Today’s beer is Belhaven‘s Scottish Ale. This brewery has been around a while, first opening its doors in 1719- as a reference: Liechtenstein became a sovereign member state of the Holy Roman Empire in that year. This beer sits at 5% ABV and 21 on the IBU scale.

Let me take a moment to walk you down memory lane. I spent some time in Kenya, in the farming city of Naru Moru specifically. I was there to climb the mountains and work with the schools that were in the area and how they could exist with the system of testing that they have. Often I would walk the 30 minutes after school down the gravel roads to the pub that existed at the crossroads. This place really only had two beers, and only one was ‘cold’ – White Cap. The taste of that beer after teaching those days made me feel like I was at home with a cold one, even though it was nothing like the beers I would pull off the shelves here. That being said, this beer tasted just so, in a way that my mind could go one of two ways – back to the homeland sitting on a couch, or wondering how a place could produce beer in a land of sagebrushes and dust storms. There really was nothing to White Cap Lager, only sugared malt and carbonation, and Belhaven’s Scottish Ale tastes the same to me.

Now that being said, I am not going to rate this one highly. The taste of crystal malt is not one that my tongue approves of. Although they may get a couple points due to taking me back to a place that my mind has not revisited in a while…

Before I start- please see Isaac’s post on this beer. I’ll leave out some of the details that he covered so well. And, for those just going us, we are in the 24 beers of Advent event. Day 1: Two Brothers Heavy Handed IPA.

2brosIt’s an IPA. No brainer, I close my eyes and imagine that I’m working the Imperial Railroad as we make our way through India. To get any kind of beer here it’s going to be heavily hopped to keep it from spoiling. I look at the glass the porter just poured for me and notice NO HEAD. Nonetheless I take a big swallow and taste a thick swill with some serious malt that is quickly washed away by heavy hops. A definite after bite makes me start to wonder if the hops taste will ever go away.

Lots of things going on in this beer. But, a great IPA needs to deliver both strong hops and flavor. Two Brothers is certainly on the way but there’s nothing remarkable here. In some ways it reminds me of many of the hop-silly brews of recent summers. Looking forward to trying something else from this brewery. For now I’ve got to give this bottle a 4/10.

Served at 34 degrees in my Will Steger pint glass. Bellhaven tomorrow. Been to Scotland, we’ll see how it goes.

This begins our 24 days of beer reviews as we joined with Beer with Brendan to send cases out to friends and family to taste both what is new, local and unavailable in our area.

To start us off we have Two BrothersHeavy Handed” which is their wet hopped IPA. It sits at 6.7% ABV and 65 IBUs for their 12 for oz bottles. This beer has been produced for a couple years and has a 86 on the Beer Advocate scale of 100. Two Brothers brewing started in 1996 and with “You can buy our beer. You can’t buy our brewery.” proudly plastered on the front of their website you know these two are in it for the beer and not the trend.

Late in the wet hop lifespan this beer has lingering tangy bitter notes and a big mouth of malt. There are citrus tastes like pine and orange rind on the tongue. As it pours there is almost no head and very little lacing down the glass as the contents emptied. The beer finishes with a light linger but not dry as you would expect from heavy-hopped beers. Amber in color (had to ask, I am pretty decently colorblind).  Marked on the back of the bottle is “Cascade Lot #2706” and searches of this only produced real estate in Cascade TX, probably no correlation. They do different batches of this beer with different acreages of hops – It would be beneficial in the future to try a flight of these now that I know this, testing the base with different hops would be great!

What’s your comments on the beer? I gave this one a 5/10 as it tasted overly… everything. Too much of one doesn’t get balanced out by increasing the other for me. But this is coming from someone who does not have a taste for IPAs. Leave your comments.

This recipe comes from a visit to Revival in South Minneapolis. After my first mouthful of their Tennessee hot chicken I knew I had to try to recreate it at home (the Cheetos style Pork Rinds are next). Good thing they announced recently that they were going to expand, that place always had a line and we had to get in at open to find a spot to sit down. This recipe is damn close to what they have.

The optional spent grain flour ingredient was one I have been meaning to use in a recipe and this was my opportunity. If you are brewers like us, I would recommend trying it out.


The Meat:
6 Chicken breasts, preferably never frozen
Dry Rub:
1/4 C Beef Ribs Spice Rub
The Coating:
5 Eggs
4 C Flour
1/4 C Spent Grain Flour (optional)
1 T Cayenne
1 T Granulated garlic
1/2 T Beef Ribs Spice Rub
Finishing Sauce:
3 T Cayenne Pepper
2 T Brown Sugar
1 t Garlic powder
1 t Yellow Curry
1 C Fry oil (careful!)

Start by cutting the breasts into tender-style strips, usually around 3 per breast. Put in large bowl and sprinkle on and mix in dry rub until modestly coated. This will not take the entire 1/4 cup, save some for the coating. Put in fridge and let sit for at least two hours.

Break the eggs and whisk in a large bowl. In a separate bowl thoroughly mix together the dry ingredients. Pull the chicken out of the fridge and dip them in the dry mix and place them on a plate. This step should be done ahead of time to allow the chicken to warm up a bit from the fridge before cooking, 30 minutes or so.

Set your deep fryer to 325 degrees Fahrenheit. Dredge a piece of chicken in the eggs and raise to let the excess drip. Dip once more in the dry mix and tap out any excess. Place in your fryer, , laying it away from yourself, making sure not to overcrowd the space – leaving about an inch between pieces.

Let cook for 15 minutes or until the chicken reaches an internal temperature of 165 degrees Fahrenheit. Pull out of the fryer and place on a rack to cool and drip.

Mix the dry ingredients from the finishing sauce and with a dry, clean, metal or glass measuring cup pull out some of the fry oil and pour on top of the dry ingredients. Mix well. Either brush on or dredge the mixture onto the finished chicken.

If you brew dark beers I believe this is a step that should be included in every brew day. The flavors that you get from the dark roasted malts are unique and can add a lot of flavor to what you are making.

If you brew beers on the lighter color spectrum this can be a great filler for recipes and add a bit of a story to your next recipe. “Yeah, it tastes great because its made out of the grain from the brew I just did!”

I mainly brew with a BIAB method, giving me easy transport of the grain between brewing and milling for flour. With BIAB I hang the bag up over a laundry sink and let it hang and drip until the amount of water left in there is minimal, usually overnight. Massage it a bit periodically to get out as much moisture as possible. If you are going full grain I would recommend looking at your baking equipment and deciding how much you want to keep – I have a large colander that I put grain in after a brew and let the moisture drop a bit before drying in the oven.

Ingredients:
Leftover grain from a batch of brewing

Take your grain after partially drying in the air and place on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Do not pour on the grain too thick, it should not be over 1/2 inch. If you need to, use two baking sheets on two racks in the oven to maximize drying time.

Set your oven to 200 degrees Fahrenheit and mix the grain every few hours. It is done in the oven when you mix the grain and it feels like it is devoid of all moisture, usually 6-8 hours. Remove from the oven and allow to cool.

A few cupfuls at a time, put the dried grain into a mixer (like a vitamix) and grind until it is a fine mist. Pour into an airtight container until all of the grain has been mixed. Lasts for a few months in a dark pantry.

The following is a version of the Award Winning Beef Ribs served at mancuisine’s smökathon in 2016. It is important to note that when planning to make this recipe, call your butcher well ahead of time as they do not often stockpile beef ribs in their facility – a shame, as these ribs far surpass any flavor you can get from the same style of cut that is offered in pork. I am giving the full recipe for a competition sized portion, make any adjustments as needed or make extra as the rub will last in a pantry for the next time you make these ribs (and there will be a next time, trust me).

Setup for the beef ribs at the beginning of the cook time
Setup for the beef ribs at the beginning of the cook time

I use an offset smoker, with an old bread pan filled with water directly next to the firebox in the cook chamber. Water pans are highly recommended to be used in this recipe – if cooking the ribs in the oven as I have been known to do, I will place a pan with water in there as well to keep the moisture level up in the chamber.


The Meat:
4 racks Texas style beef ribs
Remove the meat from the fridge 1 hour before cooking to allow the meat to get near room temperature. Trim any excess fat and score the membrane on the underside of the rib along each bone with a knife – this gives the rest of the fat easy access to drip out, and there will be plenty over the cook time.

The Rub:
1/2 cup whole black peppercorns
3 T chili flakes
1/3 cup + 1 T sea salt
Put the peppercorns and chili flakes into a spice or coffee grinder and grind them into a rough sand, you do not want it to be too fine. Mix in the salt and put 1/4 to 1/2 of the mixture onto the ribs, making sure to get it into the meat, the sides and the bottom of the racks.

Start your coals, fire or oven and bring your vessel to 225 degrees. Maintain this temperature the entire cook time. Know your vessel and what it needs to stay there, and when those times come when more fuel is needed to be added. This is key to a good piece of meat at the end of the day.

Put the ribs into the smoker with the thicker bone side facing the firebox or heat source. Rub in last 1/2 of the dry rub into the top side of the ribs. Close the vessel and watch your temperature.

If cooking multiple racks, rotate the meat every 1.5 to 2 hours to ensure that each one is cooked evenly. 5 hours into the cook time, wrap the ribs with an unlined butcher paper. I do the simple envelope style where the ribs are placed in the center with the membrane side up, fold the four corners into the center, tuck them under and place back in the vessel as they had been when taken out. I cook these using only wood, if you are cooking with charcoal and wood chunks I recommend doing this step and hour or two later. This is also the step where you may add your favorite sauce to the ribs, but they will also be amazing just with the rub.

finished product at the final unwrapping
finished product at the final unwrapping

8 hours into cook time remove the ribs, still wrapped, and place them into a cooler or large plastic container. Leave them there for one hour, remove, unwrap, sauce, and cut into individual ribs.

Make sure to have some paper towels handy, as these ribs will be juicy!

Our smökathon [also previously know as ribfest] took a different angle this year on competitive cooking, as our challengers were able to select any cut of meat from a cow or a pig and not just pork ribs as ruled in the past. Every person selected something unique from each other in happenstance, as we discussed what we were cooking at a meeting a few days before the event.

Jeff doing an initial check of the brisket before the long haul of smoking
Jeff doing an initial check of the brisket before the long haul of smoking

Jeff was to cook a brisket in his new beast of a smoker, Brad to cook a pork shoulder. Adam was telling us that he was going to cook up some pulled pork from a pork loin and Doug found an uncured ham he was going to smoke all day. I chose to try to tackle beef ribs and Trevor took the challenge of making pastrami from scratch. A great unplanned variety from the cooks in our first year of opening up the options.

Trevor's set-up at the beginning of the day
Trevor’s set-up at the beginning of the day

Jeff in his competitive nature rolled up to our venue at 4:30 am to put the coals on and begin his process. The rest of us came down around 7:30 and did the same. It was 8:00 am when Jeff cracked his first beer open, as the long day of sustaining temperature means you have to slow down a bit and relax around your firebox.

Weather reports started pinging on our phones around noon as a severe weather alert had been issued for our area! This would be a new challenge for us, as the weather had always complemented our days of cooking in the past.

Most of us chose to put some foil down as insulation
Most of us chose to put some foil down as insulation

It did not take long for us to get the needed protection set up for our smokers and battle the cool-down that the rain would inevitably bring. The rain kept the competitors busy for the few hours that it did come down, but for the most part our smokers held temperature and it was a minor hiccup in the day.

The rain broke around 3:00 and the people came rushing in. Coolers stocked with beer and drinks and the conversations in the crowd were fulfilling and plentiful. This is the real reason why we do these competitions every year – to bring our friends and family together over food and merriment. 

As the 5:00 pm judging time was beginning to approach there were many tactics that emerged as to what could be done to finish the meat. Foil and butcher paper rolls were unearthed and coolers opened. Some wrapped with sauce, others without. It was a year of high diversity in our outcomes. smokathon winners

In the end it was Trevor, with the pastrami, who received the most amount of votes from the crowd as their favorite and he took home the traveling belt. Isaac, with the beef ribs, got the highest tally from the 5 judges and took home the trophy.

Hope to see you all next year at our 8th annual smökathon in 2017!

 

Tooties on Lowry is a bar that if you were to see inside in the dead of night when there is no people, beer or food around, you might go in but not without some serious hesitation. It has the look of a place you would find tucked away in a small town in the boondocks of Wisconsin – wood paneled walls, vinyl stools with rips in them, a gravity furnace hole in the center of the place, a ficus tree in the center of the dining room…

But you do not notice those things when you enter in the height of things. What you do see are families and friends gathering and hugging each other. Old friends bellying up to the bar and shaking hands with the person sitting next to them. Kids running around the game room playing with each other in games of hide-n-seek. Though the physical aspects of the building detract from the appeal, it’s the people and the employees that generate the merriment and jovial nature of the atmosphere.

Credit: foodio54.com

Having eaten there before, my comments on what Tooties is only solidified with this mancuisine visit – It is a community space that locals come to eat food, drink, and be together. Being at Tooties just makes you feel warm inside, before you even have a beer or bite of food.

Their tap selection is notable, at our visit they had just had Insight over for an event and had some of theirs, along with many other local breweries (an a surprisingly absent presence of the big brew dogs, which we enjoy).  We tweeted Tooties in the morning of our visit asking what food we should try and one recommendation was to have the peanut sauce from their wings cover a burger patty and served. It was delicious [thanks twitter Tooties!].

Top commendation goes to their wings. We did Tooties’ “Wing of the month” which has ghost pepper and Surly and they were top notch. Their wings have the right amount of meat, cooked at the right temperature for the right time and covered with deliciousness. Their wing cooking process is refined, and creates delicious and filling wings.

If you are ever in the Robbinsdale area, at North Memorial Hospital (knock on wood – you won’t need to!), or in North Minneapolis and you are looking for a place to settle in, we strongly recommend giving Tooties on Lowry a visit.

Food: 4/5 typical bar food, made in a way that raises them above.
Drink: 3/5 Beer and wine bar, with local selections but not too diverse.
Atmosphere: 5/5 Welcoming, friendly and warming
Overall: 4/5 Good food, great atmosphere, tired building.

Its time again to get the coals burning and the smoke rolling as we prepare for the 7th annual mancuisine.com smökathon. We are having it once again down at our Eagan on Hackmore Drive, inquire with one of our members on specifics. This year we will have a voluntary ticket system to enter for all those hoping to eat so we can properly prepare. Check our eventbrite site for more information.

New rule this year: All those competing can choose any cut, from pork or beef, with any cookktime, as they choose – as long as it is cooked over a natural flame. It is an open invitation to have anyone cook and compete with us! – send any inquiries to compete to isaac@mancuisine.com

The coals will be fired up around 10 AM, judging at 5 PM with beverages and edibles available all day! Join whenever you would like, the team will be around for good company.

Bring a side dish to be shared with all and some beers as well if you so choose!

The idea is novel: pour your own local beer from a tap handle and eat some food from their kitchen that they make. The follow through with that idea in practice lost something in translation to the people who work there…

Credit: craftcouncil.org

Its a beautiful space in Grain Belt’s retired keg house in Northeast Minneapolis. The owners of the building turned the warehouse into smaller office-style spaces and Community Keg House occupies the first door upon entering from the parking lot. Traverse to the counter and you have found the pivotal point: the man with the clean glasses. Order your food their chalkboard menu and a pint with him and he hands the vessel over and directs you to the “taproom”.

Here comes the decision. All the taps are from local breweries and each one has as full description of the beer that would pour when you bring the handle towards you. The “taptender,” as they are called, will offer you a very small pour of the beers to try if you are fickle about the flavors your are looking to have. They will also direct your process on how to pour the correct way and fill the glass without the foam head so many would walk away with, uneducatedly.

The business models looked like there was one person in the tap area and the other was the cashier/food runner. One stays around the taps and makes sure that the lines are running and the people have their glasses filled (only once). The other(s) are to work the register to send the ticket to the kitchen and then bring the food out when its done. Here was our biggest disappointment – Our food sat on the window for as long as it took us to drink a pint, and when we ordered the next one we asked if that was ours and he said “maybe, check the ticket next to the plates.” That type of service has not been beleaguered to us since the bartender at the Cedar Inn was drunk enough to have us pour our pitcher since he was drinking with others. Why give out table numbers if they do not signify where the food goes?

Overall the place was a wonderful space that could have been better utilized and hired/trained more effectively. Sad, since this was a bar that we were pumped to be regulars at and try all the beers!

Food: 1/5 the food was tasty but expensive and it took too long to get out.
Drink: 3/5 selection is limited in variety of styles, but not in companies.
Atmosphere: 4/5 open and warm
Overall: 2.5/5 A bit rocky now, with hopes of their improvement.

Edit: Permanently Closed [we called it!]