Wednesday, June 08, 2005

We'll be drinking in style in Saugatuck! Posted by Hello

Tuesday, June 07, 2005


I find it ironic that I was recently in a conversation where I was trying to rationalize how some favorite music of mine could be considered disco. Back in the day, I would have fought for the honor of my cherished music and argue that it should never be considered disco. Context, I suppose is everything.

Saturday's Mad Hatter's Disco Ball is chock full of context. As the Ball approaches, I seem to have a broader view of what could be considered or perhaps at least included in disco. Or maybe its just at a disco. Are the Bee Gee's and ABBA the gatekeepers of all things Disco? Or can you reach out for Parliament's "Flashlight", Earth Wind & Fire or Chaka Kahn and Rufus? Where is the line between disco and funk? I say the line lives where the party is. If it's a groovy party that I want to be at, bring it all on. My Steve Dahl roots notwithstanding, I say Disco is only a disparaging term when you want it to be. So this weekend, bring on the disco and throw a wide net.

Funny how this discussion has reminded me of some interesting beer-style discussions that are out there.

So, I ask you, what's a Disco Ball if you don't have an anthem? My search hasn't been about finding an anthem. My research has been seeking the definititive aspects of disco, so that I could create an anthem. It's been a while since the Uncle Heavy days, but a little rust never killed anybody. I'm hoping my effort bears fruit and that on Saturday, many polyester-clad dancing fools have the opportunity to enjoy my homage, "The Mad Hatter's Disco." I've always believed in the marriage of music and beer. Saturday, we'll need plenty of both.

Moving away from Disco for a moment, this weekend's party actually starts Thursday, with a free concert at the Waterfront Film Festival. It also features a screening of "Unsalted, A Great Lakes Experience" and New Holland Waterfront Ale that we brewed just to celebrate the fest. It's a great film-fest put on by a terrific organization. Saugatuck is always a great place to be and great films, groovy film-people and beer make it just that much better.

We'll also be having some pre-disco fun at Martha's Vineyard beer tasting at the Wealthy Theatre in GR.

I'll try to keep future posts from turning into event-commercials, but I also want to let you know whats going on. This weekend, there's a lot going on! Cheers~

Wednesday, June 01, 2005

Beer Brats and so much more

Over Memorial Day weekend, I had a Barn Sale. Barn Sales are just like garage sales, except they are held in a barn. The fact that you have a barn at all means that you most likely have been able to store far too much stuff for way too long and thus are in desperate need of either a sale or a dumpster, or perhaps both. This has pushed you to decide you’re ready to open your doors for strangers to come peruse all of your stuff. Barn sales are a lot of work, and scheduling one on a holiday weekend requires some preparation beyond just putting your things on tables and assigning them a price.

It requires good food.

You must feed yourself and your brave partners-in- sale. I enjoy staying up after everyone is in bed, preparing fresh home-made food for the next day. Friday night, I was up making homemade coleslaw for the Saturday’s kielbasa. Sunday morning, I was up early to start the beer brats. To me, the term “beer brats” is a bit redundant. It’s not really a brat if the process didn’t start with beer. There are probably countless variations of the beer brat, but I’ll go ahead and share mine. Step one is introducing the brat to the beer. I prefer golden beers of various styles. Saturday’s was Full Circle. Fill a pot with beer, add lots of quartered onions, salt and generous amounts of black pepper. Garlic is always welcome too. Add your brats and bring to a boil. I boil about 10 minutes until they’re firm. At this point you’re ready for the grill. If you want, you can set these aside to grill later (for when you’re busy – like during a barn sale), even holding them with the beer & onions in the fridge for a day or two before grilling. Next, you brown them on a grill of your choice and you’re good to go. As long as you keep ketchup away from them, they’ll be perfectly delicious.

I plan to be back with more beer and food commentary, as I’m an avid cook and cherish beer’s role in the kitchen and at the dinner table. Lot’s of people are coming around to exploring the flavors available in beer. The roasted flavors and/or the caramelized sweetness of the malt, a soft sometimes fruity or tangy body and the floral, aromatic bitterness of hops are all useful and enjoyable qualities in beer.

I encourage you to think about what flavors you enjoy in your favorite beer, or in your favorite food. Try to isolate a few key flavors and think about either creating a dish with it, or imagining what you think would go well with it. Explore! Create! Consume!

Craft beer lovers and cooks have been celebrating this for years, but more and more people are joining the party these days. Even Miller brewing is talking about beer and food. Listening to Peg Leinenkugel on Michael Feldman’s, “Whaddya Know” a few weeks back, I found myself frustrated that she didn’t take advantage of the opportunity to actually talk about flavors or creating new things, instead she just pitched in a few recipes and chuckled at the cliché’s about marrying into a beer family, but at least beer and food were on the air!

Looking back, Detroit Free Press featured Michigan Beer and food a few months ago, including a Red Tulip Pork Medallion recipe from yours truly. Looking forward, the Michigan Brewers Guild is working on putting together a food and beer symposium in October with the Grand Valley Community College in Grand Rapids. There are more and more opportunities to either explore the creation or simply enjoy the presence of excellent beer and food together.

Now lets hope for many-meals before my next barn-sale!