MI Brewer's Guild. They put on another fabulous "U.P. Fall Beer Festival", right here in Marquette! It was attended by over 4,100 people, and over 50 MI Breweries were represented to feature an astonishing 400 different kinds of crafted brews! (Now that is A LOT of beer!!) And for all of you in the Detroit area, be sure to get your tickets for the upcoming "Detroit Fall Beer Festival" to be held October 24-25 at Eastern Market in Detroit!
***Click on the orange "MI Brewer's Guild" above to link you directly to website!
Now, being the "light-weight" that I am, I think I sampled maybe 4-5 different kinds, (and I never finished the whole cup on any of those- mind you!) Wow, are these people talented! My favorite you ask? That's gonna be really tough because they were all so unique, (and there were so many others I wanted to try as well!), but the two that stuck out were: Detroit Atwater Brewery's "Blueberry Cobbler", and Rochester Mill's "Milk Shake Stout"- good stuff, and amazing flavor!
Brewmasters are true scientists, artists, and innovators. Not just anyone can brew good beer. (If you don't believe me, check out the diagram on how beer is made in the slide show above to see the full process involved!) I mean sure, anyone can go out and purchase one of those "make your own beer" kits. But, it takes education, skill, and years of experience to do it on a professional, and commercial level.
And did I mention how important the craft beer movement is in our state of Michigan? When you support your local and state breweries, you are in fact supporting the state's agriculture industry, as well as boosting our economy! These breweries are relying heavily on locally grown hops, grains, produce, and sugars, etc. that go into the production of those specific brews.
So, because my husband Russ and I have had the experience understanding the process of how microbrews are made, (due to his incredible managerial experience opening the state's largest microbrewery in history: Big Buck Brewery & Steakhouse in Auburn Hills, MI), it truly makes us appreciate the thought and effort that goes into each crafted beer. (Much like the skill, science, and talent involved with preparing amazing food.) That's why beer and food are such a match made in heaven! They compliment each other- whether you enjoy them separate, or infuse the beer into your favorite dish. Knowing the different kinds of beers, and how to use them in your next meal, is very important!
***Refer to the diagram in the slide show above to view the different kinds of beers.
Now, beer aficionados will tell you that beer is enjoyed best in it's purest state- which is "raw" or not heated. As a mom, I can tell you that serving a vinaigrette with "raw" beer, is probably NOT the best choice when you have children! Indeed there is science involved here, so that's why it is important to be careful in selecting the appropriate brew for cooking or baking, as heat does change the flavors of the beer! (We're talking chemistry here!)
Here's a comprehensive breakdown of the types of beers to use when cooking specific items:
****IPA's are strongly advised not to be used for cooking or baking- due to it's very bitter taste.
Baking: When baking cakes, cookies, brownies, pies, etc. it's important to use a beer that contains more malt vs. hops, such as your stouts and porters for chocolate or dark batters. Also, the depth of rich caramel, coffee, and heavy flavors harmonize best with the chocolate baked items. Pale ales and pilsners work best for lighter batter cake, blondies, cookies, etc. **High hops beers can really add a bitterness to your baked goods!
Beer Batters: Now, whether you are battering fish or onion rings, or making pancakes or waffles, it's best to choose a pale ale or pilsner. (I have also used brown and red ales or lagers as well for different depth of flavor!)
Broths, gravies, sauteing, braising, and slow cooking: Again, it's best to stay clear of "high hops" beers for cooking in general. If you're making pork, chicken, or even seafood, try a "fruitier" pale ale that would compliment your dish, (such as Bells Oberon.) Or, besides the pale ales, saisons, and white ales would also be appropriate. Ambers, porters, and brown ales can also be used to deepen the flavors of your meat. Always be sure to add other liquids, (such as broth or stock), to your dish to add additional flavor, as well as "adjust" the bitterness or flavors of the beer- (if too strong.) Mushrooms and potatoes are also great to add, as they act as a "sponge" to absorb liquid, and less desirable flavors in your dish.
Reductions: When cooking something down to concentrate the flavors, (such as thick sauces, rich beef gravies, syrup reductions for frosting, caramels, etc.), stouts and porters work the best! Use a higher malt beer in this circumstance, and adjust the intense flavors with additional sugar, or broth/ stock, juices, etc.- depending on the recipe or item.
Brines, Vinaigrettes, etc.: Now, this is finally the opportunity to have your favorite "hoppy" beers!! When using beer in the "raw" state, the flavors won't be changing due to heat sources. However, when making mayo, salad dressings, dessert "floats", etc., be sure that you will not be serving these items to minors- as it could get you into a bit of trouble! (Plus, I doubt they will care much for the taste!) So be responsible, and serve items using "raw" beer, to ADULTS only!!
Whether you decide to get "creative in the kitchen" and experiment using a recipe with your favorite craft beer, or, you just simply want to enjoy a great brew after a long hard day of work and the kids, craft beers are waiting for you at almost every store and market around!
Cheers to "Brewing Art"!!