Tag Archives: brewing

The Homebrewer’s Wife

Let’s subtitle this post: The many perks of being married to a homebrewer. (Remember my post about Guinness and spent grain cinnamon rolls?)

Joe started brewing a couple of years ago, inspired by our brother-in-law, Andy. Aside from one instance when I came home from an adult tap dancing lesson to see smoke billowing from the kitchen, it’s been an excellent adventure that’s turned me into a bit of a beer snob. Homebrewing is a hobby that gradually becomes a way of life.

In went a great retro keg fridge for the garage this past spring. Nothing chases an afternoon of yard work better than a lemon basil beer.

We’ve started to make brewpubs a must-stop element of any trip (even our honeymoon in Austria), and recently talked beers with the brewmaster at Old Man River in McGregor, Iowa over a late lunch at the bar. (The brewery crafts Backpocket beers, which are awesome and extra fun because of the great graphic design on the labels. We learned they’ll be opening a Backpocket Brewery in Iowa City soon!)

And then last night, the guys overdid themselves by developing and cooking a four course beer dinner for me and Ellen and Caroline, who paired everything with juice. (It was a supersweet surprise, complete with the wearing of aprons and a printed out menu.)

They found the framework of the dinner on CraftBeer.com, but came up with the specific beer pairings and tweaked the recipes themselves. (They even went to random meatlocker warehouses in search of lamb! They ended up getting it at Gateway Market, though.) The idea is that we’d sample the different microbrews with dinner, then help select the next beer type they’d try making. And I’d have to stay out of the kitchen all day, reading and going on walks with the dog instead of emptying the dishwasher? SOLD!

Isn't this Cubs apron hilarious? Ellen made it for Joe last Christmas. The guys also made some spent grain bread to go with the meal.

Here’s what they made for us. It was all delicious, and the photos I took with flash couldn’t do it all justice, so I won’t even post most of them.

  • First Course: Linguine Carbonara Paired with a Belgian-style Dark Abbey Ale (they paired it with a New Belgium Abbey Belgian Style Ale)

  • Second Course: Indian-spiced Crab Cakes Paired with an India Pale Ale (paired with Red Hook Long Hammer IPA)
  • Third Course: Roast Rack of Lamb Paired with a Brown Ale or Porter (paired with Rogue Hazelnut Brown Nectar)
  • Fourth Course: Imperial Stout Float (paired with Belles Special Double Cream Stout — topped with some awesome organic spiced chocolate shavings.)

And to think that four years ago today, I wooed Joe by inviting him to my apartment for dinner. I made a bruschetta chicken bake off of the back of a Stove Top Stuffing box and we took the black lab I was dog-sitting for a post-meal walk around the neighborhood! I was so nervous that night and I still remember what I wore. Last night it was great to relax by the fire and laugh and drink with my family. Being married to a homebrewer/guy like Joe has some pretty solid perks, I must say!

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Good morning, Guinness

The elaborate breakfasts Joe used to spoil me with back when he’d work evenings have dwindled now that we’re on the same earlier morning schedule — the one real drawback of his new job. (I can hardly complain, since it means I don’t eat a microwave quesadilla in the dark by myself for dinner.) But the other night Joe prepared a baked breakfast in advance and I had to share.

He got the recipe for chocolate cinnamon mini-buns with caramel stout glaze from the latest issue of his home brewer magazine, and so we had a Guinness-glazed breakfast.

Basically, you make dough using spent grains (3/4 c) from the brewing process, water (1.5 c), yeast (1t), flour (3 c)and oil (1/3 c).

That makes enough dough for two batches of the rolls, filled with melted butter, cinnamon, sugar and mini chocolate chips. The glaze? A Guinness reduction, of course.

Cheers!

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Beer tea me

This weekend has completely spoiled me:

1) Joe’s on furlough (yep, another week of unpaid vacation from the paper) , so I actually have a husband to hang out with, for once. We even played Monopoly.

2) I got to dress up (makeup, hair in rollers and everything) TWICE — once at a University event Joe and I capped off by stopping in to Cafe di Scala for drinks and gusto pizza, and another at our dear friend Arin’s 30th birthday soiree.

3) We finally filled the frames that had been hanging with weird model placeholder photos with our own photographs from our wedding. After a year and a half, we’re still doing some basic moving-in things. I like that our house is changing a little at a time, though.

Plus a mishmash of other lovely things that will be fodder for future posts.

Today, we went over and Joe and I made beer tea with Joe’s sister, Ellen, and her husband, Andy. Joe and Andy started homebrewing together, and so wanted to experiment with some creative flavors. Basically, they just steeped a few ingredients in hot water and we’d taste them to see if they’d make interesting beers. It was an afternoon of juniper berries, sarsaparilla, lemons, basil, ginger and just about anything else we could think to dunk in hot water.

The laboratory.

I’d like to taste a lemon basil shandy this summer. I can already feel a warm June night where we eat outside and pair it with my mom’s recipe for amazing lemon chicken. These are the kind of daydreams that help melt away those middle-of-January-in-Iowa chills.

Oh, and totally loving that now that I work in higher ed, I get MLK Monday off work.

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