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!

Southern Fried Chicken in a Basket with Fries

From the Chef’s Head December Edition – Joe Donlan

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Comfort food is defined as “traditional food which often provides a nostalgic or sentimental feeling to the consumer and is often characterized by a high carbohydrate level and simple preparation. The nostalgic element most comfort food has may be specific to either the individual or a specific culture.”

So the question that you are asking yourself right now is what does this have to do with The Old Bay? Hopefully you have been in to visit us recently and have been able to sample some of our new menu items, if you have then you know where I am going with this. If you haven’t, what are you waiting for?

Let me clear up any questions at this time. A few weeks ago The Old Bay launched our new menu. We still have most of the classic dishes that you all love, but we have expanded out of the Cajun, Creole, and N’Awlins theme and have added some amazing southern dishes. These dishes can be described as “Comfort Food”. Now you get it! I know what you are saying right now: “Joe, What are some of these delicious new menu items?” Let me answer that for you! Let’s start off with the king of comfort food, Meatloaf! Yes, we have meatloaf. Not only can you get a meatloaf platter you can also get a meatloaf sandwich. This is not any meatloaf sandwich, we pile meatloaf, bacon, frizzled onions and BBQ sauce onto a ciabatta roll and serve it with some delicious Jersey Shore Style Boardwalk Fries. Is that not what you are looking for? How about some good old southern fried chicken? We marinate the chicken for at least two days in our secret marinade and then bread it…then we bread it again! Yes, you read that right; we double bread our super juicy chicken and then fry it to golden perfection. Do yourself a favor and wipe the drool from chin and then continue to read. The perfectly cooked chicken is then drizzled with our very own Honey Sambal Sauce and served on a plate with some fresh buttermilk biscuits and honey butter. What is Honey Sambal you say? It is a delicious mix of red chili peppers, honey, vinegar, sugar and lemon grass. It’s just like all of you, a little spicy, a little sweet and a little sour!

These are just a few examples of some of the great new additions to the menu. You can check out the rest of the new menu on our website or even better yet, come in and say “Hi” to me! You may even get a hug!

Old Fashioned

December’s Featured Cocktail: The Old-Fashioned – Ryan Loughran

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For this month’s cocktail blog I wanted to focus on Old-Fashioned’s.  It’s one of my personal favorites along with its cousin the Sazerac. To be a cocktail a drink needs to meet three requirements.  A drink needs to consist of a spirit, sugar and bitters.  Over the last ten years I’ve seen the Old Fashioned transform from a gross mosh of old orange and fluorescent maraschino cherries (even club soda) to what it is today - the “old-fashioned way.”

 

 

Ingredients:

  • Whiskey (Bourbon, Bulleit and Buffalo Trace offer the greatest value $)
  • Sugar cubes
  • Angostura bitters
  • Orange bitters
  • Water
  • 1 orange
  • 1 lemon
  • Jar of branded or maraschino cherries (luxardo are personal preference)


Procedure:

  • In a beaker or mixing glass ADD 1 sugar cube with a splash of water and muddle into a solution.
  • From there, add 3 shakes of angostura bitters and 3 shakes of orange bitters to the solution making sure there are no sugar crystals present we are ready to add our whiskey.  We prefer bourbon in Old-Fashioned’s…add 2.5 oz. of bourbon to the solution.
  • Add ice and stir! And stir again!
  • Use a strainer and stain into a rocks glass over a giant ice cube or whatever you have local.
  • Garnish with a flamed orange zest. Optional garnishes also include lemon zest and maraschino cherry.

Sugar cubes offer the most consistency for the cocktail.  They are the safe play and guarantee a proper old-fashioned. A good comparison is a steak always coming out the right temperature. The biggest way to ruin this cocktail is to add too much sugar.

It’s also important to understand where you are when ordering an Old-Fashioned.  If you’re in a college dive bar it’s not a good idea to order a cocktail…a safer play may be to have a beer and a shot.

When ordering, always gauge the bartender’s reaction to your order. Because many bartenders lack experience, you may wind up paying too much for a cocktail that you have little interest in drinking. I’m not the sending back type working in the business and all…

lime

November’s Featured Cocktail: The Old Bay Spirited Gimlet – Ryan Loughran

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A gimlet is an easy cocktail to make at home by adding lime juice to gin.  The history of the gimlet dates back to 1780′s when Sir Thomas Gimlet, of the British navy, intelligently schemed a way to help prevent scurvy. Gimlets were created to get Vitamin C to sailors.  Sailors mixed their gin with lime juice and the gimlet was born.

Today the gimlet is still alive and kicking on cocktail lists all across the country.  It’s been modified many times over the years as lime juice has led to lime syrup (roses) and led back to its more original and health conscious form of fresh squeezed. The style of gin in gimlets has also changed with time. It has become apparent to mixologists that London dry gins, more citrus heavy, seemed to make more sense in a gimlet as opposed to the more juniper heavy gins favored by the navy. Our spirited gimlet embraces the past, yet adds a modern twist with homemade sage simple syrup and cucumbers.

The Old Bay Spirited Gimlet

Ingredients:

  • Hendricks gin 2oz
  • St Germaine 1/4 oz
  • Fresh squeezed lime juice 1/2 oz
  • Sage simple syrup 1/2 oz
  • Cucumber slice (2)

Combine all ingredients and shake vigorously.  Strain into a glass filled with ice and garnish with a cucumber slice and spanked fresh sage.  After all, most of what you taste is what you smell!

Why sage? One night on the streets of New Orleans I burned sage with two gentleman ridding the streets of spirits.  I thought it’d be appropriate.

Spices Assortment

From the Chef’s Head November Edition – Joe Donlan

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In early October, the chef community lost one of its pioneers with the passing of Chef Paul Prudhomme. Some of you may know the name from his spice blends that you see all over your local market. To me, I lost the biggest influence on my culinary career.

Chef Prudhomme is credited with having popularized Cajun cuisine, in specific Blackened Redfish. It is because of this dish that blackening in general is as popular as it is. It didn’t start out this way though. Chef Prudhomme opened his first restaurant in 1957 in his home town of Opelousas, LA. Big Daddy O’s Patio was a hamburger restaurant that only lasted for 9 months.  Chef Prudhomme left the restaurant business for awhile but he soon found himself bouncing around the country working in kitchens. Eventually he landed back in New Orleans and worked his away around town before landing the job of Executive Chef at Commanders Palace. Chef Paul was the first American born chef to be Chef at Commanders Palace. Paul would eventually leave Commanders Palace to dedicate more time at his own restaurant, K Paul’s Louisiana Kitchen in New Orleans. Chef Paul made sure to leave Commanders Palace in the good hands of Chef Emeril Lagasse.

Cajun and Creole cuisines would still be local to Louisiana if it were not for Chef Paul Prudhomme. To say that Chef Prudhomme did not have an influence on my career and the style of food that I cook would be lie. The influence that this man had on my style is significant to say the least. The common misconception is that the food that we cook is hot and spicy. For the most part it isn’t, it is on the other hand well seasoned. This is due to the tradition of Cajun and Creole cuisine as well as the influence of Chef Paul Prudhomme. The man sold his spice blends all over the world, which opened the door for Chef’s like me to be open to use more seasoning.

Since we are starting to head to the holiday season, it is my duty to mention one of Chef Paul Prudhomme’s greatest introductions, The Tur-Duck-In! Yes, Chef Paul Prudhomme is credited with introducing the Tur-Duck-In to the United States. If you do not know what it is, you my friends are missing out. A Tur-Duck-In is a Chicken stuffed into Duck stuffed into a Turkey and roasted. If you have the chance, do yourself a favor and make one for your holiday celebration.

Since Chef Prudhomme popularized blackening fish with his Blackened Red Fish, I am including his recipe from his 1984 cookbook, Chef Paul Prudhomme’s Louisiana Kitchen (Morrow Cookbooks, 1984).

BLACKENED REDFISH
This recipe is based on one in Chef Paul Prudhomme’s Louisiana Kitchen (Morrow Cookbooks, 1984). Redfish (also known as red drum) is often farm-raised these days. It tends to be fatter and smaller than the wild-caught variety. Black drum makes a great substitute.

SERVES 6
Ingredients:

  • 1 tbsp. sweet paprika
  • 2 1⁄2 tsp. salt
  • 1 tsp. onion powder
  • 1 tsp. garlic powder
  • 1 tsp. cayenne
  • 3⁄4 tsp. freshly ground black pepper
  • 3⁄4 tsp. freshly ground white pepper
  • 1⁄2 tsp. dried thyme
  • 1⁄2 tsp. dried oregano
  • 12 oz. butter, melted
  • 6 oz. (8-oz.) 1⁄2-inch–thick filets skinless, boneless red drum, black drum, or red snapper

Instructions:
Combine paprika, salt, onion and garlic powders, cayenne, black and white pepper, thyme, and oregano in a small bowl and set aside. Put 2 tbsp. of the butter into each of six small ramekins; set aside and keep warm. Put remaining butter into a wide, shallow dish. Dip each filet in butter and place on a parchment paper-lined sheet tray. Dust each filet generously on both sides with spice mixture, pressing spices and herbs into fish with your hands. Pour remaining butter into a small bowl.

Preheat oven to 200°. Turn on ventilation system and open windows. Heat a large cast-iron skillet over high heat until white and ashy, 8-10 minutes. Carefully place 2-3 filets in pan. Stand back to avoid smoke and pour 1 tsp. of the remaining butter over each filet. Cook until bottom of each filet appears charred, about 2 minutes. Turn filets over and pour 1 tsp. butter over each. Continue cooking until fish is cooked through (time will vary according to heat of pan). Transfer to a sheet tray on a rack and keep warm in oven. Repeat cooking process with remaining fish and butter. Serve with reserved warm melted butter.

Mug of beer

Beer Meister’s November Thoughts – Tommy Brennan

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Hello fellow Beerthusiasts and welcome back. So for a few months now I’ve mentioned some of our favorite New Jersey Breweries along with some other spatterings of knowledge. As I sit down today to plan my next beer event I realize that I haven’t even scratched the surface, and in all honesty, it would probably take me over 3 years to touch on every single Jersey pop up brewery. We here at The Old Bay love our local breweries, not because they all put out some really great stuff, but because they’re Jersey guys…and gals. Don’t wanna get trampled on for that.

So this month I wanted to take some time and also self promote our New Jersey Tap Takeover. If you came last year you know it was an awesome event. Everyone whose tap handle was on our tower came to hang out and talk shop, make fun of one another, and drink some really great beer the state of New Jersey has to offer. So without further ado… the line up. Drum roll please…

Kane Brewing Co. (Ocean)

  • Head High IPA – This is a no brainer. This IPA is our favorite here.
  • Apiary – Their Farmhouse Saison.
  • Morning Bell – Coffee Porter…if you haven’t heard of this beer…well I just feel sorry for you.

Carton Brewing (Atlantic Highlands)

  • Boat – This session style IPA is their year round winner
  • Squashenator – A Doppel bock brewed with acorn squash, chili flakes, and molasses
  • Irish Coffee – Their regular coffee finished on Irish wood and peppermint

Bolero Snort (Ridgefield Park)

  • Cracked Peppercorn – An imperial peppercorn brown ale.
  • “What’s in the CASK?!?” – Something extra special on gravity pour for the event.

Forgotten Boardwalk (Cherry Hill)

  • Funnel Cake (Nitro) – Vanilla Cream Ale with a smooth nitro pour.
  • Morro Castle – Their robust smoked porter.
  • Anniversary Ale – They were here for the first event so this only seems fitting. An Imperial IPA.

Rinn Duin (Toms River)

  • Ichabod’s Return – If there were a fall beer to fall in love with; this is it.

Magnify Brewing (Fairfield)

  • 30 Hours – An Imperial Peach IPA.

River Horse (Ewing)

  • Tripel Horse – Their Abbey Tripel which is a nice switch on tap.

Flying Fish (Somerdale)

  • Exit 15 – An amazing coffee IPA.

So that’s not a bad start. I’m still ironing out some more of the details, so I’m sure we’ll have some more, maybe from a brewery we’ve never featured before. Stay tuned, and I hope to see all you Jersey beer lovers here on Nov. 22nd.

Until Then…Cheers to great beer…in Jersey!

lime

October’s Featured Cocktail: The Moscow Mule – Ryan Loughran

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The Moscow Mule…delicious, refreshing, popular, creative.

Moscow Mules are found everywhere these days. Bartenders are featuring them in cocktail lists, looking for ways to put an interesting spin on them. Fun twists include using tequila, bourbon, Irish whiskey and using various fruits and bitters.

The Moscow Mule was created in 1941 in a popular cocktail bar called Chatham Hotel in Manhattan. It happened when three friends were having a binge and decided to combine the ingredients they were selling to make a cocktail. Now these weren’t just your average bar patrons…they were a salesman, the president of Smirnoff vodka, and a Los Angeles bar owner who was out to market his ginger beer.

Now I know what you’re thinking: “Why can’t MY drunk binges end in such genius!?”

Answer: You’re  important. Don’t let anyone tell you otherwise.

Some may also ask: “Wasn’t the Mule made in Russia?”

Answer: No. Not at all. In fact, classic Russians don’t even chill their vodka, never mind mix it. The Mule was created right here in the U.S. It was created in order to market Smirnoff vodka. Copper mugs were a great way to serve the Mule across the country. The salesman went to bars, took two Polaroids of bartenders holding the copper mule glass. Salesman would use one picture to give the bartender and the second he’d give to the next bar to showcase his cocktail. This is how the Mule became so popular! Door to door from bar to bar coast to coast.

Let’s make one!

Ingredients:

  • 2 oz. vodka
  • 1/4 oz. lime juice
  • 5 oz.  ginger beer

Combine all ingredients with some crushed ice in a copper cup. Garnish with a lime.

This month at The Old Bay we’re going to feature a seasonal pumpkin mule made with crop organic pumpkin vodka, goslings ginger beer and fresh squeezed lime juice. Just ask you bartender for a Pumpkin Mule!

And if that’s not your cup of tea…ask about our Pasquale Mule!

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