shape. Remove from the grill, place on a work surface with the lightly grilled side down. Spread an even layer of BBQ sauce over the crust, top evenly with cheese, add sliced brats and red pepper.
  • Return to the grill, close the lid and cook until the cheese has melted, 3-5 minutes. Remove from grill, sprinkle with parsley (or cilantro), slice and serve.


Pre-prep (tailgating tips):
• Make the dough the night before, let it do a second rise in the fridge. You’ll have to have a space to roll it out when you get to the venue, so bring a large cutting board if needed. It’ll be best if you let it come to room temp before trying to roll out. 10 minutes in a car with the heater on should be fine.
• Boil the brats ahead of time, pack them in the cooler, grill and slice them on site.
• Have all your ingredients prepped and stored in small containers, ready to go when you need them, it’ll help make the process much easier.

BBQ Beer Brat Tailgate Pizza & How To Prep A Grilled Pizza For Tailgating -6

Gochujang Beer Cheese Dip and Is Gochujang The New Sriracha?

Gochujang Beer Cheese Dip and Is Gochujang The New Sriracha?

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There are similarities, I’ll be honest.

Spicy red sauces, with fermented ingredients, originally from the Far East. Americans "discovered" these sauces, that have been around for generations in other countries, and decide they are the hot "new" thing. Clearly, Sriracha and Gochujang have a lot in common. Although the latter doesn’t have its own documentary and two best-selling cookbooks, but there’s still time.

So what is Gochujang? It’s a spicy, slightly sweet sauce with a nice acidic backbone. It’s also so popular that it’s now found at Target. It’s a way to branch out, to try something new, to expand the pantry of flavors that you go to when you want to add some heat, or some big flavors. It’s best added to something else – it’s pretty intense on it’s own – not unlike Sriracha, a little goes a long way. It’s a great way to add some spice to your favorite homemade BBQ sauce, or transform a standard chicken recipe. It’s absolutely a sauce you should seek out and figure out how to use. But until Rogue Ales makes a beer with it, it’ll always take second place to the Rooster Sauce.

Gochujang Beer Cheese Dip -7

Gochujang Beer Cheese Dip and Is Gochujang The New Sriracha?

Servings 6 to 8 servings


  • 16 wt oz cream cheese
  • 6 wt oz shredded mozzarella about 1 ¾ cups
  • 3.5 wt oz shredded white cheddar about 1 cup
  • ¼ cup Gochujang Korean hot sauce*
  • 2 tbs cornstarch
  • ½ tsp smoked paprika
  • ½ tsp garlic powder
  • ½ tsp onion powder
  • 1 cup IPA or Pale Ale Beer


  • Preheat oven to 400.
  • Add all ingredients to a blender or food processor, process until smooth.
  • Add to an oven safe dish.
  • Bake for 20 minutes or until warmed through.


-Dip can be made a day or two ahead, the flavors continue to deepen as the dip chills. Refrigerate until ready to serve, bake just prior to serving.
-Look for Gochujang in the Asian section of your local market, or buy online.
Gochujang Beer Cheese Dip -1

Grilled Chili Lime Beer Shrimp

Chili Lime Beer Shrimp -1

I was at a brewery in Southern California early last year and a brewer handed me a small cup of warm wort to sample from a batch he was in the middle of brewing. "What is it?" I asked. He shrugged.

"It was a bunch of leftover bits from bags and batches. I just decided to brew something with it. Maybe a Hoppy Brown Porter? or…an India Chocolate Ale..with… Never mind. I have no idea."

Unlike wine, which is often labeled for the grapes that produced it, beer is hard to name. Sure, there are certain designations that make it easy to classify some brews, but there is plenty of beer that doesn’t fit any category. This isn’t a problem as much as it’s an opportunity. It’s evidence that beer is evolving at a pace so rapid, categories have a hard time keeping up.

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In 1987 the Great American Beer Festival (GABF) had just 12 categories in which to award medals. In 2015, there was 92, many with subcategories. It’s a spectacular example of the evolution of beer.

For this recipe, I used a beer with a designation that’s only been recognized for the past handful of years: the Black IPA. Also called a Cascading Dark Ale or American Black Ale, it’s a hybrid of different styles. It has the looks of a porter with the spirit of an IPA. It has a bit of the roasty characters of a darker beer, but tastes light and hoppy like an IPA. Should you try it? Absolutely. Will you love it? Who knows, but at least you’ll have tried it. That’s part of the adventure of beer.

A few to try:

Bear Republic // Black Racer

Deschutes // Hop in the Dark

21st Amendment // Back in Black 

Southern Tier // Iniquity

Founders Inspired  // Artist Black IPA

Chili Lime Beer Shrimp -3



Grilled Chili Lime Beer Shrimp


  • ¼ tsp cayenne pepper
  • ½ tsp cumin
  • 1 tsp smoked paprika
  • 2 tsp salt
  • 2 tsp black pepper
  • 2 tsp chili powder
  • 2 tsp garlic powder
  • 2 tsp honey
  • ½ tsp fresh garlic grated with a microplane
  • 2 tbs fresh lime juice
  • ½ cup beer black IPA, or hoppy red ale will work great
  • 1 lbs raw shrimp
  • ¼ cup chopped cilantro


  • In small bowl add the cayenne pepper, cumin, paprika, salt, pepper, chili, garlic powder, honey, garlic, lime juice and beer.
  • Add the shrimp to a large re-sealable plastic bag, pour the marinade over the shrimp. Chill and allow to marinate for 1 hour and up to 24.
  • Preheat the grill to medium high.
  • Skewer the shrimp on metal or pre-soaked wooden skewers.
  • Grill until cooked through, about 2 minutes per side, don’t over cook.
  • Sprinkle with cilantro.



Beer Bread Grilled Beer Cheese Sandwich with Bacon

Beer Bread Grilled Beer Cheese Sandwich with Bacon

Grilled Cheese & Gratitude

I was standing in the kitchen of a group home, talking to a 15-year-old foster kid when I learned what gratitude really  was. (Before I became a full-time food and beer writer, I worked with foster and probation kids in South Central LA, you can read more about that here and here)

He was skinny, his Hanes t-shirt nearly swallowing him up as it hung down past his waist over his dark sweat pants that pooled around the China Town slippers on his feet. "How lucky are we?!" He peels a few slices off the block of government issue cheese, a long, unnaturally orange-colored rectangle housed in a cardboard tube. I was as amused as I was confused.

He could tell I wanted more, "Well, the last place I lived we didn’t ever really have bread. It was always moldy. And the place before that, we NEVER had cheese, that was like, a luxurious thing and all, and then before that the stove aint never worked…" He smeared both sides of the bread with the contents of an oversized tub of margarine, filled the two slices of bread with at least five pieces of cheese, and gently set it in a hot pan that screamed a victorious sizzle in response. "See!" the sound thrilled him, "We got, like…MAD cheese up in here, they don’t even care when I use like a grip of slices. And look at all this butter! This thing HUGE! and we got bread for days!" he claps his hands, thrilled at the bounty that the group home kitchen provided.

I’d read his file at the office before I headed over to meet him. Absent biological father, mother was abusive and her whereabouts are now unknown. He was placed in a state run group home after several reports of abuse by his previous foster parents. I look at him, a genuine smile on his face, and I think about the night before.  I’d been in Hollywood, chasing a sullen fashion model around The Grafton, trying to keep her out of trouble. She was the girlfriend of a musician friend of mine, and I was trying to avoid press nightmare if she’d been able to follow through with the crazy that her anger was begging her to perform. I’d pushed her into a alcove by the ice machine and commanded  her to talk to me about why she was so upset. Tears streaming down her gorgeous face, onto her three thousand dollar dress, "I can’t go to London with him because I have this stupid print ad to shoot tomorrow. My condo is being renovated so I have to stay at a hotel…And I forgot my Prada jacket! I hate everything…."

I think about this, about the conversation I’d had the night before as I watch him finish up his grilled cheese. I realize that gratitude and happiness have nothing to do with circumstances. You can decide to focus on every great thing in your life, no matter how small, or you can decide to focus on what’s broken. It’s your choice.

Choose wisely.


Beer Bread Grilled Beer Cheese Sandwich with Bacon-4


I used Fort George Omegatex in the filling, and to wash it all down with. 

Beer Bread Grilled Beer Cheese Sandwich with Bacon


  • 3 cups all purpose flour
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • ¼ cup sugar
  • 12 ounces beer summer ale, wheat beer, saison, pilsner
  • ¼ cup melted butter
  • 8 wt oz cream cheese
  • 1 cup 2.5 wt oz shredded cheddar cheese
  • 1/3 cup IPA beer
  • ½ tsp sriracha
  • 1 tbs cornstarch
  • ¼ tsp salt
  • ¼ cup softened butter
  • 4 strips bacon cooked


  • Preheat oven to 350.
  • In a large bowl stir together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and sugar. Add the beer, stir until just combined.
  • Spray a loaf pan with cooking spray. Pour that batter into the pan in an even layer. Pour the melted butter over the loaf.
  • Bake for 40 minutes or until cooked through. Remove from oven, allow to cool completely before slicing, chill if necessary.
  • In a food processor add the cream cheese, cheddar, IPA, sriracha, cornstarch and salt, blend until smooth.
  • Slice the bread into 8 slices.
  • Butter one side of each slice.
  • Heat a non-stick pan over medium high heat.
  • Working in batches, place one slice of bread, buttered side down in the pan. Spread with about ¼ cup of the cheese mixture, then a slice of bacon, then another slice of bread, buttered side up.
  • Cook until the bottom bread is slightly browned, then gently flip. Cook on the other side until the bread is golden brown. Serve warm.


Beer Bread Grilled Beer Cheese Sandwich with Bacon-7

IPA Sriracha Chicken Wings + How To Get The Crispiest Baked Wings Ever

IPA Sriracha Chicken Wings + How To Get The Crispiest Baked Wings 

IPA Sriracha Chicken Wings + How To Get The Crispiest Baked Wings Ever

You’ve got to dig a little deeper.

At first blush, this seems like a cop-out. It’s beer and chicken wings, it’s such an obvious pairing you want to scratch your eyes out, scream "Milk and cookies, peanut butter and jelly, jalapeño and avocado! Give me something new!" But calm down, it’s more than that. It’s a revelation.

Really, it’s because I’m a nerd. Which is what drew me to craft beer, the geeky side of beer: the what, the why, and the how of beer. It’s the same with food. I don’t just want to know how to brine a chicken, I want to know why it works.

I want to know what the difference between baking soda and baking powder, and I want to know how temperature affects meat. That’s why I read Cooks Illustrated. It’s not food porn, really there aren’t too many pictures, it’s food nerd porn. It’s the why, it’s not just the how.

IPA Sriracha Chicken Wings + How To Get The Crispiest Baked Wings Ever

Cooks Illustrated did a story on how to bake chicken wings in a way that the skin gets just as crispy as when you fry it. The fat is rendered, the skin is so crisp it makes a thump sound when you tap it with your nails. They nerd out on food in a way that makes me feel like I’m not alone. They tell you the kitchen fails, the reason they tried what they did, and what finally worked.

For this: baking powder that draws out moisture, low temperate to render fat, and high temperate to make the skin golden brown. If you’re still reading this, you might just be as big of a nerd as I am. And next time we meet, I’ll buy you a beer and we’ll talk all kinds of food nerd talk.

IPA Sriracha Chicken Wings + How To Get The Crispiest Baked Wings Ever

IPA Sriracha Chicken Wings + How To Get The Crispiest Baked Wings Ever

Adapted from Cooks Illustrated
Servings 4 servings


  • 2 lbs party wings
  • 1 tbs baking powder
  • ½ tsp salt
  • ¼ cup IPA beer
  • 4 tbs melted butter
  • ¼ cup Sriracha
  • 1 tbs honey
  • 1 tbs cornstarch
  • up to 1 teaspoon cayenne pepper


  • Preheat oven to 250.
  • Add the wings to a large bowl. Sprinkle with baking powder and salt, toss to coat.
  • Place a wire rack over a baking sheet, brush with oil or spray with cooking spray.
  • Place the wings on the wire rack.
  • Bake in the lower section of the oven for 30 minutes. Move to the upper 1/3 of the oven, increase oven temperature to 425. Bake for 35-45 minutes or until golden brown.
  • In a large bowl stir together the beer, melted butter, sriracha, honey, cayenne pepper (as little or as much as you want for the heat level you want) and cornstarch.
  • Toss the wings in the sauce, serve warm.

Crispy Beer Battered Steak House Onion Rings

Crispy Beer Battered Steak House Onion Rings

Crispy Beer Battered Steak House Onion Rings

I was on a southbound flight a few weeks ago, the guy sitting next to me not picking up on my "I don’t talk to strangers on airplanes" vibes. He asked me what I did for a living, which is always a bit of a strange conversation when the answer is something along the lines of "I cook with craft beer, and then take pictures of it."

He rolls his eyes. "I hate that." I didn’t engage, I didn’t care what he hates or why he hates it. If he left me alone, I was fine with that.

After a few minutes of my not biting on his gem of a response to my chosen career, he gave up. "I mean….why does YOUR beer get to craft and other people’s isn’t? It seems so elitist."

Ahh…one of those guys. In his Brooks Brothers khakis and late 90’s briefcase he has decided what I’m allowed to call beer.

"What do you do?" I ask.

"I import. From China and Japan, teas mostly."

"Why? There is plenty of tea over here. Why not just use some grown in the US?"

He’s borderline outraged at the suggestion. "It’s not the same! The techniques people use, the old world skill, the attention to detail and process. People over there have a love for it, they consider it…."

"..a craft?"

Tense silence.

"So, are you saying that your tea is craft tea and maybe Lipton, isn’t?"

"…..oh. Um. Oh…"

I put my headphones in and ignore any more of his attempts to engage. The truth is craft breweries put quality above profit. They will sacrifice the amount they make on a beer in favor of using the best ingredients, but they won’t do it the other way around. There is a love and a respect for the product that can be felt in the industry. There is craft in every industry, with beer it’s just more obvious, more celebrated.

Crispy Beer Battered Steak House Onion Rings


Now let’s talk food for a second. When making onion rings, the onion selection makes a big difference.  Peel back those layers and all onions bring something different to your table. When selecting the best onion for your rings, you want a thick ring, lots of sweetness and a mellow flavor. Red onions don’t have the sweetness or the thickness you’re looking for. White onions are crisp and thick, but much too harsh and sharp in flavor. Yellow onions have more sweetness than white or red, but the layers tend to be fairly thin and the overall flavor can often be a bit sharper than is ideal. Your best bet is what’s known as a sweet onion.

Sweet onions have thick slices and a sweet flavor without giving you that sharp onion flavor that turns some away. The most common varieties are Walla Walla sweets, Maui, and Vidalia onions, all are the perfect choice for a thick batter and a quick deep fry and won’t leave you overpowered with a sharp onion taste.

For the beer, pick one that has some great carbonation and big flavor, those onion rings can take it. I like a pale ale or an IPA to get the job done.

Happy frying.


Crispy Beer Battered Steak House Onion Rings


  • 2 large sweet onions
  • 1 ½ cups buttermilk
  • 2 cups flour divided in half
  • 2 tbs cornstarch
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • ¼ tsp chili powder
  • 1 tbs brown sugar
  • 1 cup IPA beer
  • 2 cups panko bread crumbs
  • 1 tsp salt
  • canola or peanut oil for frying


  • Slice the onion into ½ inch slices, separate the rings. Place in a large bowl, cover with buttermilk. Refrigerate for 1 hour and up to overnight.
  • In a large bowl add 1 cup flour (reserve the other cup), cornstarch, baking soda, chili powder, brown sugar, stir to combine. Stir in the beer to make a smooth batter.
  • Add the remaining flour to a small bowl. Stir together the salt and panko in a separate bowl.
  • Heat three inches of oil in a pot over medium high heat. Use a deep fry thermometer to maintain 350 degrees.
  • One at a time remove the onion slices from the milk, dredge in flour until well coated, dip in the batter, then add to the panko to gently coat (if panko bowl becomes too saturated with the dip, toss it and fill the bowl with fresh panko). Fry on both sides until golden brown, about 1 minute per side.
  • Remove from oil, place on a wire rack to cool.


Crispy Beer Battered Steak House Onion Rings  -2

Corn and Cotija Beer Cheese Dip

Corn and Cotija Beer Cheese Dip -7

"You must be so glad to be out of LA!"

I hear that all the time. Now that I’ve passed the One Year mark as a Seattleite, people assume I see the South Land the way they do, they way those who have never fallen in love with a dirty, beautiful, interesting, ever-changing, multifaceted city, look at it.

I’m not. I love the Pacific Northwest, it’s an incredible place to live, an outstanding place to explore beer. It’s the best place in the entire world to be during Hop Harvest season.

Living on the East side of Los Angeles, just a mile from where Eagle Rock Brewery, Los Angeles first tap-room, put down roots, was a once in a lifetime experience for a beer explorer. I watched as one of the worlds biggest Cities grew a beer scene from non-existent to thriving. I watch the first brew pub go up, breweries move in downtown, tap takeover taking over the city, and I was even a very small part of it.

Sure, I don’t miss the traffic, although it wasn’t really that bad. No, I don’t miss the weather, although there are days when I miss air conditioning, something that only exists in Seattle’s malls and movie theaters. Los Angeles isn’t like Seattle, for better or for worse. And I don’t compare the two. The beer is different, the people are different and the food is different. I don’t compare my friends to one another, I don’t compare a porter to a saison. I love the city I live in when I live in it, no matter how often it rains or how old the breweries are.


Corn and Cotija Beer Cheese Dip -3

Corn and Cotija Beer Cheese Dip


  • 16 wt oz cream cheese
  • 1 cup IPA beer
  • 5 wt oz cotija cheese divided
  • ½ cup 1.5 wt oz shredded cheddar cheese
  • ½ tsp salt
  • ½ tsp pepper
  • ¼ tsp smoked paprika
  • 1 tsp chili powder
  • ¼ tsp garlic powder
  • ¼ cup chopped cilantro
  • 2 ears of corn kernels cut off


  • Preheat oven to 350.
  • Add the cream cheese, beer, half of the cotija, cheddar, salt, pepper, smoked paprika, and chili powder to a high powdered blender, blend until smooth.
  • Add the corn and cilantro, stir to combine.
  • Add to an oven safe bowl. Sprinkle with the remaining Cotija.
  • Bake until hot, about 15 minutes.
  • Serve warm, with chips.


Corn and Cotija Beer Cheese Dip -6

Strawberry Jalapeno Beer Popsicles + A Craft Beer Whitewater Adventure


Strawberry Jalapeno Beer Pops-4

I’m in the middle of class 4 rapids, the yellow raft I’m in is pinned on the right side to a giant boulder, the impossibly fast current is rushing over the left side of the boat and the raft is quickly submerged. Seven of us are waist deep in cold water, trying desperately to free ourselves, knowing if the boat flips, or if any of us are tossed out, it could be fatal.

Oars rafting
“LEFT SIDE! BACK! BACK!” Our guide, known only to us as Iowa, is screaming directions at us. As the man in charge of getting us safely down the Tuolumne River, we do everything he says without thinking, hoping it works.


Jake, the firefighter from Ventura, jumps to the back of the boat, at the same time pushing hard against the boulder in an attempt to free the submerged raft. It works. With a sickening scrape, we feel the raft free itself. We slide backward down the rapids, pinging off several boulders before finding calm water and we all start to breathe again.

“Awesome job team, awesome job!” The smile has returned to Iowa’s face. “You guys are awesome.”

One mile down, seventeen to go. Let’s do this.

Oars trip 3

8 miles and dozens of rapids later we stop to set up camp on a remote river beach tucked away in the woods of Northern California, a short distance from Yosemite. I’m joined on this two day adventure by two guys from Sierra Nevada brewing, a mother and her two children on a memorial trip to honor the Patriarch of the family who passed away exactly one year earlier, a bachelor party of 7 guys up from Ventura California and two chefs from one of Northern California’s hidden gems, The Arnold Pantry. In so many ways, the perfect mix of people. Friendly, laid back, and all with their own story to tell. The ice chest with cold beer is opened up and two of the four kegs packed onto the gear boat by the Sierra Nevada crew are tapped and we all start to loosen up. It’s beer that has been hard-earned and tastes fantastic.

oars trip 4

I jump in the make-shift kitchen, set up with a little more than a camp stove under the trees, to give Chip and Jeff a hand. While I’m immersed in cooking tasks, slicing bacon Chip spent three months making and peeling black garlic, the guides have set up a beautiful dinner scene, complete with candles and tablecloth covered portable camp tables. It’s gorgeous. The sunset is throwing silvery shards of light down a calm stretch of river bent around the beach we’ve claimed as camp for the night.

After the appetizer of house-cured bacon, black garlic and yellow tomato jam on turmeric avocado toast, our dinner is served to us by raft guides turned wait staff. Crispy pork belly over risotto and pickled asparagus, with a side salad of compressed watermelon and cucumber with feta and candied pecans. For dessert, there is a biscuit bread pudding with hand-whipped cream and sweet pickled cherries. Even if you were expecting more than hotdogs and store-bought marshmallows, you’d have been blown away. Even if you hadn’t spent an adrenaline packed day dodging boulders and trying to stay afloat, it still would be one of the best meals you’ve had all year. Add in the events of the day, the keg of beer just a few feet away, the gorgeous moonlight and the sound of the river, and it becomes magical. That’s the word for it: magical. We spent the rest of the night by the campfire, trading stories and failing in our attempt to drain the kegs.

Oars rafting 2

By the time daylight rose over the mountains and we were served French toast with orange cream sauce, fresh berries and hot coffee, we felt like a small gang. Ready to tackle what the river had to serve us. Ready for another day of thrills, rapids, and laughing. And when that day finally came to an end, it felt too soon. It felt like we needed another keg, more spectacular food and more conversation.

I’m ready to go back.

For more information about the craft beer rafting trips, contact OARS. I highly recommend it.


Strawberry Jalapeno Beer Pops-1

Strawberry Jalapeno Beer Popsicles


  • 1.5 lbs strawberries
  • 1 large or two small jalapenos, sliced
  • ¼ cup sugar
  • 12 ounces pale summer ale or Pilsner (I used Sierra Nevada Summerfest)


  • Add all ingredients to a blender, blend until smooth, allow the mixture to settle until the bubbles go down, about 15 minutes.
  • Pour into popsicle molds. Freeze until set, about 3 hours.

I was not compensated for this post, I was given a free trip without expectation or obligation. All opinions are my own.

Roasted Herb Beer Mustard Potato Salad

Roasted Herb Beer Mustard Potato Salad

Roasted Herb Beer Mustard Potato Salad -3

It’s easy to complicate what’s supposed to be simple. Add unnecessary steps, feel the need to suffer on behalf of the task, take things a little further than needed. Potato salad, the quintessential summer side dish needs a simple touch. I roast the potatoes, the process adds a nice flavor, a creamy center and a bit of a crunchy texture that you can’t get from boiling. I keep the dressing simple and mayo-free, I use good mustard with whole seeds still in tact, and the beauty of fresh herbs.

Maybe because mustard pair so much more seamlessly with a great IPA or summer ale, or maybe because it sits at room temperature without concern longer,  or maybe because mayo makes me gag, but I always favor the simple acidic tang of a german potato salad to the American version that is so often scooped out of a grocery store plastic tub.

This is perfect with beer, perfect for summer, and perfect with a grilled entrée. Look for a wet hopped IPA for some beautiful hop flavors at the end.

Roasted Herb Beer Mustard Potato Salad -4 

Roasted Herb Beer Mustard Potato Salad


  • 2 lbs red potatoes cut into cubes
  • 6 tbs olive oil divided
  • salt and pepper
  • ¼ cup whole grain Dijon mustard
  • ¼ cup IPA beer
  • 1 tsp garlic powder
  • ¼ tsp smoked paprika
  • 3 tbs fresh chopped chives
  • 2 tsp chopped fresh oregano


  • Preheat the oven to 425.
  • Spray a cooking sheet with cooking spray.
  • Add the potatoes to the sheet, drizzle with 3 tablespoons olive oil, sprinkle with salt and pepper. Toss to coat.
  • Cook for 15 to 20 minutes or until fork tender. Remove from oven, allow to cool.
  • In a blender or small food processor add the mustard, 3 tablespoons olive oil, beer, smoked paprika, and garlic powder, blend for about 30 seconds. Add the chives and oregano, pulse one or twice to combine. Salt and pepper to taste.
  • Add the potatoes to a large bowl, drizzle with dressing, toss to coat. Serve warm.

Roasted Herb eer Mustard Potato Salad




Beer Brined Pork and Pineapple Skewers with Apricot Chili Glaze

Beer Brined Pork and Pineapple Skewers with Apricot Chili Glaze

Beer Brined Pork and Pineapple Skewers with Apricot Chili Glaze

The start of grillin' season also ushers in the start of session beer season. A session beer, for those new to the brew, is a beer with lower alcohol content. Most session beers range between 3% and 5% ABV, making them easy to consume over a long drinking session, hence the name.

Session beers, especially session IPA’s are exactly what you want to fill that beer tub with this summer. Don’t try to assert your manhood with a galvanized bucket full of 11% monsters, it doesn’t impress anyone. A beautifully balanced, crispy and well-hopped session IPA is exactly what you need to devote most of that beer tub space too. You want your guests, as well as your grill-tending self, to be able to enjoy beer all afternoon without becoming a cautionary tale. Session beers let you drink more and still have full control of exactly how obnoxious you truly want to be.

I recently got my hands on a 21st Amendment Down to Earth session IPA. It’s citrusy, tropical, crispy, refreshing, and the perfect level of hops for a session beer. Not a giant hop bomb, but beautiful and bold hop flavors. It’s insanely drinkable and will make a regular rotation in my beer tub this summer.

Have a favorite summer beer? Let me know about it, I’m always on the prowl for a new summer beer.

Beer Brined Pork and Pineapple Skewers with Apricot Chili Glaze-3

Beer Brined Pork and Pineapple Skewers with Apricot Chili Glaze

Servings 10 to 12 skewers


  • 1 ½ cups hot water
  • 2 tsp kosher salt
  • 1 tbs brown sugar
  • 12 ounces chilled pale ale
  • ¼ cup low sodium soy sauce
  • 1.5 lbs boneless country style pork ribs* cut into bite sized cubes
  • 2 cups pineapple cubed
  • 1 cup 11 wt oz apricot preserves
  • 1 tbs Sriracha chili sauce
  • ¼ cup pale ale or IPA beer


  • In a large bowl combine the hot water, salt and sugar, stir until dissolved. Add the beer and soy sauce, stir to combine, allow to cool to room temperate.
  • Skewer the pork and the pineapple, alternating between the two. Add to a baking pan, pour the brine over the skewers, cover and chill for 1 to 6 hours.
  • In a small bowl combine the apricot, chili sauce, and ¼ cup beer, stir until well combined.
  • Preheat the grill to medium high.
  • Remove the skewers from brine, pat dry. Brush with glaze.
  • Add skewers to the grill, turn and brush with glaze every one to two minutes. Grill until pork is cooked through, about 8 to 10 minutes.


*If you can’t find country style pork ribs, lean towards a fattier cut of pork. Leaner cuts, like the loin and the chops, are much more likely to be dry and flavorless.

Beer Brined Pork and Pineapple Skewers with Apricot Chili Glaze

Beer Brat Cheese Dip

Beer Brat Cheese Dip 

Beer Brat Cheese Dip -2

A few years ago I is was at dive bar in Germany, perched at a pub table in the center of the room with two other people. We’d ordered beers, nameless, faceless pale lagers brewed close by. Through a thick accent the bartender suggested the sausage plate to go along with the beer. I’m never one to argue with those who serves my food, I instantly agreed.

A few minutes later he sets down a metal plate in the middle of the table. Coiled up in the center is a long snake of meat, one fork and a knife. We took turns slicing off a ring of hot juicy sausage, taking a bite, sipping our beer, and passing the utensils. Knife, fork, slice, bite, sip. Like teenagers huddled around a joint someone stole from their older brother, we waited anxiously for our next hit, playing it cool until it was our turn.

It didn’t take long for us to take down a two pound sausage. It went perfectly with the beer. Even as the cold beer and the warm sausage started slowly making their way to the same tepid temperature, it was still insanely satisfying.

Beer and sausage, not a bad way to spend an afternoon.

Beer Brat Cheese Dip -4

Beer Brat Cheese Dip


  • ¾ lbs 11 wt oz raw bratwurst, removed from casing
  • 12 ounces IPA or pale ale
  • 8 wt oz cream cheese
  • ½ lbs cheddar cheese shredded (about 4 cups)
  • ½ tsp smoked paprika
  • ½ tsp chili powder
  • 1 tsp garlic powder
  • 2 tbs cornstarch
  • ¼ cup green onions chopped


  • Cook the bratwurst in a pan oven medium high heat until well browned, breaking up as it cooks. Add ¾ cup beer, allow to simmer as you prepare the cheese sauce.
  • Add the remaining ¾ cup beer, cream cheese, cheddar (reserve 1 cup for the top), smoked paprika, chili powder, garlic powder, and cornstarch to a blender, blend until smooth.
  • Add cheese sauce to the pan, stirring until well combined.
  • Pour into an 8x8 baking dish, top with remaining cheddar.
  • Bake at 350 until cheese is bubbly. Garnish with green onions prior to serving.

Beer Brat Cheese Dip -1

IPA Pickles and Pickled Sweet Peppers

IPA Pickles and Pickled Sweet Peppers

When I was hardly out of my teens I sat down at a white formica table in a prominent Jewish deli in New York. Just after I placed my order, pastrami on rye, obviously, the waitress set down a plate of pickles. I hesitated, I hated pickled. The only run ins I’d had with those vinegared beasts was soggy, cooked tasting, nonsense that came via grocery store glass jars.

The waitress, an older woman with a thick brooklyn accent and bleach fried blonde hair was having none of my resistance, "These are the best in the city, eat up,"

So I did, I’m a people pleaser and I didn’t want her to be mad at me. I was amazed. Nothing at all like I’d ever had. Crisp, slightly sweet, a little herbal, and so delicious that I ate the entire plate. It was a revelation. Like finding out I don’t hate Chinese food, I just hate La Choy in a can, or that I actually like coconut I just hate Almond Joy bars.

It changed my world. I started pickling all kinds of things, like jalapenos, and coleslaw (minus the mayo) for pulled pork sliders, and I even once pickled under ripe strawberries just to see what would happen.

But the real moral of the story is that if a waitress twice your age tells you to eat something, you should do it. It’ll change your life.

IPA Pickles and Pickled Sweet Peppers-2


IPA Pickles and Pickled Sweet Peppers


  • 12 oz of IPA beer
  • 1 cup apple cider vinegar
  • 1 Tbs sugar
  • 2 Tbs salt
  • 1 Tbs black peppercorns
  • 5 to 10 sprigs fresh dill
  • ½ cup crushed ice
  • 1 lbs pickling cucumbers Kirby or Persian, sliced
  • 1 lbs small sweet rainbow peppers


  • In a pot over medium high heat add the beer, vinegar, sugar, salt and pepper corns. Bring to a simmer, stirring just until the sugar and salt dissolve, remove from heat.
  • Stir in the ice. Allow the brine to sit until room temperature.
  • Add the cucumbers to an air tight container, add a few sprigs of dill.
  • Add the rainbow peppers to a separate container, add a few sprigs of dill.
  • Pour the cooled brine over the cucumbers and the peppers, making sure all vegetables are submerged.
  • Chill for at least 24 hours prior to serving. Keep chilled or can properly for shelf storage.

IPA Pickles and Pickled Sweet Peppers

Sriracha Bloody Beer with Chili Sugar Bacon + New Years Resolutions For Beer People

Sriracha Bloody Beer with Chili Sugar Bacon + New Years Resolutions For Beer People

Sriracha Bloody Beer with Chili Sugar Bacon



We do this too often. Spinning a resolution in a sacrifice that will ultimately give way to our guilt over lack of follow through. It’s not your fault, it’s the resolution. You can spend all year giving up coffee, carbs, sugar, or sleeping in, but that’s not what we should focus on at the dawning of a brand new year. It’s not supposed to be torture, it’s meant for celebration. So don’t put yourself in a culinary time out, or throw yourself into a debt related guilt prison, give yourself a gift. Grow yourself and your interest. Save the torture and regret for Lent. If you’re a beer person, you’ve got some options. But you already knew that, you’re way more creative than those vodka soda people.

1. Get certified in beer. Make it a goal to study hard, read up, and earn yourself a Cicerone Certificate, which is a certification that proves to the world that you actually know beer. And if anyone questions you, you will now have the proof you need to silence your opposition.

2. Brew your own. If you’ve been wanting to try your hand at homebrewing, there is no better time to start. Buy a starter kit, join a homebrew club, and realize that your first batch will suck, possible explode in the fridge, and then the next one will suck less. If that doesn’t scare you off, then you’ll make a fantastic brewer someday. After you stop sucking at it (don’t worry, everyone sucks at first).

3. Go to a beer festival. There is no better way to connect with the craft beer community than to drink with us. Nearly every state has a Craft Beer Week, there are ale fests, stout fest, holiday beer fests, fresh hop fests, summer ale fests, (and on and on), in every state. Find one locally or go to a giant gathering of craft beer lovers from all over the world like The Great American Beer Festival.

4. Invest in glassware. You’ll be shocked at the flavor difference between your favorite beer when you drink it from shaker pint (or, god forbid, a mason jar) and when you sample it from a glass made specifically for that beer style. If you appreciate beer, and especially if you invest in good bottles, you’ll love serving it the proper way. Although the names of  a few of these glasses are a bit suspect, I love the line of glassware from Crate & Barrel (my favorites: stout glass, half pints, IPA glass, wheat beer glass, craft beer glass).

5. Learn beer terms. Grab a great intro to craft beer book like The Naked Pint: An Unadulterated Guide to Craft Beer,  Beer Pairing: The Essential Guide from the Pairing Pros by Julia Herz and Gwen Conley or The Beer Wench’s Guide to Beer: An Unpretentious Guide to Craft Beer by Ashley V. Routson and learn how to speak the craft beer language (affiliate links).

6. A new brewery every month. Most cities have more than enough established breweries or new start ups to take care of twelve months of brewery hopping. Stop in, grab a flight, and don’t forget to chat up the staff, beer people are the friendliest kind.

Sriracha Bloody Beer with Chili Sugar Bacon-3


Sriracha Bloody Beer with Chili Sugar Bacon

Servings 2 cocktails



  • 2 Celery ribs
  • 2 strips thick cut bacon
  • ½ tsp chili powder
  • 2 tsp brown sugar


  • 1 cup Calamato or tomato juice
  • 1 cup IPA beer
  • 1/2 tsp celery salt plus additional for glass rims
  • 1 tsp Sriracha
  • 1/2 tsp Worcestershire sauce
  • 2 tsp brine for a jar of spanish olive
  • 1/4 tsp cream style horseradish
  • 1 tbs lime juice about 1 medium lime
  • 1 tbs lemon juice about 1/2 medium lemon
  • 1/2 tsp black pepper
  • Ice


  • Preheat oven to 350.
  • Thread the bacon through oven safe skewers.
  • Sprinkle with brown sugar and chili powder.
  • Place on a wire rack over a baking sheet.
  • Bake until bacon is crispy, about 15 minutes.
  • Rim glasses with celery salt. Add all cocktail ingredients to a shaker half full of ice, swirl to combine. Strain into prepared glasses, garnish with celery and bacon skewer.

Sriracha Bloody Beer with Chili Sugar Bacon-1