Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Stressed Spelled Backwards

THIS is a Beer Cupcake, a delicious looking morsel whose original photo and post is on a Manhattan based web log called "Big City Little Kitchen." I read about this on another web log called "Confessions of a Beer Geek" (great title).

Gena at BCLK says that the addition of beer adds "richness and moisture and balances the sweetness of the sugar." She topped these little morsels of heaven with a cream cheese glaze and says that they are a "crowd-pleasing, not-too-sweet dessert."

Gena made these cupcakes with Guiness, but I suggest using something a little more exotic, like Young's Oatmeal or Double Chocolate Stout or Old Rasputin Russian Imperial Stout - something big and stouty and chocolatey and coffee-ish. Here's the recipe:


  • 1 cup of good craft or artisanal Stout, Chocolate Stout or Imperial Stout
  • 1 stick, plus 1 tb, unsalted butter
  • 3/4 cup unsweetened cocoa
  • 2 cups dark brown sugar
  • 3/4 cup sour cream
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 tb vanilla extract
  • 2 cups flour
  • 2 1/2 tsp baking soda


  • 8 oz cream cheese
  • 1 1/4 cups confectioners' sugar
  • 1/3 cup milk

Preheat oven to 350; butter a muffin tin.

Combine the beer and the butter, chopped into 1-inch chunks, in a large sauce pan, and heat to melt the butter. Remove from heat, and whisk in the cocoa and sugar. In a bowl, whisk the sour cream with the eggs and vanilla, then add to the beer mixture. Sift together the flour and baking soda, and fold into the batter. Pour into muffin molds and bake for 25 minutes, or until inserted cake tester comes out clean. Let stand 10 minutes, remove from muffin tin, and cool completely on a rack.

Using a mixer, whip cream cheese until smooth, sift in sugar, and beat. Add milk, and beat until smooth. Spread glaze over cooled cupcakes.

*To create a thinner glaze, use a tablespoon or two more milk; for a topping more akin to icing, use less milk, and perhaps more sugar. In either case, add a little sugar or milk at a time, mix, and check for desired consistency.

Friday, July 27, 2007

The Champagne of Beers

Many women still say to me, "I'm not a beer drinker." And I'm still shocked and appalled by this huge ... lie. The last woman with whom I had this discussion said to me, quite snottily I might add, "I primarily drink champagne." I retorted with, "Well, good for you Miss Thang, I have the perfect beer for you!"

Biere de Champagne or Biere Brut, as it is also called, is not the mass produced beer known as "The Champagne of Beer." When I say Biere de Champagne, I'm talking about a relatively new and, I must say, fan-effing-tastic style of beer. Basically, this beer is brewed in Belgium and then undergoes the "methode de champenoise," or the same kind of bottle conditioning, maturation, remuage (riddling) and degorgement (disgorging) that actual Champagne goes through. Some of these beers are actually shipped to the Champagne region of France for this special treatment.

These beers are delicate, yet still rich and complex, spicy and aromatic, amazingly effervescent, highly carbonated, and really really good. Most of them are also pretty high in alcohol, but the balance is so nice, and carbonation so high, that you might not be able to tell it by the mouthfeel or viscosity.

These beers usually come in 750ml Champagne bottles, complete with cork and cage. You can find them at your local wine store that sells craft and artisanal beers. They are a little pricier than other beers, but they're cheaper than most great Champagne, and they're well worth it! Trust me. (Just be careful when you open them because they can overflow quite easiliy - a la real Champagne.)

Here are some highly regarded Biere de Champagne beers:
(FYI - Drink these in a champagne flute.)

euS (Brut Des Flandres)
Brouwerij Bosteels, Belgium
This beer rocks it. Light straw colored with huge carbonation, this beer almost floats in your mouth. Spicy and peppery, this beer drifts in the middle to fruity apricots, pears and ginger. You'll definitely recognize the Belgian yeast qualities: a slight Orvallian earthy funk. There's also some good lemon rind on the dry finish. In my opinion, an excellent beer.
11.5% abv.

Malheur Biere Brut (Brut Reserve)
Brouwerij De Landtsheer NV, Belgium
According to the leading beer expert in the world, Michael Jackson (no not that one - c'mon girls!) Malheur Brut Reserve "has a remarkably flowery aroma, with suggestions of vanilla; restrained, tightly combined, fruity flavors (apricot? citrus?); and a very dry finish." I thought that it was quite spicy and filled with sweet malt. A very good beer. I'd love to try the
"Michael Jackson Commemorative Selection 2006."
11% abv.

Malheur Brut Noir

Brouwerij De Landtsheer NV, Belgium
A friend introduced me to this beer, which he told me is called "Black Chocolate" in the States. This is much less dry that the previous two beers. Touches of clove and cinnamon with notes of dark old-world fruit: cherry, plum and fig jam. Nice vinous quality. Some heat with alcohol you can taste, but the sharp carbonation cleans this beer up to a medium body.
12% abv.

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Testing...Check...Check one.

This, to me, is one of the coolest things that's happened to me since I started my Beer Journey. I was invited to go on radio station KCRW and be interviewed by culinary maven Evan Kleiman about women and beer on her show Good Food. What? Yeah. How cool is that? I've been listening to this show in my car for years edge-u-micating myself on the stuff that kicks culinary ass, and now I'm on it. Hopefully kicking beer ass! Wait....that didn't sound right.

Anyway, I'm on the radio. Woot woot. For Southern Californians, my "Beer Chick" segment will air this Saturday, July 28. You can listen live during its air time, 11:00am-noon at 89.9-FM (Pacific), or thereafter from the archives at You can also listen live over the internet at this website as well.

You can click here to see deets on the upcoming show. Thanks again for all your e-mails, keep 'em coming. I'm so excited. I'm about to lose control and I think I like it.

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Beer Chick on TV

I'm on TV! I'm on TV!

Those of you who are local to L.A. can catch me on YourLA today at 3:00pm on NBC. For those of you not in the area, the segment will be posted soon online @

I went around to some of my favorite local beer spots (only one of them is a beer bar) and talk about and taste ...what?...Hmmm ...Now what did we taste and talk about?

Oh yeah. Beer...duh.


Here it is!

Friday, July 20, 2007

Size Matters

So I was having a nice little beer tasting event the other day with Learn About Wine and I had, as my piece de resistance, a 3 Liter bottle of Craftsman Triple White Sage from Mark (I know, I know, I've mentioned this beer a lot. It's because TWS and I are in love OKAY? Leave me alone.) Anyway, the big bottle was really c-o-o-l and got me thinking. We (meaning American readers) are so used to the standard 12 oz. bottle that just seeing beer in a different size can be confusing and daunting. What do we call it? How much are we getting? you go!

The Stubbie - This unfortunate name is the general term for short glass bottles used for beer. They are shorter and fatter than your average bottle. The capacity is between 330ml (11.2 fl oz.) and 375 ml or (12.7 fl oz.) The advantages of this sized bottle is that the beer chills faster, they are easier to handle, there is less breakage, and - very important with me - tip less easily. These bottles are used more often in Europe, but you've seen them around - think Red Stripe bottles.

The Longneck - Uh...this is a type of beer bottle with a long neck. This is the industry standard bottle or ISB. ISB longnecks have a uniform capacity, height, weight and diameter and can be reused on average 16 times. The long neck offers a long cushion of air to absorb the pressure of carbonation to reduce the risk of exploding. The American longneck holds 12 fl oz. or 355 ml. FYI - The Canadian longneck holds 12 Imperial fl. oz. or 341 ml.

The Bomber - This is my favorite size bottle. A bomber is a 22 oz or 650ml glass bottle that craft, artisanal and specialty beers commonly come in. Bombers typically contain two to three servings of beer, which may be shared amongst friends...or not. They are also a popular bottle type with homebrewers. A 22 is commonly known as a "deuce-deuce" or "double-deuce," but please do me a favor and never call it that.

The Australian Longneck - In Australia, the most common volume of a longneck bottle is 750 ml or approximately 25 fl oz. Recently some brewers in Australia have even increased their longneck size to 800 ml or 27 fl oz. Dammit I love Australians! In Queensland a longneck is known as a "tallie." And in Western Australia its called a "king brown," which makes me laugh.

The Forty - Forties are more than three times as large as the standard American longneck. It is 40 fl oz. or 1.18 liters. Typically forties are associated with the beverage known as malt liquor baby yeah! (the name "Malt Liquor," by the way, is strictly a governmental regulation and refers to a type of beer that has a high abv and was considered too alcoholic to be marketed as "beer.") Don't drink it.

The Growler - A growler is a half gallon or 64 fl. oz. glass jug used to transport draught beer. They are commonly sold at breweries and brewpubs as a means to sell take-out beer. Some breweries also offer a one-liter version. Growlers generally are made of glass and have a tin or plastic screw-on cap or a hinged porcelain gasket cap which can provide freshness for a few days before losing carbonation. They usually have a handle ( I love bottles with handles) and can be used indefinitely.

FYI - Here are bottle sizes as they relate to wine:

= 187 ml or one quarter size a standard bottle
= 375 ml or half a standard bottle.
Standard Bottle
= 750 ml
= 1.5 liters or twice the standard bottle
also called Double Magnum = 3 liters or 4 standard bottles
= 4.5 liters or 6 standard standard bottles
Methusalem also called Imperial = 6 liters or 8 standard bottles
= 9 liters or 12 standard bottles. This is an entire case in one bottle.
= 12 liters or 16 standard bottles.
= 12 to 16 liters (depending on the country of origin) or 16 to 20 btls.
= 50 liters or 67 standard bottles.

Thank you to for a lot of this information.

Friday, July 6, 2007

The Sauce of Life - Grilling with Beer

Hungry to find my own kind, I recently corresponded with a fellow beer chick, the very accomplished Lucy Saunders. Besides being revered by the world's leading beer writers and experts (do Michael Jackson or the Alstrom brothers ring any bells?), she also has 20 years experience as an author, a cook and a teacher. She's also a Chicago girl, like myself, and believes that beer is food. Yeah, she pretty much rocks it. Oh, and she calls beer the "sauce of life." Which makes me smile for a couple of different reasons: one of which is that the quote comes from her most recent book called "Grilling with Beer." KEEP READING.

Now I know this is crazy. Because, while some of us chicks are now comfortable with having breached the masculine world of beer; grilling is a whole 'nother level of male. I feel a bit like Marlow in "Heart of Darkness," traveling into unknown territory a little scared and a little excited, but certain that I will be experiencing things I never have before. Hand me the Maudite, I'm ready for fire...heh!

You might be saying to yourself, "Big deal, beer and grilling, what's new?" But as Lucy herself says in her book, you probably "have summertime memories of sucking back ice-cold fizzy, yellow, cheap beer while charring burgers, hot dogs and chicken on the hibachi." This book is about something on the far side of the culinary planet from that experience.

Lucy writes about sauces, bastes, glazes, rubs, marinades and brines. She talks about nuance and flavors found in craft beer that "range from fruity, floral, citrusy, sweet, sour, spicy, herbal, earthy, toasty, roasted, smoky and burnt." She talks about craft beer providing a diversity of flavor that you simply won't find with any other beverage.

She's right you know.

So far, I've tried the "Mexican Dark Lager Mole," which was awesome. I used Craftsman Smoked Black Lager and the flavors and textures with the chocolate, chiles, cumin, coriander and pumpkin seeds were amazing (I cooked this recipe with chicken.)

I also had a great slow food experience with the "Dunkel Weiss & Spice Marinade" and a flank steak. I used the Aventinus Eisbock (a 12% wheat dopplebock - close enough). The steak was wonderful, there was wonderful herbacity, big spicy notes (I used extra red pepper flakes) and a deep, rich sweetness. I took Lucy's advice and used part of the marinade reduced as a sauce. Delish.

Here's a simple recipe from the book that looks really interesting:

Mustard Sage Glaze

1/2 cup prepared Dijon mustard
1 tablespoon minced fresh sage
1/2 cup amber ale
2 tablespoons melted butter
1 tablespoon molasses
1/2 teaspoon cracked black pepper.

1. Whisk together all ingredients in medium bowl; brush
on chops, steak or chicken or fish during last 5 minutes
of cooking.

Makes 1 cup.

**Wonder what this recipe would taste like subbing the Craftsman Triple White Sage for the amber ale? Dare to dream.

Where can you find more from Lucy? She edits You can buy her book at She also wrote a book called "Cooking with Beer" that is equally lauded. You can click here for more information.

You can also glean more of Lucy's knowledge in this month's issue of Beer Advocate (click
here for a subscription.) In a column called "Last Call by Lucy Saunders: The Sizzle" She asks the question, "Must great taste be at the expense of good taste?"

You go girl!