Monday, March 30, 2009

One Brine Day

We have too much beer in our apartment.

Ok, maybe there is no such thing as TOO much beer. But we have a LOT. For one thing, Adam and his friend brewed a batch of delicious honey lager/hefeweizen hybrid so we have many bottles of that. Then my brother decided he was never going to drink all of HIS beer so he gave it all to Adam. And on top of that on any normal day we have a decent amount of beer in the apartment. So yeah. Tons O' Beer.

In an effort to put some of it to use other than drinking it, I have been searching for beer related recipes online. I ended up slightly modifying one a recipe I found on Epicurious for beer-brined pork. The brine was super easy to put together and really made the pork delicious and juicy, perfect for me who tends to overcook those suckers.

This recipe is best started in the early afternoon since the chops do need to brine for 4 hours.I served it along side a warm potato and green bean salad mixed with dijon vinaigrette. Delicious!

Beer-Brined Pork Chops.

2 cups water
2 cups dark lager beer
1/4 cup coarse salt
3 tablespoons brown sugar
3 tablespoons molasses
1 cup ice cubes
6 1- to 1 1/4-inch-thick center-cut bone-in pork chops

Garlic Powder

Mix 2 cups water, beer, 1/4 cup coarse salt, sugar, and molasses in large bowl. Stir until salt and sugar dissolve. Stir in ice. Place pork chops in large resealable plastic bag. Pour beer brine over pork chops; seal bag. Refrigerate 4 hours, turning bag occasionally.

Preheat oven to 350.

Heat an oven safe pan over medium high heat. . Drain pork chops from brine and sprinkle with garlic powder, salt and pepper. Sear chops in hot pan about 1 minute a side and then transfer to oven to finish baking, about 10 minutes or until an instant read thermometer reads 140. Transfer chops to platter; cover with foil, and let stand 5 minutes. Serve.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Upcoming Local Beer Events

Dilboy Post, VFW - Somerville, MA
NERAX is organized by CASC, the Cask-Conditioned Ale Support Campaign. CASC is an all-volunteer organization dedicated to boosting awareness of and demand for Real Ale in New England.

Berkshire Brewing Company Tasting
Thursday - March 26, 2009 5PM-7PM
Bauer Wine & Spirits
330 Newbury Street, Boston
Join Gwen Richardson of the Berkshire Brewing Co. for a sampling of BBC's line of year 'round and seasonal offerings. Enjoy some often overlooked classics, as well as the just released spring seasonal, Maibock Lager.

Watch City Brewery, Waltham
What makes a freshly brewed beer even better? How about pairing it with CHOCOLATE? Head down to Watch City for the launch of the brand new, crazy delicious and smooth Chocolate Porter created by Brewer Aaron Mateychuk @ The Watch City Brewing Company. Aaron has collaborated with Alex Whitmore, The Owner of Taza Chocolates to perfect this chocolatey brew. Meet the brewert and the chocolatier at this event, and sample the beer AND the chocolate for a match made in heaven.

Smuttynose Prix Fixe Beer Dinner
Monday - March 30, 2009 6PM-9PM
Atwood's Tavern
Cambridge, Massachusetts

First Course- Hanami. Duck Salad, Blood Orange, Frissee, Berry Compote, "Prosciutto"
Second Course- Shoals Pale Ale. Crawfish Boil
Third Course- Star Island. Skate Wing, Polenta, Mushroom Ragout, Lemon Basil Buerc Blanc
Fourth Course- Chocolate, Ginger, Vanilla Neapolitan Ginger Soup Caramel Sauce
Just a preview, the menu is still subject to some changes.
$45/person, 6-10pm March 30th and 31st.

Monday, March 23, 2009

Spring Beer Tasting

Saturday, APRIL 4th
2 to 5 pm
486 Columbian Street
Weymouth, MA 02190

Featuring:Cisco (Mass), Mayflower (Mass) , Ipswich (Mass),Allagash (LA) , Victory (PA) , Peak Organic (ME) Dogfish (DE) , Newport Storm (Mass) , Shmaltz Brewing (NY) , Harpoon (Mass) , Blue Moon (CO) , Wachusett (Mass) , Sebago (Mass) , Leinenkugel (WI) Chang (Thailand) , Stone (CA) , Presidente (Dom Rep)
Brouwerij (Belgium) , and many more.

Delicious food for beer tasting will be provided by Blue Pointe Bistro!

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Brew-Trippin' in Portsmouth

Anchorage Inn
417 Woodbury Ave
Portsmouth, NH 03801
When we go on trips, we're not about the 5 star hotels. To us a hotel is a place to crash for the night and we'd rather spend money on going out and about, maybe a nice dinner, doing some shopping. I am the main hotel researcher/booker in this relationship and my criteria is pretty simple: Clean, safe, convenient location and inexpensive. The Anchorage Inn fit this bill and then some. Booking through saved me $20 off of the prices offered for the same room on and There are several hotels in the area and after reviewing prices, and reviews on (and taking into account Adam's request that the hotel have an indoor pool and hot tub), the Anchorage Inn was perfect for our needs. A few minutes drive from downtown Portland and the breweries, super friendly staff, nice free continental breakfast, free wifi, clean, good sized room AND $80 for the night including taxes. Not bad, right?

Smuttynose Brewery
25 Heritage Drive
Portsmouth, NH
The Smuttynose Brewery is going to be moving to Hampton, NH in a year or so to a much bigger, about-to-be-built facility on the Towle's Farm property. It's easy to see why the move is so, they have packed a LOT of brewery into a little space. They only offer free brewery tours and tastings on Thursdays and Fridays at 3PM which is nice since you end up with a smaller tour group. Renee, our tour guide, was fantastic. Really knowledgeable and interactive with the tour (as I mentioned earlier, we got really up close and personal to the tanks, got to look in them. And it was the only brewery tour I have been on where beer is actually being brewed while we're there, standing among the tanks. We even had to wear safety glasses. WOAH.
The tasting was eye opening - as I have never had Smuttynose before. We tried the IPA, Robust Porter AND the brand spankin' new Star Island Single which is being bottled for the first time TODAY and is hitting stores this week.

Crisp and citrusy and refreshing, it's like the sauvignon blanc of beers and I can't wait to pick up a six pack. Sadly it is replacing permanently the Portsmouth Lager but I think the Star Island Single will be a huge hit. Read about their decision to stop brewing the Lager here. If you check it out this week please drop me a line and let me know what you think!

Tip: Arrive early for the Smuttynose tour since the tasting happens before the tour. The earlier you arrive the more beer you get to sample!

Red Hook Ale Brewery
35 Corporate Drive
Pease International Tradeport
Portsmouth, NH
This brewery is kind of night vs day compared with Smuttynose, though we had a smashing time at both. The Red Hook Brewery is an enormous, modern facility with a large pub/restaurant (The Cataqua Public House). On the weekends they offer tours for $1 (which includes a tasting glass) from noon to 4PM on the hour (check the website for weekday tour times). Since this was the weekend tour it was a lot more crowded. In fact we showed up for the noon tour and were benevolently warned by the tour guide that we might want to wait for the 1PM tour since there was a BUS full of 9-10 year old boys going on the noon tour. Who brings that many kids to a brewery? And then makes them sit through a tasting where they can't have anything? It seems unfair, both to the kids and to other people on the tour. Then again if I was an adult supervising a trip of that many kids I think a brewery is EXACTLY where I would want to go. In any case we took his advice and had an early lunch and a few beers in the Cataqua while we waited for the 1PM tour. I tried the Spring offering "Copperhook" which was delicious and Adam enjoyed the Porter which was delicious and smooth with a hint of espresso. I am dying to work it into a cupcake recipe. But that's neither here nor there. The tour guide, though thoroughly worn out from the kids, gave us a great tour and was funny and informative. The tasting was a "pour your own beer" style which is always fun for those of us with heavy hands. The porter remained my favorite as well as the ESB which was surprisngly not as bitter as you would think an "Extra Special Bitter" would be. Fun fact: Red Hook's Longhammer IPA is the most popular IPA in the country. I am not big into IPA (a face full of hops is not my thing) but Adam is a HUGE fan and raved about the IPA.
Tip: After the tour there is a mad rush to the gift shop and then everyone clusters near the register to pay. You can pay for your gift shop goods at the bar! So skip the line and head back into the pub to pay for your goods.

Drinks On The Town
The Coat of Arms
174 Fleet Street
Portsmouth, NH
This ended up being our favorite bar we visited this weekend. Though it has kind of rough reviews on Tripadvisor (about unfriendly staff), we had the exact opposite experience. We went for dinner on Friday night, after the Smuttynose tour, and our server was a total doll. Adam ordered the Bangers and Mash, I was going to order the Steak and Kidney Pie but totally wimped out and went for the Irish Reuben instead. Both of our meals were delicious! For drinks Adam went with the Boddingtons and I lost control of myself and went with a gin & tonic. After the fact I noticed they had a Vanilla Stout on the menu (Vanilla Vodka + Guinness) which I totally would have ordered but for me, if I start with cocktails I have to stick with cocktails or dire circumstances ensue. So Adam carried the beer flag for the night. We hit the town after that, doing some shopping and checking out some other bars downtown, before heading back to the Coat of Arms for end of the night drinks, this time sitting at the bar. We sampled some of their cask conditioned offering, Shiphard's Old Thumper Ale (which we had sampled at the Shipyard Brewery in Portland a few months ago) and I was amazed at how much different it tastes in a cask than from the tap. I was told this was due to the fact that a tap utilizes CO2 to push the beer out while a cask uses a beer engine which results in a smoother pour and less cold beer. Delicious!
Tip: The picked eggs are not to be feared, they are delicious! And after a day of drinking we could all use a little protein, right?

If you have an extra few hours check out.....
Flag Hill Winery
297 North River Road
Lee, NH, 03861
Located about twenty miles from Portsmouth, Flag Hill is a gorgeous winery located on a 3 hundred year old farm in Lee, NH. They make an array of wines from the deliciously fruit Apple Cranberry to the crisp, pinot grigio esque Cayuga White and a TO DIE FOR blueberry dessert wine. Tastings are offered all day Wednesday through Sunday in a casual manner, you go in and get a list of what's available for tasting as well as a little description of each and pick and choose what you want to taste. They also make John Stark Vodka and I highly recommend picking up a bottle of the Sugar Maple Liqueur...which is their freshly made vodka mixed with freshly made maple syrup...SO GOOD. Tours of the winery can be arranged and the shop also sells gourmet foods and accoutrements. We left with the apple cranberry wine, the dessert wine and of course the maple vodka. I also want to point out that there is a Nudist Camp a few miles down the street. After downing a bottle of Strawberry wine....who knows? That might sound like an interesting idea.

All in all, a splendid weekend away. Lots to do, lots to drink, and no need to spend a lot of $. Portsmouth is a gorgeous city, and Smuttynose and Red Hook make extremely impressive beer. And there is a lot to love about a winery down the street from a nudist camp! To see the rest of our photos from the trip please click here.

To kick off things here at Brew England, we are having our first CONTEST. Woo hoo. Who doesn't love free shiz. All you have to do is leave a comment and you will be entered to win one shiny new tall Red Hook ESB (Extra Special Bitter) glass that you can fill with your favorite brew and enjoy!

Comments will close tomorrow night and we'll announce a winner on Tuesday. Cheers!

Saturday, March 21, 2009

You've Got Some Smutty On Your Nose

Here we are in gorgeous Portland on this brisk SPRING morning.

We arrived here yesterday at the Smuttynose Brewery at 3PM just in time to take one of the two tours they offer on Fridays. We sampled some of their delicious fresh beer and then went on probably the most interactive and informative tour of a brewery we have even been on! There was boiling mash involved. The steam was actually in our faces. It doesn't get any realer than that people!

I would like to give a special shout out to my girl Stacey who recommended the Coat of Arms to us. We went to this British style pub for a delicious dinner, and after some shopping and stopping for a cocktail at Fat Belly's, we went back to the Coat of Arms, this time sitting at the bar where we had a fantastic bartender who taught us all about the difference between cask and tap beer and talked us through trying a pickled egg for the first time (which by the by was delicious).

Today we are off to the Red Hook Brewery for their noon tour, having lunch at the attached pub and then later in the afternoon visiting Flag Hill Winery in Lee, NH.

We have a bunch of photos to post as well as some special inside info about Smuttynose's NEW beer that is being bottled on Monday and is hitting NH stores next week, and Boston area stores the first week of April, as well as which current Smuttynose beer it is replacing (sorry Lager-lovers!)

Check back on Monday for photos of the breweries, some inside dish and our new words to live by spoken unto us by the sagest of advice givers, our bartender. We will also be having our first of many CONTESTS so get psyched.

Friday, March 20, 2009

Sam Adams Open House

What: Samuel Adams Open House - Samuel Adams Boston Brick Red

When: Thursday, March 26th - 5pm to 8pm

Where: Samuel Adams Boston Brewery 30 Germania Street MBTA Orange Line - Stony Brook Station

If you haven't been to the Sam Adam's Brewery in Jamaica Plain, you are missing out. Offering daily free tours (donations are optional) and a very generous tasting session, it's a great way to spend an hour or so learning about and drinking some quality, local beer.

These monthly open houses are great fun but to get an invite you must sign up for their monthly newsletter - "What's On Tap". Click here to do so, and then check out what other Open Houses they have on tap for the coming months!

This month's Open House is touting their brand new Sam Adams Boston Brick Red.

"As you are out and about in Boston this spring, look for a new beer from the Boston Brewery - Samuel Adams® Boston Brick Red. This deep red ale boasts a full body and soft malt character with layers of toffee and red fruit, and a bright, lightly tart finish. A percentage of the proceeds from sales of Samuel Adams Boston Brick Red will help support local entrepreneurs from the Samuel Adams Brewing the American Dream Program. The program's mission is to partner with the little guys in the food & beverage industry and provide them with the tools they need to help them succeed "

- From The March 2009 Issue of Samuel Adams "What's On Tap"

Head of the Class

In this economy, it is important to make your breadth of knowledge as varied as possible, and to update your skill set as often as you can. What better way to do this than by taking a class?

Beer tasting class!

This Spring, Boston Wine School in Allston, MA is departing from their typical class schedule of Wine Tastings and Classes and offering two BEER Tasting Classes:

If have taken a few of their wine classes and if they do half as good a job with their beer tasting classes then we are ALL in for a treat. Adam and I registered for the April 23rd class "If Craft Beer Could Talk: Seasonal and Limited Release Tasting" and are looking forward to sampling brews from smaller breweries and learning more about them.

Any of these classes offer great insight into the world of beer, several tastings of unusual brews paired with snacks and all of this in a totally snob free environment. And only $35! Whatta bahgain!

To register for a class/learn more about them, click the picture above. Maybe we'll see you there!

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Get This Party Started

Two People:

One of us a hardcore beer lover who gazes as lovingly at a fresh glass of ice cold Belgian White Ale, as one may imagine other people gaze into their newborn's faces.

The other? More of a wine lover BUT learning more and more to appreciate how outstanding good beer can be.

One Misson: Explore the breweries and brewpubs of New England, sampling beer and pairing it with food and blogging all the way.

It started last fall, we needed a weekend away. Adam had always wanted to visit the Longtrail Brewery, which so happens to be located a stone's throw from Woodstock, VT one of the cutest towns ever. So we made a weekend of it, spending a good amount of time at the Long Trail Brewery in Bridgewater Corners, VT and the Harpoon Brewery in Windsor, VT. And a few months later the ale trail beckoned again and we went to Portland for the weekend to check out Shipyard and Gritty McDuffs. And then our most recent trip which will be Portsmouth, NH to check out Smuttynose and Red Hook.

There are so many fantastic breweries, so close to us. It's an ideal road trip, a fun adventure and let's face it, a cheap way to drink (many breweries offer free tours AND free tastings). This blog is hopefully a way to chronicle our brew-trips and offer tips on where to go, where to stay, what to drink and what to eat it with. We'll throw in some info about our favorite new brews and standard brew pubs as well.Cheers!