Friday, May 6, 2011

Soup and Beer

It's the first Friday of the month. You know what that means: Mike the Gay Beer guy is back to post, this time about veggies and IPAs....

As Janet and Rachel can attest, I grew up in the mountains of Connecticut (actually to be quite honest, our house was just around the corner from their house). Surrounded by the woods, bugs and small town New England, every other home seemed to have its personal garden for summertime, home cooked, veggie goodness! My next-door neighbors were the sweetest people; I forget what the husband did, but the wife was the retired home economics teacher for the town’s high school. They maintained a garden (to me, it was a small farm... but they referred to it as a garden), and always had fresh fruits and veggies throughout the spring summer and fall!

I have two food memories from them...well, three: Every Halloween they would hand out fresh apples from their trees, our family was invited over every summer for the freshest strawberry shortcakes EVER, and their mini-farm/garden ALWAYS included rows and rows and ROWS of corn! There was always an abundance, so my sister and I would go over a few times a week and pick the sweetest and freshest corn I think I’ve ever ha, certainly fresher than the supermarkets, and it possibly could rival the road-side farm stand.

Since I’m a big fan of summer soups, I thought I would include this recipe. You can almost throw anything into the pot and have it be fantastic, but make sure you find the freshest ingredients possible. I try to include corn, squash, and fennel; for our summer produce, we head to the City Market in Kansas City. Saute, blend, simmer, can’t be simpler!

Fresh Veggie Summer Soup
Makes enough for 2 with leftovers

6 pieces of bacon
2 earns of corn
1 yellow squash
1 large or 2 small Ppotatoes
1 fennel bulb
3 - 4 cups chicken stock
¼ - ½ teaspoon cayenne pepper
fennel fronds for garnish

Prep all your ingredients: dice the bacon and set aside, remove the corn from the cob, and cut the rest of the veggies into a medium dice.

Brown the bacon in a large dutch oven or large soup pot. After the fat has rendered, remove the bacon and set aside. (Since my getting-ready-for-summer diet hasn’t being working as planned, despite training for a half marathon in a month and then a full marathon in October, we’re omitting the bacon ...use your healthy oil of choice) Saute the corn, squash, potato, and fennel in the bacon fat (or oil) until lightly browned, about 5 minutes. Add the stock.

Now you have some options. If you want more of a chunky soup, you can bring the pot to a simmer and serve once everything has cooked through. You can also blend part or all of the soup in a blender (being very careful as hot liquids in a blender have potential to cause injury). Whatever you decide, finish the soup by cooking it through and season with salt, pepper (I like adding red pepper flakes in addition to black pepper), and the cayenne. When ready to serve, garnish with the bacon (I admit, the soup was still good even without all the bacon... it’s your choice) and fronds!

Beer Style and Recipe of the Month

IPA (aka India Pale Ale)

This is one of my favorite styles to drink and brew because it is so versatile; almost every brewer makes a few different versions of these, and it has become the standard measure for most commercial operations in the United States. Saying you will brew an IPA is like saying you’re going to bake bread...will it be wheat, rye, raisin, sourdough? All of them are bread, but each version will taste different. An IPA is much the same way: You can vary the grains, hops, and yeast, and still call the result an IPA (assuming you stay within a broad set of guidelines).

That being said, there is such a thing called “good taste,” and, although there are many variations, it all has to come together for a worthy product. IPAs can be sweet or dry, light or dark (relatively), high or low in alcohol... more often than not, they are hoppy with full hop aroma. In the United States, this usually includes citrusy hop aromas... mmm mmm good!!! In my opinion, a crisp, clean IPA on a summer evening is just FANTASTIC. If you’re not able to make your own, check out these fine comerical examples: Dogfish Head’s 60 Minute IPA, Stone’s Arrogant Bastard,

There is so much to discuss regarding requires more space than I have here and on my blog. But I’ve tried to at least start the ball rolling! Check out my blog at: for additional info. I briefly discuss the history, variables, and a mini formula for how to create one of your own!

When I designed this recipe, Amarillo Hops were in abundance. Now they are very hard to find. You can sub Cascade (one of my other favorite American hops) or any one of the American “C” hops. But here is the original version:

Batch of the Moment

OG: 1.067

FG: 1.017

ABV: 6.5%

IBU: 59

15 lbs American 2-Row

4 oz Crystal 60

4 oz Crystal 40

1 ½ oz Columbus Hops - 60 min

1 oz Amarillo Hops - 10 min

½ oz Amarillo Hops - 2 min

½ oz Columbus Hops - Flameout

½ oz Amarillo Hops - Dry Hop

House yeast (Pacman)

Mash dry at 149* F or lower for 60 - 90 min (feel free to add ½ - 1 lb of table sugar to help dry the beer out). Sparge and lauter as usual. Follow the hopping schedule. To ferment, I suggest a low temperature; I’ve used Pacman as low as 60* without any problems, but if you sub WLP001/WY1056/US05, maybe try in the 62-65 range to ensure full attenuation. After fermentation has completed, add the dry hops. When everything has become nice and happy (yes that’s the technical term), bottle or keg; carbonate in the medium range.


For a discussion on IPAs...check out:

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