I have recently embarked on a beer nerd adventure, a rather sedate adventure, but it’s exciting to me. I am creating a “beer education binder” for my fellow bartenders at work. Perhaps adventure is the wrong word. This process has been fun and thus far rewarding for me. The binder includes “one sheets” on each permanent tap we have with ABV, pricing, style, tasting notes, brewery info, food pairings from our menu, substitutions and some other stuff. I am also compiling BJCP, MBAA and brewery info on the styles we offer should the anyone want to get Cicerone certified. It will truly be a one stop shop for our beers.
Today I was working on the one sheet for Mischief from The Bruery. The Bruery, located in Placentia, CA (Orange County) is home to one of my new favorite beers: Oude Tart. I have liked every beer I have had from The Bruery, but thus far Oude Tart is my personal favorite. While getting information on Mischief and the business itself for the binder, I came upon their blog. Any blog about food and beer, or making food with beer, or drinking beer while making food is guaranteed to entertain me for a while. The Bruery had a “Holiday Cooking with Beer Recipe contest” (genius!) and the winner was Cher Lemos of Bräuista.com and her Beer Cheese Fondue Mac & Cheese.
Today was my first day off of school, work and my show (I sing) in a long while, so I decided that I could give this recipe a shot and have a dinner my toddler would eat for sure. I was pretty sure Keith would like it too. It looked like an easy recipe and I had most of the ingredients, but we ran to the Raley’s to pick up the stuff we needed and some other essentials. First let me explain that Chico, CA is not a huge market, for anything. We may be home to one of the biggest microbreweries in the world (Sierra Nevada Brewing) and a State University (Chico State) but our retail situation is depressing. I needed shredded Fontina cheese. They didn’t have any with the shredded cheese so I went to the specialty cheese aisle, thinking I could get a wedge or small block and shred it myself. Nope. Luckily, they did have some Fontina pre-sliced and packaged. I figured I could tear it up and that would have to work.
We also needed a brown ale. Something else our grocery store lacks is a decent selection of single bottle of beer. They have 22’s and 750’s but the only small bottles were ciders. Olivia hadn’t napped yet, and I didn’t want to drive across town to my favorite liquor/beer store for just one bottle, so I was forced by lack of choice to get Samuel Smith’s Nut Brown. Most beer cheese recipes I have seen use brown ale. I think it is because of the decent IBU level combined with the mellow, nutty, toasty flavors. I tasted the beer once we got home before I added it to the sauce and it was a little sweeter than I was expecting. I tore up most of the Fontina slices, but got frustrated and threw a whole slice in the sauce. In the time it took me to think about what an idiot I am and how the cheese was going to clump up and take for ever to melt, it melted perfectly. I was left to feel silly for taking the time to tear up the cheese slices in the first place. I put the mac and cheese in the oven and hoped for the best.
This recipe was so easy to follow and looked delicious on the website. When it was done baking and we tried it, I was in beer food heaven! It was delicious, so rich and sharp. The brown ale came through but didn’t over power. My daughter thinks its “awicious” and so did Keith. This might turn into my new potluck contribution! I have made other beer food recipes but this is by far my favorite. So, thanks to The Bruery Blog for a great dinner idea, and thanks beer education binder for all the cool stuff I am learning!