Barrel-Aged beers are continuously rising in popularity within the craft beer industry. The flavor gained from aging beer in barrels adds a complexity and unique flavor.
The production of barrel-aged beers is a more costly venture than non barrel-aged beers for a variety of reasons. Oak barrel prices range depending on the type of barrel, and can cost a brewer $120 to $500, only to be used an average of three times. One barrel only holds around 53-59 gallons of beer (a little more than three kegs of beer), so multiple barrels need to be purchased. Additionally, aging beer takes time, and time is money. We age our barrel-aged beers a minimum of around one year, and have barrels that have been filled for three years!
Because the production of barrel-aged beers is expensive, brewers have been inventing methods of producing the complex oak flavor in your beer without needing to purchase an entire barrel.
Aging beer on oak spirals is one method of producing an oak aged beer without an entire oak barrel. These spirals are toasted the same as the inside a barrel. The spiral shape allows for more surface area for the beer to come in contact with absorbing the flavors of the wood. Spirals are simply thrown into a fermenter and sat to age for a desired amount of time. Wood spirals have also opened up the opportunity to use different types of wood. Now brewers are not limited to oak.
We found four barrel spirals in one of our red wine barrels we use to age Oud Bruin. As a barrel becomes more neutral, wine makers throw toasted oak spirals in to extend the longevity of the barrel.
Oak barrels have been used in the brewing process for thousands of years. Originally, wood barrels were utilized for the fermentation stage of brewing beer. Brewers made the switch from wood to metal in the mid 1900s because of the strength and stability of metal in comparison to wood. Today, stainless steel is the choice vessel for fermentation, but oak barrels are still a highly sought-after for barrel aging. By aging beer in oak barrels, brewers are in a sense reverting back to a traditional method of brewing beer.
1 and 1/2 cups (360ml) warm water (lukewarm, no need to take temperature)
1 packet active instant yeast (2 and 1/4 teaspoons)
1 teaspoon salt
1 Tablespoon (8g) granulated sugar
4 cups all-purpose flour
1 large egg, beaten
Dahlia Sea Salt from The Old Town Spice Shop (available at the Funkwerks Taproom)
Preheat oven to 425F degrees. Line baking sheet with parchment paper or silicone baking mat. Set aside.
Dissolve yeast in warm water. Stir with a spoon until fairly mixed, about 1 minute. Some clusters of yeast will remain. Add salt and sugar; stir until fairly combined. Slowly add 3 cups of flour, 1 cup at a time. Mix with a wooden spoon until dough is thick. Add 3/4 cup more flour until the dough is no longer sticky. If it is still sticky, add up to 1/2 cup more. Poke the dough with your finger - if it bounces back, it is ready to knead.
Turn the dough out onto a floured surface. Knead the dough for about 3 minutes and shape into a ball. With a sharp knife, cut ball of dough into 1/3 cup sections. This measurement does not have to be exact - use as much or little dough for each pretzel as you wish - the size of the pretzel is completely up to you.
Roll the dough into a rope with an even diameter. My ropes were twenty inches long. This measurement will depend how large you want the pretzels. Once you have your long rope, take the ends and draw them together so the dough forms a circle. Twist the ends, then bring them towards yourself and press them down into a pretzel shape.
Boil 6 cups of water with 2/3 cup of baking soda. Dunk the pretzels one by one into the mixture for 30 seconds.
In a small bowl, beat the egg and pour into a shallow bowl or pie dish. Dunk the shaped pretzel into the egg wash, or brush on. Place on baking sheet and sprinkle with salt.
Bake for 10 minutes at 425F degrees. Turn the oven to broil and bake for 5 more minutes to brown the tops. Watch closely to avoid burning.
Allow to cool and enjoy. Serve warm or at room temperature. Pretzels may be stored in an airtight container or zipped top bag for up to 3 days.
Dahlia Mustard Recipe:
1 cup brown mustard seeds, yellow mustard seeds, or a combination.
1 cup of Dahlia
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 cup apple cider vinegar
2 tablespoons brown sugar
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
3 half pint canning jars with lids and rings.
Soak mustard seems with dark beer in a large bowl and set aside in the refrigerator for 24 hours. If the seeds soak up the beer too quickly, add more beer.
Transfer the soaked mustard seeds to a food processor along with garlic, apple cider vinegar, brown sugar, salt, and black pepper. Pulse until desired consistency is reached.
Sterilize the jars and lids in boiling water for at least 5 minutes.
Pack mustard into hot jars, filling within 1/4 inch of the top.
Run a knife or a thin spatula around the insides of the jars after they have been filled to remove any air bubbles.
Wipe the rims of the jars. Top lids and screw on rings.
Refrigerate the jars of mustard for 2 weeks before using.
Save some spent grain from your next homebrew to make a treat for your furry friend! Here's a basic recipe that will guarantee a satisfied pup.
Ingredients: 4 cups spent grain 2 cups flour (whole wheat preferred) 1 cup peanut butter 2 organic eggs Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Meanwhile combine and mix each of the ingredients thoroughly until a thick dough forms.
Roll out the dough on a generously floured surface and cut shapes with cookie cutters, lining them up on baking sheets.
Dough is very sticky; add flour as needed.
Bake at 350 degrees for 30 minutes, then reduce temperature to 225 degrees and continue baking for 2 hours. This will ensure they are completely dry to extend their shelf life.
Dried cookies will keep for 2 weeks in an airtight container. Freeze to keep them longer.
** WARNING: Do not add hops to the dog treats. Dogs can be dangerously allergic to hops.
Every month the Funkwerks team gets together outside of work for some team bonding, kind of like the team bonding activities you did as a kid, except instead of trust falls and the 'human knot', we like to get together for some 'market research'.
A couple of months ago, the Funky team decided to visit Ray, one of our favorite bartenders at one of our favorite bars in Fort Collins, Ace Gillett's.
Ace Gillett's is an underground Jazz Lounge located under the Armstrong hotel in Old Town. Named after the founder of the Armstrong hotel; an entrepreneur who greatly influenced the development of downtown Fort Collins in the 1940's. If you haven't had the pleasure to visit, we strong recommend you schedule a date.
Ace Gillett's is well known for their handcrafted cocktails, and they are ingenuitive and delectable. Ray concocted a few specialty Funkwerks cocktails for the Funkwerks gang that were too delicious to keep to ourselves. Ray was kind enough to give us the recipes to share!
The River Styx
4 oz Fresh Sqeezed OJ
1.75 oz Basil Hydens Bourbon
1 oz Amaretto Disaronni
Circular Ball Ice
Fill to the top with Tropic King 3.5 oz
1 oz Dimmi (Dimmi has hints of Apricot and peach that pairs well with Tropic King)
Raspberry Provincial was awarded a Gold medal this year for the Belgian-Style Fruit Ale beer-style category at Great American Beer Festival® (GABF).
Presented by the Brewer's Association, GABF is the largest national beer competition that evaluates and recognizes the most outstanding brewers and their beers produced in the United States. The 2014 GABF competition winners were selected by an international panel of 222 expert judges from the record number of 5,507 entries, plus 89 Pro-Am entries, received from 1,309 U.S. breweries. The competition was fierce!
Raspberry Provincial stood up against 40 other beers in the Belgian-Style Fruit Ale category and took Gold!
Raspberry Provincial is a Belgian-Style Berliner Weisse ale with a heavy dose of raspberries. A sessionable fruit beer at 4.2% alcohol by volume that is delightfully tart, with a citrusy raspberry aroma and a dry, tart finish. It's a beer that appeals to a range of beer drinkers because it maintains a bright fruit profile without being overly sour or cloyingly sweet. The result is one of the most refreshingly drinkable beers we have brewed.
In our most recent experimental single hopped Saison, Motueka, we threw in some acidulated malt, just for fun!
Also known as Sauermalz, Acid Malt, or Sour Malt, Acidulated malt is a type of malted barley that contains a small amount of lactic acid that gives it a sour taste. Acidulated malt is most commonly used in small amounts (1-5%) to reduce the pH of the wort or mash. It can add complexity and slight tartness that helps highlight certain hop flavors.
In Motueka, we added 3% acidulated malt to highlight some of the Motueka hop flavors, such as lemon, lime, and passion fruit, and to give it an interesting mild tartness.
At greater amounts (8%), it can be used in certain beer styles to help sour, such as Berliner Weisse and Gose beers, instead of souring the kettle by putting lactobacillus strains straight in the kettle.
Weyermann® acidulated malt is soured with naturally occurring lactic acid that they propagate from wort, following the German Purity Law, which states beer can only be produced using water, barley, and hops. Although exact details of the acidulation process remain undisclosed, the process is similar to the production of other malts. They use a pale barely malt that is steeped, germinated, kilned, and acidulated.
PRESS RELEASE: Funkwerks is now packaging in 330ml bottle 4-packs! Now customers can enjoy the beloved Tropic King and the award-winning flagship Saison in a smaller, more convenient bottle!
For three years now, Funkwerks has been bottling solely in 750ml bottles. People tend to save larger bottles of beer for a special occasion or to share with others. Smaller bottles provide more variety, accessibility, and the convenience of enjoying a single beer without the commitment of a larger bottle. Not that 750ml is too much Saison for me....
Smaller bottles additionally help in maintaining freshness. If people are opening a larger bottle and saving half of it for a later time, the beer will lose it's carbonation and quickly oxidize with so much air left in the bottle.
Previously Funkwerks did not have the capacity to accommodate the increase in production that would come with bottling in 330 ml bottles, but their recent expansion of two 30-barrel fermenters increased their fermentation capacity by almost 43%.
Gordon moving the fermenter in the new space!
Now with the ability to brew more beer, Funkwerks has also decided to return to kegging in half barrels, reducing the cost per fluid ounce for accounts.
1/2 barrels available for distribution!
What are some of the reasons you are excited to pick up a 4-pack?
Funkwerks officially joins the Bike Library Family
The Fort Collins Bike Library is a project of Bike Fort Collins (a nonprofit organization). The Bike Library’s mission is to “provide an affordable and dependable resource for bicycle sharing and advocacy promoting a positive cycling culture in Fort Collins.” Learn more about the Bike Library at http://www.fcbikelibrary.org/.
With the rise in tourism to Fort Collins, bikes are a great way to safely visit breweries. And most visitors do not travel with their own bicycle, making the Fort Collins Bike Library a continent way to fully experience a key aspect of the Fort Collins culture.
Beer and Bikes! It’s a match made in heaven.
The Funkwerks Fleet: 6 Crusiers
As a Bike Library hub, you can rent a bike for $10 a day (technically free, but only if you return the bike by 1pm the same day it is checked out). Complete the sign up form and digital liability waiver located online; you will need a credit card and your photo ID number. You can do this ahead of time to make the process a tad speedier, or use our computer in the taproom, at your convenience. Pick up your bike from Funkwerks and ride! You may also return your bike at any of the six Bike Library locations!
Main Station at 250 N. Mason CSU Surplus at 201 W. Lake St. University Inn – Best Western at 914 S. College Ave. Funkwerks at 1900 E. Lincoln Ave. Bike Library Maintenance Facility at 220 N. Howes Cranknstein – Return location only at 215A N. College Ave.
A Randall (also known as a Hop Rocket), that was originally invented by Dogfish Head brewery, is an in line infuser. We use to infuse beer with different types of hops, fruit, vegetables, and whatever else our Funkwerks hearts desire! We could even infuse the beer with bacon….. mmmmm, bacon….
Justin playing with his new toy!
The device simply hooks up to the draft system between the keg and tap. We fill the Hop Rocket with peaches. The beer flows from the keg into the Randall where the beer is infused with peaches and from the tap we are now pouring a Peachy Tropic King!
Every infusion is an experiment that allows us to come up with fun creations, such as Mango Habanero Saison, or Pineapple Deceit. The downside? Each beer creation is fairly brief. Because the Hop Rocket needs to be cleaned with every keg change, each batch lasts the duration of a keg.
Make sure you can come in and try whichever fun invention we come up with, while it lasts!
We've done a Citra hopped Saison, a Amarillo hopped Saison, and Saison with espresso coffee and cocoa nips! Come in and let us know what you want to see go into our Randall!
This years Craft Brewer’s Conference was a doozy of a week for Funkwerks. Being CBC’s first year in Colorado we had a lot of expectations along with a lot of unknowns. The experience was better than we could even have had imagined. Industry people from brewers to equipment manufactures from all over the world flocked to Colorado for the conference.
Conferences and All you can eat oysters at the World Beer Cup Award Ceremony.
Picture your days as a child at summer camp, similar to the experience depicted in the movie Meatballs, for those of you that have seen it, (if you haven't, you should; it's hilarious). You spent all year doing your own thing, and then summer rolls around and you get to meet back up with all your friends at camp. CBC is a very similar experience for craft brewers. You spend the entire week having fun, trying new beer, and going to lectures. Between meetings and beer tastings you walk the exposition hall, talking to manufactures about their latest and greatest.
From left to right: Gordon Schuck, Charlie Papazian, and Justin Renninger.
With the end of the week, comes the World Beer Cup. With an international panel of 219 beer judges from 31 countries it is the Olympics of Beer Competition. There were 4,754 entries from 1,403 breweries in 58 countries. Instead of Bill Murray (from Meatballs) presenting the winners, Charlie Papazian the godfather of home brewing and the craft beer movement stood on stage and presented the World Cup winners. This year there were 4,754 beers entered from 1,403 breweries, from 58 countries into 94 different style categories. 219 judges from 31 different countries judged the entries, needless to say the competition was stiff. Impatiently waiting for the specific categories while all the while the winners were being announced. The Saison category came and went with no medal for Funkwerks. Needless to say we were extremely disappointed. Out of the four entries, our bets were placed on Saison to win a medal. Then Deceit was called and all the anxiety washed away. Overall, next to the all you can eat oysters on the half shell and cheese carts at the awards ceremony, the best part of CBC was the camaraderie experienced between all the brewers. The support and inspiration was overwhelming. This is Funkwerks first World Beer Cup win, now it only means we have to work harder to out do ourselves! Thank you to all of our supporters, Justin Renninger (head brewer at Funkwerks)
Never having tried the flavor altering substance known as Miracle fruit, the Funkwerks gang decided to get together and “flavor trip.” We tested a few of the different forms of miracle fruit; dried, powder, and pill form. Best results were found with the powder and pill form from www.miraclefruitman.com and mberry.
Synsepalum dulificum is a berry, commonly known as Miracle or Magic Fruit, composed of protein molecules that bind to the tongue’s taste buds and activate sweet receptors when it comes in contact with acidic foods. Originating in West Africa, Miracle fruit is consumed before a meal to sweeten plum wine, beer, and to improve the flavor of soured corn bread and other foods that easily sour.
A smorgasbord Lemons, limes, hot sauce, salty Chex Mix, Sour Patch Kids, and of course, our sour brown ale, Oud Bruin. Although miracle fruit is reported to only activate with low pH foods, we experimented with all of the taste buds. After letting the powder fully dissolve, our puckered faces relaxed. The lemons tasted like refreshingly sweet lemonade, and Oud Bruin tasted like sweet Belgian ale with no sourness. As to be expected there was no taste difference in the Chex Mix, and not a noticeable difference in Frank’s Red hot sauce, however there may be more of an effect with a more acidic hot sauce.
Walking away with stomachaches from all the candy and citrus, it was universally decided we enjoyed our Oud Bruin more when our taste buds were not under the influence. Nonetheless it was an interesting experience.
1 1/4 oz gin of choice (I recommend Hendricks) 1 oz simple syrup 3/4 -1oz squeezed lemon juice 5 - 7 basil leaves 3 - 5 oz Funkwerks Saison
1) Muddle basil leaves and lemon juice in a shaker. 2) Add ice, simple syrup, and gin and shake! Or stir. 3) Add Funkwerks Saison, and stir. (Do not shake!) 4) Pour into a glass and garnish with a bail leaf.
1) In a large saucepan, sauté diced chicken breasts in 1 tablespoon of cooking oil for 2-3 minutes on medium-high heat. Add mushrooms, onions, and garlic, and cook for 3-4 minutes, or until chicken is finished cooking. Set aside, and drain if necessary.
2) Mix together sugar, soy sauce, rice wine vinegar, ketchup, lemon juice, oil, hot mustard, garlic, red chili paste, peanut butter, and 1/4 cup of Funkwerks Saison in a bowl or sauce pan.
3) Mix in sautéed chicken and vegetables with the sauce, and serve on lettuce leaves.
There is no doubt that people have caught the bug of wild fermentation. With the array of stimulating flavors and the range of intensity and complexity that wild yeast and bacteria can bring to beer, it’s hard not to appreciate the uniqueness that wild fermentation can to bring to craft beer! The variation in bacteria, yeast, and brewing practices, brings infinite possibilities for the “wild ale” beer consumer, and many styles to choice from. Saisons, Sours, and Brett beers are often mistaken for the same style of beer, yet there are some distinct style differences that have been defined, and knowledge of these differences can help distinguish between the similarities.
The saison beer style has been around since the 19th century and was traditionally brewed by Belgian farmers in uncovered containers in their farmhouses. Due to the naturally unhygienic brewing conditions, the beer developed a wild flavor, naturally. Saisons are brewed with pale malt, a light to medium hop, and carry notes of citrus, herbs, and spices. Originally a low alcohol beer style intended to keep the farm workers in production, the modern rendition is a relatively higher alcohol beer brewed using a cultivated wild Belgian saison yeast strain, instead of utilizing open fermentation practices. The Belgian wild yeast imitates the wild flavors that traditionally resulted from open fermentation, giving saisons their characteristic peppery and citrus flavor.
A common misconception is that saisons get their distinct flavor because they are brewed with Brettanomyces.
Brettanomyces is a type of yeast that is found on the skins of fruit. In most cases, Brettanomyces is considered a contaminant that produces an off flavor in beer, however, it is a key ingredient in many wild beer styles. When brewing a Brett beer, it is typically used in addition to another yeast, although there are 100% Brett Beers, like our Brett Trois. Brettanomyces contributes a unique funkiness, described as “horse-blanket.” It can also give beer an acidic quality, a unique spiciness, earthiness, and fruit characteristics.
Sour beer is characterized by an acidic, tart, and sour taste. There are many types of sours that can range in color and sweetness. The word “sour” is a blanket term and includes Lambic, Gueuze, Flanders Red Ale, and Oud Bruin. Similar to Brett beers, sours are intentionally infected with (good) bacteria strains, Lactobacillus and Pediococcus, which give them a mouth puckering quality. Barrel aging is a common practice with sours, because these bacteria strains love oak barrels. As the barrels are reused, the bacterial colonies will grow, making barrels a happy home for these souring microbes to help develop a delightfully complex and puckering brew.
Saisons and sours are not necessarily brewed with Brett, but they can be. Due to this confusion, saisons and brett beers are frequently mistaken to be a sour. When brewing sours, Brettanomyces is often utilized, but it is not the souring agent. This leads to the common (and understandable) lack of distinction between Brett Beers, Saisons, and Sours. And lastly, although there are unique differences between the styles, the only thing you can expect from wild ales is that they are unpredictable. On top of that, many brewers blend the styles to create a uniquely crafted brew, designed for limitless enjoyment!
With the explosion of craft breweries in the past few years the hop market has become very tight. Unless you are contracting your hops a few years out you may be out of luck. This is especially true of some of the ‘hot’ hops such as Amarillo, Citra, and Sorachi Ace. Seeing the writing on the wall early last year, we contracted for hops I’ve wanted to play with. These include Nelson Sauvin, Amarillo, Sorachi Ace, and Galaxy. We made our first batch of Saison using Nelson Sauvin hops two weeks ago. This is an extremely pale Saison fermented with 10% Muscat grape must. This should be out in April.
Of course, necessity is the mother of invention. Not having access to some popular hops in the short term forces you to dig deeper into the hop varieties to find the hidden gems. We will be making some single hop beers in the next year to test out some newer varieties that look very promising. These include Australian Summer and New Zealand Moteuka. There are a few new German varieties I have yet to see available including Mandarina Bavaria, Hallertau Blanc, and Hüll Melon. I was able to smell the Hüll Melon at the Craft Brewers Conference and it has a distinct cantaloupe aroma. I may be able to get a small amount to try, stay tuned.
I’ve gotten many questions lately about what we have going on in our barrels and how we prepare our barrels before use, so I figured I would give a rundown of the projects we have in the works and our procedures. I have to thank Peter Bouckaert, Lauren Salazar, and Eric Salazar of New Belgium for all their help and info they provided. A lot of procedures, information, and even some of our barrels came from them.
Over the past year or so we have grown our barrel collection quite a bit with the barrels falling into two general categories. The first are wine and spirit barrels that are for post-fermentation aging. The second are the sour program barrels that are inoculated with various organisms including brettanomyces, lactobacillus, and pediococcus. As the wine and spirit barrels become more neutral they move to the sour program.
The wine and spirit barrels are used for infusing the beer with the aromas and flavors of what was previously in them along with the characteristics of the type and toast of the wood. These barrels are purchased through a broker when they are freshly emptied and given a quick hot water rinse before filling. Currently, we have four Rum barrels and one Cognac barrel aging Deceit and a number of Bourbon barrels aging Dark Prophet (which is currently being released). We aren’t sure at this point what will go into these Bourbon barrels after the Dark Prophet release but I’m leaning toward a Quadrupel.
Of the sour program barrels, most are aging a Belgian Oud Bruin that is coming along quite nicely. Some of the Oud Bruin is in red wine barrels inoculated by us in primary fermentation before transfer. The rest came from New Belgium and are Bourbon barrels that were used in their sour program. We also have some Leopold Bros Peach Whiskey barrels that were used by New Belgium and inoculated with brettanomyces and lactobacillus but still had quite a bit of character from the Peach Whiskey. In these we are aging Tropic King and they may get a dose of peaches at some point in the future.
Before we use barrels in the sour program we partially disassembled the barrels to remove the char or wine stone from the inner surface so the souring organisms have good contact with the wood. This involves loosening the hoops to pull the heads and scraping the staves and heads. At that point they are reassembled, the hoops are tightened, and then filled with hot water to swell before being emptied.
As far as releases from the barrels, there are no timelines set and quantities will be quite limited so don’t expect to see them go much further than our taproom.
Recently we did a beer dinner organized by Be Local and were paired up with Brent Lewis, Executive Chef at El Monte Grille and Lounge in Fort Collins, to come up with a pairing for one of the courses. We chose Brent’s Ancho Pumpkin Bisque to pair with Tropic King. We both felt the creaminess and subtle spice of the Bisque complemented the fruity effervescence of the beer. Thank you Brent for sharing your recipe!
Ancho Pumpkin Bisque: 2 cups heavy Cream ½ gallon Milk 1 C Roasted pumpkins 1/8 teaspoon Nutmeg 1/2 teaspoon Cinnamon 1/4 teaspoon Vanilla 1 ea Ancho chili roasted ½ fl oz Mexican Crema
Cut pumpkins in ½ and scrape the seeds out, place upside-down on a sheet tray lined with parchment paper and roast until soft (about 1 hour and 10 min) in a 350 degree oven. Let the pumpkins cool so that they can be handled but still warm, scrape the “meat” out and discard the skin. Toast the Ancho chilis on the stove top then place in a heave bottomed pot with the cream and milk, bring to a boil then add everything else, Bring back to a boil then blend everything together.
Place in a cup or bowl, “lace” crema over soup and finish with a shake of dried and ground Ancho chili.
Another highlight from our trip to Belgium was our stop at De Dolle Brouwers. I’ve been a fan of Kris Herteleer’s beer since I first started homebrewing and although this was my second time visiting, it was my first time touring their brewhouse. The tours are given by Kriis’ ninety year old mother who is sharp as a tack.
The building had been a brewery for 150 years when Kris started De Dolle Brouwers in the 1980s with his brother. The brewery is as traditional as it gets with a copper coolship and fermentation squares. The only stainless steel in the brewery is the wort chiller only because the original one had a leak and could not be repaired.
During the tour we met some other Americans and it wasn’t until later that I found out it was the crew from Hill Farmstead Brewery in Vermont. After the main tour Kris showed all of us the barrel cellar where we got a chance to sample some barrels. We also got to see the modern bottling line that had just packaged the most recent batch of Stille Nacht. Kris pulled some yet-to-be-carbonated bottles and some older vintages of Stille Nacht for us to sample and compare.
This is my version of Carbonade Flamande. It’s kind of an amalgamation of various recipes I’ve tried over the years. Traditionally, this beef stew contains just beef but feel free to add vegetables such as carrots and potatoes if you wish. This would pair nicely with De Dolles Brouwers’ Oerbier.
3lb. beef chuck cut into cubes and floured
500ml dark Belgian ale (Belgian Dubbel works great)
2 slices bacon, chopped
2 Tbs. peanut oil
1 onion, chopped
2 garlic cloves, minced
2 C. chicken stock
2 Tbs. tomato paste
4 oz. pitted prunes, chopped
1 Tbs. Dijon mustard
1 Tbs. brown sugar
½ C. applesauce
1 bay leaf
1 tsp. thyme
Marinade beef in beer overnight in the refrigerator. Strain beef reserving marinade. Place marinade in slow cooker. Pat beef dry and flour. Fry bacon in a large skillet. When done, strain from fat and place in slow cooker. Add peanut oil to skillet. Add beef and fry until browned. Remove meat from skillet and place in slow cooker. Add onions and garlic to skillet (add more peanut oil if needed) and sweat until translucent. Add to slow cooker. Add the remaining ingredients to slow cooker. Heat on high for an hour then turn to low and cook for 3 hours. Salt and pepper to taste.
After a whirlwind GABF week and the following two weeks trying to catch up, my wife Carolee and I could finally start thinking about our vacation in Belgium. We landed in Brussels, jumped in our GPS-equipped Peugeot, and headed straight to the southwest edge of Belgium and the town of Pipaix. Our destination was Brasserie a Vapeur where, on the last Saturday of every month, they hold a public brew day.
Originally known as Brasserie Cuvelier, the brewery has been producing its flagship Saison Pipaix on the same site since 1785 and is the last steam powered brewery in the world. In 1984 when it looked like the brewery would close for good, a schoolteacher by the name of Jean-Louis Dits stepped in to save it.
The brewday started at 9am as crushed malt fell from the hundred year old Meura mill on the second floor and was hydrated before it hit the iron mash tun. The crowd watched as the steam engine chugged along, driving an axle via pulleys that in turn drove the mash paddles to mix the mash. The mash was very thick at the initial rest of 113⁰F and additions of hot liquor raised the mash temperature through various steps before finally reaching 165⁰F.
When the mash reached its final temperature rest and was readied for vorlauf, the crowd was ushered across the street to dine on homemade soup and rolls, 40 different local cheeses, smoked salmon, Ardennes ham, and of course, beer. It’s at this point most people lost their interest in brewing, but not Carolee and I. We repeatedly made our way across the street to monitor the progress of the runoff and observe the boil. I even got to lend a hand with graining out. By the time the boil was over in the evening the wort finally received its first touch of stainless steel by way of the new counter-flow wort chiller and cylindroconical fermenters.
At the end of the evening, we sat down with Jean-Louis to talk shop and sample some beers from the cellar. The conversation turned to perception of flavor and variables that affect how a beer tastes. Jean-Louis claimed that the vessel used to drink out actually affects the flavor of the beer. To prove his point, he produced mugs made from glass, new pewter, old pewter, and ceramic to sample the same beer. To our astonishment he was right, there is a difference!
Jean-Louis was a wonderful host. If you are planning on visiting Belgium and touring breweries you must make a point of visiting, it is like stepping back in time.
Here is a recipe for Belgian Waffles. I’m trying to replicate the waffle we had in Poperinge with limited success but this recipe is pretty close.
Belgian Yeasted Waffles
3/4 stick butter
2 C. milk
2 t. dry yeast
1 T. sugar
½ t. salt
2 C. flour
3 eggs, separated
1 t. vanilla extract
Melt butter in small pot on low. When melted, add milk and heat to lukewarm. Add yeast, sugar, salt, and flour and combine. Let sit for 1-2 hours for yeast to rise. Separate eggs. Add egg yolks and vanilla extract to batter and combine. Beat egg whites to soft peaks and fold into batter. Cook in waffle iron.
People travel from all around to visit Fort Collins and check out all the wonderful breweries that the city has to offer. As an employee of Funkwerks who works in the taproom I get the benefit of encountering people from all around. Nothing is better then chatting with individuals that go out of their way to check out what Funkwerks has to offer, especially when they are visitng from other breweries. So as soon as I had the chance, I made time to do the same thing- Nicole (who also works at Funkwerks) and I took four days off together to travel through beautiful Colorado and cram in as many brewery visits and activities as possible.
We drove from Fort Collins to Palisade where we stayed the first night. Palisade was great to us. Not only do they have multiple wineries and a meadery that we had the luxury to walk to from our carefully planned hotel, but we also hit up the wonderful Peach Street Distillery and Palisade Brewery that are right next to each other. How convenient. The people working were informative and helpful and gave us advice on the must-sees of Palisade as well as Grand Junction.
The next morning, as early as we could possibly get out of bed, we hit the road because we knew we had a lot of stops before we hit our final destination of Durango. The next stop was Grand Junction and since we were on a time crunch we only stopped at Kannah Creek Brewing Company, and I'm glad we did. The service was great, the food was fabulous, and the beer was delicious. They even let us peek in the back and check out their brewery set up too.
Jumping back on the road we drove through Montrose, where we stopped at Horsefly Brewing Company before taking off to Ouray as our next stop. Ouray is where Colorado drastically changes from Fort Collins. The landscape was something pictures just cannot justify. The Ouray Brewery was fun and laid back and had swings that we sat on right at the bar. We heard all about the Million Dollar Highway and how beautiful and scary the drive could be. So what else could we do but hit the road and check it out. I drove, and admittedly I am scared of heights, so I took my sweet time as I clenched the steering wheel through most of it. The day was beautiful and the hour drive to Silverton flew by. We stopped at the Silverton Brewing Company where we met some nice people and checked out the cute shops.
After budgeting our time we realized that we needed to get to Durango so we could settle in for the night. I have heard nothing but wonderful things from people about Durango and I could not have agreed more. We spent the next two days eating great food, drinking awesome beer and soaking up the wonderful weather. We ate breakfast at Carver Brewing Co, dinner at Steamworks and enjoyed beers at Durango Brewery and Ska Brewery. We could not have planned it any better.
After all that fun we headed back on our eight-hour drive to Fort Collins. We had to squeeze one more place in so we stopped to have lunch at Rockslide Brewery in Grand Junction. It was sad to have to end the trip, but the Front Range is a pretty good deal too.
The conclusion of my travels was not only that Colorado is a beautiful state, but the camaraderie that the other breweries showed us was so awesome that it made me respect and like this industry even more. I recommend everyone who loves beer and chatting it up with great people take some time to take advantage of this great state and all it has to offer. Thank you to all the wonderful breweries that showed us a good time on our mini vacation.
Cheers Colorado! And thank you for making great beer! ~Laura