Category Archives: Cooking With Beer

Beer Nog, Holiday Message, and Good Tidings

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Well, it’s that time of year again, where a bearded fat man, in celebration of Jesus, breaks in to your house in the middle of the night, eats your food, and leaves a few things before moving on to the next house. For others who don’t recognize this bizarre annual disturbance, it is also the holidays and a good bit of time off work.

There are many ways (and reasons) to enjoy beer over the holidays and the variety is, as it has always been, limitless (though in the cold winter months I’ve noticed many folks tend to go with the dark and/or boozy beers like Imperial Stouts, Belgian Tripels, or Dark IPAs). While of course nothing quite beats enjoying them in a glass on their own to either wrap up a day of gift wrapping or in an attempt to shut out the family arguments, there is a way to combine your beer with the OTHER favourite drink of the holidays. I refer, of course, to the ‘Nog.

Yep, you can indeed mix eggnog with your beer, though picking the right beer isn’t as easy as it sounds. It can’t be too bitter or too dry, so something creamy and a touch on the sweet side would do marvelously. Beers I would suggest to use are Mill Street‘s Vanilla Porter, New Holland Dragon’s Milk Bourbon Barrel Stout, or North Coast Old Rasputin Imperial Stout. Though thinking on it, a nice coffee stout might also go pretty wonderfully. If any of you folks have other suggestions, please please PLEASE put them in the comments.

Now that a beer is picked you have two ways of going about it. You can either do a mix with store bought eggnog or you can make your own. If you’re going with the first method, I’d suggest 3 parts of nog to about 2 parts of beer. Possibly throw in a bit of milk and nutmeg/cinnamon.

For the make-it-your-own method, the author of The Craft of Stone Brewing Co. and The Sriracha Cookbook Randy Clemens made a damned good recipe way back in 2009. Here it is…

Beer Nog Recipe

6 eggs*, separated
1/2 c sugar, plus 2 Tbsp
2 1/2 c whole milk
1 1/2 c heavy cream
1 tsp vanilla extract
10 fl oz of beer (Clemens suggests Port Brewing Old Viscosity or other dark, strong ale)
2 tsp freshly ground nutmeg

Whisk 6 egg yolks and 1/2 cup sugar in the bowl of a stand mixer for several minutes, until the yolks lighten in color and double in volume. Lower speed of mixer and add milk, cream, vanilla, beer, and nutmeg, stirring until combined. Reserve yolk mixture. Wash mixer bowl and whisk attachment thoroughly (any traces of dairy or egg yolk left on equipment will keep the egg whites from whipping properly).

Whisk 6 egg whites in cleaned stand mixer on high. Gradually add in remaining 2 Tbsp sugar and continue whisking until stiff peaks form. Gently fold egg whites into yolk mixture. Chill and serve, topping each glass with additional grated nutmeg if desired. Serves 8.

And with that, I just wanted to say Happy Holidays from me and mine to you and yours. I’ll go in to a bit more detail on my new year’s post, but 2014 was a hell of a year for this little site and its humble but pretty tall author and none of it would have happened without viewers like you. Thanks for reading, thanks for talking, and I hope your holidays, however you spend them, are as relaxing as they can be.

 

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A Nice Cuppa Cascade – The Benefits of Hop Tea

 

NOTE: While the point of this post is showing some cool things that hop tea helps out with, it should be stated that if your symptoms are REALLY bad and you’re in a lot of pain, a doctor would be better. Really. 

So, this might come as a complete shock to people who know me well, but…well…every now and then I get stressed and have the odd bout of anxiety. I know, I know, I hide it well, but it’s time that was revealed. So it was interesting for me to find, while aimlessly following an internet search engine trail, that the very same hops that go in to my beer also works as a holistic remedy for stress and several other maladies. Even a few complaints, afflictions, and one or two indispositions.

Thanks to the oils contained in them, hops are believed to help with anxiety, stress, stress-induced stomach problems and insomnia. On top of that, the plant is also a source of estrogen, encouraging milk production for breastfeeding mothers, helping reduce the wild ride that is menopause and bringing down the living hell of period cramps. To make the most of the benefits, it’s encouraged that the hops be fresh enough that the oils haven’t dried out. Freshly picked or bagged versions from homebrew shops should be fine.

After reading all of that, I figured this was worth a test. As luck would have it, the Cascade hops that I have growing on the frame of my porch were just about ready for picking and I had to do a work-related task soon that has a tendancy to cause some high levels of anxiety. I picked a few cones, broke them up, and put them in my french press along with some boiled water. After waiting a few minutes I got this yellowish (yellow from the lupulin sacs that contain the oils), extremely bitter tea. Having never before been so excited to stress myself out, I took my tea and a nice little cup with me to my office and got to work.

To my surprise, the tea worked. I still felt stressed, but instead of going in to the usual red alert which leaves me irritable and worn out, the tea was very noticeably keeping it at a low, steady level. On top of that, I was also feeling rather sleepy and in need of a nap, which wasn’t totally unwelcome.

So for now I’m sold on trying the tea out more. However, while the type of hops in the tea were my favourite and provided a nice taste, it was still really bitter and I can’t help but feel that there were better ways to try it out. Perhaps by making a blend with another tea. So off the bat, here are a couple of other teas to throw in the teapot with the hops. All depends on the purpose.

To Sleep – Chamomile, Lavender, Peppermint (Fun tip: you can also make aromatherapy sleep pillows with these ingredients)

To Soothe the Stomach – Peppermint, Ginger

To Soothe Cramps – Chamomile, Ginger, Raspberry Leaf,

To De-Stress – Kava, Passionflower, Chamomile, Lavender

So if you’re ever feeling stressed out or in need of a good night’s sleep and happen to have some hops handy, maybe give hop tea a try!

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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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These Pretzels Are Making Me Thirsty – Pretzel & Beer Workshop

Ah, the Pretzel. So soft, so salty, so delicious. Aside from a cheese and cured meat platter, it’s one of my favourite companions with beer.

So it was a thrill to be invited to Kitchen Canada and attend a workshop on how to properly make an authentic, German pretzel, with suggested beer pairings by the folks at Great Lakes Brewery here in Ontario.

Said to be originally created around 610 AD by an Italian monk who used them as rewards for children who learned their prayers, the Germans, like cars, went with the original idea and perfected it. Of course though, there are many varieties of Pretzel out there from all different parts of the world.

Some fun Pretzel facts:

–      Spelled and pronounced “Brezel” in Germany.

–      Pretzels were a very common Easter gift. They would be hidden along with Eggs.

–       The famous shape of pretzels are believed by some to be the shape of hands in prayer.

–       The Pretzel was the symbol for South Germany’s Baker’s Guild. I like to imagine they were a kind of illuminati, but with more cupcakes and pretzels.

–       The “skin” of soft pretzels is made by dipping the unbaked pretzel in a solution of water and lye (yes, the stuff from Fight Club). A substitute of baking soda can be worked with as well.

–       Thanks to its heavy German population, Pennsylvania is the pretzel capital of the US. And here I was thinking the state was just the birthplace of the Crayola Crayon.

–       You can put anything on pretzels. Chocolate, cheese, chili flakes, pudding. The only limit is your imagination.

–       Famous former children’s entertainer Buggy Ding Dong likes his pretzels heavily salted.

The workshop, put on by Kitchen Canada at their lovely event space in Etobicoke, was taught by resident Bakers Marc Richter and Franz Dimplemier with Renee Navarro from Great Lakes Brewery providing beer samples. We learned about the ingredients that go in to making a pretzel dough, the importance of the lye or baking soda dip, and most importantly, how to properly roll and twist a pretzel (which the ever-patient Richter and Dimplemier retaught us several times when we attempted it). But more than that, as a group, we had fun. Figuring out the proper roll, teaching each other on how to knot the pretzels, talking about what other ingredients we wanted to stuff in to our dough for pretzel buns…these were fun things that made the workshop something worth going to. There were also a nice supply of mustards available for dipping and purchase (I may have bought a couple of bottles to add to my ever-growing mustard collection).

The beers were mostly a showcase of Great Lakes’ flagship beers (Red Leaf Smooth Red Lager, Crazy Canuck West Coast Pale Ale, and Devil’s Pale Ale), which was perfect for the crowd, many of whom had never even heard of craft beer. Like all events like that, it was fun hearing people discuss which ones were their favourite and asking questions to Renee, who was only too happy to answer. It should be said that a real crowd-pleaser were the cans of Harry Porter at the end. Although a version that includes Bourbon Soaked Vanilla Beans will be coming out to LCBOs next month, this version was the very tasty regular batch that I think turned a lot of people on to the idea of a dark beer beyond Guinness.

By the end of the evening I left the kitchen with two boxes of my own pretzels and stuffed pretzel buns, two bottles of mustard, and a full stomach. I have to say that it once again reminded me to go to these workshops/classes more often for myself. Although sometimes the recipe could be an easy one, the hands on experience, along with the fun social interaction with your fellow students, makes them a lot of fun to do with a friend or solo. That alone is often worth the price.

If you’re in the Toronto/Etobicoke area, The Kitchen Canada have another one of these Pretzel and beer workshops coming up in March. Apparently tickets go fast.

And because I don’t want to stop at just an event review, I’m going to include a recipe from David Ort’s Canadian Craft Beer Cookbook, which I wrote about last year. No, this isn’t his fantastic no-knead pretzel recipe, but instead it is my favourite condiment to have with pretzels: mustard. IPA Mustard, in fact. It goes without saying that this can be used in things that are decidedly not-pretzel and it is strongly encouraged to mess around with the different beers and variety of mustard seed. Either way, after first reading this recipe I now keep a mason jar filled with my homemade mustard in the fridge at all times. Here it is:

IPA MUSTARD

Recommended beer:
American-style India pale ale
Boneshaker India Pale Ale, Amsterdam Brewery (Ontario)
India Pale Ale, Southern Tier Brewing (United States)

makes 1 cup (250 mL)

preparation time 10 minutes, plus at least 4 hours to soak

scant ½ cup (125 mL) mustard seeds

½ cup (125 mL) India pale ale

4 tsp (20 mL) vinegar (your own beer vinegar is best, but cider or white vinegars are fine substitutes)

1 Tbsp (15 mL) brown sugar

½ tsp (2.5 mL) kosher salt

¼ tsp (1 mL) nutmeg

1. Soak the mustard seeds in the ipa for at least 4 hours or overnight.

2. Reserve a quarter of the soaked mustard seeds. In a mini food processor or blender, combine the other three-quarters of the soaked mustard seeds with the vinegar, sugar, salt and nutmeg. Blend for 1 minute or until most of the seeds have lost their individual texture.

3. Fold the reserved seeds into the mustard.

4. Pack into a scrupulously clean Mason jar, seal tightly and store in the refrigerator.

The mustard is ready to use right away, but will only get better with a few days to rest, and should last for at least 4 to 6 weeks.

 

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Barkeep, Another Course – The Canadian Craft Beer Cookbook

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Longtime readers of this site along with anyone who has known me for like, five minutes knows that one of my most enjoyable activities is cooking. Additionally, finding ways to cook with beer is another interest of mine, although I should say that beyond an excellent cake recipe, a weiss pizza crust, BBQ sauce, and a lovely sauce for some sausages, I’ve been left stumped.

Although there have been recipes and even books that involve incorporating beer in to the dish, I’ll be honest, guys…it’s easy to get cynical when I hear about someone releasing a beer cookbook. Normally it means that the recipes have beer thrown in with very little thought, the beers suggested are very specific ones which makes the book redundant in six months to a year from publishing date, the author’s tone suggests that (bless their heart) they don’t know a damn thing about beer, or, if it’s REALLY bad, a combination of all three of those things. We’ve all bought cookbooks before, or visited a recipe blog and were disappointed. We’ve all been hurt before.

But The Canadian Craft Beer Cookbook is none of those things. For five years David Ort has been a food and drink writer on his blog, Food With Legs, and throughout that time he has been creating recipes, attending events, and doing research. This book, the product of many long hours of tweaking, testing, researching, and redoing for the self-taught cook, shows the careful effort that was put in to it.

The first thing that sticks out about each recipe is the accompanying beer recommendation. Although not every recipe is actually made with beer, every recipe does have a suggested pairing in order of style, specific Canadian beer, and sometimes a specific international beer. This not only gives you an ideal pairing for the meal, but, when referring to the specific style, ensures that I can still pick this book up after ten years and make something from it.

Another thing that sticks out for me is something that many would probably be surprised to learn – it’s not all pub food. While there are recipes for onion rings, Currywurst and Steak & Ale Pie, there are also recipes for Soba Salad, Fondue, and Rogan Josh as well as recipes for condiments such as IPA Mustard, homemade vinegar, and Hop infused Salt. The recipes I’ve been reading so far seem to range from “simple” to “a little more difficult but still simple” and the variety of foods ensures that one won’t be reaching for this book just for a main dish.

It’s also enflaming an adventurous, experimental spirit in me cooking-wise, I have to admit. I don’t even have my physical copy yet (I was graciously given a pdf to help me with this review) and as I type this I have some mustard seeds sitting in a jar of IPA where, for the first time, I’m going to be making my own mustard (though due to availability, I had to change the suggested beer of Amsterdam’s Boneshaker to Muskoka’s Mad Tom). Hop salt and Edamame will soon be following in the next couple of days.

To top it all off, its introduction section provides a very thorough history and guide to Craft Beer and the book is scattered with profiles of some of Canada’s Beer trailblazers. Ort’s thought process in forming the recipes is also brought out in an understandable way, helping the reader learn more about what it’s like cooking with the beverage from a  practical viewpoint.

In summary…buy this freakin’ book. There are others out there, but this one is the one I’m excited about because it is just so solid and ridiculously good. Simple recipes for big dishes that get you to think more about the individual ingredients as well as the incredible versatility of beer. Aside from what is already turning out for me as a book that I find myself going through for the next culinary adventure, it is also very obviously a love letter to good food, good beer and the country that provides both of those things.

David Ort’s Canadian Craft Beer Cookbook is available RIGHT NOW in Canada and the US both online and in stores, with plans to move things more across the pond to be available internationally.

For more info, check out the book’s page at beercookbook.ca

—–

You didn’t think I was going to write about a beer cookbook and not provide at least one recipe from it, did you? Honestly, and you call yourselves my readers…

When I visited David at his apartment a couple of days ago he made me a couple of dishes from the book. One in particular, an amazing fondue sauce, got devoured quickly. Tangy, sharp, smooth, slight burn (both literally from the temperature as well as from the little bit of brandy and mustard) and…argh. Just go and make it. Absolutely delicious.

FONDUE SAUCE

recommended beer Bière de garde
Barrel-Aged Bière de Garde, Bellwoods Brewery (Ontario)
Bière de Beloeil, Brasserie Dupont
(Belgium)
serves 4–6
preparation time: 5 minutes
cooking time: 15 minutes

7½ oz (230 g) shredded Gruyère
(about 2 cups/500 mL)
4 oz (125 g) shredded aged cheddar
(about 1 cup/250 mL)
1 Tbsp (15 mL) cornstarch
2 garlic cloves, finely minced
1 cup (250 mL) bière de garde
1 Tbsp (15 mL) whole-grain mustard
1 Tbsp (15 mL) cider vinegar
2 tsp (10 mL) brandy
freshly ground black pepper

Toss the two cheeses and cornstarch together in a medium mixing bowl. Set a fondue pot over medium heat and add the garlic cloves  and beer. When the beer barely simmers, add the cheese, a handful at a time, and stir to melt before adding the next handful. When the cheese sauce is smooth and creamy, add the mustard, vinegar and brandy. Season with a few grinds of black pepper. For dipping, move the fondue pot to its tabletop setup and serve with bread cubes, potatoes, sausages and pickles.

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The Cake is Not a Lie (Chocolate Stout Cake Recipe)

cake

LOOK AT THIS CAKE. Dear lord.

Okay. First, an origin story.

So my friend Danielle M. Friedman, who is Sous Chef at the West & Mill Bistro Bar in Atlanta, Georgia, was pondering dessert ideas one day and I humbly suggested one of my favourites, the Chocolate Stout Cake, but with a frosting that incorporated whiskey in to it as well. Danielle, of course, was inspired and after a time of perfecting came up with two recipes for Chocolate Stout Cake. One with a caramelized white chocolate and whiskey frosting and another one with port and black cherry frosting (pictured above). Both proved to be a smashing success, selling out within two days.

What makes this cake so unique for me is the amount of stout that goes in to it. Most stout cake recipes only use about 1-2 cups, which leaves the stout flavour taking a back seat to the chocolate, but this cake feature 2 bottles of stout and according to Danielle, the flavour of the beer is clearly the star of the show.

Danielle has kindly passed on the recipe for this gorgeous cake along with the port and black cherry icing and I’m posting them below. Try it out and enjoy! I know I intend to try out the recipe and see how it goes at a potluck.

In the meantime, I’m putting West & Mill on my list of places to visit.

For more info on the West & Mill:

West & Mill Bistro Bar
1000 Marietta St. NW Suite 202
Atlanta, GA 30318

——-

CHOCOLATE STOUT CAKE

2 bottles stout (We use Left Hand Nitro Milk Stout)
1 shot strong espresso
2 cups (4 sticks) unsalted butter
1 1/2 cups unsweetened cocoa powder (preferably *Dutch-process)

4 cups all-purpose flour
4 cups sugar
1 tablespoon baking soda
1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt
4 large eggs
1 tablespoon vanilla
1 1/3 cups sour cream

1. Preheat oven to 350°F. Butter three 8-inch round cake pans with 2-inch-high sides and line with parchment paper. Butter paper.

2. In heavy large saucepan over medium heat, bring stout, coffee and butter to a simmer. Add cocoa powder and whisk until mixture is smooth. Cool slightly.

3. Whisk flour, sugar, baking soda, and salt in large bowl to blend. In a large bowl, beat eggs, vanilla and sour cream until well mixed.

4. Add stout-chocolate mixture to the egg mixture and beat until just combined, taking care the stout mixture is cool enough that it will not cook the eggs. Add flour mixture and beat on low speed until just combined. Divide batter equally among prepared pans. Bake cakes until tester inserted into center of cakes comes out clean, about 35 minutes. Transfer cakes to rack; cool 10 minutes. Turn cakes out onto rack and cool completely.

CAKE2CHERRY PORT ICING

16oz Frozen Black Cherries
2 Cups Port Wine
2 Cups Granulated Sugar
1 Pound Unsalted Butter, Softened 
5 Cups Confectioners Sugar
1/4 teaspoon Kosher Salt

1. Place cherries, port,and granulated sugar in a heavy sauce pot. Simmer them on medium heat until it reaches the consistency of thick preserves.
2. Allow the mixture to cool to room temperature.
3. Puree the cherry port mixture in a blender until smooth.
4. Beat the butter with an electric mixer until smooth.
5. Slowly beat in the confectioners sugar and kosher salt until well blended.
6. Slowly add the cooled cherry mix to the buttercream and mix until it reaches the consistency you desire.
You may need to chill the icing before using it.

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My First Beer Pairing Dinner

So March 25th marked a really interesting moment in my beer learning adventures. For the first time in my life I attended a beer pairing dinner.

The dinner, put on by Mirella Amato’s Barley’s Angels, a group dedicated to educating women about the wonderful world of beer and hosted by Guy McClelland of McClelland Premium Imports and “Beer Knight”. The venue was at one of my local places, the Town Crier, which has an AMAZING selection of European beers on tap. Plus I’ve been bugging the owner to get involved with Toronto’s beer geeks, so it was great to see the place involved.

On top of it being my first pairing dinner, it was also my first time going to a meet of the famous Barley’s Angels. It was so great to meet women of all different backgrounds coming together to learn something about a fabulous beverage.

So expectations were pretty high. Mirella is a giant in the Toronto beer scene and Guy has been responsible for bringing some top class Belgian and German beers to this godforsaken province.

So beer/food dishes included…

1. Beet salad with orange goat cheese & Belgian endives with Fruli and Radler dressing with Fruli beer (An interesting, refreshing and sweet start to a meal)

2. Smoked German sausage wrapped in Falian ham with braised green onion & German mustard with Erdinger Dunkel (Dear LORD, what a wonderful dish that was. Went well with the Dunkel, too!)

3. Belgian poutine with miso gravy and cheese curds with Delirium Tremens (The gravy was a bit watery and some of us found that pairing it with Palm Ale proved a better match)

4. Beer braised beef short ribs with Affligem Abbey Ale (This dish just melted in my mouth. And the pairing with the Affligem made for a wonderful experience. I STILL have dreams about this course)

And on top of that we had in-between beers such as Stiegl-Radler (Beer with grapefruit juice!), Stiegl Lager (refreshing!)  Erdinger Weiss (nice crisp taste) and Palm Ale (sweet with a nice bitter finish). And all of this went with an educational talk by Guy McClelland where we learned about “The Perfect Pour”, the importance of drinking your beer from a glass (and the right glass at that) and the effects of light on clear bottles (The beer goes skunky and foul after 30 seconds in the sun). Also learning about the sales statistics in Canada and getting a better idea of craft beer’s emerging role was incredibly useful information.

So what did I think of the experience? Well, I definitely had a good time and learned quite a bit more about beers in Germany, Belgium and their influence in Canada. While I must admit that I would have liked to have learned more about the art of pairing beer with food rather than just the beer, I still learned quite a lot and got some experience with my taste buds that I’ll be storing away for future consideration.

And I really have to give credit to Guy and Mirella for being amazing hosts at the event. It was great to meet them both. Guy clearly knew his stuff and had a great passion for it and Mirella was a pleasure to talk with.

I was really pleased with this night. I felt it lived up to my expectations and didn’t let me down.  I definitely would not say no to another oppurtunity to go to one again because if anything you’re learning more about how complex and wonderful beer is and turning the experience of drinking a beer in to the experience of having it be a part of a perfect meal. It’s a good thing to learn.

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