Black Creek Test Kitchen: Beer-Braised Pork Chops

Hello Beer-Lovers,

And we’re back with another recipe! This one is mostly from Taste of Home, except then I changed it as I am wont to do. While I’m very precise about most things in life, cooking is not one of them.

Anyway.

Beer-Braised Pork Chops: Ingredients

  • Pork Chops
  • Salt
  • Pepper
  • Oil
  • 3 Tbsp ketchup
  • Scant 1/2 Tbsp white sugar
  • Drizzle molasses
  • 3/4 cup of beer

What beer to use, you ask? Well, pork pairs really nicely with sweet things, so I was thinking a brown ale—caramel/chocolate sweetness. Something like Black Creek Brewery’s Rifleman’s Ration. But alas, my local LCBO’s stock was unhelpful.

Until I spotted the Griffin Maple Butter Tart Ale from Sawdust. I’ve had this beer before: it’s a very mild, very sweet beer. If I recall, my exact thoughts at first tasting were, Well, it tastes like a butter tart, but I’m not sure what that’s meant to accomplish.

 

“But…” quoth I, standing in the LCBO, “I bet it would go well with the pork.”

So I picked up a can, went home, and assembled my ingredients:

 

STEP THE FIRST:

Season pork chops with salt and pepper. Heat up oil in a large skillet and brown meat.

Or if you’re me, forget about the salt and pepper until after the meat is sizzling, and throw them in late, hoping it won’t affect anything (it didn’t).

STEP THE SECOND:

Mix beer, ketchup, sugar, and molasses. Pour over pork chops.

STEP THE THIRD:

Bring liquid to boil and then reduce heat. Cover and simmer until pork chops have reached an internal temperature of 145 F/ 63 C.

This is when I realized two things:

  • This is the first time I have knowingly braised meat: i.e. searing it and then stewing in a covered pot.
  • I have lost my meat thermometer.

So I kind of let the meat do its thing for 30 minutes and then cut the end from one of the chops. It looked done, and nothing happened when I ate it, so off we went:

The sweetness of this particular beer complimented the pork really well. I wasn’t sure how the ketchup would blend, but it gave things a nice savoury edge. There is definitely a buttery character to the beer I used – I’d be interested to see how the recipe works with other styles.

This recipe would work really well with our Brown Ale or Best Bitter: anything sweet, but not overpowering. A delicious summer dish!

To Queen and Country!

Katie

 

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

Black Creek Historic Brewery: 2015 Edition!

Aaaand, we’re back!

Well, almost. We’re back on Friday, May 1st. And we’re launching straight into things! Ed’s already been in to brew, and he’ll be bottling Friday morning to make sure our fridges are filled. My lovely and talented colleague Blythe will be ready to kick off the first Historic Brewery Tour of the season, followed by yours truly this weekend.

What have we got in store for 2015?

Lots, as always! Here’s a sneak peek at some selected brewery events.

Year-Round

Slide1

Behind Closed Doors

Our Behind Closed Doors tour meets on the porch of the Half Way House every weekday at 12:30 pm. Led by one of our friendly beer experts, it’s a chance to stretch your legs and explore other parts of the village. No, we don’t explore beer on this tour ­– rather, we take you into closed and/or un-interpreted buildings to chat about parts of history we might not otherwise touch on.

Historic Brewery Tour

The Historic Brewery Tour also meets on the porch of the Half Way House: you can take the tour daily at 2:00 pm. We explore the social history of drinking in nineteenth century Canada, the ingredients used in beer-making, as well as the process of brewing in a historic brewery like ours. And of course, no tour is complete without sampling the finished product.

An additional cost does apply – you can purchase your ticket at Admissions!

Casks

Beer Sampler

So, you have a taste for history, do you? Come join us in the historic brewery daily from 3:00-4:00 pm to try some samples of our historic beer. We’ll give you a 4 oz glass, which we will fill not once, not twice, but thrice – each time with a different style of beer. On weekends, we have an additional sampler from 12:30-1:30.

Same as the tour: additional charges do apply. (You don’t have to go  to Admissions, though: the Beer Sampler is available for purchase right in the brewery!)

Brewery Apprenticeship

Try your hand at brewing: the old-fashioned way! Spend the day working alongside Ed, wearing traditional nineteenth century garments and learning to brew with historic methods. Join the beer tour to learn more about your creation, and then take a growler home as a souvenir. Spots are filling quickly, though – learn more here!

 Event Apprentice 01

 

Seasonal

Specialty Ales

Our list of specialty offerings for 2015 can be found here. With a new brew (or two!) every month, it’s always a good time to visit the brewery!

 

Hop Harvest

 The hop garden looks a little bare and forlorn right now, but in a few short months, our hops will have attained some impressive height. Spend the day harvesting our hops with Head Gardener Sandra Spudic, sample some special goodies and beer after working up that appetite, and come back in a few weeks to taste the Wet Hop Ale you helped us make!

The hops are usually ready for harvesting around late August/early September. You’ll want to book your spot early to avoid disappointment, so watch this space for details!

A Spirited Affair 

Our perennial favourite returns! It’s always an affair – and this year, the boys come home! Start with 1860s ballroom dancing and traditional ales, and then be whisked away to celebrate the food, drink, and fashion of the post-War years. Dance the night away to boogie-woogie swing music, sample an array of fine refreshments, and join the fun!

Costumes are highly encouraged. You were certainly a dapper bunch last year!

Saturday, October 3rd, 2015 – save the date!

spiritedaffair2015_mainBanner 

Tavern Tales

This one is for the members! Gold and Village Members can join me in the brewery on December 17th for an old-fashioned pub night! With tavern games, traditional Canadian folktales, rousing pub songs, beer from the historic brewery and treats from the Half Way House kitchen, it’ll be a night of fun and frolic in equal measure. There may also be revelry. I’ve yet to decide on that one.

(Psst…you can become a Member at any time. Just saying. 😉 )

And for now…

The beginning of the season is always an exciting time for us. It’s been a long, cold winter – we’re so glad to get back to sunny days and our cosy brewery. Can’t wait to see you all for another adventure-filled season. We’ve missed you, beer lovers!

See you soon!

Katie

A Match Made in Heaven: Beer Pairings at Dogfish Head

Hello beer lovers!

We’ve finally made it into March, which means that there are a scant two months until the Black Creek Historic Brewery reopens its doors in May. But despite the cold, I am not one to rest on my laurels. No, in my quest to expand my palate, I have again turned south of the border.

brew_198

I have a lot of respect and affection for Dogfish Head Craft Brewery, and I recently had the pleasure of visiting the Dogfish Alehouse in Fairfax, VA for a beer and food pairing. As friends of Black Creek know well, our “Say Cheese! Say Cheers!” events pair craft beers with artisan cheeses. This “King’s Feast” went a step further, pairing three of Dogfish’s Ancient Ales with a three-course meal.

By now, it’s no secret that pairing beer requires just as much art as pairing wine. Indeed, beer has even more ingredients to play with in creating a flavour profile: malts that span from caramel-sweet to espresso-bitter; floral, citrusy, earthy, grassy, and piney hops; bready and fruity yeasts, and all the spices, nuts, chocolates, fruits, and vegetables (yes, vegetables—remember our Sweet Potato Ale?) you can name.

Properly pairing is an art that I am by no means qualified to expound upon…yet. Generally speaking, though, the aim is to ensure that neither the beer nor the food is overwhelmed. A lighter-bodied pilsner probably won’t stand up to a rich beef roast—but a heavier stout or porter might. You can also contrast and counter flavours: think how the acidity of tomatoes calms the saltiness and savouriness of cheese. That light-bodied pilsner won’t get overwhelmed by something like seafood—and the hops bitterness can cut the fattiness of fish like tuna and salmon.

So, what pairings did Dogfish Head offer?

Course I: Theobroma and Appetizers

All of the beers at this event come from Dogfish Head’s Ancient Ales series—these are beer recipes recreated from chemical analysis of drinking vessels found at archaeological sites. Theobroma hails from pottery fragments found in the Honduras, attesting to an alcoholic beverage brewed with cacao.

So basically, a chocolate beer that looks like an IPA. Beautiful, beautiful cloudy orange colour.

 

IMG_2896

For me, the cocoa nibs were actually quite subtle: the main flavour I got from this beer was a chili bite (and yes, there are chilies in it). There was some citrus on the aftertaste, and this is more where the cocoa came through, almost like a chocolate-orange sensation. Alas, I can no longer eat cheese, but I suspect that this sharper, citrus-chili taste would have cut the richness of the cheese plate before me. As it is, it did work wonders quenching the thirst produced by two salty dishes of nuts. At 9% ABV, it also left long-lingering warmth in the belly.

 

Course II: Midas Touch and Meat

I would just like to say that I have never seen so much meat on a plate meant for one person. Possibly 1/3 of a chicken, a giant turkey leg, and lamb. Also vegetables. I may never need to eat again.

 

IMG_2903

IMG_2898

I hope that’s not the case though, because I quite enjoyed the Midas Touch. Midas Touch was the first of the Ancient Ales, recreated from residue left in drinking vessels found in the Midas Tumulus tomb in Turkey. This ale is a sweet-yet-dry brew that seems to combine elements of beer, wine, and mead. Honey and light fruit notes (most notably melon and grape) dominate the flavours. It’s a beer with a medium mouthfeel, but it certainly does have an edge to it—something like a dry white wine. The sweetness and fruitiness worked well with the white meats on offer, and that edge also cut through the fattiness of the lamb. Also 9% ABV.

 

Course III: Chateau Jiahu and King’s Barley Cake

I’ve had the Chateau Jiahu before. This beer hails from an archaeological dig in China’s Yellow River Valley; evidence suggests that it is one of the world’s oldest brews. Like the Midas Touch, this beer blends elements of wine, beer, and mead. Honey and grapes balance a very sweet, very light maltiness; sake yeast lends just a bit of rice-like nuance as well.

I will admit that after that monster meat plate, I was not up to more than a few bites of the King’s Barley Cake, which was a dense cake studded with apple and accompanied by fruit and cream. Although it comes in at 10% ABV, the Jiahu was one of the lighter, sweeter beers on offer tonight, which kept it from overwhelming the cake. My beer-tasting companion Tee Morris assures me that drinking and eating the two together enhanced the flavour of both.

IMG_2905

IMG_2899

And so?                   

IMG_2906

Saying that this was a fine, fine event is quite an understatement, but Dogfish Head: this was a fine, fine event. And of course, my warmest and most heartfelt thanks to Tee and his father for a wonderful evening, filled with good beer, good food, and good conversation. Now that’s a pairing I think we can all agree on!

-Katie

 

New Brew: Winter Warmer

Christmas_BlackCreek_Wreath

Somehow, the Wheel of Time has turned, and Ages come and passed…and we’re onto our final specialty brew of 2014 (seriously, how did that happen?). Naturally, for December, Ed has brewed up a Winter Warmer.

Traditionally, Winter Warmers are big, malty beers with higher-than-usual alcohol content. Most examples range from almost black to reddish brown, though there is considerable variation. Spices are common in American Winter Warmers, but not strictly necessary: many English versions don’t include them. The Winter Warmer is related to the “Old Ale,” a dark, high-alcohol style that has been well-aged. Sometimes, breweries gave younger, milder ales an “old” taste by blending them with stock ales ­– very aged ales that had been kept behind at the brewery, rather than being sold.

Our 2014 Winter Warmer is a little different than years past. Rather than being a dark, very malty beer, this Winter Warmer is an amber ale, deep tawny-gold in colour. The main players in this ale are Ed’s additions of bitter orange peel and coriander. Orange is the first aroma I noticed, and certainly the first thing I tasted. This is a medium-bodied beer, with a bit of an edge on the front of the tongue, mellowing on the swallow. The lemony, citrus-y coriander makes more of an appearance on the finish, coming up through the nose.

Coriander!
Coriander!

At 6% ABV, this beer is a little more alcoholic than our usual offerings, which is true to style. As I went back outside into the cold, I definitely noticed some alcoholic warmth smouldering in my chest. The mix of warmth and citrus puts me in mind of Christmas oranges – a different approach than the usual malty-chocolate-y Winter Warmers, but very much appreciated!

Ed’s doing several brews of the Winter Warmer, but it will only be available here at the historic brewery, not the LCBO. It hits the fridges in time for our first Christmas by Lamplight on December 6th, so be sure to pick some up before we close for the season on the 23rd!

banner-bcpv-home-xmas-lamplight

Cheers!

Katie

Brews and News

Hello, beer-lovers!

Just a quick update today to share some brewery news. For those who missed our Say Cheese, Say Cheers! night back in October, never fear! Expert Julia Rogers returns next Thursday, November 13th for another cheese and beer pairing. Our evening starts at 7:00 and includes a tour of our historic brewery. For more information and tickets, please click here.

event_cheeseCheers_01

We hope you had a safe and spooky Halloween! If you’re still in an autumnal state of mind, we do have a few Pumpkin Ales left in the fridges. The frost is on the pumpkin (sorry, couldn’t resist), but who said trick-or-treating is over? Drop by the brewery to snag a growler of this seasonal favourite—before it’s gone for another year.

Speaking of seasonal favourites, don’t forget that our first Christmas By Lamplight celebration is only a month away! The brewery will be open all three Lamplight evenings, ready to sling beer and make merry. So, business as usual, really! Book early to avoid disappointment; it’s one of our favourite events!

ReallyNiceGrowler

And finally: it’s getting cold, we’ve set the clocks back, and I just mentioned Christmas…but far-thinking planners that we are, we’re already thinking about our spring beers for the LCBO. The four of us have been batting around names and ideas, but if there’s a beer you would like to see in the LCBO, let us know in the comments below!

We’re in the homestretch, friends. Here’s to Queen and country!

Katie

Oktoberfest: Beer and Royalty

First of all:

The Pumpkin Ale has officially hit the fridges. Ed’s also doing a few more batches. Thought you might like to know. 😉

Now that we have that out of the way, tonight is our first “Say Cheese, Say Cheers!” event of the year (don’t worry, if you’ve missed this one, there is another on November 13th). In honour of our Oktoberfest theme, I decided to do a little digging into this famous festival. Now, when I think of Oktoberfest, I immediately think of beer:

Lots and lots of beer... (image via www.wikimedia.org)
Lots and lots of beer… (image via http://www.wikimedia.org)

However, there is much more to this Volksfest (People’s Fair). It is a sixteen-day funfair in Munich, the largest of its kind in the world. And it’s been running a long time; the first true Oktoberfest was held on October 12th, 1810, to celebrate the marriage of Bavarian Crown Prince Ludwig to Princess Therese of Saxe-Hildburghausen. That first year, beer did not play a prominent role: the main attractions were horse races. In fact, the races were so well-received that they were repeated the next year, and a tradition was born.

By 1814, there are references to numerous Oktoberfest beer shacks. Gradually, the focus shifted from horses to beer. Officially, the only beer that can be served at the Munich Oktoberfest is beer that was brewed within Munich’s city limits and also conforms to the Reinheitsgebot (a German/Bavarian purity law dating from 1487—it states that only malted barley, water, and hops may be used in making beer). Thus, six breweries can produce official Oktoberfestbier:

  • Augustiner-Bräu
  • Hacker-Pschorr-Bräu
  • Löwenbräu
  • Paulaner
  • Spatenbräu
  • Staatliches Hofbräu-München

The Oktoberfestbier has its roots in another, similar beer style: the Märzen beer. Medieval brewers had difficulty brewing in the summer months. Without refrigeration, it was difficult to keep the beer at temperatures at which the yeast could properly ferment, and the beer itself was vulnerable to bacterial infection during warmer weather. As such, a 1553 Bavarian brewing ordinance restricted the brewing season from September 29th to April 23rd.

Thus, to ensure a supply of beer during the summer months, brewers produced extra beer in March. This Märzen beer (Märzen is the German word for March) was usually brewed to have a higher alcohol content and more hops—similar to the reasoning behind brewing India Pale Ales. By the time the brewing season started in the fall, the casks of leftover beer needed to be emptied to make room for new brews. This need to drink all the beer led to small, informal festivals through September and October, which were eventually absorbed in the 19th-century Oktoberfest.

Märzen-Oktoberfestbiers are usually well-aged, deep amber to dark copper in colour. Medium-to-full-bodied, the long aging time mellows out the hops and highlights their malty character. Early Märzen-Oktoberfestbiers tended to be darker than we’re used to. But then, in 1841, two brewmaster friends, Gabriel Sedlmayr and Anton Dreher, experimented with lighter malts. They added a new malt to their mix: one which was quite pale and slightly caramelized.

This was the Vienna malt. Thirty years later, the Spaten brewery released a Märzen with a slightly darker version of the Vienna: the Munich malt. This beer was also explicitly released under the Oktoberfestbier brand name.

Vienna malt on the right; Munich malt on the left.
Vienna malt on the left; Munich malt on the right.

So really, Oktoberfest has arisen from two wonderful things: a royal wedding and celebration of the new brewing season. I think we can all raise a glass to that!

Prost!

Katie