KegsAndEggsTour2016

Beer Meister’s May Thoughts – Tommy Brennan

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There’s so much I want to talk to you guys about this upcoming month. There’s so much going on here at The Old Bay as we prepare to go into the summer months. So, if you’ve been reading my little spiel here monthly then you know, I always try to talk about a brewery or a style of beer. This blog is going to  cover a lot of information about the upcoming special events I have planned for The Old bay and its fans.  So let’s get to it!

Now, this first little piece of information won’t actually take place until June but I figured we might as well let the cat out of the bag early. We’re looking into doing some NJ Brewery Tours right here at The Old Bay. We’re calling it The Kegs & Eggs Tour and what we’re gonna do is load up a party bus, bring a keg, go to a brewery, take a more “behind the scenes” tour, drink their beer, and come back! Where do the eggs come in? Well true believers, included in your ticket price will be breakfast buffet right here during our Jazz Brunch for the month. So, we’re gonna feed you, bring you on a delicious beer trip, and then bring it all back home. We’re still in the planning process, but it’s going to be an AWESOME time, and I can’t wait to check out some breweries I haven’t been to yet. So stay tuned for that because space is limited.

Now as far as May goes, one of our bigger style tap takeovers is right around the corner. It’s time again to open up the tap lines and pour some fresh and hopped up IPAs! YAY! IPA Alley is slated for the middle of May and I’ve got some gems coming in for it. Everyone thought the trend of the IPA wouldn’t last, but you have more and more breweries hop bombing the bajezus out of their beers. Sure, some people don’t like ‘em, and that’s fine, but don’t you rain on my IPArade!  For those of you who don’t know what IPA stands for, (Some people actually don’t), it stands for India Pale Ale. It gets it’s name from British descent as a means to ship beer to India. They would take their traditional Pale Ales and Hop them um for the trip to India so the beer wouldn’t go bad. Smart thinking those Brits; between that and Elizabeth Hurly, these guys were onto something.

Some of the goodies I’ve got on hold for the event are Heavy Seas/Maine Beer Co. “Partner Ships”, (That’s a co-lab I’m really looking forward to tasting), some fun stuff from Ballast Point, (because honestly, if beer was a woman, it’d be a Ballast Point), and a few other gems, as well as the stuff that’ll be coming in for the event.

May just also so happens to be our Anniversary, and there’s no better way to celebrate it with Old Bay Food & Music Fest. I’ve actually been hanging onto a few goodies for this as well….How’s about a couple of Imperial Stouts that didn’t make it on tap for our Stout City event (So you know they have to be awesome), and a big ol’ keg of Nugget Nectar from Troegs. So I hope to see you guys here for that one as well. There’s so much going on!

Until I see you again. Cheers to good Beer!
(I used way too many parentheses in this one…)

Turmeric in spoon on wooden table.

From the Chef’s Head May Edition – Joe Donlan

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So, here I am again. Sitting down to write and I am racking my brain. Then it comes to me. TURMERIC. I could explain the entire thought process but we don’t have that kind of time and it is doubtful that anyone would be able to follow. I know it sounds a bit crazy that someone would actually take any time just for turmeric. It makes sense if you know me though. I am one of those people that need Advil to get through almost every day due to some injuries that I suffered when I was younger. After doing some research I found that using turmeric has the same the benefits without the side effects.

What is turmeric? Turmeric has a peppery, warm and bitter flavor and a mild fragrance slightly reminiscent of orange and ginger, and while it is best known as one of the ingredients used to make curry, it also gives ballpark mustard its bright yellow color. Turmeric comes from the root of the Curcuma longa plant and has a tough brown skin and a deep orange flesh. Turmeric has long been used as a powerful anti-inflammatory in both the Chinese and Indian systems of medicine. Turmeric was traditionally called “Indian saffron” because of its deep yellow-orange color and has been used throughout history as a condiment, healing remedy and textile dye.

The volatile oil fraction of turmeric has demonstrated significant anti-inflammatory activity in a variety of experimental models. Even more potent than its volatile oil is the yellow or orange pigment of turmeric, which is called curcumin. Curcumin is thought to be the primary pharmacological agent in turmeric. In numerous studies, curcumin’s anti-inflammatory effects have been shown to be comparable to the potent drugs hydrocortisone and phenylbutazone as well as over-the-counter anti-inflammatory agents such as Motrin. Unlike the drugs, which are associated with significant toxic effects (ulcer formation, decreased white blood cell count, intestinal bleeding), curcumin produces no toxicity. (http://www.whfoods.com/genpage.php?tname=foodspice&dbid=78#descrxicity)

Clinical studies have substantiated that curcumin also exerts very powerful antioxidant effects. As an antioxidant, curcumin is able to neutralize free radicals, chemicals that can travel through the body and cause great amounts of damage to healthy cells and cell membranes. This is important in many diseases, such as arthritis, where free radicals are responsible for the painful joint inflammation and eventual damage to the joints. Turmeric’s combination of antioxidant and anti-inflammatory effects explains why many people with joint disease find relief when they use the spice regularly. In a recent study of patients with rheumatoid arthritis, curcumin was compared to phenylbutazone and produced comparable improvements in shortened duration of morning stiffness, lengthened walking time, and reduced joint swelling.

Like I said earlier I know it is a bit off from what you are used to reading from me but I feel that this bit of information can be useful to everyone who may be trying to change the way that they live.

Turmeric is used in all sorts of curries and is predominant in Indian food, but that is not all it is used for. For instance over the winter I started to drink a warm beverage that is simply turmeric, fresh grated Ginger Root and warmed Almond Milk. It doesn’t sound like it would be good but the turmeric balances some of the spice from the ginger as well as the almond milk. I prefer this drink in the winter over a cup of hot cocoa. You can also add a bit of turmeric to chicken salad along with a bit of curry powder to make a delicious chicken salad that will rival the best that you have ever had. Then you have one of my favorite things to eat, Bread and Butter Pickles can easily be made with a combination of cucumber, peppers a cider vinegar based pickling liquid and some essential spices which include turmeric.

I can tell you from my experience that I have significantly decreased the amount of Advil that I take since I started to add more turmeric into my diet. The best source is the raw turmeric root but you still get all of the benefits from powdered turmeric that you can find in your local spice aisle.

So, here I am again. Sitting down to write and I am racking my brain. Then it comes to me. TURMERIC. I could explain the entire thought process but we don’t have that kind of time and it is doubtful that anyone would be able to follow. I know it sounds a bit crazy that someone would actually take any time just for turmeric. It makes sense if you know me though. I am one of those people that need Advil to get through almost every day due to some injuries that I suffered when I was younger. After doing some research I found that using turmeric has the same the benefits without the side effects.

What is turmeric? Turmeric has a peppery, warm and bitter flavor and a mild fragrance slightly reminiscent of orange and ginger, and while it is best known as one of the ingredients used to make curry, it also gives ballpark mustard its bright yellow color. Turmeric comes from the root of the Curcuma longa plant and has a tough brown skin and a deep orange flesh. Turmeric has long been used as a powerful anti-inflammatory in both the Chinese and Indian systems of medicine. Turmeric was traditionally called “Indian saffron” because of its deep yellow-orange color and has been used throughout history as a condiment, healing remedy and textile dye.
The volatile oil fraction of turmeric has demonstrated significant anti-inflammatory activity in a variety of experimental models. Even more potent than its volatile oil is the yellow or orange pigment of turmeric, which is called curcumin. Curcumin is thought to be the primary pharmacological agent in turmeric. In numerous studies, curcumin’s anti-inflammatory effects have been shown to be comparable to the potent drugs hydrocortisone and phenylbutazone as well as over-the-counter anti-inflammatory agents such as Motrin. Unlike the drugs, which are associated with significant toxic effects (ulcer formation, decreased white blood cell count, intestinal bleeding), curcumin produces no toxicity.

http://www.whfoods.com/genpage.php?tname=foodspice&dbid=78#descrxicity

Clinical studies have substantiated that curcumin also exerts very powerful antioxidant effects. As an antioxidant, curcumin is able to neutralize free radicals, chemicals that can travel through the body and cause great amounts of damage to healthy cells and cell membranes. This is important in many diseases, such as arthritis, where free radicals are responsible for the painful joint inflammation and eventual damage to the joints. Turmeric’s combination of antioxidant and anti-inflammatory effects explains why many people with joint disease find relief when they use the spice regularly. In a recent study of patients with rheumatoid arthritis, curcumin was compared to phenylbutazone and produced comparable improvements in shortened duration of morning stiffness, lengthened walking time, and reduced joint swelling.

Like I said earlier I know it is a bit off from what you are used to reading from me but I feel that this bit of information can be useful to everyone who may be trying to change the way that they live.
Turmeric is used in all sorts of curries and is predominant in Indian food, but that is not all it is used for. For instance over the winter I started to drink a warm beverage that is simply turmeric, fresh grated Ginger Root and warmed Almond Milk. It doesn’t sound like it would be good but the turmeric balances some of the spice from the ginger as well as the almond milk. I prefer this drink in the winter over a cup of hot cocoa. You can also add a bit of turmeric to chicken salad along with a bit of curry powder to make a delicious chicken salad that will rival the best that you have ever had. Then you have one of my favorite things to eat, Bread and Butter Pickles can easily be made with a combination of cucumber, peppers a cider vinegar based pickling liquid and some essential spices which include turmeric.

I can tell you from my experience that I have significantly decreased the amount of Advil that I take since I started to add more turmeric into my diet. The best source is the raw turmeric root but you still get all of the benefits from powdered turmeric that you can find in your local spice aisle.

spring-beer

Beer Meister’s April Thoughts – Tommy Brennan

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April showers are said to bring May flowers, but also with the breaking of the weather we start to see the changing of the beer styles. Some Saisons are already starting to hit the tap lines. Saisons are generally brewed in the Winter months for Summer’s arrival. Living in New Jersey, we all know that it could be Summer next week and snow the following in these touchy months leading into humid heat waves.

Saisons once thought to be endangered are being brewed more and more often by all of the breweries around. Usually coming in around 7% ABV this sister of the pale ale can pack a punch depending on the brew. This is a very complex style; many are very fruity in the aroma and flavor. Look for earthy yeast tones, mild to moderate tartness. Lots of spice and with a medium bitterness. They tend to be semi-dry with many only having touch of sweetness.

These beer styles are also great sippers while enjoying some time in our beer garden; a great place to bring some friends, or even just sit by yourself in the shade to do a little people watching. Some brands that have graced our taps and right from the Beer List are…

Boulevard Tank 7 Farmhouse Ale
Most breweries have at least one piece of equipment that’s just a bit persnickity. Here at Boulevard we have fermenter number seven, the black sheep of our cellar family. Ironically, when our brewers were experimenting with variations on a traditional Belgian-style farmhouse ale, the perfect combination of elements came together in that very vessel. You could call it fate, but they called it Tank 7, and so it is. Beginning with a big surge of fruity aromatics and grapefruit-hoppy notes, the flavor of this complex, straw-colored ale tapers off to a peppery, dry finish.

Brooklyn Sorachi Ace 
The return of one of Brooklyns most popular Brewmasters Reserve. Brooklyn Sorachi Ace is a classic saison, a cracklingly dry, hoppy unfiltered golden farmhouse ale, but made entirely with now-rare Sorachi Ace hops grown by a single farm in Washington. They ferment it with aspecial Belgian ale strain, and then add more Sorachi Ace hops post-fermentation. After the dry-hopping, the beer emerges with a bright spicy lemongrass / lemon zest aroma backed by a wonderfully clean malt flavor.  7.6% A.B.V.

Dogfish Head / Victory / Stone:  Saison Du BUFF  
This one coming from the Dogfish Head brew house, the annual monumental alliance of the brewers of Dogfish Head, Victory, and Stone. Saison du BUFF is a 6.8% alc/vol Saison brewed with parsley, sage, rosemary and thyme. The beer is brewed three times, once at each brewery using the same recipe. The three guys (Sam from Dogfish, Greg from Stone and Bill from Victory) formed the BUFF alliance (Brewers United for Freedom of Flavor) – a noble endeavor with the goal to highlight the passion and camaraderie of the American craft brew movement.

Those are just a few, and if you’ve had your finger on the pulse of the beer world lately you now know that New Belgium is finally being distributed in NJ. That’s right, the people who brought you the ever elusive Fat Tire, Citradelic, and Ranger IPA are now available here for all to enjoy.

So with all the Saison talk we will surely try to get our hands on a Long Table Saison from New Belgium.

“The longer the table, the more room for friends. This season, our new Long Table Farmhouse Ale is the best excuse to pull up a chair with your closest companions for a few rounds. An ode to the bucolic, table-friendly Belgian saison, we’ve added a delightfully new hoppy spin to the style, creating a sip that whisks a taste of the tropics into the Old World. Traditional grains of Munich, pale malt and rye lend a wash of toasty, spicy bread, while exotic Nelson Sauvin and citrusy Chinook hops buoy the juicy fruit flavors of our Belgian yeast. So gather around and get ready to hoist this spritz complex farmhouse ale amongst the company of friends.”

With some digging and some asking around, we’ll see if we can get this beer up on tap in the near future.

But until then… cheers to great beer…and greater weather!

PigRoast

From the Chef’s Head April Edition – Joe Donlan

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It’s that time of year kids! Temperatures are rising and the flowers are blooming. Its time to get outside and enjoy some outdoor cooking. Everyone does the traditional Hamburgers, Hot Dogs and Sausages for there backyard BBQ’s. I say, if you are going to do it, you should just swing for the fences and roast a pig roast. You are probably thinking that roasting a pig is way to much work. It actually is less work then standing in front of a grill all day cooking your “traditional” food. Not to mention there is some history around the pig roast. I am by no means an expert on pig roasts so I went to the interwebs to get you some history on the pig roast.

The tradition of the pig roast goes back millennia and is found in many cultures. There are numerous ways to roast pork, including open fire rotisserie style roasting, and “caja china” style box grilling. Many families traditionally have a pig roast for Thanksgiving or Christmas. In Miami and other areas with large Cuban, Puerto Rican, Honduran or other Caribbean populations pig roasts are often held on Christmas Eve by families and friends whereas families from Hawaii often hold a roast on memorial day.

Pig roast (lechon asado) is a part of Puerto Rico’s national dish and is usually served with arroz con gandules. In Puerto Rico, pig roasts occur year round, but happen in greater frequency as part of New Year’s Eve celebrations and especially Christmas; occasionally if a family has relocated to the cities of the United States they will take the recipe with them and use it during the summer. In the Dominican Republic, “puerco a la puya” is a traditional part of the Christmas Eve meal.

In the Philippines, the roasted pig is referred to as lechon baboy. It is traditionally prepared for Christmas celebrations, but is also commonplace at birthday parties, weddings, Debuts, and family reunions.

In Indonesia pig roast is called babi guling, babi panggang or babi bakar however it is rarely in Indonesia except in non-Muslim majority provinces, such as Hindu Bali and Christian Bataklands in North Sumatra, Minahasa people of North Sulawesi, Toraja in South Sulawesi, Papua, and also among Chinese Indonesians. In Bali babi guling usually served with lawar and steamed rice, it is popular dish in Balinese restaurant and warungs. In Batak people tradition, babi guling is a prerequisite in wedding offering for the bride family. In Papua, pigs and yams are roasted in heated stones filled in the hole dug on the ground and covered with leaves, this cooking method is called bakar batu (burning the stone), and it is an important cultural and social event among Papuan people.

In various Chinese communities (especially in Southern China), a pig roast known as siu yuk is purchased for the sake of special family affairs, business openings, or as a ritualistic spiritual offering. For example, a tradition is to offer one or several whole roast pigs to the Jade Emperor to celebrate a Chinese film’s opening with a roast pig; the pig is sacrificed to ward off evils in return to pray for the film’s success. One garnish used to make the dish look more appealing is a circular slice of pineapple and cherry and is often placed in a red box for luck.

In the UK, the tradition of pig roasting, which is more commonly known in the UK as a Hog Roast, is popular on many occasions, particularly parties and celebrations. It is usually an outdoor event, and a staple meal on many show events. The tradition is either to roast on a spit, turning the pig under a flame, or in a large oven in a roasting pan, roasting pigs around 130 lbs in weight is common in the UK. The pig is normally roasted in a gas propane machine. The pig’s skin is scored with a sharp blade and covered in water & salt to make the ‘crackling’. In ancient times going all the way back to the Saxons, roasting a wild boar was often the centerpiece of a meal at Yuletide, with Yule being Freya’s fest. The head was often the greatest delicacy, as evidenced by the survival of The Boar’s Head Carol.

In Spain the locals call this a suckling pig or a “lechon asado”. Hog Roast are becoming more popular across Spain and more so in Southern Spain due to the ex-pat community.

In the United States, roasting a whole pig or a feral hog has been a tradition for over two hundred years, especially in the Southern United States where it is closely linked to barbecue. From Virginia south to Florida Panhandle. and west to the Mississippi River south to Louisiana, the favored meat in Southern, Cajun, Appalachian, and Creole cooking is pork and has been since colonial times: pigs did not require any special handling or maintenance and could be sent off into the woods and rounded up again when supplies ran low, and thus were the prime choice for meat for small farmers and plantation owners, and for men living up in the mountains the tradition was to drive their pigs to market every fall, fattening them up on the many nuts and acorns that proliferated in the area. George Washington even mentions attending a barbecue in his journal on August 4, 1769 and records at Mount Vernon show the man had his own smokehouse on the premises. Like many plantation owners, he raised several pigs for slaughter in November and once his slaves had finished curing the meat into ham and bacon they would pit roast some whole pigs over hot coals as a treat. Outside of the English speaking states of the South, francophone Cajuns, then as now, had cochon de lait as a traditional dish for the gathering of their large families.
(Party with Pig:, a Glorious Feast,2016)

So in keeping with some of these traditions, I am roasting a pig in our Beer Garden. Some of you might remember me doing this last year, but we are going bigger this year. That means more cook time but well worth it. The date is Sunday April 24, 2016 and I will be shooting to have the pig ready to serve around 2:30pm. Come on in, say Hi to me take some pictures and eat some pig. Afterwards maybe buy me some drinks when I’m done. I’ll let you decide.

Irish-style stout beer

Beer Meister’s March Thoughts – Tommy Brennan

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Irish-style stout beerWell beer drinkers, it’s that time of the year again. It seems as though every weekend a different town has a parade with legions and hordes of green and plaid costumed beer drinkers. St. Patrick’s Day is upon us and how can we not talk about the rich Irish style beers that grace our taps. Guinness; the go-to for any parade or St. Patty’s party is still a solid beer. On December 31st 1759 Arthur Guinness signed a 9000 year lease on a small distillery in St. James Gate. NINE THOUSAND YEARS!!! So it’s safe to say Guinness will be around…well…FOREVER!

What about some other offerings, maybe a little more locally? Our friends to the north at Bolero Snort have a fantastic Dry Irish Stout called “Lucky Buck”. We’ve actually had this one on tap a couple of times over the past year and it really is a crowd pleaser. So keep checking our online beer list for when we tap that bad boy.

A little further down the parkway our pals in Toms River at the Rinn Duin Brewery have this awesome coffee stout aptly named “Pota Caifé” and wouldn’t you know it tastes just like a black iced coffee. These crushable stouts are just a few of my favorite “seasonal” offerings from our New Jersey brewers.

I’ve worked in a few places in my career as a bar manager. Some beer houses, cocktail bars, and the ever trendy corporate places, but becoming a beer snob here at The Old Bay has been far more worthwhile and rewarding. Why am I bringing this up? Because I want to make you a promise that we will NOT be pouring green beer on St. Patrick’s Day! It was fun at let’s say one of the more unsavory places I’ve worked where nobody cared what was on tap just as long as it was cheap and the special of the day.

So for this St. Patrick’s Day, skip the green stuff and get a little dark. No one wants to kiss your blarney stone if you have a green tongue.

So raise your Guinness, your Lucky Buck, or your Pota Caifé to good ol’ St. Pat, for giving us another reason to drink great beer…and dress up like an idiot while doing so.
Until next time, cheers to great beer!

potatoes

From the Chef’s Head March Edition – Joe Donlan

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potatoesIt’s that time of year again! That time of year when everyone is Irish! You will know it because everyone will be wearing green, drinking green beer, and eating corned beef and cabbage. I hate to tell you all this, but if your beer is green, DON’T DRINK IT! Green beer does not occur in nature. Just as Corned Beef and Cabbage is not a traditional St. Patrick’s Day dish. I know that you’re thinking that I’m a crazy person, and some of you know that I am, in fact, a crazy person, but it’s true!

A traditional Irish St. Patrick’s Day meal is made up of Irish Bacon and Potatoes. Irish bacon is lean smoked pork loin, similar to Canadian bacon. The big question now is: how did Irish Americans go from Irish Bacon and Potatoes to Corned Beef and Cabbage? Once explained, it really isn’t that far of a stretch to the imagination.

First of all, Corned Beef is part of the Irish holiday celebration, although it is traditionally served at Easter. It was also one of the biggest exports. At the time, in Ireland, pork was easy to get and very affordable. As for potatoes in Ireland…do I really have to explain that one?

“From the earliest historical times, for routine eating, pork was always the favorite, because pigs bred much faster and were a lot less labor-intensive to rear. Cattle were only slaughtered when they were no longer any good for milking, or for breeding purposes; otherwise, they were prized as a common medium for barter. The size of one’s herd of cattle was an indication of status, wealth and power — hence all the stories of tribal chieftains and petty kings of the ancient days, endlessly rustling one another’s cattle (the greatest of the ancient wars of legend was started by one of these thefts, the Cattle Raid of Cooley). Eating beef, except for that of a cow past its milking days or accidentally killed, was the cultural equivalent of lighting your cigars with hundred-dollar bills…unless you were a chieftain, or a king, in which case you could afford it.” (Ireland: Why We Have No Corned Beef & Cabbage Recipes. (n.d.). Retrieved March 01, 2016, from http://www.europeancuisines.com/Why-We-Have-No-Corned-Beef-Recipes)

Fast forward to when people from Ireland came to America and settled in areas that were also inhabited by other Europeans that immigrated to America. New York City is the real birthplace of Corned Beef and Cabbage as a traditional Irish meal. In New York City, at the time, beef was more affordable to the average immigrant.

“Irish immigrants to America lived alongside other ‘undesirable’ European ethnic groups that often faced discrimination in their new home, including Jews and Italians. Members of the Irish working class in New York City frequented Jewish delis and lunch carts, and it was there that they first tasted corned beef. Cured and cooked much like Irish bacon, it was seen as a tasty and cheaper alternative to pork. And while potatoes were certainly available in the United States, cabbage offered a more cost-effective alternative to cash-strapped Irish families. Cooked in the same pot, the spiced, salty beef flavored the plain cabbage, creating a simple, hearty dish that couldn’t be easier to prepare.” (S. B. (2013, March 13). Corned Beef and Cabbage: As Irish as Spaghetti and Meatballs. Retrieved March 01, 2016, from http://www.history.com/news/hungry-history/corned-beef-and-cabbage-as-irish-as-spaghetti-and-meatballs)

So basically, what I am getting at here is that Corned beef and Cabbage is a traditional Irish dish but is not necessarily a traditional St. Patrick’s Day dish. Do Irish people love to eat corned beef and cabbage? YES WE DO! Do we know that it is not traditional for the “High Holy Days?” YES WE DO! Do we really care? NO WE DON’T! I will eat my Corned Beef and Cabbage, Shepherd’s Pie, and Irish Soda Bread for St. Patrick’s Day, and happily celebrate my Irish heritage.

You may be wondering, “ Where is Joe going to be enjoying all of these tasty foods?” You guessed it! I will be right here at The Old Bay putting out a FREE “Traditional” Irish Buffet from 5pm to 8pm. We just may have a few extra goodies to add to the buffet, so I would recommend stopping by to check us out. We have our Bag Piper, Cliff Delaney, joining us from 5:30pm-6:30pm, then music by our friends Jersey Minx from 7pm-10pm, and then our Thursday night Dance Party with DJ JeffRo from 10:30pm to close.

 

Love for Beer

Beer Meister’s February Thoughts – Tommy Brennan

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Well beer drinkers, January has come and gone but not without winter rearing its ugly head. Hopefully everyone had some goodies at home in the fridge to keep you warm for what I was calling SnoPocalypse Now. I’m an IPA guy myself when it comes to grabbing a few beers doing yard work, so I was crushing some Founders All Day while digging myself out of the frozen tundra known as my driveway. IPAs are soooooo summer though, and we’ve already covered winter warmers, and I know I saw most of you at Stout City, which was AMAZING! Right?!?

So as I sit here wondering what to write about for this month, I was thinking what February is all about. When it comes to Ground Hog Day, I think we’re pretty much locked in for more winter, and that awesome Bill Murray movie. You’ve got Valentine’s day to look forward to…if you know…you’re attached.  Speaking of which, why is it so cliché to order a bottle of wine with dinner for a couple to share?  What if you’re a couple that likes really good beer?  What if some establishment offered larger than normal bottles for lovely couples to enjoy?  Let’s say that place was called….oh I dunno. The Old Bay?

That’s right folks, I’ve been thinking about switching out some beers for some more heavy hitters, bombers, pounders, and what not. We rolled out some surprise beers here for Stout City if you read the beer list from front to back.  Hidden right there on the front page were 2015’s Weyerbacher’s Sunday Morning Stout, Hopping Frog’s B.O.R.I.S. the Crusher, and the ever elusive Goose Island’s Bourbon County Stout. We sold quite a few for the event, and it got me thinking.  Why can’t we be a little snobbish with our beer?  Presented the same way as a nice bottle of wine, a nice bottle of beer just sounds better to me.

Just don’t ask us to put your engagement ring in her glass this Valentine’s day, that’s just as cliché as a champagne glass.

So, let me get some feedback from our readers and fans. What’s a nice solid bomber you’d like to see on our bottle list?  We already have the Dogfish Head 75 minute IPA; and let me tell you, if you haven’t had it, it’s amazing. Trust me.

So before I get outta here just a few events we have coming up on the Ol’ calendar.  Firestone Walker will be taking over our taps on February 17th, we’ll have six of my faves and some specials of theirs. We’re also in talks to do a Founders Tap Takeover in March, OH! And I just remembered. Jersey’s own Carton, just dropped off their Regular Coffee last week. So, keep your ears peeled for that event as well.

So until then; Cheers to great beer!

mardi gras mask

From the Chef’s Head February Edition – Joe Donlan

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It’s that time of year again… Its time for Mardi Gras! Yes, Fat Tuesday is approaching quickly. February 9, 2016 is Fat Tuesday. Mardi Gras is filled with traditions that have been passed along for generations. Not only are there the parades and floats and the costumes but there is food, oh yes there is food. One of the biggest traditions is the king cake.

Let’s Start with a little bit of history about the King Cake.

The “king cake” takes its name from the biblical kings. In Catholic liturgical tradition, the Solemnity of Epiphany – commemorated on January 6 – celebrates the visit of the Magi to the Christ Child. The Eve of Epiphany (the night of January 5) is popularly known as Twelfth Night (the Twelve Days of Christmas are counted from Christmas Eve until this night). The season for king cake extends from the end of the Twelve Days of Christmas (Twelfth Night and Epiphany Day), up until Mardi Gras, or “Fat Tuesday;” the day before the start of Lent. Some organizations or groups of friends may have “king cake parties” every week through the Carnival season. In Portugal and France, whoever gets the King cake trinket is expected to buy the next cake for these get togethers.

In the United States, Carnival is traditionally observed in the Southeastern region of the country, particularly in New Orleans, Saint Louis, Mobile, Pensacola, Galveston, and other towns and cities of the Mississippi Gulf Coast. In this region, the king cake is closely associated with Mardi Gras traditions and is served throughout the Carnival season, which lasts from Epiphany Eve to Fat Tuesday.

It’s believed the festivities of Carnival were brought to Louisiana by French – Canadian explorer Pierre Le Moyne d’Iberville. He led an expedition on behalf of the French crown and on March 2, 1699, he set up camp along the Mississippi River, 60 miles south of the present location of New Orleans. It just so happened the next day was Mardi Gras, and so began its celebration. The King Cake tradition is thought to have been brought to New Orleans from France in 1870. Now, as part of the celebration, it is traditional to bake a cake (King Cake) in honor of the three kings. The official colors of Mardi Gras – created in 1872 by the Krewe of Rex – purple for justice, green for faith, and gold for power.

The king cake of the Louisiana tradition comes in a number of styles. The most simple, said to be the most traditional, is a ring of twisted cinnamon roll-style dough topped with icing or sugar, usually colored purple, green, and gold (the traditional Mardi Gras colors) with food coloring. King cakes may also be filled with additional foodstuffs- the most common being cream cheese, praline, cinnamon, or strawberry. A so-called “Zulu King Cake” has chocolate icing with a coconut filling, because the Krewe of Zulu parade’s most celebrated throw is a coconut. Also, some bakers have now taken the liberty to offer king cakes for other holidays that immediately surround Mardi Gras season, such as green and red-icing king cakes for Christmas, red and pink-icing cakes for Valentine’s Day, and green and white-icing cakes for St. Patrick’s Day. Others have gone a step further and produce specialty king cakes from the beginning of football season for Louisiana State University and New Orleans Saints tailgate parties, then for Halloween, then Thanksgiving—and do not cease until after Mardi Gras season with an Easter holiday king cake. It has become customary in the Southern culture that whoever finds the trinket must provide the next king cake or host the next Mardi Gras party.

The King Cake is synonymous with Mardi Gras tradition in New Orleans. Starting on Epiphany on January 6, residents begin holding parties especially dedicated to King Cake. King Cake parties bring families and community members together to celebrate the joyous season of Mardi Gras, with its celebratory krewe parades and festivals. In fact, many in New Orleans take more pride in the Mardi Gras King Cake tradition than the parades. The dessert’s ability to engage friends and family in the “search for the baby,” the small figurine located inside the cake, is a fun way for residents of New Orleans to celebrate their Christian faith.

The dessert’s significance to the city was evident in the first Mardi Gras season after Hurricane Katrina in 2006. Thousands and thousands of King Cake orders flooded bakeries both inside and outside of Louisiana. This showed that in a time of great need, the people of New Orleans felt security and safety in being able to gather around King Cakes after the disastrous storm. King Cake demands after Hurricane Katrina thus provided another example of how significant the dessert’s tradition is both inside and outside of the region. (http:www.kingcakes.com/history)

Now that you have read a little history about the king cake, isn’t it time to come party with us on February 9, 2016. See y’all at the party!!!

Chicken noodle soup

From the Chef’s Head January Edition – Joe Donlan

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OK, it is finally here. (For now anyway). It’s cold out and maybe even snow is on the way. What is better on a cold, snowy (or even rainy) day than a big ol’ bowl of soup? You don’t need to use that processed can of salt and additives. Go ahead and make your self a nice pot of fresh, home made soup.

There is something about a good bowl of homemade soup that makes you feel as if you are kid again and your mom is wrapping you in as blanket when you come in from playing in the snow. I swear that there is no better feeling in the world even if it is just for a minute.

I know what you are thinking. Why am I going to take the time to make to make a pot of soup when I can easily open a can? Trust me, the time it takes to make a great soup is not that much longer and the results are so much better. I know this because I know how to cheat when it comes to cooking at home.

At the restaurant, I have gallons upon gallons of chicken stock at my disposal. That makes whipping up a great soup really easy. I have done the time consuming part ahead of time. The great news is that you can get already made stocks at your local grocery store. It is my suggestion that you always have a container stock in your cabinet. You never know when you are going to need it. The local store will most definitely carry several options of different stocks. It seems now a days every celebrity chef has there big face on the side of some type of stock or broth. Maybe I should start doing that? If anyone wants me to make them fresh chicken, beef or vegetable stock just let me know next time your in the restaurant. I will even label the container with a big picture of my enormous head. Back to the soup, pick up some stock (Chicken, Beef or Vegetable) at the store and you are half way there. The most universal stock is chicken stock. It is light in flavor and color and the basis for most soups.

If you would like to make a simple chicken noodle soup using some left over rotisserie chicken you are almost done. Use your soup pot to sweat some onion, carrot and celery. (This is known as mira poix). Once the vegetables have taken on an almost translucent color add the shredded rotisserie chicken to the mix. Combine all those ingredients then add your prepared chicken stock. Let your chicken soup simmer for about 45 minutes to meld all of the flavors. While your super easy soup is simmering, cook some egg noodles in another pot. (Be sure to cook the noodles al dente). When you drain the noodles run them under cold water to stop the cooking process and then hold them to the side. Just before you are about to serve the soup add the egg noodles to the soup to heat them and to finish the cooking process.

For those of you that read this little blog every month, I would like to thank you. Next time that you come in let me know and I will buy you a bowl of soup.

holiday-beer

Beer Meister’s December Thoughts – Tommy Brennan

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Happy Holidays everyone! It’s finally getting cold out and that means winter warmers! No, that’s not what I call my long underwear, I’m talking about those rich and boozy beers that come out this time of year. While you can still crush a couple of IPA’s and Pilsner’s; there really is nothing better than cozying up by the fire or space heater with a nice winter warmer.

These malty sweet offerings tend to be a favorite winter seasonal. Big malt presence, both in flavor and body. The color ranges from brownish reds to nearly pitch black. Hop bitterness is generally low, leveled and balanced, but hop character can be pronounced. Alcohol warmth is not uncommon.

Many English versions contain no spices, though some brewers of spiced winter seasonal ales will slap “Winter Warmer” on the label. Those that are spiced, tend to follow the “wassail” tradition of blending robust ales with mixed spices, before hops became the chief “spice” in beer. American varieties may have a larger presence of hops both in bitterness and flavor.

Some winter warmers you can expect to see here at The Old Bay include (fingers crossed) Riverhorse Belgian Freeze. I can honestly say this is one of my guilty pleasures. For an IPA guy like myself, I enjoy the booziness and flavor of this Belgian style dark ale. From our friends at Carton come Decoy; A Belgian Strong malt bill in the direction of a winter warmer. Cumin, coriander, lavender flowers, Sichuan red peppercorns and honey are added to Special B malts and Belgian candi sugars, with American ale yeast chosen because its esters enhance rather than dominate as would a Belgian.

Some other goodies I’ve got coming up include Flying Dog’s K-9 Cruiser, Port Brewing Company’s Santa’s Little Helper, and you can’t forget Troegs’ Mad Elf. Mad Elf will be hitting the taps Dec 1st and hitting my lips as soon as it’s on. So this holiday season, give the gift of good beer. I’ve only scratched the top of the North Pole with this list of heavy hitters, but feel free to tell me about your favorite ones in the comments below, and who knows, maybe I can get it on tap here.

So from The Old Bay’s Beer Meister, I wish you and your families, a safe and happy holiday season and a Happy New Beer!

Cheers to Great Beer!

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