From Pint Glass to Plate
Proof that we know good beer in the Central Coast? Firestone Walker Brewing Company‘s Double Barrel Ale (DBA) consistently outsells all other beers on tap throughout our region. We’re lucky the beer geeks at Firestone craft such a range of delicious beers, especially the seasonal brews. A cold Solace hits the spot on a warm summer day while the creamy darkness of their Velvet Merlin satisfies no matter the weather. During the warm weekend of the 2011 SAVOR the Central Coast, everyone was grateful that the cold Velvet Merlin was flowing freely and the peeps were friendly.
Firestone’s new Taproom restaurant in Paso Robles thinks beyond the pint glass by incorporating many of these delicious craft beers into their menu items. Says Head Chef David Jeffers,“We incorporate beer in a lot of ways and will be incorporating it much more in the future.” Currently, they use several of their beers in brines to impart both juiciness and flavor to the meat. They also use their tasty beers as ingredients in several sauces including DBA in a mustard demi-glaze for their Grilled Pork Chops and the Walker Reserve in a jus for their Short Rib dish.
Chef David’s enthusiasm for integrating Firestone Walker beers is catching: “Our pizza dough has some DBA in it and we also make a really tasty beer honey using the Red Nectar which we use on our cheese plate.” Both in the brewery and at their restaurants—one near the brewery in Paso Robles and the other in Buellton—the passionate folks at Firestone keep dreaming up new ways to feature these beers in their Taproom fare.
How Do You Cook with Beer?
“Well,” says Arlis Borden, another voice from the Paso Taproom kitchen, “if you know how to cook with wine, you already know how to cook with beer.” Anything one can do with wine when cooking can be done with beer including braising, making reductions, and creating vinaigrettes. However, when making a reduction sauce, select less hoppy brews to balance the sugar and acid. After reducing a hoppy IPA, you’re left with a sauce that intensifies the hops into a bitter concoction. Arlis mentioned some of their less successful experiments in cooking with fresh Firestone beers from the hoppy-er side of the spectrum. “Be careful with hoppy beers”: the mantra of a beer chef.
“Another plate where we started using the Solace beer,” interjects Chef David, “is our Chicken Picatta at lunch. Instead of wine in the recipe, we substitute beer and also add a bit of the beer honey in it for balance.” In the Taproom kitchen, Walker Reserve finds its way into chili as easily as it lends a malty, caramelized note to complement a balsamic raspberry reduction. “We’re playing off the hops and the fruits when taking these beers into the kitchen as ingredients,” observes Arlis. You can see the wheels turning with these guys about how to get more beer in the food.
Do Try This At Home
Chef David Jeffers shared two recipes for cooking with Firestone as well as some encouragement to think creatively about beer as an ingredient. So many possibilities when starting to use beer in the kitchen including a forthcoming beer and chocolate pairing with Mama Ganache Artisan Chocolates. !!
Hemp Ale Vinaigrette
¾ cup Hemp Ale
1 egg yolk
1 Tbs mustard
1 Tbs finely minced shallot
1/2 cup vinegar
1/2 cup blend oil
Salt and pepper to taste
Mix and enjoy.
Beer BBQ Sauce
1 yellow onion, peeled and minced
1 mango, peeled and diced
1 jalapeño, diced
1/4 cup brown sugar
16 oz. Stout beer (Firestone Velvet Merlin, for example)
1 can tomato sauce or ketchup
1 shot fresh espresso
Let onion, mango, and jalapeño start to caramelize then add brown sugar and stir before adding the beer. Add remaining ingredients, mix and enjoy.
Makes approximately 4 cups
More Info: Firestone Walker Brewing Company
photos 4-7: Deborah Denker