Tag Archives: Doppelbock

Tempest at Two Years: Raising My Tankard to You

The Chistkindl markets tucked into Vienna’s squares large and small foretell snowflakes and frosty windowpanes. The fragrance of the town has become decidedly seasonal. Cinnamon and clove announcing mulled wine (Glühwein) mingle with the sweet brown sugar aromas of roasted and spiced almonds (gebrannte Mandeln) and the smoky-woodsy notes of roasted chestnuts (heisse Maroni).IMG_5260 The leaves on the trees have long since flown south, and the seasoned imbibers have left the beer garden for the warmth and Gemütlichkeit of the pub or Beisl, some of them warming themselves up with that granddaddy of malty seasonal beers, the Doppelbock.

Doppelbock. What better way to toast two enjoyable years writing A Tempest in a Tankard? A recent trip to Bamberg turned up an entirely appropriate candidate – and it’s not the smoked Eiche Doppelbock from Aecht Schlenkerla, though that would be a perfect beer for the occasion.IMG_5171 No, this one from Hertl Braumanufaktur in the Franconian region of Bavaria is a little something else: a Doppelbock brewed with peated malt and aged in whisky barrels. Innovation meets tradition.

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If you’re one to pay attention to these things, you’ll have noticed that my posting rate has tapered off in the past half year or so. As some Tempest readers know, I took a two-year position at the Wien Museum in Vienna (come and visit!) as an ACLS Public Humanities fellow. Needless to say, the whole process of getting myself here has translated into less time at the keyboard. And then there’s the sheer fact of being in Vienna –– never a dull moment with all those museums, the Vienna Woods nearby, and plenty of opportunity for food and drink in the city’s Beisl and Heuriger.IMG_4209 But I have neither laid down my pen nor hung up my tankard, and will continue to traverse Vienna, Europe, and beyond to bring you a unique perspective on beer and culture.

Before I go any further, allow me to raise my glass to all you readers old and new who have kept up with my posts and articles over the past few years.

A tip o’ the ole tankard to ya!

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I’m extremely grateful to you, my readership for making this all worthwhile. But it’s always nice to have a few more readers. So help spread the word about Tempest by encouraging your craft beer-drinking friends to subscribe to the blog for email updates as I post new material. (See the side-bar to the right.) And don’t forget to tell them to like Tempest on Facebook or follow Tempest on Twitter (@TempestTankard). I’ve also been known to post the occasional beer-related photo to Instagram (@tempesttankard), and have recently set up a Pinterest account. Follow along!

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In Case You Missed Them: Highlights from the Past Year

In the Cool Shade of the Beer Garden — In this, one of my favourite articles, I trace the historical roots of all those chestnut trees shading beer gardens in Germanic lands. Cited in The Atlantic to boot.IMG_4483

The MaltHead Manifesto — Malt heads of the world, unite!

Returning for Another Sip of Terroir — The crux: How can a well-crafted “Munich Helles” from Austin and a helles Bier from München express “unique” terroirs when they can taste virtually the same in the hands of skilled brewers in different countries?

New York’s Finger Lakes Region: A Backroad Craft Beer Tour — Long a travel destination for connoisseurs of fine wine, hop farms and fields of barley now sway in the lakeshore breeze alongside row upon row of grapes. (Incidentally, this was Tempest’s most-viewed article of the past year.)

Craft Beer at Time’s Precipice: Cellaring Tips — About a year and a half back, I wrote a short article with some thoughts on aging Belgian sour beers. I followed it up recently with some more systematic thoughts on what styles of beers to age, how to age them, and what to expect a few years down the road.

Spreading Good Cheer with a Tankard of Mulled Beer — You’ve probably heard of mulled wine, but how about mulled beer? Glühbier: the next big thing. ’Tis the season!IMG_5356

Down the Rabbit Hole: Doppelbock-Braised Rabbit — Like duck and venison, rabbit traditionally evokes the autumn hunt and harvest, but this subtly smoky rabbit suits just about any season from early fall to late spring.

Tasting Against the Craft Beer Grain — What do we taste when we drink a glass of beer or wine? Are we imbibing the liquid itself? Or is there more to it? Are we consuming an aura? Hype? Marketing? A contribution to my occasional series on the critique of canons of taste.

Serving Up a New Tradition at the Finger Lakes Cider House — Cider’s in. And places like the Finger Lakes Cider House are perfect for sampling a broad range of styles from a number of producers. Great locally produced food, too.

Striking Craft Beer Gold at Boulder Breweries (The Front Range Series) — Park lands and cycling trails, winter sports, a college town vibe, the Flatirons, three hundred days of sunshine a year, and, of course, world-class craft beer. What’s not to like about Boulder, Colorado? Read the whole series before you visit the Northern Front Range.

About a year ago I inaugurated the first of my “Saturday 6-Pack” series. I’m now six six-packs in. More to come. A sampling:

  • Brown Beers Get No Luvin’––A whole six-pack of them. You’ll be happy you gave these overlooked beers a shot.
  • Let Us Now Praise Famous Lagers––The original inspiration for this piece was a January 2015 article on Boston Beer Co.’s founder, Jim Koch (of Sam Adams fame).
  • A Midsummer Night’s Dream: Saisons––Saisons with elderberry flowers, bold and tropically inflected saisons, and surprisingly drinkable saisons with parsley, rosemary, and thyme. And Saison DuPont. Mais bien sûr!

I also updated Tempest’s annotated index in case you have a snowy Sunday afternoon and want to read any of the nearly one-hundred articles I’ve posted to date.IMG_5265

And now for that Hertl Doppelbock. (Click here for tasting notes.)

Prost!

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All images by F.D. Hofer.

© 2015 F.D. Hofer and A Tempest in a Tankard. All Rights Reserved.

Of Whisky Casks and Doppelbocks: The New Wave of German Brewing

It was only a matter of time until a new generation of German brewers started heeding the siren call of hops, spice, and everything nice, even as they continue to craft their beers within the relative confines of the 500-year-old Reinheitsgebot (Beer Purity Laws).

David Hertl is one such representative of this new wave of brewers leavening tradition with innovation. The resident beer sommelier at Bamberg’s main craft beer emporium, Hertl also happens to be a young brewer who hails from a family of Franconian winemakers.IMG_5084Setting the stage: Bamberg is hilly medieval city in Franconia, famous as much for its Altes Rathaus straddling the River Regnitz as it is for its smoky Rauchbier. Franconia is part of Bavaria, and Bavarian beer is synonymous with the Reinheitsgebot.Reinheitsgebot - Briefmark (Wiki-de)

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As I made my way back to my hotel after a satisfying evening of Bamberg-style imbibing at Mahr’s, Aecht Schlenkerla, and Fässla, something caught my eye: a tastefully decorated storefront in a stone building with rounded arches. Bierothek.

Bierothek is where I made David Hertl’s acquaintance the following day after a long hike toward a mirage-like castle that kept receding beyond the southern horizon. Hertl was about to close up shop for the night, but let me in to browse Bierothek’s 300-strong selection in search of beers to bring back to Vienna.IMG_5047

We got to talking about the Reinheitsgebot, and the difficulties inherent in translating not so much the word “craft beer” into German as introducing it as a concept to German beer drinkers. Consolidation may well have left its mark on the German brewing industry in recent decades, but much of what Germans drink still fits the Brewers’ Association’s definition of craft beer, disputed and relatively elastic as this term may: “small, independent, traditional.”

When concepts take flight, though, the act of translation is never merely a one-to-one exchange, but rather an exercise in interpretation. As Hertl points out, for many German beer drinkers, “craft beer” has become virtually synonymous with American-style pale ales, IPAs, and imperial stouts. Hertl faces the occasional challenge in convincing German consumers that German beer actually is craft beer avant la lettre –– and that the novel tidal wave of American beer, exciting as it may be, isn’t necessarily better, just different from typically streamlined German beers.

This tension between tradition and innovation is one that I find fascinating, especially as it is currently playing itself out in Germany. Hertl and I return to the topic of the Reinheitsgebot in relation to a North American approach more influenced by Belgium than by Germany, and talk at length about the discipline imposed by German tradition.Hertl Braumanufaktur - David Hertl (Facebook) At this point in the conversation, Hertl waxes poetic about the sublimity of a well-crafted helles lager. Lover of lagers that I am, I cannot help but agree, even if I’m no stranger to homebrewing and drinking well beyond the Reinheitsgebot.

As I’m topping up my basket of beer, I notice a foil-wrapped stoneware bottle of Doppelbock aged six months in Islay whisky barrels. And a fortuitous coincidence at that. Up to that point, I hadn’t yet asked Hertl his name, but when I picked up the bottle, he proudly proclaimed that he had brewed it.

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The details: Hertl Braumanufaktur, *Torfig Rauchiger Whiskydoppelbock (Aged 6 months in Scottish Islay whisky casks). 11.3%. 9.60 Euros (~$11 USD). *Torfig means peated.

The first thing that strikes me about this beer is that it isn’t quite what I was expecting of a Doppelbock. Suffice it to say, this is a beer that defies stylistic preconceptions, starting from the moment you pour it into the glass. “Hazy orange-amber hued and the colour of light caramel” isn’t exactly the classic description of a Doppelbock. But that’s fine. We’re talking innovation meets tradition here.

And one more thing: It’s a beer to which you’ll want to give some breathing space, not only because it chocks up a hefty 11.3% ABV. This is a unique Doppelbock that expresses different moods over the time it takes to enjoy it.

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Curtain call. A heady mix of fruit and caramel hints at things to come. Classic Doppelbock-like melanoidin notes brood like Fafner in the depths of his cave. The fruit is berry-like, expressing itself in brightly acidic flavours that blend tart cherries and cranberries.

Not to be outdone, stone fruit contributes a brightness to the aroma and palate as well. Like a Wagnerian motif, this hint of peach sour carries through to the end. A bit of a social butterfly, the peach sour note pairs, by turns, with suggestions of orange zest-spiked shortbread and the occasional trill of yellow plum. Later, the stone fruit strikes up a harmony with a kaleidoscope of darker-toned notes reminiscent of Oloroso sherry before shifting key into a perfumed almond-like character more reminiscent of Amaretto. Hops even make a cameo appearance in this opera of aromas and flavours, giving voice to the kind of spicy mandarin orange peel fragrance that blends citrus and fir needles.

As for the peat? It’s the viola of the orchestra –– rather surprising, considering the beer is brewed with peated malt and then rested in whisky barrels.

What makes the beer unique, though, is the slightly tart-acidic contribution of the Islay whisky casks. This is both a blessing and a slight distraction. On the one hand, the Scotch weaving its melodies in the background contributes the stone fruit complexity and honeyed nuttiness that separates this Doppelbock from its peers. On the other, this diamond-like acidic note cuts through the richness of the Doppelbock’s maltiness a little too zealously, leaving the autumn honey and fruit cake malt duo cowering in the corner. That said, this zingy-tart Doppelbock is nothing if not fruity, and this saves the beer. Fir needle-scented brown sugar and candied orange peel appear as the curtain falls on the performance, leaving behind dried apricot in the tart-dry and fruity finish.

All in all, like many a whisky barrel-aged beer I’ve had of late that isn’t of the bourbon barrel-aged variety, I find myself craving a bit more body and residual sweetness to counter the fruity tartness. A barrel thing that underscores the nature of different spirits? I don’t have enough homebrewing experience to say one way or the other, aside from what I’ve read about the subject. But here’s a closing thought. Perhaps Hertl could propel future iterations of this beer from the terrestrial realm of “unique and compelling experiment” into an other-worldly Valhalla by blending a barrel-aged batch of his Doppelbock with a fresh batch of Doppelbock. I’m not sure if this is entirely in keeping with the spirit of the Reinheitsgebot, but the practice seems to help the folks in Flanders introduce a bit more body and sweetness back into their Oud Bruins and Flemish reds.

These are fairly minor concerns. As a man of many zymurgical talents and a mere twenty-five years young, Hertl’s brewing future looks bright.IMG_5091

Related Tempest Articles

Let Us Now Praise Famous Lagers: Your Saturday Six-Pack (Vol.3)

Every Day Is Craft Lager Day at Kansas City Bier Company

Celebrating Craft Lager Day with a Landbier from Kapsreiter

Bourbon in Michigan: Barrel-Aged Beer along the Great Lakes

A Trio of Barrel-Aged Imperial Stouts: Prairie’s Pirate Bomb, Goose Island’s Bourbon County, Victory’s Dark Intrigue

Not Your Average Wheat Beer: Schneider’s Porter Weisse

Images

David Hertl raising a glass (Hertl Braumanufaktur Facebook page)

All other images by F.D. Hofer

© 2015 F.D. Hofer and A Tempest in a Tankard. All Rights Reserved.

Craft Beer at Time’s Precipice: Cellaring Tips

To age, or not to age?

This temporal variation of a timeless existential question is one that’s being asked with growing frequency in the craft beer world.IMG_2369But even if cellaring beer has become an increasingly popular topic of conversation of late, it’s still relative terra incognita for the craft beer community writ large.

Beer and Time. To age, or not to age? You’d be forgiven for considering the question absurd, for we’ve been conditioned to think that old beer is bad beer. And in most cases, beer doesn’t fight a winning battle with time.

IMG_4459That said, not all beers are brewed equally – and I don’t mean this in a normative sense. Many beers are meant to be enjoyed fresh. But some beers are destined for the longue durée: in plain English, the cellar.

Before we descend too many steps into the cobwebbed darkness, let me state categorically that there’s no reason why a beer shouldn’t be consumed fresh, even if it’s a candidate for aging. A bottle of just-released Boulevard Saison-Brett is every bit as good as one that has battled with the spiders in your cellar for a year or more. And time will transform the perfectly drinkable Sierra Nevada Bigfoot barley wines destined to hit the shelves in the coming months into something all together different. Therein lies the fun of experimenting. But don’t take my word for it. Try for yourself!

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What follows are tips and basic rules of thumb to get you started. Even if you don’t have the most ideal conditions, start by laying down a few age-worthy beers for six months to a year.

  1. Friends and foes.

Beer prefers cool, dark places. Light –– especially sunlight –– will skunk your beer in no time. Heat isn’t kind to beer either. Prolonged periods of storage north of 70F (21C) will accelerate oxidation, and leave your beer resembling cardboard. You might already be acquainted with the stale taste of those unfortunate yet otherwise stellar Central European beers that have arrived in North American bars and bottle shops in tatters.

If you’re planning on getting serious about long-term cellaring, temperature control is key. It can mean the difference between a stellar imperial stout five years down the road, or a long, melancholy walk to the sink to pour it all down the drain.IMG_1893 Not only does beer like darkness and coolness, it’s also a bit like Goldilocks –– not too hot, not too cold, and happiest at a constant temperature between about 50F (10C) and 60F (15C). If your conditions are too warm, bacteria that are less active at lower temperatures come out to play. What’s more, the yeast that contribute to that slow, magical transformation in bottle-conditioned beers won’t live to tell about their journey at high temperatures. Too cold, and all these gradual changes are slowed down to a snail’s pace, or arrested altogether. (Better too cold than too warm, though.)

Actual cellars or basements are best, should you have access to a cellar or basement. Your fridge will work in a pinch. And if you have a wine fridge, you’re set. That’s where I hide away all my gueuzes, Belgian quads, barley wines, imperial stouts barrel-aged or otherwise, and any other beers boasting a best-before date years from now.

  1. Tried-and-True.

Cellaring beer involves a certain amount of experimentation, but you can start off on the right track with styles like barley wines, imperial stouts, Baltic porters, Scotch ales, Belgian quads, barrel-aged beers, and Doppelbocks like Samichlaus. You may have noticed a pattern here. These beers usually clock in well above 7% ABV, with the high amount of alcohol acting as a preservative. These styles also typically contain plenty of malt, leaving enough residual sugar for the yeast to slowly convert into caramel, chocolate, or dark fruit flavours –– flavours that meld well with oxidative notes such as nuts and sherry.

The malt plus high ABV equation isn’t a hard-and-fast rule. Highly acidic beers and/or those fermented with wild yeast strains also tend to develop in pleasantly surprising ways over the long haul.IMG_3458 Lambics, gueuzes, Flemish reds (the vintage-dated Rodenbach is stellar), and many American sours and Brett beers are worth the wait. Saisons are finicky, but I’ve had great luck with higher-ABV offerings such as those from Funkwerks in Fort Collins, and have found that both batches of high-ABV saison I brewed had mellowed and evolved more complex tropical fruit notes by the time they had hit one year.

  1. Good Housekeeping.

Get a sense of which beers do well within certain windows of time. Some beers you can deep-six and forget about; others may improve with some age, but decline rapidly after a certain point. Keep track, because as your cellar grows, you will lose track. I note down the following:

  • Name of beer and brewery.
  • Vintage date, if any.
  • Date purchased.
  • Place purchased. (At the brewery? At a bottle shop? This may affect your decision about how long you’d like to age a beer. Unless you know the folks at your bottle shop well, you may not have the best sense of how the bottles have been handled before arriving on a particular shelf.)
  • Number of bottles purchased.
  • Style. (Some styles hold up better than others.)
  • Ballpark estimate of the “best before” date, unless indicated on the label. (Low-ball this one: better to drink too early than too late).
  • Tasting notes –– the fun part! (In addition to the usual tasting notes, I add details such as date consumed, how well the beer held up, speculations on whether the beer could have aged longer, and the like.)
  1. Go Vertical.

Arranging a vertical tasting is an excellent way to see how beers evolve. A vertical tasting is comprised of a selection of the same beer or wine but from different vintages –– say, 2012, 2013, and 2014. Not all beers are released with vintage dates, but an increasing number are. If you’re lucky, your bottle shop might offer verticals of the same beer for a reasonable price. If not, simply seek out some cellar-worthy beer. Widely available and relatively inexpensive beers like North Coast’s Old Stock Ale or Sierra Nevada’s Bigfoot make excellent building blocks for your future vertical tastings. Lay down about three bottles of the same beer per year and then invite some regular drinking compadres over for a treat a few years hence. Open up three or four different vintages, starting with the most recent vintage and working your way back. Doing this only once in your life will drive home how much of a difference time can make.

  1. You Never Step in the Same River Twice.

IMG_4476Even if the vast majority of the biochemical reactions have long since taken place before the beer ends up in the bottle, beer components like oxygen, proteins, tannins, and esters continue their pas-de-deux well into the wee hours of the ensuing months and years.

*Bitterness mellows, and the jagged edges of alcoholic heat become more rounded.

*Oxidized characteristics start to emerge. Some of these enhance the beer, while others indicate that the beer may be becoming more fit for malt vinegar. A few descriptors for your tasting notes: straw, leather, sherry, nuts, port-like, earthy, woody. In some Belgian sours, you might even notice beguiling notes of high-end balsamic vinegar.

*Hop character fades, while malt notes intensify, especially in melanoidin-rich beers like Scotch ales or barleywines.

*Sweetness can also become more pronounced –– due, in no small part, to the decrease in hop intensity. Expect more dark honey and toffee.

*Stale, vinegar, cardboard. Damn. If any of these characteristics predominate, your gamble didn’t pay off, or you left the beer in the cellar for too long.

The Faustian Bargain.

Cellaring is a gamble. You’ll have some sublime tasting experiences, but be prepared for the occasional disappointment of diabolical proportions. This is not an exact science, and most of us are still learning which styles benefit from some age, and which don’t. But that’s the fun of it.

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As an idea, aging beer has barely hit adolescence. As a body of knowledge, it’s still very much a collaborative project. I’ve shared some pointers above, and have listed Tempest articles below that touch upon aging beer. Do you have experiences with cellaring beer as well? Share them in the comments!

Further Reading

A Twist of Sour: New Belgium’s 2013 La Folie and Verhaeghe’s Duchesse de Bourgogne

Three Vintages of Goose Island’s Sofie

A Rodenbach Grand Cru in the Fridge, or a Six-Pack of Lesser Beer in the Fridge?

Marking Time with a Brett-Saison from Boulevard

A Trio of Barrel-Aged Imperial Stouts: Prairie’s Pirate Bomb, Goose Island’s Bourbon County, Victory’s Dark Intrigue

Andy Sparhawk, “Cellaring Craft Beer,” Craft Beer (August 2015).

Alistair Bland, “Vintage Beer?The Salt, NPR (January 2015).

All images by F.D. Hofer.

© 2015 F.D. Hofer and A Tempest in a Tankard. All Rights Reserved.

Down the Rabbit Hole: Doppelbock-Braised Rabbit

Rabbit was a rare bird on many a North American menu until relatively recently. Sure, the French had their Lapin à la moutarde and the Germans their Hasenpfeffer. But it wasn’t until European-influenced chefs on this side of the pond began wondering where all the rabbits were hiding that artisanal producers began to answer the demand for this lean and delicate meat reminiscent of chicken in taste and texture.

Unlike chicken, though, rabbit doesn’t come cheap. According to Mark Pasternak, a Marin County farmer interviewed by Karen Pinchin for an article in Modern Farmer, rabbits are difficult to produce on a large scale due to their weak immune systems and a rather unfortunate proclivity to just up and die after being startled. No factory farms for rabbits, then. A good thing for these gentle creatures, but be prepared to shell out a few pennies. Or maybe you, like me, are lucky and happen to know an intrepid backyard farmer who has gotten into this pastime that feeds so well into the desire for local products. IMG_3111

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Doppelbock-Braised Rabbit with Caramelized Onions and Wild Mushrooms

Like duck and venison, rabbit traditionally evokes the autumn hunt and harvest, but this subtly smoky rabbit suits just about any season from early fall to late spring. As I mentioned, rabbit is extremely lean, and almost demands a braise preparation or a lengthy bath in a marinade to keep it from being unpalatably dry. For this dish, I turned to a rich and malty beer that would lend depth to the braising liquid: a homebrewed Doppelbock.

You can make this recipe the “complex” way, or you can save some time and effort by skipping the step with the grill, especially if you’re making this dish in the dead of winter. To get the smoky undertones into the dish, use a Rauchbier or a smoked porter in place of the Doppelbock.IMG_3108 If you do the smoking step on the grill, you’ll free up time to caramelize the onions and prep the other ingredients. The recipe looks time-consuming, but since many of the steps are concurrent, it isn’t that onerous at all. You can start this dish in the late afternoon, and have it on the table by the time your guests have finished up with the first courses.

Wondering what to drink with rabbit? Though typically classed as a “game” meat, rabbit is closer to chicken than it is to venison, so it’s not absolutely necessary to pair it with a rich beer or robust red wine. An aromatic white, such as a Viognier, a lightly oaked Chardonnay, a Pinot Noir, or even a Cru Beaujolais would make an excellent accompaniment. Garret Oliver pairs rabbit dishes with Belgian tripels, Belgian pale ales, or bière de gardes (see his The Brewmaster’s Table, 2003). As a match with a richer sauce and braising liquid like the one in this recipe, a sturdier red (such as a Bordeaux or Côtes-du-Rhône) would not be out of place, nor would a Doppelbock, Scotch ale, Belgian dubbel, or Belgian quad.

Ingredients

For the casserole:

  • 1 rabbit (3-4 lbs.), cut into 6-8 pieces
  • kosher salt and crushed black pepper
  • 1 cup wood chips (cherrywood or applewood)
  • 1 cup dried wild mushrooms
  • 2 large onions, sliced thinly
  • 2 tbsp butter
  • 3 carrots, cut into large pieces
  • 4-5 large cloves of garlic, peeled and lightly crushed
  • 5 sprigs fresh thyme
  • 1 500mL bottle of Doppelbock (or a similarly malty beer like Scotch ale or Belgian quad)
  • 1 cup of water from reconstituting the dried mushrooms
  • 3 tbsp chopped chervil

For the sauce:

  • 1 ½ cups strained braising liquid
  • ½ cup heavy cream
  • 2 tbsp butter
  • 2 tbsp chopped chervil (If you can’t find chervil, tarragon’s great, too –– just use less of it.)

Directions

Prepare your grill for smoking and soak your woodchips for about 15 minutes. In the meantime, cut the rabbit into 6 to 8 pieces and sprinkle liberally with salt and pepper.

Once your grill is starting to smoke, reduce heat to the lowest setting and smoke/roast the rabbit in baking trays for an hour, turning every 15-20 minutes.

While the rabbit is getting its smoke on, melt 1 tbsp butter in a heavy casserole set over low/medium-low heat and caramelize the onions. Don’t rush this step.

Reconstitute the mushrooms with boiling water. When they’re ready, skim the mushrooms out of the liquid, and then strain the liquid to make sure it’s free of dirt or pebbles. Set aside.

If the mushrooms are on the large side, slice them before browning them in a skillet with the other tbsp of butter and a sprinkle of salt and pepper. Remove the mushrooms to a plate, and deglaze the skillet with some of the Doppelbock. Add this to the mushroom liquid.

IMG_3109Preheat oven to 300F. Pull the rabbit off the grill, layer the pieces in the casserole with the caramelized onions, and then deglaze your baking pans with the Doppelbock, scraping up any browned bits from the bottom of the pan.

Pour all of this liquid along with the mushroom stock into the casserole, and then add the carrots, garlic cloves, and whole sprigs of thyme. Bring all of this up to a brisk simmer on the stove top before covering and placing in the oven for 2 hours. Reduce heat to 250F after one hour.

When the 2 hours is up, discard the sprigs of thyme and then arrange the rabbit, carrots, mushrooms, and onions on a serving platter and sprinkle with chervil. If you have a stock skimmer, this is the best way to get the onions and mushrooms out of the braising liquid. Cover. Strain 1 ½ cups of the braising liquid into a sauce pan. (You can lightly reduce the remaining braising liquid in a separate pan if you’d like a sauce for your side dish.)

Stirring or whisking constantly, reduce the braising liquid over medium-high heat until the liquid has the consistency of syrup. Lower the heat, add the heavy cream, and whisk in the ice-cold butter. Remove from heat and stir in the chervil. Adjust seasoning.

Serve with fingerling potatoes, rice, or Spätzle.

Prep and cooking time: Approximately 3.5 hours.

Depending on the number of courses, serves 4 to 6 people.

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Related Tempest Articles

The Fonduementals of Beer and Cider: Recipes to Warm Your Weekend

Five Recipes for Your Cocktail Hour

Bourbon Squared: Maple-Glazed Pork Belly Meets Barrel-Aged Beer

Dining Down the Holiday Stretch: Choucroute à la Gueuze

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Images by F.D. Hofer.

© 2015 F.D. Hofer and A Tempest in a Tankard. All Rights Reserved.

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The MaltHead Manifesto

A spectre is haunting the craft beer world –– the spectre of Sir Maltalot. Laid low by a tsunami of IPA, the wild yeasts have set in to consume his legacy. Extreme beerists have entered into an unholy alliance with sharp-fanged sours, enlisting sturdy barrel-aged beers to confine Sir Maltalot within their cavernous depths. Buried under layer upon layer of rum, oak, bourbon, and peppers, his spirit lies in wait.

Like an illumination of the darkest night, the repressed memory of Sir Maltalot’s lush aromas has begun to stir. Lovers of Scotch Ales and Doppelbocks, aficionados of lagers light and dark, let us band together to fight for a craft beer world in which value is not measured by the bitterness unit,IMG_0152 in which a hundred IBUs does not automatically equate with one-hundred Beer Advocate points! A revaluation of values! A world in which brown ales are not cast aside for their seeming ordinariness!

Maltheads, conceal your views and aims for not a moment longer! Emerge from the shadows and proclaim with unfaltering voice your affinity for Munich malt, crystal malt, Maris Otter, Pilsener malt, and Golden Promise! And let the lovers of the Seven Cs tremble at the prospect of a Malthead revolution. Maltheads of the world, unite! Come together to break the bitter tyranny of the IBU imperium. We have nothing to lose but our scythes.

PostScript

Installment #94 of The Session comes to us courtesy of Adrian Dingle at DingsBeerBlog, and inquires after our perceived role in the beer scene. Friday took me by surprise,Session Friday - Logo 1 as did December in general, so I wanted to write something short that was playful yet pointed at the same time. Hence my Malthead Manifesto.

I love sitting down to a rich imperial stout (as a matter of fact, I’m drinking one with chilis as I write), and my fridge is stocked with Belgian sours, American wild ales, and all sorts of beers containing ingredients that would make the crafters of the Reinheitsgebot roll over in their graves. But I do think that some styles have gotten short shrift in recent years. Lager of just about all stripes springs immediately to mind, along with other styles that don’t push the proverbial envelope in any appreciable way.

Anyone care to join me for a glass of Munich Helles later?

High ABV, high IBU, intense sourness, and anything else “extreme”: these are the discursive markers that dominate the contemporary North American craft beer landscape. What’s more, these markers have become conflated with quality. (A glance at any of the “best-of” lists making the year-end rounds quickly bears this assertion out.) People new to the community enter a world of predetermined codes, a canon of taste that prescribes which beers are worthy of attention, and which ones aren’t.

Anyone up for grabbing a six-pack of brown ale this evening?

Aside from the pleasure I derive from writing about the stuff I like to drink, I suppose one of the main reasons I approach writing about beer in the manner I do is because I’d rather not see our choices diminished by powerful taste trends. There’s a certain irony here: Our current range of beverage choices in North America could not be more extensive, but with increasing competition for shelf space and tap lines, I’m wary of a consolidation that favours the dominant tastes I mentioned above. And I’m wary of perfectly good beer styles –– beer styles excellent in a subtle way that doesn’t call forth a cascade of adjectives to describe them –– being eclipsed by certain styles deemed “better” merely be virtue of having higher this and more intense that.

Maybe we can order a few pints of Scottish ale when we’re done with our English mild.

I drink with a catholic embrace. I drink wine, bourbon, Scotch, and tequila. And I drink saké. I even drink my share of IPA. Better yet, make it a double IPA. But when we’re in Berlin, let’s head to a pub in Neukölln instead of lining up at Stone’s new location.

The first round of Hefeweizen is on me.

Related Tempest Articles

Let Us Now Praise Famous Lagers: Your Saturday Six-Pack (Vol.3)

Every Day Is Craft Lager Day at Kansas City Bier Company

Celebrating Craft Lager Day with a Landbier from Kapsreiter

Drinking Lager in an Age of Extreme Taste

Hefeweizen: A Beer for All Seasons

Brown Beers Get No Luvin’: Your Saturday Six-Pack (Vol.2)

Becoming Munich Dunkel.

Becoming Munich Dunkel

With the exception of The Session logo, images by F.D. Hofer.

© 2014 F.D. Hofer and A Tempest in a Tankard. All Rights Reserved.

The Fonduementals of Beer and Cider: Recipes to Warm Your Weekend

Fondue is a consummately convivial dish in any season. I’ve had fondues in summer, crowded around a communal table at Le Refuge des Fondues, that long-lived Montmartre institution famous for serving barely-drinkable wine in baby bottles. Yes, baby bottles. And I’ve had plenty of fondues in winter. Fondues marked many a special occasion in my family, with mid-December and early January birthdays expanding the holiday calendar on both ends. (Maybe this is why I can’t help but associate fondues with cold and snowy winter evenings.)

For my family, there was and remains only one way to make a fondue: Zermattequal parts Emmenthal and Gruyère cheese, white wine, and a hearty dose of Kirsch. Even today, this “classic” Swiss fondue remains one of my favourites. But I remember a late spring evening some decades ago in Zermatt, the picturesque town in the shadow of the Matterhorn, an evening that awakened me to the possibilities of this rustic dish. For starters, the restaurant listed not one but several fondues. This, in itself, was a revelation. I settled on the herb fondue, a classic Swiss fondue with so much basil that the fondue was more brilliant green than its typical yellow-cream colour.

IMG_0056Since that evening, I have concocted dozens of variations on the traditional fondue for what has become an annual winter dining tradition chez moi. To keep things interesting, I began experimenting with different combinations of cheeses and ingredients. I might, on occasion, add morels and roasted garlic, or sundried tomato and oregano, or even finely diced pancetta. It was just a matter of time before it occurred to me that I could melt the cheese in a liquid other than white wine.

Following are three fondue recipes straight from the Tempest cookbook, fondues that’ll warm the guests around your dinner table and keep the conversation lively well into the wee hours. The first features hard apple cider as its base, while the second is a richer affair bolstered by Doppelbock. The final recipe may be the only fondue recipe you’ll ever need.

For all of these recipes, you’ll need some way to keep the pot of bubbling liquid and cheese warm at the table. You’ll also need long forks. A fondue set works best, but you can always rig something up. All recipes serve four to six people, depending on how much bread and other accompanying food you’ve prepared.

Gorgonzola Apple Cider Fondue

Ingredients:

  • .3 lb. Gorgonzola dolce, cubed (use Cambozola if you can’t find a less assertive gorgonzola; it’s good to have a mix of creamy and pungent cheeses)
  • .4 lb. Gorgonzola piccante, cubed
  • .5 lb. Gruyère, grated
  • 1 cup hard apple cider, off-dry
  • 1 clove garlic
  • 2-3 tbsp. Poire Williams
  • 2 tbsp. flour
  • For dipping: broccoli florets, cauliflower florets (parboiled); brown mushrooms (whole); fennel (sliced); 1 loaf sourdough bread or country bread (cubed)

Directions:

Prep the vegetables. Parboil the broccoli and cauliflower, and leave the fennel and mushrooms raw. Cube the bread.

Cube the Gorgonzola and grate the Gruyère. Cut the garlic clove in half, and rub the inside of the fondue pot. Mince the remainder.

Heat the cider and minced garlic over medium heat till liquid begins to bubble, turn the heat down, and begin adding the cheeses slowly, stirring with a wooden spoon: Gruyère first, then the Gorgonzola. When it is all melted, dissolve flour in the Poire Williams and stir in. Check the seasoning, and add pinches of sea salt if need be.

Serve with apple cider, an American pale ale, a crisp northern German Pilsener, or a dry/off-dry Riesling.

Aged Gouda and Doppelbock Fondue

Ingredients:

  • .7 lb. aged Gouda, grated
  • .3 lb. Gruyère, grated
  • .2 lb. Emmenthal, grated
  • 2 tbsp. flour
  • 1 cup Doppelbock
  • ¼ cup Amontillado Sherry
  • ½ shallot, diced finely
  • 1 tbsp. butter
  • 2 tbsp. sherry (Amontillado or Oloroso)
  • 2 tbsp. grainy German mustard
  • cayenne (pinch)
  • nutmeg (pinch)
  • salt and freshly ground pepper
  • 1 loaf sourdough bread, rye bread, or country bread (cubed)

Directions:

Cube the bread and grate the cheese. Mix the flour into the grated cheese. Heat the beer and sherry till it bubbles. In a separate pan, melt the butter and sauté the shallots. Add the shallots to the bubbling liquid, then slowly incorporate the cheeses. Add the pepper, nutmeg, and cayenne. Once melted, finish with the sherry-mustard mix. (If fondue doesn’t appear thick enough, dissolve more flour in the sherry-mustard mix). Check seasoning, and add sea salt if needed.

Fondues aren’t for those watching their waistlines, and this one’s at the far end of the richness scale. I find that Doppelbocks aren’t the best accompaniment – too much of a good thing. Try a Hefeweizen, or a lighter Weizenbock like Weihenstephan’s Vitus. A glass of Amontillado complements this dish wonderfully.

Swiss Fondue (Family Recipe)

Ingredients:

  • .5 lb. Emmenthal, grated
  • .5 lb. Gruyère, grated
  • 1 cup dry and fruity white wine
  • 1-2 tbsp. flour
  • 1 clove garlic, peeled and halved
  • 2 tbsp. Kirsch
  • freshly ground nutmeg (pinch)
  • freshly ground black pepper`
  • 1 loaf french bread, cubed

Directions:

Cube bread. Grate cheese, and mix with flour. Rub fondue pot with garlic. Heat wine in fondue pot over medium heat till it simmers. Reduce heat. Slowly stir in the grated cheese.

Image Source: www.switzerlandcheese.ca

Image Source: www.switzerlandcheese.ca

Once the cheese has incorporated into the wine, add the kirsch. (If the fondue appears runny, dissolve a bit of flour into the kirsch beforehand). Stir in freshly-ground black pepper and nutmeg, then transfer to fondue burner. Et voilà.

Beverage choices for this kind of fondue are fairly wide open. White wine from Swiss, German, Austrian, or eastern French regions are typical accompaniments, but you could also opt for a red wine like a Beaujolais, even a lighter Pinot Noir. As for beer, try an aromatic and lower-IBU American IPA, or a southern German Pilsener.

Guten Appetit!

Related Tempest Articles

Bourbon Squared: Maple-Glazed Pork Belly Meets Barrel-Aged Beer

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Zermatt Image Source: Wikipedia

Fondue Pot: F.D. Hofer

© 2014. F.D. Hofer and A Tempest in a Tankard. All Rights Reserved.

Featured Beer: Klosterbrauerei Weissenohe “Bonator”

Today’s featured beer is brought to you by the letter G for Germany. It’s also brought to you by a date: November 9, a rather infamous date in Germany’s often turbulent twentieth-century history.

Many remember this date as the evening when an unexpected event ushered in the end of the Cold War. During one of his regular press conferences in the heady autumn days of 1989, the East German Politburo spokesperson, Gunter Schabowski, discussed regulations that signaled an easing of travel restrictions for East Germans. The ink had barely dried on the text of the regulations, and Schabowski had not been fully briefed about the timeline of their implementation. A reporter asked when the regulations would come into effect. Caught off guard, Schabowski hesitated for a moment. His improvised answer: “Sofort. Unverzüglich.” (Effective immediately, without delay). West German media outlets – whose signal was transmitted into most of East Germany as well – broadcasted this stunning news on their evening programs. Crowds began amassing at the Berlin border crossings within minutes, and as the evening wore on, the vastly outnumbered border guards opened the flood gates to the tide of humanity that would swell back and forth across what was only recently a deadly boundary.

Though many in Berlin and Germany will celebrate the fall of the Berlin Wall, other November 9ths have etched themselves, sometimes more dimly, into German collective memory. Ninety-five years ago today, deputy chairperson of the Social Democratic Party, Philipp Scheidemann, stepped out onto a balcony of the Reichstag and proclaimed the establishment of a republic. With this proclamation, Scheidemann put paid to the German monarchy. Within days, the First World War was over. Five years later, a failed artist and lance corporal from Austria who bore a striking resemblance to Charlie Chaplin, led his SA men in what has come to be known as the Munich Beer Hall Putsch. But this man was no comedian. By 1933 his Nazi party was firmly entrenched in power; on the evening of November 9, 1938, he succeeded in unleashing an anti-Semitic frenzy in Germany. Kristallnacht, or The Night of Broken Glass, witnessed an intensification of anti-Semitism that culminated in the Holocaust.

Some of these November 9ths lend themselves eminently to celebration; others, to reflection. Tonight I raise my glass to the fall of the Berlin Wall while remembering other events of German history that were not so festive.

On the evening when the wall came down, I’d hazard to guess that not many were drinking Doppelbock. Sekt (German bubbly) was more likely the beverage of choice. Since I have none of what Napoleon called “the Champagne of the North” (Berliner Weisse) on hand, it’s only fitting to drink a bottle of Bonator, a beer that recalls Germany’s patron saint, Boniface.

Bonator

Brewed by one of the oldest breweries in the Bavarian region of Franconia, Bonator pays tribute to the first archbishop of Mainz and founder of the Franconian diocese of Würzburg. As Weissenohe traces its roots to the local Benedictine monastery, it’s no surprise that they brew a Doppelbock, the rich and hearty beer that got many a monk through Lenten fasts.

Copper-brown with garnet-mahogany highlights, Bonator issues forth from a swing-top bottle bearing aromas of fresh country bread, toasted malt, cocoa, and milk caramel, with just a hint of licorice and aniseed. Woody and earthy hop aromas are subtle but present in the depths, reminiscent of tea with lemon. The beer is a meal in itself, with a complex and richly malt-forward palate that mingles black cherry and plum with chocolate cake. Unsurprisingly, at a hefty 8.2% ABV, the beer is sweet; but the subtle earthy-citrus hops meld with the bready, toasty, fruity milk chocolate malt, assuring that the beer stays this side of cloying, finishing on a pleasant apricot-peach preserve note.

As with any Doppelbock, don’t drink it even remotely chilled. (Trust me. Use the force on this). Crack it at cellar temperature, and then let it warm as you drink it. And don’t drink too many, lest you need to go in search of a Salvator the next day.

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© 2013 F.D. Hofer and A Tempest in a Tankard. All Rights Reserved.