Skip to main content

Summer ale

Grilled Apricot Saison Shortcakes with Ginger Mascarpone Whipped Cream

Grilled Apricot Saison Shortcakes with Ginger Mascarpone Whipped Cream

Grilled Apricot Saison Shortcakes with Ginger Mascarpone Whipped Cream3

I have to show my cards when the very glaring hole in my beer resume is revealed the moment I am forced to admit that I don’t brew. I’m not a brewer, I’m just here for the beer. I’ll stick to what I’m good at and leave that to the pros. There is enough mediocre beer in the world without my adding to it. But don’t forget that every industry has more jobs that the Rock Star positions that get the focus. Music needs producers, PR people, engineers, designers, writers. So does beer. I’m not sure if I have the patience or disposition for the time, failure, cleaning, and re-working that brewing demands. I’ll contribute in a way that I can, and just spend my days imagining what I’d make if I get another chance to get behind a brew kettle with one of those pros.

Grilled Apricot Saison Shortcakes with Ginger Mascarpone Whipped Cream4

I always have a bit of a list of beers that I’d brewed if my imagination was able to take the solid form of a bottled beverage. Right now, I’d brew a Saison. I’d use matcha and peaches. Or apricots and butter. Can you brew a beer with butter? I have no idea. Yogurt, I know that’s possible. But butter? My talents don’t reach those avenues. But if you do brew, and you make a Saison with matcha and peaches, or apricots and butter, please let me know. I’ll want to get my hands on that.

Grilled Apricot Saison Shortcakes with Ginger Mascarpone Whipped Cream2

Grilled Apricot Saison Shortcakes with Ginger Mascarpone Whipped Cream

Servings 8 -10 shortcakes


For the Shortcakes

  • 3 ½ 420g cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon 4g baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon 6g baking soda
  • ½ teaspoon 3g salt
  • ¼ cup 65g granulated sugar
  • 8 tablespoons unsalted cold butter cut into cubes
  • ¾ cup 187mL Saison beer
  • 1/3 cup 74g buttermilk

For the Filling:

  • 12-16 ripe fresh apricots
  • 1 tablespoon 16g brown sugar, packed
  • 8 wt oz mascarpone cheese
  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • ¼ cup powdered sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • ¼ teaspoon ginger finely grated with a microplane


  • Preheat oven to 425.
  • In a processor add flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and sugar.
  • Pulse to combine. Add the cold butter, process until well combined.
  • Add the beer and buttermilk, process until just combined.
  • Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Drop about ¼ cup balls of dough onto the parchment, evenly spaced.
  • Bake for 10 to 12 minutes or until lightly golden brown and cooked through.
  • Cut the apricots in half, remove the pits. Add to a preheated grill, grilling until grill marks appear, about 3 minutes. Remove from heat, slice, add to a bowl and sprinkle with brown sugar, toss to coat.
  • Add the mascarpone to a bowl, beat until light and fluffy. Add the heavy cream, beat on high until soft peaks form. Add in the powdered sugar, vanilla and ginger, stir until combined.
  • Split the shortcakes, fill with mascarpone whipped cream and apricots.

Grilled Apricot Saison Shortcakes with Ginger Mascarpone Whipped Cream1

Chili Beer Chicken Tacos with Pineapple Salsa + Best Summer Beer Tub Beers

20 minute dinner: Chili Beer Chicken Tacos with Pineapple Salsa

Chili Beer Chicken Tacos with Pineapple Salsa1

Stocking a beer tub for a summer party is as important as planning the food. Beer sets a tone and fuels conversation.  It’s as much about offering your friends their favorites as it is about introducing them to new ones.

 When planning the brew menu keep in mind the types of drinkers you’ve invited as well as how far you want to push their palates. Offer your guests safe choices, slight pushes in new directions, and a few more extravagant options for the fearless few who want to try something new.

Keep in mind that while you may be drawn to the bold punch of a triple IPA, don’t forget that long summer parties pair better with lower alcohol session ales to keep your guests (or yourself) from becoming a cautionary tale or a viral YouTube video. Keep most of your offerings below 6% ABV to help your guests stay in control.

Wheat beer: This is an important addition to your beer tub. The low hop profile is perfect for the "craft beer is too bitter" guy. Most wheat beer is very low on the bitterness scale and a common gateway for those new to craft beer. Wheat beer is also insanely drinkable and pairs easily with a wide array of foods.

Recommended: Allagash // White,  Bell’s // Poolside AleDogfish Head // Namaste , Widmer//Hefe, 21st Amendment // Hell or High Watermelon,

Pilsners: Pilsners are having a moment in the craft beer scene right now. Pilsners are about balance, no one ingredient takes center stage. They are hoppy but aren’t the hop bombing  IPA’s or the malt saturated Belgians on the other end of the spectrum. Pilsners are a crisp, drinkable introduction to hops with nice carbonation for summer drinking and burger eating. They are also the perfect way to show Macro Beer Guy that he might actually love a crisp refreshing beer that has a kick of flavor to it.

Recommended: North Coast // Scrimshaw, Breakside // Liquid SunshineVictory // Prima Pils

 Session IPA’s. Given that you’ll be the host for a mass beer consumption, you should be mindful of ABV. While many-a guest might scoff at the 4% brew, and feel a manly surge of testosterone when he cracks open a 12 % beast, you know he needs to get home intact. Session beer (beer that has less than 5% ABV) has so much flavor no one will miss the alcohol, or the obnoxious behavior as a result.

Recommended: Odell // Loose Leaf, Left Hand // Good Juju, Rogue // 4 Hop, Oskar Blues // Pinner, Fort George // Suicide Squeeze 

Classic Pale Ales. These are the standards, the beers that got us into craft beer. The ones that make us nostalgic and are easy to share. It’s hard to fill a tub without a few of these in the mix.

Recommended: Sierra Nevada // Pale Ale, Stone // Pale Ale, Oskar Blues // Dales Pale Ale

Sour & Wild Ales. Love ’em or hate ’em, sours are part of the conversation and a rapidly growing style in today’s craft beer market. Grab a few for your guests, you’ll never know who is going to love them, maybe even you.

Recommended: Odell // Brombeere Blackberry Gose, New Glarus // Raspberry Tart, Anderson Valley // Blood Orange Gose,

Chili Beer Chicken Tacos with Pineapple Salsa2


Chili Beer Chicken Tacos with Pineapple Salsa

Total Time 20 minutes
Servings 4 servings


  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • ¼ cup 36g chopped white onion
  • 6 boneless skinless chicken thighs
  • 1 teaspoon 6g salt
  • 2 teaspoons 6g chili powder
  • 1 teaspoon 3g garlic powder
  • 1 teaspoon 3g onion powder
  • ½ teaspoon 3g cumin
  • ½ teaspoon 1g smoked paprika
  • ¼ teaspoon 0.5g cayenne powder
  • 12 ounces wheat beer or summer ale (not too hoppy)
  • 1 cup chopped pineapple
  • ¼ cup chopped red onion
  • 1 jalapeno chopped
  • ¼ cup chopped cilantro
  • pinch salt
  • ½ tsp red chili sauce
  • juice from ½ lime
  • 12 Good quality corn tortillas


  • Add the olive oil to a pan over medium high heat. Cook the onions until starting to brown.
  • Sprinkle the chicken breast on all sides with salt. Add to the pan, cook on both sides until seared. Sprinkle chicken chili powder, onion powder, cumin, and cayenne. Add the beer, bring to a simmer, reduce heat to maintain a simmer (do not boil). Cover with a lid, allow to simmer until chicken is cooked through, about 8 minutes.
  • Remove chicken from the pan, shred using two forks. Return the chicken to the pan, allow to simmer for 3 minutes. Remove from pan, add to a serving platter.
  • In a serving bowl add the pineapple, jalapenos, cilantro, salt, chili sauce and lime juice, stir to combine.
  • Serve the chicken in the tortillas, topped with the salsa.

Chili Beer Chicken Tacos with Pineapple Salsa4

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.

Grilled Corn and Crab Salad with Summer Ale Cilantro Vinaigrette


Grilled Corn and Crab Salad with Summer Ale Cilantro Vinaigrette_

I took a conference call yesterday with a research firm that’s spending considerable effort studying the trends of craft beer and food. An honest look at craft beer from an outsider is an interesting pool to swim in. They asked the standard questions, thoughtful and curious, and it almost always turns in the same direction:

"Why craft beer? Why now?"

I can talk about how the locavore spirit and a push towards more thoughtful eating has naturally spilled over into beverages. I can talk about how this new generation of drinkers, those who have come of legal imbibing age in the past five years are those Facebook gernerationists that have grown up in a culture of eco-friendly, culinary aware coolness and craft beer just makes sense to them. But that really isn’t the answer.

Pour the same beverage in a pint glass, but remove the impassioned brewer who’s barley making ends meet but refuses to sacrifice quality, take away the friendly comunal tables, and the tap room jockey that can’t wait to talk about the seasonal release, strip that all away and that pint isn’t the same. Craft beer isn’t just a beverage, it’s a community. It’s a culture that’s grown around a shared fascination of a culinary art, but it’s the culture that’s the big draw. It’s the people. The beer is fantastic, the beer keeps us coming back, but it’s the people that have grown the phenomenon. It’s the fact that craft beer isn’t just something you drink, it’s something you get to live. That’s why beer.


Grilled Corn and Crab Salad with Summer Ale Cilantro Vinaigrette 2

Grilled Corn and Crab Salad with Summer Ale Cilantro Vinaigrette


  • 2 ears of corn grilled, kernels cut off
  • 6 wt oz lump crab meat
  • ½ cup tomatoes chopped
  • 1 avocado chopped
  • for the vinaigrette:
  • ¼ cup cilantro packed
  • 1 tsp brown sugar
  • 1 clove garlic smashed
  • pinch salt
  • 1 tbs lime juice
  • 3 tbs summer ale
  • 3 tbs olive oil


  • Put the corn kernels, crab, tomatoes, and avocado in a large bowl, set aside.
  • In a food processor add the cilantro, brown sugar, garlic, salt, lime juice and beer, process until well combined. While the food processor is running, slowly add the olive oil in a slow steady stream, blend until smooth.
  • Drizzle the dressing over the salad, toss to combine.

Grilled Corn and Crab Salad with Summer Ale Cilantro Vinaigrette 3