Craft Beer and Food

Sunday, May 16, 2010

BBQ Chicken Pizza & a Porter Beer

My journey into the world of beer has become a little more focused. While Eric is brewing away, I am focussing on the nuances of pairing food with beer. Having spent many years concentrating on wine - this is a fun and challenging learning experience. Don’t get me wrong - I still love wine and think both beverages have their place at the table.

Each evening meal I try to find a suitable beer. This is not always easy as I am finding most of the lists and books are either too generic or too specific. Last night I do have to say I hit on a winner, homemade barbecue chicken pizza with a porter.

Simple BBQ Chicken Pizza

I made the pizza dough from a recipe in “The Greens Cookbook” by Deborah Madison. The Greens is a vegetarian restaurant in the SF Bay area. I hope they are not offended that I put chicken on it. The dough was excellent - thanks Robin for loaning me the book. You can use any dough you like.

The Toppings:

Trader Joe’s Barbecue Sauce

1 Cooked boneless/skinless chicken breast sliced

Thinly sliced red onion

Sliced mushrooms

Mozzarella cheese (or a blend of smoked & italian cheese)

Trader Joe’s sauce it is quite spicy, so if you prefer a mild red sauce mix 1/2 and 1/2 with another mellower sauce or substitute you favorite sauce.

If you use a pizza stone, pre-heat the stone for 30 minutes at 425’. Cook for 10-15 minutes.

Serve with a porter beer. We had on hand Black Marlin Porter from Ballast Point Brewing Company. I am not going to review the beer as there are way too many reviews/experts out there, but it did compliment the spice of the red barbecue sauce well. I would definitely try a porter with other meats barbecued or cooked with the a Texas style BBQ sauce.

Here is the info on the beer from the Ballast Point website

Ballast Point Black Marlin Porter

Black Marlin Porter (Dark, creamy, velvet smooth American style Porter we brewed this beer because we couldn't find it anywhere else!)

Porters are a style of beer that developed in London in the mid 1800's. It has a confusing and difficult to sort out their history. We know that some Porters began as a bartender's blend of three ales that would be ordered as "three strands." Breweries caught on to the popularity of the blend and began to brew beers having the characteristics of the blend. This popular beer became known as Porter, because railroad porters were its biggest fans.

A typical London workingman's meal of the time might have consisted of Porter, bread, and oysters (which were then considered to be lower class fare). As different styles of Porters developed, one of the most popular was dry porter, which emphasized the use of roasted barley. This type of Porter eventually became known as Stout. Today the use of roasted barley distinguishes Stouts from Porters.

Ballast Point Black Marlin Porter is a rich dark chocolaty Porter with a distinctive American hop character. It is a great beer to go with hearty foods and is surprisingly one of the few beers that goes well with dessert. One of our favorite combinations here at Ballast Point is Black Marlin Porter with apple pie a la mode.


Friday, May 14, 2010

Creekside Brewing Company, San Luis Obispo, CA

Disappointing Beers and Bad Food

We thought it was time to try one of our local brew pubs. We are always on the lookout for good beer and food. Unfortunately, the Creekside Brewing Company did not fit the bill.

Creekside is located in downtown San Luis Obispo (SLO) and as the name suggests it overlooks the creek running through town. The restaurant/pub has outdoor seating that hangs over the creek. This part of town is bustling as the area is home to the San Luis Obispo Mission, the local art center, museum and shopping.

As we approached the restaurant at lunchtime, I was a little leery. While all the tables (5) on the deck were full, the inside seating was completely empty.

Not a good sign when downtown was busy, the sun was out and other restaurants had lines. Do you have a restaurant building in your town that seems cursed? I am afraid this is the spot in SLO. Since moving here in 1999, there have been 5 or 6 eating establishments there. We always try the new ones in hopes someone will break the curse and survive. It seems like a great location...

We order 4 of 4 oz. Tasters for $1.50 each.

Pale Ale
Eric the Red
Vienna Amber
Smoked Porter

The Vienna Amber had a strong smell and taste of butterscotch which hit me like a ton of bricks and isn’t something you should have in a beer. The other three were average.

I ordered the Live Oak Sandwich as I thought it would pair well with the red ale and the smoked porter. Which it did, but the meat was greasy and the fries were some of the worst I have had lately. Eric ordered the California Bird sandwich. The grilled sourdough bread was soaking in butter and so greasy it overpowered the sandwich. I am not sure there is beer that pairs well with a stick of butter. He only ate about half the sandwich and gave up. Below are the descriptions from their website.

Live Oak Sandwich
Smoked beef brisket, pepperjack cheese, grilled onions and horseradish mayonnaise on toasted ciabatta
bread served with fries. Best paired with our stout, red ale or IPA. $8

California Bird
Grilled chicken breast, melted swiss cheese, and smoked bacon on grilled sourdough. Served with fries.
Best paired with our pale ale or red ale. $8

With only one server and no other staff seen. The service was not very good and unfortunately the server knew very little about the beers made there.

I really wish Creeekside Brewing Co. had surprised me with friendly, efficient and knowledgeable serving staff; good beer and food that was at least average pub fare – but, none of these were true.

There are plenty of good restaurants in downtown San Luis Obispo, don’t waste your time or money here until they are able to do a major overhaul of the food, beer and personnel.

Creekside Brewing Company
1040 Broad Street
San Luis Obispo, CA