Monday, October 11, 2010

the rise of yeast and the fall of pumpkins

Brettanomyces, a cc by-nc-sa image from cizauskas on Flickr

While I was in Oz, John Fleury finished up the DCist's look at the basics of beer with an entry on yeast. In it, he addresses some of the basics of fermentation, and breaks down the chemistry behind certain scents and tastes associated with different beer styles. All in all, this is a fitting end to his informative blog series.

As an excellent coda, he followed it up with a piece on the currently-seasonal pumpkin ale style. Anyone who knows my fermented proclivities is aware of my lust for more extreme brews, but it may surprise you to know that when it comes to pumpkin beer, I prefer subtle, less pumped-up takes on the style. Fleury's roundup of pumpkin ales is a wonderful summary of the history and content of the style, and gives specific brand examples that run the gamut from the sublime to the ridiculous. It's a must-read if you have any interest in the squashy brews.

Sunday, October 10, 2010

acorn squash with apples

I've had several successful hard squash experiments since I was ruminating on the subject, and the first came from Natalie, who once again dropped an awesome suggestion for a recipe. I made this without any modifications from the Mayo Clinic formula as breakfast over the weekend:

  • 1 Granny Smith apple, peeled, cored and sliced
  • 2 tablespoons brown sugar
  • 1 small acorn squash, about 6 inches in diameter
  • 2 teaspoons trans-free margarine

In a small bowl, mix together the apple and brown sugar. Set aside.

Pierce the squash several times with a sharp knife to let the steam escape during cooking. Microwave on high until tender, about 5 minutes. Turn the squash after 3 minutes to ensure even cooking.

Place the squash on a cutting board and cut in half. Scrape the seeds out of the center of each half and discard the seeds. Fill the hollowed squash with the apple mixture.

Return the squash to the microwave and cook until the apples are softened, about 2 minutes.

Transfer the squash to a serving dish. Top each half with 1 teaspoon margarine and serve immediately.

This was a great main breakfast course, topped off with toast and cheese that also came to us from Breezy Willow. The sweetness of the apple mixture was a good counterpoint to the nutty acorn squashflesh, and the textures were very complimentary. Should any acorn squash further wander into my possession, I'll be doing this one again.

Thursday, October 7, 2010

September 23, 30, and October 7 CSA shares

Yeah, so there's a bit of catching up to do...

Our return from Australia finds us pulling into the final, fall stretch of CSA goodness. That means, among other things, dealing with something I've never ventured to cook with before - hard squash! What exactly, I wondered, does one DO with such firm and intimidating plant material? Beyond carve it into spooky facies, or stare at it and feel vaguely rustic, I mean.

In short, I've found answers, and they are tasty... damn tasty. I will share those with you in the coming days, but for now, the raw materials from the last few weeks:

The September 23rd roll call: apple cider, ambercup squash, spinach, lettuce, cucumbers, tomatoes, bread, mushrooms, radishes, peaches, Asian pears, and red apples.

The September 30th roll call: spinach, bread, eggs, green beans, lettuce, acorn squash, pepperjack cheese, Asian pears, apples, and sweet potatoes.

The October 7th roll call: lettuce, eggs, mushrooms, pumpkin, bread, cucumbers, red potatoes, apples, Asian pears, and green beans.

Oh yes, pumpkin... I have plans for you... MWA HA HA HA

Monday, October 4, 2010

navigating Baltimore Beer Week

To say that there's a lot going on during the 10 sweet days of Baltimore Beer Week that are about to start this Thursday is, as they say, an understatement. To that end, the folks behind the celebration have come up with a couple of excellent ways to help attendees navigate through the 335 (as of today) events.

The first is the smartphone-optimized website at Not only has this condensed the event listings into an easy to query mobile database, but also promises to have real-time Twitter and photo integration.

Even more useful is the promised limited-edition passport. From the website:

This year, Baltimore Beer Week (BBW) is debuting a limited edition Beer Passport - a comprehensive guide to all beer-centric venues participating in BBW 2010. The Official Baltimore Beer Week Passport is designed as a keepsake; it will help you geographically locate BBW venues throughout the State of Maryland and provide vital contact information for these participating establishments. The interior pages can be used for note taking, autographs from your favorite beer celebrities, and more…

…so get your Beer Week Passport and use it to chronicle your journey while "Celebrating all Things Beer in the Land of Pleasant Living"!

There will be only 1500 BBW Passports produced this year. All attendees of the Baltimore Beer Week Opening Tap Celebration will receive a FREE Passport at the event. Additional Passports will be sold at select events throughout Baltimore Beer Week for a nominal price of $3.00 (Yes, Three Dollars!), wherever Baltimore Beer Week schwag is sold.

If you would like more information on how to obtain your own passport, please email your request here.

The Beer Passport is the Official Travel Voucher of Baltimore Beer Week 2010. Never leave home without it.

As of this writing, the Opening Tap Celebration is over 90% sold out, so if you are interested at all in attending this Thursday, be sure to get your tickets now.

Friday, October 1, 2010

Oktoberfest wanes

I have returned from Oz, and have tasted true Australian beer! No, you ninnie, not this foul tripe. Beverage notes from the trip will be bubbling up over the coming days.

Oktoberfest, cc by-nc-sa image from Joachim S. Mueller on Flickr

The only sad part of taking much of September off is missing out on many of the Oktoberfest activities in the area. Fortunately, we're still in the tail end of that sacred rite, and so there are plenty of celebrations to be had.

To this end, Charm City's local beverage and food purveyors have banded together to create Baltimore Beer Week, which runs from October 7th through the 17th. At present, there are a staggering 333 events (halfway to the beast! yay!) officially going on during those 10 days, with more being added daily. Go here for a full searchable list of the goings-on. Some of the featured events include:
The Opening Tap Celebration, at the Baltimore Museum of Industry on October 7 - The highlight of this event will be the celebrity tapping of the First Firkin provided by our Flagship Sponsor. This special firkin of Heavy Seas Loose Cannon will be the same recipe which won the 2010 Great British Beer Fest CAMRA award. Duff Goldman of Ace of Cakes will swing the 'Star Spangled Banger' to tap this first cask of beer. Don't miss this unique opportunity to meet founders, brewers, pub owners and pioneers of the craft beer movement. Enjoy beer tastings from our sponsors, including hard to find beers and special releases, all served in a keepsake commemorative glass. Attendees will also receive a special Baltimore Beer Week Passport. Appetizers provided by Mother's of Federal Hill.

Maryland Oktoberfest, at the Timonium Fairgrounds on October 9 - Great Maryland brewed beer, a homebrew contest, Beer Belly contest, German food, live music... The biggest & best local beer fest of the year - MD Oktoberfest brought to you by the Brewer's Assoc of MD.

a beer luncheon on the history of Baltimore brew, at Bertha's on October 11 - Please join guest panelists Rob Kasper- long time Baltimore Sun columnist, Tom Cizauskas- Yours For Good Fermentables blogger (and former brewer at Oxford Brewing Company), Brad Klipner- award winning blogger at and Sam Sessa – Baltimore Sun’s Midnight Sun columnist as they regal the malty past and hoppy future of brewing in "The Land of Pleasant Living". Luncheon Menu will be served family style. Meal includes 4 beer samplings (Bertha’s Best Bitter (on hand pump) and Victory Hop Devil IPA will be featured). Program is a three part series.

Blues and Brews Festival, at 8x10 on October 15 - The Blues and Brews Festival features a rare Baltimore Appearance of Guitar Blues Legend Bobby Parker, The horn-based Big Daddy Stallings and the Door Blowin' Blues sounds of Black Falls. Get your Tickets Early at the 8x10 Box Office, Ticketmaster or through the groups. Heavy Seas will be sponsoring this huge Beer Week Featured Event with special Heavy Seas Beers priced right all night long!

The 7th Annual Chesapeake Real Ale Festival, at the Pratt Street Ale House on October 16 - Get firked-up with over 40 firkins of the finest real ale, at the SPBW Chesapeake Real Ale Festival! Get a souvenir mug and unlimited sampling for only $35 per person when purchased in advance ($45 at door).

The Inaugural Baltimore Beer Festival, at 3100 Boston Street on October 17 - The very first Baltimore Beer Festival is taking place at the Waterfront Park in Canton on Boston Street. This setting promises to offer Baltimore and Regional beer lovers an opportunity to partake in an event like no other ever held in this area. With an anticipated participation of over 25 local, regional and international breweries, great live entertainment and some of the area’s best local restaurants, attendees will experience an event they will not soon forget. This anchor event to the exciting Baltimore Beer Week festivities will provide beer revelers the opportunity to enjoy unlimited sampling of more than 50 beers and at the same time helping local charities such as the Police Emerald Society and Friendly Sons of St. Patrick of Baltimore. There will be a homebrewers tent, live music by Donegal Xpress, Caffiene, and Dirt. The Ravens game will be shown on a big screen during the festival.

I... may have picked the wrong time to go on vacation. Or not.