Monthly Archives: July 2014

Cooking With Beer: Pizza Dough 2 (Electric Boogaloo)

 

Photo 2014-07-31, 6 11 48 PM

So remember back in the early days of this site three years ago, when I wrote a post about beer pizza dough and included a recipe?

No? Oh thank god. Good. Don’t try and search for it. Just keep reading.

After a few years of making pizza at home, I’ve figured out a recipe that works for me. It’s fast, it’s simple, and it’s damned tasty. Beer in pizza dough sounds like such an odd combination, but I assure you the taste is divine. Even more fun is that the taste is different with each beer you use, so there’s lots of room for experimentation. Personally, I find that a good Weisse provides a nice light flavour to it. If you do this right, you’ll get a crisp, thin dough with the sharp flavours of the extra old white cheddar and the subtle dry sweetness of the Weisse.

So a couple of disclaimers here. Firstly, and please don’t hit me, I don’t usually make my pizzas with cheese on it. Weird personal preference I know, but that’s just the way I am. The second is that in regards to pizza sauce, there so many personal preference on that. Some like to make their own, others like to get some more upscale stuff…it’s all good.  However, if you can’t get a hold of/don’t wish to use other things, I usually get the cheap, $0.97 Unico cans and add whatever I want to it while spreading it out on the dough (Usually Buffalo Sauce or Siriracha). There are other options, but this one is mine for the moment.

So shall we go on to the recipe? Alright then, here we go.

Here’s what you need.

3 cups of flour
1 cup of shredded parmesan (I use the Kraft brand because I’m not a member of the Rockefeller Clan)
1 cup of freshly grated extra old white cheddar
Pinch of salt
1.5 cups of Hefe Weisse (Hacker-Pshorr is my favourite at the time of writing this, But Erdinger has proven to be a good substitute)

 

1. Mix the flour, salt, parm, and cheddar in a large mixing bowl and then pour in the beer. Mix with your hands until you wind up with a large, slightly sticky ball of dough. Really make sure you have a large bowl, as that beer really bubbles up.
2. Leave for 15 minutes to half an hour. Maybe watch an episode of Food Party. It’s a good cooking show.
3. Split the big dough ball in to two. Keep one and put the other in the fridge for another day. Flatten the ball of dough you have on a floured surface to be as flat as you can get it.
4. transfer to baking sheet sprayed with oil spray. Spray the flattened dough for good measure
5. Put your ingredients on. Give it one last quick run through with the oil spray.
6. put it 425F oven for 15 minutes or until crust is golden brown and crispy.
7. BOOM. Pizza.
Hope you enjoy it!
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Simple Done Well

becausebeer

I was at the first Because Beer Festival at the beautiful Pier 4 Park in Hamilton, Ontario a couple of weeks ago. Summer is a wonderful time because, well, there are less beer events that take place in cramped spaces and the noble Beer Geek can roam free in the glory of the outdoors. This was especially true for the Because Beer Festival because we had a gorgeous parkland and a hell of a view of the lake to go with out tasty beverages. It was definitely a beer event put on by people who have handled these before and it seemed to go off without so much as a whiff of a hitch. But it was there that I noticed a switch in myself. The biggest hit for me at the festival was, like a Hobbit’s involvment in a quest involving a ring, rather surprising. It was a simple, well-crafted English Blonde Ale by Maclean’s Ale, out of Hanover, Ontario. A simple English Blonde Ale made very, very well by a man, Charles MacLean, who has been making beers like this since the 80s.

In Toronto Star columnist Corey Mintz‘s book  “How to Host a Dinner Party” he talks about early on when he interviewed accomplished food writer and then editor of Gourmet Magazine Ruth Reichl. After trying to figure out where to take her for the interview, he decided to invite her to his place where he would make her lunch. He was terrified about what to make her, but then, very simply, put himself in his guest’s shoes. As a restaurant critic, you go out all the time and eat expensive, rich food. While delicious, it can get tiring. “So I made us GLT (guanciale, lettuce, and tomato) sandwiches.” he says. “This was a valuable lesson for later. When you really need to impress someone, choose the simplest thing and make it well.”

To be clear, I’m not saying anything bad about all of the incredible, wonderful, and innovative beers that have been coming out lately. We’re at a wonderful time right now where there is so much variety coming out at such a fast pace. It’s getting harder and harder to keep track of them all and I for one think that’s a very good problem to have. I love beers that enflame the senses, make me think, and prove to be a combination of flavours that I would never have thought to combine. I’m just saying that along with that, I have a high appreciation for a well-made beer with a simple concept that I can look to as an “old reliable” for years to come.

So here are just a couple of local and non-local beers that I’m enjoying that fit that bill.

sidelaunch-wheatSide Launch Wheat – Brewery originally known as Denison’s, but has undergone a merger and rebranding, Side Launch Brewing Head Brewer Michael Hancock has been making this exact beer since it first appeared in the Denison’s brewpub in 1989. It’s a damn fine Bavarian style unfiltered wheat beer that pours a hazy yellow and has such beautiful taste notes as banana and a hint of lemon. Absolutely perfect for the summer season.

Schneider Weisse Original Tap 7 – For about 300 years the Bavarian Royal Family held exclusive rights to brew wheat beers. In 1872, due to declining sales, King Ludwig II discontinued the production of the style and later sold the right to brew wheat beer to brewer Georg Schneider. My usual advice to international folks on picking their first Weiss is to maybe make it the ACTUAL first one. Schneider Weisse Original Tap 7 is one of my go-tos for the style. With the brewery owned and operated by the Schneider family for 142 years, it’s safe to say that you can’t go wrong with this beer.

beer_7702Black Oak Nut Brown – One of the original flagships of Black Oak Brewing when their doors first opened in late 1999, any change that has been made to this beer has been an improvement. Very traditional and solid Brown Ale with notes of caramel and malt that don’t assault the senses, but provide a really nice balance on the tongue.

Muskoka Detour – The youngest beer of the group featured here. I wrote about Detour in the Session Beers post a while back and my opinion of it hasn’t changed. 4.3% ABV with gorgeous, subtle, citrus aromas, a hint of mandarin oranges in the taste and a quick dry finish. Absolutely perfect Summertime porch-sipping beer that has proven to be a good gateway beer for a lot of newcomers.

whitesWorthington White Shield – A lot of my English Beer Geek friends roll their eyes at this one, but to me it’s a solid English IPA that we just don’t get enough of this side of the pond. Originally marketed by Worthington’s Ale as East India Pale Ale in 1829 and then started going by White Shield when the logo of a (prepare for a shock now) white shield appeared on the bottles in around 1870, The Burton-Upon-Trent based beer is now owned by MolsonCoors and sees a pretty regular international distribution. That said, it’s the first time I’ve seen a CAMRA label on a bottle in Ontario and the beer is incredibly balanced. Nice amount of sweetness, nice amount of dryness, and best when consumed at cellar temperature (10-12C/50-55F). Of course it’s probably not going to be the same beer that was let out in the 1800s, but it’s still damn fine.

Do you have any reliables? Please feel free to leave a comment!

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Filed under Gateway Beers, Local

Vegas, Baby, Vegas: Las Vegas Breweries and Beer Beyond The Strip

nuka

“Good people drink good beer.” – Hunter S. Thompson, Fear & Loathing in Las Vegas

With the Saveur thing over and done with, I had an incredibly late flight the next night. An intentional move on my part, as I wanted to explore the city for a while and see what there was in ways of beer. Unfortunately, planned brewery visits had to be cancelled because cabs are ridiculously expensive in Vegas. A 20 minute cab ride is roughly $58, so unless you have a friend with a car or know your way around the public transportation system in Vegas (That was a big no on both for me), I decided to walk around to a few locations and gather some information. A big part of this involved walking around the city all day, which I won’t recommend without sunscreen and liquids, but is still worth doing for, among other reasons, the beautiful silence of the area compared to the chaos of The Strip.

The Strip is an incredibly cheesy, horrible place. I mean, I appreciate it and get why many people would love it, but at the same time it combines three things that I can’t say I’m fond of: crowds of people, encouragement of rabid consumerism, and encouragement of binge drinking. Only on the Strip is it perfectly legal to walk around with yard-high margaritas or bottles of beer. Why? One reason is that it was happening so frequently that it was thought that police could be put to better use, but another thought suggests that since The Strip brings in those sweet tourism dollars, it’s in the city’s interest to look the other way for that one area at least. The result is a street full of incredibly drunk frat boys and girls screaming, hanging out of the windows of their stretch SUVs, collapsing and vomiting on the sidewalk…you get the picture. I kind of wish I was exaggerating on that, but that just seems to be a regular weeknight on The Strip.

The rest of Vegas, though, and I don’t mean Old Vegas, I mean the places where people actually live…can be a pretty magical place, with a thriving music scene and an incredible craft beer scene with it’s own unique breweries.

– Bit of a disclaimer here, one day clearly wasn’t enough to give a full-on guide or any real impression on Vegas Proper. While I did sample beers from a handful of the breweries, there was still a lot of ground that wasn’t covered. Oddly, despite my glowing review of the Strip, I will be returning to Vegas. These experiences are my own and really, if you folks have any suggestions of breweries and brews, please feel free to comment. –  

For whatever reason you can’t leave the Strip at all, there still are places to find the beer there. Sin City Brewing Co. has a few locations within the Strip and about four regular beers with a seasonal, but personally I wasn’t impressed at all with what I had by them and found the advertising featuring busty gals in hot pants nauseating. For the odd reasonably priced bottle or 6-pack, the convenience stores and pharmacies have some hidden gems among them. Even the stores within the hotels have a few interesting bottles but remain, ironically, a crap shoot.

The best pub I found on the Strip was…well…THE PUB found in the Monte Carlo Hotel & Casino. It features an extensive menu of about 130 drinks on tap including a few ciders, though it should be said they are a bit on the pricy side. My biggest suggestion would be to purchase flights, as you can cover more ground that way without getting wrecked. The Pub is run by some good beer geeks who believe in having a strong local option, so several Las Vegas beers are stocked there along with many international and American beers. The environment is sports bar, so nights get kind of rowdy with things like Karaoke and sports-ball games , but for something in the mid-afternoon it’s the perfect setting.

Beyond the Strip there is the Hofbräuhaus Las Vegas, a German Beer Hall and one of the weirdest locations I’ve been to. After 30-40 minutes of walking in the unforgiving desert heat, I figured a good Hofbrau Weisse break was in order. Upon entering I was greeted by a number of things. Firstly the music, which was The Chicken Dance. My sight was taken up by various cheesy German-themed posters and souvenirs with phrases like “It’s a real sausage fest in here!” painted on them, and a large screen television showing FOX’s hit show COPS was playing by the bar. As I sat there, drinking in the nourishing weisse, listening to music only Lawrence Welk would love and watching a 300lb drunk topless man surrender to the police on TV before attacking them again, I couldn’t help but feel I was still outside walking and that this was all a heat stroke-induced hallucination.  The beer was good, but I think my only reason for going back there would be for the completely surreal experience I had just sitting there.

After that I found my way to The Freakin’ Frog on the advice of my friend, talented journalist Joshua Ellis, who lived around the corner from there for years. The Freakin’ Frog is pretty incredible, a 5-10 minute drive from The Strip and a short walk from the University of Las Vegas campus, it has 12 regularly rotating taps, over 1,100 bottles, and a the largest selection of Whiskies I have ever seen held in their “Whiskey Attic”. What is on tap are some incredible national and international beer talent, but the bottles are the best reason to go there. Instead of giving you a list to choose from, they escort you in to their sizeable beer fridge and let you pick out what you want (while also offering suggestions in case you get overwhelmed) with a strict “you break it you bought it” policy . Once you’ve chosen what you want, they ring it up for you and it’s all yours. I took my time in the fridge to pick something that was a bit more suitable of a celebration beer than what I had the night before with Saveur and went with the Rueuze Gueuze brewed by reknowned Bruery from Placentia, CA. It lovingly danced the line between acidic and dry, with notes of lemon and apricots. Incredibly tasty.

I should mention as well, that near the Freakin’ Frog are two pretty fun non-beer things. First up is Alternate Reality Comics, by far one of the best comic shops I’ve been to with a great selection of indie titles. Run by a really nice guy named Ralph Mathieu, who is both incredibly knowledgeable and kind. Second is more if you’re a fan of Fallout: New Vegas. The National Atomic Testing Museum contains many amazing pieces and stands as the home to one of the most comprehensive collections of atomic history that shows that war never changes.

While I didn’t get a chance to head out there, as it was on the opposite side of the city and I had a limited amount of time, nearly every person I asked said that Khoury’s Fine Wine & Spirits was the place to go for my Craft Beer needs. It’s a dedicated and well stocked bottle shop with about 9 rotating taps and the option to open what bottle your purchase right there or take it home with you. A lot of the beer geeks I talked to had credited that place, open since 2004, as the place that got them in to craft beer. When I return to Vegas, it will be to check that place out for sure.

IMG_8427Now, as for Vegas Breweries, the two the struck me the most were Tenaya Creek and Joseph James. Joseph James has a Double IPA called “Hop Box” which had lovely notes of marmalade and pine, with a sweet finish, making it quite refreshing. Tenaya Creek seems to have adapted to the desert and is producing some damn fine beers that also double as much-needed heat busters. Their Hefeweizen was a bit light on the body, but did a good job of cooling me off. Plus I have to admit that the beer would be a good gateway beer to tourists of the city who may not know about craft beer. Their Calico Brown was also a good drink to match the weather, especially as there was no syrupy mouthfeel as it warmed up. Nice roasted notes with a creamy caramel taste at the back.

And that was, for the most part, my Vegas experience on my one day off. There’s still a bunch of breweries I would have liked to have checked out, (Award-winning Big Dog Brews, and Chicago Brewing Company) along with a few non-beer related things, but all in all it was pretty damn fun.

– Nuka Beer image by Italiener – 

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