Better Baking with Beer

Hello beer-lovers!

Soon...soon...

Soon…soon…

Hope you’ve all been well and enjoying these last few weeks of summer. We have been well down here in the Black Creek Historic Brewery – enjoying serving the pales and bitters while we still can, and waiting for the hops to finish ripening. I also recently came into possession of rather a lot of stout, so there’s that.

When I have a lot of beer to hand, I like to cook with it. Our growlers are like a bottle of wine—they do need to be finished a few days after opening, and I just can’t drink that much. Same with the several cases of Guinness and St. Ambroise now sitting in my house (long story). Cooking and baking with beer helps clear out my fridge, and also prevents beer from going to waste.

Wasted beer makes me sad. So we try to avoid that.

This aversion to waste is itself very Victorian. From re-using the mash in brewing to eating roast leftovers for a week after a fancy dinner, they weren’t prone to throwing things away willy-nilly. Ironically, though, cooking with beer wasn’t terribly common in the 1800s. As we’ve discussed before, Victorians tended to think, “Why would I put beer in my bread, when I could have beer and bread?”

But then a colleague sent me a recipe for “beer-cakes,” which I’m now sharing with you. This recipe is a little before our time period, coming from a recipe book mostly compiled in the late 1700s-1800s. This recipe is from Cooking in the Archives, a really cool project which seeks to update early modern (1600-1800) recipes in the modern kitchen. Definitely check these ladies out if you haven’t already—good history pairs well with amazing food!

The original recipe, as transcribed by Cooking in the Archives, is thus:

a Pound of Flour, 1/2 Pd. Butter, 1/2 Pd. Sugar, a few
Seeds, mix all together into a very stiff Paste, with
old Beer, roll and bake them on Tin Sheets.

Courtesy www.rarecooking.com. Check them out!

Courtesy http://www.rarecooking.com. Check them out!

Check out the modern equivalent here. There’s a LOT more information on the recipe’s historical background as well. Well worth a look!

I don’t know about you, but when I’ve finished testing these beer-cakes, I’ve got my eye on this slightly more modern recipe for Guinness brownies. Definitely worth keeping in the back pocket—Ed’s going to resume brewing stouts and porters very shortly! ;)

Happy eating!

Katie

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Cast Your Vote!

If you’re reading this blog, chances are that you have some interest in beer. So, you may be interested in a new, interactive program all about temperance!

Christopher Dunkin, MP.

Christopher Dunkin, MP.

In 1864, an act passed that gave townships the option to go dry. This was the Dunkin Act, named after its architect, Christopher Dunkin. Here is how it worked: if enough people in a county/town  spoke up, a vote would be called. Then, the town would vote on prohibiting the sale of alcohol.

If the majority agreed – no more alcohol would be sold in that town.

If the majority disagreed – the town would continue to sell alcohol.

Bear in mind, though, that the vote was only called if enough people pushed for it. Just because the Dunkin Act passed in 1864, not every township rushed out to decide the fate of alcohol in their communities. After an initial flurry of activity in 1864/65, the Dunkin Act essentially remained a dead letter until 1877, the year after the Crooks Act (another liquor licensing act) passed. (Vaughan – the area around Black Creek – voted to go dry. Toronto did not.)

This interactive program takes us back to 1865 – and you have to decide Black Creek’s fate. Will you join our tavern-keeper’s wife and support alcohol? Or will you side with our temperance advocate and seek to ban it? Will our village go dry? Or will we continue to sell our liquor?

Our resident thespian. ;)

Our resident thespian. ;)

Cast Your Vote is part of our Black Creek History Actors’ series. If you’ve taken the Historic Brewery Tour or joined us for Beer Sampling, you’re probably familiar with Blythe and me. Now, you can Cast Your Vote with us in the drama space beside Second House. Check your weekly schedule for program times!

To Queen and Country!

Katie

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Bonus Post: Simcoe Hopped Ale

We’re back!

Just a friendly reminder that our August specialty beer debuts this weekend. In honour of John Graves Simcoe (first lieutenant-governor of Upper Canada), Ed has once again crafted the Simcoe Hopped Ale.

John Graves Simcoe (1725-1806)  Courtesy www.archives.gov.on.ca)

John Graves Simcoe (1725-1806)
Courtesy http://www.archives.gov.on.ca)

This is a burnished amber ale  with some subtle caramel notes. The addition of Simcoe hops from the west coast give this beer an abundance of pine/citrus notes. As the beer moves over the tongue, there’s even a hint of nectarine. It’s a fresh patio beer, with a little more malt character than our Pale Ale and IPA. According to Ed, “If you like real West Coast beers, this one is for you.”

Simcoe hops originate in the Pacific Northwest. They’re a dual-purpose hop: great for  aroma, but also for bittering. They impart lovely earthy and pine/resin notes, perfect for summer! As well, Ed has dry-hopped this beer. Usually, hops are added during the boil, to extract oils and resins and integrate it into the wort (isomerization). When dry-hopping, they are added at different points in the fermentation process. Because they’re not boiling, you’re not extracting any oils, but you are getting even more of that hop aroma.

Check out more in the video below!

Have a great long weekend…with great, responsibly-consumed beer! ;)

-Katie

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Playing it Cool: Victorian Refrigeration

You’ve probably noticed just how hot is in Toronto these days. Welcome to summer in the city! We’re nice and cool down here in the Black Creek Historic Brewery, thanks to a few 21st-century conveniences: specifically, air-conditioning and refrigerators. These modern marvels allow the beer to ferment properly and keep longer, providing you with tasty brew even in the hottest weather.

Now, things were a little trickier in the 1800s. Especially in the early decades of the nineteenth century, brewing was primarily a seasonal occupation, occurring in the cooler months between September (ish) and April (ish). When it gets really hot in the summer, brewing becomes harder, as ale yeasts like to ferment at room temperature—and lager yeasts, even colder than that! Not to mention, sitting out in the heat makes beer more likely to spoil.

So it’s not terribly surprising that Victorians were keen on experimenting with means of refrigeration. Simply, refrigeration is the process of moving heat from one place to another. The earliest “refrigerators” were simple cellars and/or holes in the ground, lined with straw or sawdust and filled with ice and snow.

Earlier than our period, but here's the general principle. (Courtesy https://janeaustensworld.files.wordpress.com)

Earlier than our period, but here’s the general principle. (Courtesy https://janeaustensworld.files.wordpress.com)

Ice harvesting and distribution became quite a lucrative industry by the 1830s. Consumption jumped through the 1840s and 1850s: from 12,000 to 100,000 tons in New York City, and 6,000 to 85,000 tons in Boston. A particularly entrepreneurial man named Frederick Tudor seized the opportunity to make money sending ice to the tropics. To transport it, he experimented with different insulators, eventually reducing ice loss from 66% to 8%.

Harvesting ice in New York, ca. 1852. (Courtesy Wikimedia)

Harvesting ice in New York, ca. 1852. (Courtesy Wikimedia)

Besides ice, Victorians also explored refrigeration with mechanical means, which more-or-less fit the age’s general preoccupation with industry, innovation, and progress.  Vapor-compression systems, like the one built in 1834 by inventor Jacob Perkins, worked continuously. The workings of vapor-compression refrigeration systems are more involved than can be described here, so I shall simply quote, “The vapor-compression uses a circulating liquid refrigerant as the medium which absorbs and removes heat from the space to be cooled and subsequently rejects that heat elsewhere.” Other inventors followed suit, including John Gorrie, who in 1842 created a system capable of freezing water into ice. Although a commercial disaster, the stage had been set for increasing experiments through the rest of the century.

Gorrie's Ice Machine: courtesy Wikipedia.

Gorrie’s Ice Machine: courtesy Wikipedia.

Unsurprisingly, by the 1870s, the biggest refrigeration consumers were none other than the breweries, for reasons very much like those stated at the beginning of this post. That being said, increasing industrialization and pollution often resulted in “tainted ice,” which affected the health and flavour of the beer. Brewers’ complaints drove inventors to seek alternates…

…a path which eventually ended up in our cool, cozy brewery today. So come on down, take a break from the broiling sun, and enjoy a flight of cool (cellar-temperature) beer.

-Katie

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New Brew: Chocolate/Vanilla Porter

There’s another new beer in the fridges!

This year's Spirited Affair is Saturday, October 3!

This year’s Spirited Affair is Saturday, October 3!

One of the silent auction prizes in last year’s Spirited Affair was the chance to design and brew your own beer with Ed. Our lucky winner Kimball has given us something truly delicious. This is a sweet chocolate/vanilla porter. It’s a rich, full-bodied dessert beer: dark, rich, and loaded with chocolate flavour. A small addition of lactose also lends sweetness and creaminess – much like a Milk Stout. This brew would pair well with your favourite desserts: cakes, brownies, and anything else sweet and rich.

It’ll be available for purchase this weekend, and as usual, will last until it’s all gone.

One last thing: Kimbal has named this beer the “Anne-Marie,” after his wife. We think that’s the sweetest note of all! :)

Cheers!

Katie

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Horsing Around: the Budweiser Clydesdales

I have to admit that Budweiser is not my favourite beer. As we say in the historic brewery, everyone’s palate is different. I’m not a fan of eggs either, but I love spice. Just the way my palate is constructed.

Nevertheless, I do have a secret soft spot for the Budweiser Clydesdales. Clydesdales in general make me happy—they’re gorgeous animals, and they always remind me of Ross and Integra here at Black Creek. Plus—the Budweiser Clydesdales actually have a Canadian connection!

86/3259-1

Draught horses have long been used to pull brewery wagons and make deliveries. As you all know from lifting your purchased growlers, beer is heavy. And remember, nineteenth century roads were very rough; large, well-muscled horses had an easier time of it. Different companies favoured different horse breeds. Some liked Hackneys; Shires were popular.

But we’re here to talk about Clydesdales.

The Clydesdale breed emerged in 1800s Scotland—from the region around the River Clyde, funnily enough. Selectively bred from Flemish stallions, they were also the favourite breed of one Mr. Patrick Shea, a brewer in Winnipeg.

PatrickShea

Patrick Shea

Born in County Kerry, Ireland, Shea emigrated in 1870, finally settling in Manitoba in 1882. From 1884, he operated the Waverley Hotel with his new friend, fellow Irishman John McDonagh (side bar: it always fascinates me, pondering how two people decide to go into business together—did they cook up this plot over a pint?). In 1887, the dynamic duo purchased the defunct Winnipeg Brewery. Sadly, McDonagh died six years later, leaving Shea the sole owner.

Besides brewing, Shea was also dedicated to breeding Clydesdales. So much so, he took to importing champion horses from Scotland to strengthen the bloodline. Even after the introduction of the car, Shea continued to use his horses well past World War I. In 1933, he finally sold some to an American brewery….

 

Horse2

…because in 1933, Prohibition had just been repealed in the United States, and one August Busch Jr. wanted to give his father a gift to celebrate. August Busch Sr., a St. Louis brewer, had been told his son had bought him a car. But when he came out, a team of Shea’s Clydesdales awaited him. They carried the first case of post-Prohibition beer, thrilling crowds and providing lots of advertising for Anheuser-Busch.

Today’s Budweiser Clydesdales are descendants of that original team, and they still thrill crowds and provide advertising—think of the Super Bowl!

So what does it take to be a Budweiser Clydesdale?

Prospective hitch members must be…

  • A gelding
  • At least four years old
  • At least six feet high at the shoulder, weighing between 1800-2300 pounds.
  • Bay in colour (light-dark reddish brown)

And they must have a black mane and tail, four white stocking feet, and a white blaze on the face. Our boy Ross might have a little too much white around his legs and face, and I’m not sure he’s quite big enough…but I’d take him any day. ;)

Ross on a summer morning.

Ross on a summer morning.

Even though those Clydesdales are pretty stunning…

Cheers!

Katie

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New Brew: Maple Brown Ale

We hope you had a lovely holiday! A new specialty beer has hit the fridges down here in the Black Creek Historic Brewery. For July, we have our Maple Brown Ale.

mapleleaf
Ed used our classic Brown Ale as the base for this recipe, before adding a litre or so of pure maple syrup. As it happens, the addition of maple syrup can be a tricky part of the brewing process. It’s 98% sugar, which means that the yeast love it, and want desperately to ferment it. Too heavy a hand, and you can end up with a too-high-ABV, unbalanced beer.

But of course, this fine balancing act wasn’t a problem for Ed! The Maple Brown Ale is a subtly sweet beer, coming in at 5% ABV. You can just detect the maple on the nose, but initially, the usual caramel flavours of our Brown Ale abound. It’s a very smooth beer, a bit heavier on the tongue than our classic Brown. The maple syrup really comes into play on the finish. After swallowing, the maple taste rushes up, lending the beer a sweet finish.

Find out more about the Maple Brown Ale below, in the next installment of our web series!


Even after Canada Day, we still have some growlers left in the fridge, so hurry down before it’s all gone, eh? :)

Katie

PS. I could be wrong, and I hate to be a tease (well, not really)…but I think Ed might be plotting again. ;)

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