Beer of the Week: Kuka Belgian Golden Ale

kukaKuka Belgian Golden Ale (9.2% ABV): This Belgian Strong Ale brewed by Andean Brewing Company in Blauvelt, New York pours clear, golden amber with a small, one-finger, white head. The unique ingredients – maca root and blue agave – encouraged me to try this brew. The aroma is mostly sweet malt, yeast, underlying peppery spiciness and overly ripe produce. Kuka Belgian Golden Ale has a fermented quality to it that, in my opinion, overpowers the overall flavor. There is a hop presence mixed with smokiness and fermented vegetable/fruit flavor. Some of the other reviews I read claimed this beer was sweet, but the bottle that I had no sign of sweetness whatsoever. I’m starting to question whether or not the bottle I had was expired. Overall, this was a bad drinking experience and not something I would want to drink again. I’m glad I didn’t have to buy a six-pack of this!

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Homemade Chocolate-Dipped Beer Marshmallows with Crushed Pretzel Garnish

I’ve always been a fan of Halloween – from pumpkin picking and carving to spooky decorations to dressing up. The candy – ahh the candy – has always been my favorite part, though. There’s something about those fun size candy bars that just makes it taste a little better. The fact that I no longer go trick-or-treating and can buy a 10 lb. bag of mini candy at every store has taken away some of the magic of the holiday. This year, I’ve decided to get in the mood by making homemade adult beer candy. Yep…you heard me!  Chocolate-Dipped Beer Marshmallows with Crushed Pretzel Garnish from the kitchn  will help bring out my inner child and satisfy the adult in you. Halloween just got a lot more interesting!

Photo Courtesy of www.thekitchn.com

Photo Courtesy of http://www.thekitchn.com

Ingredients (Makes 18 to 22 marshmallows, depending on how you cut them):

For the Bloom:
  • 1 1/2 tbsp. (just under 1/2 ounce) unflavored gelatin
  • 2 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 1/3 cup (2.5 ounces) flat dark beer

For the Sugar Syrup:

  • 1/4 cup (2 ounces) flat dark beer
  • 1/2 cup + 2 tablespoons (5 ounces) corn syrup or sugar cane syrup
  • 3/4 cup (6 ounces) granulated sugar
  • pinch salt

For Coating and Topping

  • 10-12 ounces milk chocolate
  • 2-3 teaspoons canola oil, optional – for thinning the melted chocolate
  • 1/2 cup stick pretzels

Cooking Directions:

  1. To flatten the beer, open the bottle and let it sit overnight. If you’re in a rush, pour it into a bowl and stir the beer with a whisk to release as much of the carbon dioxide as possible.
  2. Spray one standard bread loaf pan (8.5″ x 4.5″ or close) with nonstick spray or line it with parchment paper and then spray with nonstick coating. (If using parchment, tape the flaps to the outside of the pan so the paper stays in place when you spoon in the marshmallow.

For the bloom:

  1. Sprinkle the gelatin in the bowl of a stand mixer.
  2. Mix vanilla and flattened beer, and pour this over the gelatin.
  3. Whisk until no lumps remain.
  4. Set the bowl back into your mixer and fit the mixer with a whisk attachment.

For the sugar syrup:

  1. Combine the flattened beer, corn syrup, sugar, and salt in a 4-quart saucepan or larger.
  2. Clip a candy thermometer to the side.
  3. Turn the heat to medium-high and bring the sugar mixture to a boil. (As the syrup heats, it will foam up to nearly fill the pan.)
  4. Keep an eye on it so it doesn’t boil over.
  5. When the mixture is between 225° and 230°, let it bubble for another 5 minutes and then remove it from heat. (Ideally, the syrup should reach 240° – 250°, but I couldn’t get an accurate temperature reading in the foam. If your syrup starts to edge up toward 250°, take the pan off the heat and proceed with the next step.)

Now, let’s make marshmallows!

  1. With the mixer on low speed, carefully pour the sugar syrup down the side of the bowl into the gelatin bloom.
  2. Turn the mixer to high once all the syrup has been added and let it whip for 8-10 minutes, until it looks like glossy meringue and is very thick.
  3. Pour marshmallow into the loaf pan and let it cure, uncovered, for 10-12 hours or overnight.
  4. When the marshmallows are cured, rub the top with a little powdered sugar and turn the marshmallows out onto a cutting board.
  5. Rub the top with more powdered sugar.
  6. Cut into 18-22 squares of equal size.

For chocolate coating:

  1. Melt chocolate over a double-boiler or in 30-second bursts on HIGH in the microwave, stirring between each burst until the chocolate is melted.
  2. If the chocolate seems too thick, whisk in the canola oil one teaspoon at a time until the chocolate is thin enough to coat.
  3. Coat each marshmallow entirely and set them on a piece of wax paper to dry.
  4. While the chocolate is still wet, sprinkle the tops of the marshmallows with crushed pretzels or any other toppings you want. (Tip: I think you could make this a bit more themed for Halloween by topping with candy corn or crushed Oreos with a gummy worm.)
  5. The chocolate might have difficulty setting up if the weather is very humid; try putting the marshmallows in the fridge to help things along.

Note: Marshmallows will keep in a covered container for several weeks. In the summer, store in the refrigerator to prevent the chocolate from melting.

Dobrou Chut’!

Beer of the Week: Magic Hat Wilhelm Scream

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Magic Hat Wilhelm Scream (5.4% ABV): This pumpkin ale, available from August through October, from Magic Hat Brewing Company pours orange-mahogany with a thin, beige head that allows for a bit of lacing. The scents of fall infiltrate the senses with aromas of pumpkin, cinnamon, caramel malts and allspice. The rich quality of these heady flavors carries over into the overall taste, but Magic Hat does it in a way that gives Wilhelm Scream a lighter quality than many of the other pumpkin ales on the market. The right amount of carbonation and trace of bitterness captures the essence of fall you expect without creating a heavy, filling beer.

If you like this brewer, read what I thought about Elder Betty and Circus Boy.

* This beer war ordered at Tiff’s Bar & Grill in Morris Plains, NJ.

Pumpkin Punch

Get ready for Halloween with this adult treat that will have you looking at pumpkin beer in a whole new way!

Photo Courtesy of www.self.com

Photo Courtesy of http://www.self.com

Ingredients (Makes one cocktail):

  • 2 oz. Tequila (Recipe calls for Herradura Reposado.)
  • 2 oz. pumpkin ale
  • 1 oz. orange juice
  • 1 oz. canned pumpkin
  • 1/2 oz. agave
  • 2 dashes Angostura bitters

Optional (for garnish):

  • Star anise pod
  • Large slice orange zest

Germania Park Oktoberfest

Germania Park in Rockaway, NJ had its annual Oktoberfest celebration on September 20 – 21. It’s the first time I’ve been to this event, but locals tell me they’ve been coming for traditional German dishes, beer and music for years. The cash-only event will set you back $5 for adults plus food and drinks. Wine and spirits are available for purchases in addition to beer, but who celebrates Oktoberfest with wine? Not this girl. Hofbrau, Ramstein and Yuengling were available on tap for $5 and food ranged from about $4-$10.

Tip: This event uses $1 tickets as currency to speed up wait time for beers and brats. I didn’t see an ATM on site, so I recommend bringing cash and getting in the ticket line ASAP because it got a bit long at times.  Note: If you have left over tickets at the end of the night, you can sell your tickets back.

germania_park

Hofbräu Oktoberfest (6.3% ABV): This Marzen/Oktoberfest brewed by Hofbräu München in Munich pours a clear cinnamon brown with a thick, two-finger white head. The malty aroma has notes of bread, caramel and floral hops. Hofbräu Oktoberfest starts off with bitter hoppiness followed by rich, bready, caramel and a bit of sweetness. The flavors commingle to create a clean finish that will have you reaching for another beer all night. This is a traditional representation of the style that I look forward to every September.

Ramstein Oktoberfest (6% ABV): This Marzen/Oktoberfest, only available on draft for a limited time (September 1 – October 31), is brewed by High Point Brewing Company in Butler, NJ. It pours cloudy amber brown with a thin, light brown head. Ramstein Oktoberfest has a nice nose of cinnamon, nutmeg and malt with a bit of orange zest underneath. The flavor profile is all bready malt and sweet caramel with a bit of subtle bitterness to balance the flavor that finishes dry. This brew was a bit heavy compared to other beers in this style, but will appeal to those who like a slightly sweeter marzen.

 

Drunken Southwestern Stuffed Peppers

Autumn is in full swing and I want take advantage of all the fresh, local produce before it’s too late. I’ve been wanting to make stuffed peppers for some time and have been anxiously waiting for cool fall nights so I can use the oven. I’ve seen a ton of recipes for traditional stuffed peppers with rice and beef. But, I’ve been saving my carbs for beer, so I decided to go a different route and created my own recipe – Drunken Southwestern Stuffed Peppers. I love everything about this dish from the colorful bell peppers, tomatoes and corn to the full flavor with just the right amount of spiciness. I will definitely be adding this to my cookbook!

peppers

Ingredients (Makes 4 servings):

  • 4 Bell peppers
  • 1 lb. lean ground turkey
  • 1 15.5 oz. can black beans (rinsed and drained)
  • 1 10 oz. package frozen sweet corn
  • 1 large tomato, diced
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 3 tbsp. onion, chopped
  • 2/3 cup beer (I used a a Golden Ale, but you can use whatever you have on hand.)
  • Taco Seasoning to taste (I used Trader Joe’s, which is a bit spicy if you add too much, but it complemented the peppers really well.)
  • Salt to taste
  • 3/4 cup Monterey Jack cheese, shredded

Optional:

  • Sour cream

Cooking Directions:

  1. In a large skillet brown the turkey and season with salt.
  2. When the turkey is browned, add 1/3 cup beer, onion, garlic, black beans, diced tomatoes and taco seasoning .
  3. Mix well, cover and simmer on low for 20 minutes.
  4. Remove lid, add corn and simmer an additional 5-10 minutes or until liquid has reduced.
  5. Preheat oven to 350° Fahrenheit.
  6. Cut bell peppers in half lengthwise, removing seeds and stem. (Tip: It is much easier to remove the membrane and seeds by cutting the peppers this way instead of cutting off the tops. Plus, I think it looks nicer!)
  7. Spray oven-safe baking dish with cooking spray.
  8. Place peppers in dish and fill each pepper with filling.
  9. Pour remaining 1/3 beer on the bottom of the dish.
  10. Cover with foil and bake 45-60 minutes, or until the peppers become soft.
  11. Remove foil and top each pepper with shredded cheese and bake uncovered for an additional 5 minutes.
  12. Serve with a side salad.

Dobrou Chut’!