Craft Beer and Food

Friday, September 24, 2010

Beer and Horse Cookies

You might be asking “How can these two go together?”  When you brew beer, a byproduct is spent grain.  Spent grain consists of malt and grain husks that remain after brewing.  It is often used for livestock feed, making bread, growing mushrooms or just composted.  It is very palatable and maintains nutritional value.  So the other day I decided that rather than composting our leftover grain, I should make homemade horse cookies.  After reviewing traditional horse treat recipes I set out to create my own.

If you are a homebrewer, you know that you have a lot of grain.  Eric was brewing a 10 gallon batch of California steam beer, so I had 25 lbs. of wet grain at my disposal to play with.  I will say the first batch was edible, my horse loved them, but the texture and moisture level was not quite right.  The second batch I added some oatmeal to compensate for the wet grain and that helped dry out the cookies.

Here is the final recipe:
Spent Grain Horse Cookies
8 cups spent grain
2 cups oatmeal
1 cup molasses
1 cup whole wheat flour
¼ cup canola oil

Roll dough into a ball, flatten and place on a baking sheet.  The cookies should be about 1 -1 ½  inches in diameter.  I used parchment paper as I prefer to use it when baking cookies.  Bake at 350’ for 20 minutes, turn over & bake for 15 -20 minutes. Makes approximately 90 cookies.   Let cool and then serve.

These also work well for dog treats, just make them a bit smaller.  Unless you are brewing with corn, they are perfect for animals with allergies to corn.  We live on the central coast of California, where it is foggy and damp at night.  With this in mind, I baked the cookies so they were fairly crisp and dry in hopes that they will store well.

After tasting these horse treats (ok so I prefer to taste the food I feed my animals and these were good), I am ready to create more recipes designed for human consumption.
I would love to hear what you make with your spent grain.  I have seen a lot of bread recipes online, does anyone cook something a little more exotic with their grain?

Monday, June 7, 2010

Dunbar Brewing, Santa Margarita, CA

Whether you are a local or just passing through the area, plan on stopping by the Dunbar Brewing in Santa Margarita, California.  The town of Santa Margarita is about 10 minutes north of San Luis Obispo off of highway 101.  It is a quaint town with a population of less than 3000.  There are a couple of places to eat, a handful of shops, wine tasting and of course Dunbar Brewing.  
You would miss Dunbar if you weren’t seriously looking for it.  Look for the black and white sandwich sign in front of Ancient Peaks Wine Tasting.  Dunbar is located in a new building on the west end of town, behind Ancient Peak Winery’s tasting room, but in the same building. 
Chris Chambers owner, brewer and host has been brewing and selling beers on the Central Coast for years.  Previously he had a larger place in Los Osos.  Chris has taken his experience of over 13 years of brewing to create his dream.   I would have to classify the place as a micro-pub specializing in Irish style beer.  He makes 3 barrel batches and they are only sold at his place.  No bottling, no growlers, you must stop in to try his artisan beers. From the conversation we had, you can tell he is passionate about the quality of beer he serves.  
 We played hooky the other day and took a field trip to check out Dunbar Brewing.  The day we were there, he had the following on tap:
Dunbar Brown Porter
Dunbar Oatmeal Stout
Sierra Nevada Summerfest
Sierra Nevada Harvest Ale
Dogfish Head 90 min. IPA
Although he does not sell flights, he was very generous allowing us to taste before we picked the pint for the afternoon.  I had the Dunbar Brown Porter, while Eric had the Sierra Nevada Summerfest (Eric isn’t a big fan of porters and stouts).   Great tasting beers brewed on site, a nice clean establishment, an impressive selection of craft beers and a very informative host made it worth the trip.  I definitely recommend the place.     
22720-A El Camino Real, Santa Margarita
(805) 704-9050

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

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Beer Information Overload - Where to Get Info

Well in January I started this blog to chronicle my introduction and experiences in the current beer world. The biggest problem I am having with the whole idea is that there is simply too much information out there. It is overwhelming!

So I thought I would put together a list of some of my favorite homebrew and craft beer website, books, and shows (podcasts). I will be constantly updating the information; each category will have a page on my website.

Today’s top 5 places to start your beer journey.


“ is administered by the Brewers Association (BA), the national organization that represents the interests of small and independent craft brewers in America.” It is a beautifully designed and well organized site that has information for those that enjoy craft beer and the brewmaster. I really appreciated the explanations of the styles of beer and the suggested glassware. In the beginning, I just wanted the basics and did not like wading through the BJCP Style Guidelines for tidbits of info.

This is the site for all potential and current home brewers. It has great lists of suppliers, clubs, events and more!

3. "The Naked Pint: An Unadultered Guidel to Craft Beer” by Christina Perozzi and Hallie Beaune. This book is a nice introduction to craft beer and will give you a good overview of beer styles, the history, some recipes for cooking with beer and info about home brewing.

4. Joining the Twitter beer community
has helped me find new sources and information. Although I do find that some of the people I follow will tweet about anything and I do spend more time than I would like sorting through the information.

5. Brewing Software –Brew Smith.

If you are beginning to brew your own, this software will be very useful. The program is very easy to use, it is organized and prints out a brew sheet with all the necessary instructions for the day of brewing.

What is your Top 5 resources you would recommend to the someone wanting to learn about beer?

Your comments are always welcome and greatly appreciated.

Monday, March 1, 2010

HELP - Where to Buy Craft Beer?

HELP - I am living in the great craft beer void!
Spread the word and start mapping the best stores for craft beers.

Ok, the beer books are stacked up on the living room side table. My first read on the subject of beer was “The Naked Pint”. This well written tale of all things beer was a thirst inducer. So after making it through the chapter titled “The Neophyte”, I was totally pumped to start my tasting. I made a shopping list of all the beers in this chapter and the one’s mentioned in the previous chapter and headed off to the local stores. My excitement was quickly dashed as I was unable to locate most of the items on my list. Needless to say, finding the beers listed in the book “He Said Beer, She Said Wine” will be even more challenging.

Of the first 65 beers listed in “The Naked Pint”, I have been able to locate locally (within 15 miles) only 8. And those 8 were:

Sierra Nevada Pale Ale
Anchor Steam
Pilsner Urquell
Pabst Blue Ribbon
Fat Tire Amber Ale
Alaskan Amber

So what is a girl to do? Well I am trying as many of the other craft beers available here.. And I will soon be making a buying trip to the nearest “big city” of San Luis Obispo and hitting the BevMo. I am afraid this is my only option unless I order them from one of the internet purveyors. Thank god we are brewing our own.

So I have created a new Google Map to help everyone locate beers. I know all of you enjoy spreading the word. if you are a consumer or retailer, Please put your favorite shopping spots on the map.

Buy Craft Beer Map

If you prefer, you can comment below.
List the beers readily available in your area that you would recommend for the newcomer to craft beers. List beers, your city and the place you purchase the items. Keep in mind that I am looking for the following categories for this month:
Helles and Blonds
American Wheat Beer
“Fruity” Wheat Beers
Steam Beer
THANKS for your help!

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Beer Wars - Movie Review

“Director Anat Baron takes you on a no holds barred exploration of the U.S. beer industry that ultimately reveals the truth behind the label of your favorite beer. Told from an insider’s perspective, the film goes behind the scenes of the daily battles and all out wars that dominate one of America’s favorite industries.”

Available on DVD and On-Demand

As the average “Jane Doe” consumer who prefers a handcrafted beer, I never realized how complicated it is for a small craft beer maker to get his product to market and the ongoing struggle against the goliaths of beer, Anheuser-Busch and Coors/Miller. “Beer Wars” focuses on two relatively new breweries showing how exciting and difficult these ventures are even for seasoned entrepreneurs.

The movie did a good job of explaining the history of the American beer industry over the past century and the amount of power Coors, Miller and Anheuser-Busch have over the government and the American consumer. It explained why the regional breweries disappeared in the 70’s. But it left me confused as to the beer distribution system.

If I got it straight, beer cannot be sold directly from the brewery to the consumer. By law, it has to go through a distributor, unlike wine that can be shipped from the winery to the customer.
But it appears breweries can sell directly to stores, bars and restaurants. I can go to my local brewery or brew pub and buy onsite in the form of pints, tastings, growlers, bottles and kegs. Why? They just cannot ship beer?!

The filmmaker said that there is a “3 Tier System” she compared to the government and the whole idea of the separation of powers to keep the system in check. Maybe I missed something, but did not understand this aspect of the film. I do not pretend to be an expert on beer or the industry, so a more in-depth explanation would have left me feeling the movie satisfied my immediate expectations of what I wanted to take away from the viewing.

It is definitely worth checking out. You will like this film if you have any interest in craft beer, like independent films and documentaries or feel America is being run by big corporations and the little guy doesn’t have much of a chance.

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Alcohol Consumption & Your Heart

What is the latest on beer, wine and your heart?

The bottom line regarding alcohol is that it may have heart and other health benefits when consumed in moderation.

How does the medical community define moderation? According to the Mayo Clinic website, moderate drinking is defined as two drinks a day if you're a male 65 and younger, or one drink a day if you're a female or a male 66 and older. A drink is defined as 12 ounces (355 milliliters) of beer, 5 ounces (148 milliliters) of wine or 1.5 ounces (44 milliliters) of 80-proof distilled spirits. While most of the experts agree that moderate consumption may have benefits they clearly to not recommend anyone begins drinking alcohol to treat or prevent diseases.

Benefits often associated with moderate alcohol include:

  • Reduce your risk of developing heart disease, peripheral vascular disease and intermittent claudication
  • Reduce your risk of dying of a heart attack
  • Possibly reduce your risk of strokes, particularly ischemic strokes
  • Lower your risk of gallstones
  • Possibly reduce your risk of diabetes

Red wine may not be alone in its benefits. According to UC Davis beer is beneficial.

The ancient Egyptians found a number of uses for beer as a mouthwash, an enema and a wound healer. While not necessarily endorsing these medicinal applications, UC Davis brewing scientist Charles Bamforth suggests that beer may possess many nutritional qualities that make the beverage part of an overall healthy and balanced diet.

"It appears that beer is at least on par with wine in terms of potential health benefits," says Bamforth, who published a review article on the nutritional qualities of beer in the January-February issue of the online scientific journal Nutrition Research

So, you can enjoy that beer or glass of wine guilt free.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Easy Beer Jambalaya

There was a recipe listed at for “Beach Bum Beer Jambalaya”. I thought it looked interesting and tried it last night. I made a few modifications to the recipe and really thought it turned out well. I make Jambalaya quite a bit, but normally use the crockpot (must plan ahead) and wine. This recipe was just as easy, uses beer that is on tap in our kitchen and ready on short notice. I have changed the recipe slightly from the original version. To see the original go to

Last night I did not include shrimp and increased the chicken and sausage to ½ lb. each. We love Cajun food so I have started making my own mix of Cajun spices because all the commercially available ones have too much salt for my taste. You can use either. See Emeril’s recipe at Emeril's Essence.

The beer I used to cook with is our home brewed Ebb Tide Bitter and it was served with the meal. As you see in the photo, I drank my beer from a champagne flute. Trying different glasses to see how they affect the taste. More on that in my upcoming video & blog.

Try the recipe and let me know what you think. Great for a cold snowy or rainy night. Serve with a hearty bread or garlic toast.

Ebb Tide Jambalya

  • 1/3 lb chicken, diced
  • 1/3 lb Andouille Cajun or Smoked sausage, sliced
  • 1/3 lb 30 count shrimp, peeled, deveined and cut in half
  • Olive oil for sauté
  • 1/2 cup chopped red onion (use green onions and shallots for variety)
  • 1 red or green bell pepper, chopped
  • 3 tbsp chopped garlic
  • 1 can diced tomatoes (14.5 oz) or 1 cup fresh tomatoes diced.
  • 3/4 cup rice
  • 14 oz stock + 8 oz of Pale Ale, Brown Ale or IPA for beer jambalaya, chef gets the leftover beer) We used our latest brew the Ebb Tide Bitter
  • 2 bay leaves
  • Homemade Cajun essence seasoning (no salt version)
  • Salt & pepper to taste
  • Serve with Tabasco sauce


  1. In large cast iron skillet, heat olive oil to high and sauté shrimp seasoned with until pink, about 2-3 minutes, and set aside. Repeat separately with chicken and sausage.
  2. In olive oil, sauté onion, pepper, garlic 3-4 minutes.
  3. Add tomatoes, bay leaves and Cajun essence and cook another 3 minutes.
  4. Add rice, broth and beer. Stir and bring to a boil then reduce heat to medium and cook uncovered until rice absorbs most of the broth, stirring occasionally, about 15 minutes.
  5. When rice is just tender, stir in shrimp, chicken and sausage. Cook for additional 3-5 minutes.
  6. Remove bay leaves and serve. with garlic toast and a good beer!