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Glass is Life

This post brought to you by Glass Is Life. The content and opinions expressed below are that of Bites ‘n Brews.

Glass and beer go hand in hand together.
aa0 Growlers are my standard, especially working in a brewery as of late. There’s nothing better than going to the local brewery and getting 64 ounces of the freshest craft around. The dark glass that encases the precious liquid naturally protects the taste and integrity of the brew from skunking immediately in the sun and also seals in the carbonation, while looking cool and hefty.  I know brewers are passionate about their beer, and glass ensures that their brew is delivered to me with the same flavor and quality that they intend. While it’s simple to run into the local liquor store and pick up a six pack with those same protective brown bottles, I prefer to go straight to the source, and growlers are a great deal both financially as well as economically.
sus1 No matter how the beer finds its way to my home, however, it’s always decanted into a glass.

My favorite style is the tulip or globe – The bulbous base of the tulip allows for the necessary swirling to release the aromatics of the precious brew while the narrowing to the top of the glass forces the head of the beer together and supports it, creating not just a beautiful clarity to the beer, but a lasting and effervescent head.
am23 This year, O-I is a participating sponsor of the Great American Beer Festival which takes place in Denver from October 2-4, 2014. You can Follow Glass is Life on Facebook as well as Follow Glass is Life on Twitter. I’ll be attending GABF and can’t wait to connect with this company as well as see all of my old friends from California breweries, and my new Colorado craft beer cohorts for another amazing festival.

#ChooseGlass

The Glass Is Life community is a group of people committed to getting more glass back into our lives. We believe glass is pure, healthy and natural, the kind of packaging that’s better for food and drink, better for us and better for the environment.
Glass Is Life is brought to you by O-I, the century old leader in glass packaging. That’s one hundred years of making what we believe is the most beautiful, sustainable and innovative packaging on earth. So when you reach for the lightest weight wine bottle in the world, you’ll know we’re behind it. We’re behind the brands that shine in glass and the partnerships around the world that deliver delicious products in unique experiences of glass.

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Merry Christmas!

Merry Christmas, everyone!!!
christmas5 I hope your day is filled with grace, loved ones and celebration!
christmas A good brew wouldn’t hurt, either.
christmas1 Or wine. I don’t judge.
christmas2 Merry Christmas and God bless!
christmas4 (Memories of Christmas past)

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Whole Wheat Sugarless Banana Cake Bread

Exciting news all around: I’m back to baking! I’ve missed having the time and the creativity to whip up some deliciousness in the kitchen, so I’m going overboard with it now.

But first: Friday was my last day at Wolf Creek as assistant brewer. While I had a wonderful few months there hauling grain, scrubbing out mash tuns, brewing delicious beer and having some awesome bragging rights, I truly missed being able to connect with those drinking the beer and being able to explain to them why the beer they were tasting had that citrus or banana aroma, or how adding the hops earlier in the boil makes the beer more bitter, or urging them to visit all the local craft breweries that Southern California boasts to expand their horizons and open their minds and steins to the beauty of the beer. That was a ridiculously long sentence.

A few weeks ago I was at Enegren during the middle of the day when a group happened to swing by. There were beer distributors in this group – something I’ve been wanting to do for the past two years. I asked how they got into distribution, they asked me if I was interested and told me they were looking to hire a craft beer specialist and I had an interview the following week. Beginning October 1st I’ll be working with this distribution company and eventually/hopefully bringing the awesomeness of local craft beer to bars and restaurants in SoCal.

NOW back to baking! I’ve recently begun a new workout regime AND eating healthy. I was perusing the interwebs for banana bread that had no sugar, made a recipe that totally flopped, decided to make modifications and came up with this cake bread.

Don’t be scared: There’s no artificial sugar here and as long as you’re not expecting traditional buttery, extremely sweet banana bread, you’ll survive.

Whole Wheat Sugarless Banana Cake Bread

Serves 6-8
Prep time 20 minutes
Cook time 25 minutes
Total time 45 minutes
Meal type Bread, Breakfast
This is NOT your traditional sweet banana bread! It’s mildly sweet with little bursts of sweet sunshine from the rehydrated raisins, dense and chewy.

Ingredients

  • 2 cups whole wheat flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/3 teaspoon sea salt
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/3 cup golden raisins
  • 5 browning bananas (mashed)
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2 eggs

Directions

Step 1
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.
Step 2
Place the golden raisins in a small bowl, cover with hot water and let sit for 10-15 minutes.
Step 3
In a medium bowl add the mashed bananas, vanilla extract and eggs and stir until combined.
Step 4
In a large bowl, combine the dry ingredients.
Step 5
Drain the raisins, chop finely and add to the dry ingredients.
Step 6
Add the banana mixture to the dry ingredients and stir until just combined.
Step 7
Pour the batter into a pre-greased 9×9 inch pan and bake for 25-30 minutes, or until an inserted toothpick comes out clean.

The riper the bananas, the better. I had a craving for banana bread and just couldn’t wait.
Hydrate ’em!
Drain ’em! Chop ’em!
Mash ’em!
Add ’em!
Stir the raisin bits into the dry ingredients.
Pour the banana mixture on top of the dry ingredients.
Stir until just combined. Do not overstir or you’ll get tough, unfluffy bread cake! That would be disastrous.
Spread into a pre-greased pan. You could probably put this in a loaf pan as well, but the baking time will vary.
Bake for 25-30 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.
Let sit for 5-10 minutes, or as long as you can hold out before slicing and diving in face first.
Again, my disclaimer: This is NOT your traditional sweet banana bread! It’s mildly sweet with little bursts of sweet sunshine from the rehydrated raisins, dense and chewy. I’ve been having a square of this with the rest of my healthy breakfast every morning.

Enjoy!

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Brewery Eats

On the weekends, brewers tend to get tired of ordering in delicious foods. Creativity begins.
Enegren has a mini grill that can fit the equivalent of half of a meal for a normal person. Brew chief Joe made it work.
Beef + green onions + creativity = Carne asada tacos!
Avocado and cilantro fancied them up. They were devoured.
Pairing is necessary with such brewery feasts. We had the Deviation Stout that had been aging in a barrel since February. This was definitely the worst beer in the world.
The EBC crew definitely should NOT have served it to customers. It should have been solely given to workers so they could truly appreciate what a terrible beer had been created. I may or may not have had multiple tasters of this heavenly delicious atrocious beer.
In all honestly, especially when served from a pump tap, this beer was out of this world amazing. Smooth, room temperature and full of oak and chocolate and roast and love. There is no love this great in the world. Besides God’s love.
And that of a baby husky. All wonderful things.

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Chocolate Covered Cherry Cookies

That title is an abbreviated version of the true name: Vanilla Porter Chocolate Covered Cherry Cookies. Since it’s the holiday season, Christmas cookies are high on my to-do list. Sipping winter warmers (i.e. stouts, porters, strong ales, etc.) is also very important. By my brilliant skills of deduction, I also factored this in: Beer in brownies = good. Therefore, beer in cookies = excellent. It’s mathematical, but don’t worry: I’ve got you covered.

Vanilla Porter Chocolate Covered Cherry Cookies

Serves 3 dozen
Prep time 30 minutes
Cook time 10 minutes
Total time 40 minutes
Meal type Dessert
Rich, chocolatey cookies are studded with maraschino cherries and drizzled with a chocolate porter frosting.

Ingredients

  • 1 + 1/2 cup flour
  • 1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 cup butter (softened)
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 1/4 cup Vanilla Porter (+ 4 tsp Vanilla Porter)
  • 1 jar maraschino cherries
  • 6oz semi-sweet chocolate chips
  • 1/2 cup sweetened condensed milk
  • 1-3 teaspoon cherry juice

Directions

Step 1
Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.
Step 2
In a bowl, combing the flour, cocoa, salt, baking powder and baking soda.
Step 3
In a larger bowl, beat butter and sugar until fluffy.
Step 4
Add egg and the 1/4 cup of Vanilla Porter to the butter mixture and mix well, then add the dry ingredients to the wet and mix until just combined.
Step 5
Shape the dough into 1 inch balls and place on a cookie sheet and create an indent in the center of each with your thumb.
Step 6
Drain the cherries and reserve the juice.
Step 7
Place one cherry in the center of each indentation.
Step 8
In a small pot, mix the chocolate chips and condensed milk over low heat until melted.
Step 9
Add the 4 tsp of Vanilla Porter and 1-3 tsp cherry juice to the melted chocolate, then spoon 2 tsp over each cookie.
Step 10
Bake for ten minutes.

I used whole wheat flour in my recipe, but I think my next batch will have plain white flour.
The dough will seem pretty dry, but I promise, it works out.
Roll the dough into 1 inch balls.
Use all of your post-mall-shopping aggression and jab your thumb into the centers of each ball. If you need to pretend it’s the eye of that evil person who elbowed you in the stomach as s/he grabbed the last Tickle-Me-Elmo that your youngest niece has been begging you for since the beginning of the year and won’t love you unless you are somehow able to get it to her by Christmas, I won’t judge you.
Place one cherry in the eye-socket center of the indent.
Melt the chocolate chips into the condensed milk, add the 4 tsp of Vanilla Porter and cherry juice and stir well. It should be thin enough that it falls evenly from the spoon when you lift it, but not so thin that it doesn’t cling to the cherry.
Drizzle enough frosting to completely cover the cherry, and then some.
Bake at 350 for ten minutes, then let them cool on the cookie sheet for a little bit before you transfer them to a wire rack, otherwise they fall apart and you will be forced to consume the ones that don’t make it.
It’s an arduous process, consuming those poor, unpretty cookies.

I’m off to tempt fate and visit a terrifying place full of homicidal people – the mall. Wish me luck, please.

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Pumpkin Cinnamon Chip Bread Pudding

 

I’ve been having explosions of genius in the kitchen lately. Well, lots of explosions of which a few end up being genius. Either way, I’ll share with you.
The basis for my latest creation is this Pumpkin Cinnamon Chip Bread. Head over to Taste Terminal for the recipe, make it, and then continue on by making:

Pumpkin Cinnamon Chip Bread Pudding

Serves 2-4
Prep time 5 minutes
Cook time 35 minutes
Total time 40 minutes
Meal type Dessert
Spicy and sweet bread pudding studded with cinnamon chips.

Ingredients

  • 2 thick slices Pumpkin Cinnamon Chip Bread (chopped into bite-sized pieces)
  • 1 egg
  • 1/2 cup almond milk
  • 2 tablespoons brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Directions

Step 1
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.
Step 2
In a mixing bowl, combine the egg, almond milk, brown sugar and vanilla extract and whisk well.
Step 3
Stir the bread pieces into the liquid, coating evenly and let rest for five minutes to absorb.
AM2
Step 4
Pour the mixture into a medium-sized greased ramekin.
Step 5
Bake at 350 degrees Fahrenheit for 35-60 minutes, or until knife inserted comes out clean.
AM3

Lightly adapted from my Magical Bread Pudding.

Mine took the full 60 minutes. I think the moisture content with the homemade bread did something mystical and wonderful.
I was planning on creating a pumpkin spiced cream cheese icing for this, but got lazy and just used some stuff from a tube from the grocery store. I can only do so much, guys!
I wish I’d had some of this bread pudding pudding while I was shivering in my boots and armwarmers on Sunday in Fountain Hills!

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Study Necessities

I have FINISHED a way-too-long research paper! I lost myself at the library for four hours the other day, locked myself in my house yesterday and in my room all day today. I only emerged to eat. Study foods must be quick and easy.
Any form of coffee or tea is more than acceptable: It’s NECESSARY. I could not function without.
This has been a lifesaving dish. Super speedy nachos. I have a few bricks of cheese around the fridge, so when I feel like I have enough energy to do more than just tear chunks of it off with my teeth, I pile some chips, cheese, leftover meatballs and Texas Caviar (that is a recipe, but if you’re super lazy like I am, or never knew that there was such a thing as Texas Caviar until you wandered around Costco making a lunch of all the samples and stumbled across the gigantic tub of this deliciousness) onto a baking pan and bake till melted. Then I eat more cheese.

And caramel squares. And then I take to Twitter to whine about how many caramel squares I’ve consumed and distract myself from studying. Then I eat more cheese.

After studying is done and paper is written, I celebrate in the most fashionable way possible.
Now I retreat to watch more Walking Dead. Well-earned, say I!

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The Dillinger

Remember how I said that my pictures would be getting progressively better? I forgot to mention that first they have to get progressively worse… “It’s gotta get bad before it gets good.”

Without further ado, I give you the restaurant that made this ridiculously-high-temperature-wanted-to-pass-out-don’t-like-this-place-at-all town bearable.
The Dillinger: a restaurant in Boulder City, Nevada that had their grand opening on August 19th. After visiting the greasy diners and eating art fair food, I was thrilled to have stumbled across this while walking the town.
They have some good beers on tap, if you choose to ignore the PBR (which did win best large brewery at GABF this past weekend. Weird.).
They carry Dogfish Head! That alone would be grounds for me to LOVE THEM. I got Dogfish Head 60 Minute IPA on tap and Ora grabbed a bottle of the 90 Minute. My boss is a hophead. Awesome.
The inside is spacious and open – something you don’t find anywhere else in town. The local diners cram as many tables into the room as they can which makes for an obstacle course if you’re trying to navigate in or out of the room. The Dillinger is airy and serene with soft lights accenting the marbled floors and tiled decor. Amy, our server, was ridiculously helpful and knowledgeable about everything on the menu, AND the drinks! Anytime we started to need anything, there she was! AMAZING service without being in-your-face. Amy, from the bottom of our stomachs, thank you for your help and conversation!
To start, we ordered the fire roasted artichoke. Not something I’d usually go for, but I’m so glad we did!
Tender leaves of artichoke, drizzled with lemon and dipped into this zesty, smoky tomato-chipotle dip. I could’ve eaten the dip on its own with a spoon! Actually, I did eat the dip with a spoon. I’m not ashamed.
I had to order the namesake – The Dillinger. If there’s an item on the menu that is named after the restaurant, GET IT. There’s a reason they name it after the place!
A hamburger, cheddar cheese, crispy bacon and brisket encased between the fluffy buns that are as soft as pillows. The combination of smoky bacon and the sweetness of the barbecue sauce they drizzle over the brisket brought tears of love and joy to my eyes. Why don’t all burgers include bacon and brisket? My new obsession!
Other obsession – their sweet potato fries. I’ve had sweet potato fries before. No big whoop. THESE sweet potato fries, however, are tossed in a mixture of cinnamon and brown sugar, making every crevice of the crinkle cut fries explode with the delicate whisper of warm sugar and sweet potato pie. Exploding with delicate whispers. Try to find fries that can do that anywhere else.
The grande finale. This is the best bread pudding I’ve ever consumed in my entire life. Like sweet potato fries, I’ve eaten a LOT of bread puddings. This one makes any other bread pudding embarrassed to be called bread pudding. This is the manager’s mother’s recipe – peaches and raisins ensconced in layers of warm, silky, sweet custard-soaked bread, drizzled with more rich custard and topped with vanilla ice cream and raspberry sauce.

I was so full after this meal that I had to waddle back to the hotel, cradling my leftover bread pudding with all the love and care I could, before devouring it for breakfast this morning. This meal and The Dillinger –  what dreams are made of.

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Pyramid Alehouse

Walnut Creek, California: A small town, relatively quiet (from what I could tell, having been there for a total of 3 hours) and quaint. What could there possibly be to do here? Enter: BeerWhere – the awesome application on my phone that seeks out all breweries, homebrew stores and pubs that I could ever desire. I’ve seriously used this application for every trip I’ve been on and found some sort of craft brewery/beer in the area. LOVES IT!
Pyramid Alehouse was only a mile from our hotel. We’d spent the entire day sweating to death in our booth, losing precious amounts of water that had to be replenished as soon as possible.
The best way to rehydrate after a day of dehydration: BEER. It’s a scientifically proven fact. Don’t look it up or anything, just trust me…
I decided to get a sampler – five different six-ounce beers from the long list they provide.
I got the Thunderhead IPA, Juggernaut Red Ale, Draught Pale Ale, Imperial Red and Ink Blot Porter. The Imperial Red was definitely my favorite (I LOVE hoppy reds!) – but honestly, when you have thirty ounces of “tasters”, they all start to happily blur together. Besides, the important thing here was re-hydrating!
I ordered the first thing I saw when I opened the menu. I made a Honey Basil Chicken last month to pair with Bison Brewing’s Honey Basil Ale and it turned out DELICIOUS , so I wanted to see how Pyramid’s Honey Cilantro Chicken measured up.
Verdict: meh. The chicken was dry and excessively charred and it was topped with a relatively bland tomato sauce. The one part where they one-upped me? Garlic mashed potatoes. I should always know to place every food item I make atop of a huge pile of garlic mashed potatoes.
For dessert I got the Brownie Sundae. Note to the chefs – a thin chocolate cake does not a brownie make. It wasn’t bad, but it was basically like a piece of cake. Nothing to write home about.

Overall the beer was tasty, the food was passable and the waiters were extremely attractive. If you’re a girl, or a guy who appreciates fine lookin’ young men, Pyramid Alehouse in Walnut Creek will definitely be a WIN!

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Library Alehouse

Enegren Brewing Company’s beer was being poured at the Library Alehouse in Santa Monica yesterday. Naturally, I had to attend to show my support! Their beer was set to be tapped at 6pm. I got there at 4pm for a little… extra support? In any case, beer was the final outcome.
My pops was my date for the evening. We grabbed a table next to the window and set to work deciphering the 29 taps behind the bar!
The Library Alehouse is set in a narrow space on Main Street, but extends all the way back into a cozy patio. We opted to stay inside where all of the action was.
The menu included the majority of their beer on tap, but left out the a few of the delicious newbies to the bar like La Folie by New Belgium and Denogginizer by Drake’s Brewing.
PUNKIN ALE? Well, it IS technically mid-September…
And that beauty on the far right is, indeed, Punkin Ale by Dogfish Head. Lovely and spicy, full of the aroma of pumpkin pie, a smooth, sweet malty sip and a warm boozy finish. Fall has arrived! Now going from left to right: Drake’s 1500 Pale Ale, Houblon Chouffe by Achouffe (heehee, Ah-choo-f! I’m twelve.), Old Rasputin Russian Imperial Stout by North Coast Brewing, Jamaica Red by Mad River Brewing, and back to Punkin Ale. I enjoyed the 1500 Pale Ale and the Jamaica Red best, so I ordered a glass of the Houblon Chouffe. Makes sense, right? Turns out we weren’t given a list of the beers so I ordered what I thought was in the glass on the far left (it was sipped dry by then)…
Well, Houblon Chouffe it is! This one’s quite a bit higher in the ABV than the 1500 Pale Ale (9% vs. 5.2%), and full of delicate bittering hops and the flavor and aroma of banana thanks to the use of traditional Belgian yeast. I wasn’t complaining after the first sip!
My dad got a full pint of the Old Rasputin in a slightly not-beer-clean glass. He didn’t mind too much.
We split the Local Burger – bison purchased at the Santa Monica farmers’ market, topped with sharp gouda, arugula and served on a soft bun covered with opium poppyseeds. The sweet potato fries were the true stand-outs of this – crispy on the outside, soft and sweet inside and covered with flakes of salt and fresh herbs.
6 o’clock rolled around, the candles came out, I ordered my pops an Old Chub Scotch Ale by Oskar Blues, an Alesmith IPA was randomly placed in front of me in a pint glass, and who should walk in but two Ghostbusters men in brewniforms! (They never get tired of hearing that, I’m sure…)
They even wore the boots –  that’s dedication. My dad and I grabbed a taster size of their Valkyrie California Alt (we had been there since 4pm…), spouted off how amazing it was to the sitters-by, tried some of the Alehouse’s mocha torte which turned out so dry that we had to send it back, and then slowly, lazily rolled off our tall chairs, meandered down Main Street and headed home.
Aaaaah, life is glorious!

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