Berbere-Harissa Turkey Joes with Harissa Aioli

At around 11:30 this morning, I had a student approach me to beg for an extension on an already-late assignment. I was eating my hastily-assembled lunch at the time, and as he came up to my desk he had the privilege to watch me unceremoniously slurp dressing-soaked spinach from the open end of a piece of foil.

I know… it’s ok to be jealous.

When he saw the foil, I saw a flicker of enthusiastic recognition cross his face, and before he could investigate further he exclaimed “Aw damn yo…” (not the most articulate of young men, I’ll admit) “… you got yourself some Chipotle?!?”

I took the opportunity to exercise my new favorite game with students: self awareness time. I simply wait a few seconds longer than normal before responding to them. It’s awkward (which I love) and it allows a few extra seconds of – and what I assume for teenagers is a virtual eternity of – time for them to actually register what they’ve said. My theory is that they rarely ever have to listen to, much less have accountability for, the stupid shit that they say on a regular basis. It’s wonderfully awkward, and I love it.

After a beat I responded in the negative, and that it was homemade, and his look instantly shifted from one of enthusiasm to absolute revulsion.

To be clear, the foil was rolled around a tortilla containing the aforementioned spinach, homemade ginger dressing, cherry tomatoes, and thin slices of flank steak marinated in a Chinese Five-Spice concoction that I pulled from the pages of my World Spice cookbook. It was delicious. Actually, it IS delicious… there’s still some in the fridge.

But that’s not how it appeared to my student. Not at all. It appeared to him as multi-colored mishmash of odd-smelling ingredients, all stuffed deceptively into a burrito wrapper.

He was disappointed, to say the least.

I didn’t pursue the matter with him, but after we settled on a half-day extension for his late work (I fully admit that I’m a softie for students in need) I did ask him whether or not he liked trying new foods.

He just shook his head, and mumbled “Naw… I like Chipotle burritos with chicken” as he wandered away.

I try to refrain from passing judgement on students like this young man, who may or may not have the means, the parental involvement, or the overall enthusiasm for food and cooking. But I want to be able to take them aside, and encourage them to sample new things, expand their horizons, or even just order a different sort of meat in their Chipotle burrito. I want to teach them to appreciate the flavors and techniques of various culinary traditions, just as I attempt to encourage their appreciation of great literature.

Light bulb!!!

New curriculum idea: Chewing Your Way Through Literature – A thematically designed course focused on reading and eating.

I wonder if the school district will be on board.

In the mean-time, please enjoy the following recipe for turkey Sloppy Joe’s with just a hint of African (berber and harissa) spice. (I know it’s a little misleading that I mentioned my Chinese five-spice flank steak recipe earlier, then hit you with a turkey Joe recipe… but you’ll get over it.)

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Joe Ingredients:

  • 1.25 lbs ground turkey
  • 1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 medium red onion – chopped
  • 2 cloves fresh garlic – minced
  • 1 tsp Berbere spice
  • 1 tsp dried Harissa spice
  • 1 cup water
  • 1 can (6 oz) tomato paste
  • 1 tbsp brown sugar
  • 1 tbsp Worcestershire sauce
  • Salt and pepper
  • Shredded iceberg lettuce for serving
  • Buns for serving

Aioli Ingredients:

  • 1 whole egg
  • 4 cloves of garlic
  • 1 tbsp lemon juice
  • 1/2 cup vegetable oil
  • 1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • Salt and pepper
  • 3 tbsp Harissa paste (note: Harissa spice blend and harissa paste are different things)

Directions:

Make the aioli according to these very simple directions from seriouseats.com.

Brown the turkey in a frying pan over medium heat. Drain the cooked meat and remove it to a bowl.

In the same pan, heat a tablespoon of olive oil over medium heat, and then cook the chopped onion until translucent.

Add the spices and garlic to the onion and mix thoroughly, cooking for 1 to 2 minutes.

Return the cooked turkey to the pan with the onion, and then stir in the water, tomato paste, sugar and Worcestershire sauce.

Mix it all together, and then reduce the heat to low, and simmer the mixture for 10 minutes.

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Season with salt and pepper to taste.

Serve on toasted buns with a handful of shredded lettuce and a smear of the Harissa aioli.

I served these up with sweet potato fries from Trader Joe’s.

Guest Post: “Toil and Trouble” – A Fateful Stew Recipe

Greetings, faithful readers of Love, Food & Beer, and welcome! Brian has been gracious enough to allow me to write a guest post on his blog and share it with all of you!

Please allow me to introduce myself: my name is Violet, and I am pleased to make your acquaintance… assuming, of course, that you’re not a Scottish lord, or a sailor’s wife.

Really? No recognition? Does this picture help?

Cooking up some fun!

Cooking up some fun with the fam!

Because of William Shakespeare – you know, that misogynist hack who allegedly penned some ungodly number of plays and sonnets – I’ve been immortalized as the Second Witch in The “Tragedy” of Macbeth, or as he referred to us, I’m one of “The Weird Sisters”.

Jackass.

First of all: Macbeth? Not a tragedy. Any play where a controlling, self-centered, immoral, a-hole dies at the end seems to me like it should be billed as celebratory, not tragic. Maybe shove it in with the Rom-Com’s. Granted my sisters and I set off that powder keg (that whole “Fate vs. Free Will” thing), but let’s face it… they all deserved it.

That actually brings me to my second point: just because you see three women hanging out together, making stew, and causing general, secondhand mayhem, DOESN’T MEAN THEY’RE SISTERS. I mean, what the hell, Bill? Do you just assume that all people standing in a general vicinity are related? Every time you walk into a bar, do you take a step back and go “Oh most boundless public-house, how art thou so pregnant with numerous kinsmen?”

They’re just friends, moron.

And finally: I’m not THAT weird, am I? Sure, Janet (the third “sister”) isn’t the MOST normal (I never thought that “liver of a blaspheming Jew” was a necessary addition to our stew), and we all know that Agnes (#1) likes supernaturally messing with sailors and their wives, but does that make us weird?

OK – now that I’m rereading this… yes, it sounds weird. But isn’t weirdness a state of mind?

Don’t answer that.

Since you’ve allowed me to finally get all of that off my chest, I’d like to share our famous recipe for “Toil and Trouble.” While the recipe itself has been immortalized in IV:i (that’s act 4, scene 1, dummies) of Macbeth, for some strange reason ol’ Billy Shakes forfeited the nuances and raw natural beauty of our time-tested recipe in favor of his form-fitting rhyming trochaic tetrameter.

LAME.

Let’s set the record straight, beginning with the notion that this recipe is actually somewhat more forgiving than the transcript of the incantation implies. Of course, you’ll still want to be careful to follow the directions; you wouldn’t want a NON-murderous Scottish lord running around. As a general warning, this may get a little weird (like my “sisters” and I, apparently) but it should be a good point of reference for the daring home cook, or just a witch on the go!

Note: You'll have this much fun when you tackle this recipe!

Note: You’ll have this much fun when you tackle this recipe!

We’ll begin with my (annotated) list of ingredients:

  • 1 brindled (striped, for the layperson) cat
  • 1 hedge-pig (hog)
  • 1 Harpier (can be difficult to find)
    • Keep these ALIVE! These first three “ingredients” are needed for their noises only 
  • 4 cups of poisoned entrails – can be whole or chopped (your choice)
    • You can poison your own, but pre-poisoned works perfectly fine
  • 1 Toad that has sweltered venom for 31 day under a cold stone (or rock) – whole or chopped
  • 1 fenny snake (any old swamp snake will do) – filleted
  • 1 eye of newt
  • 1 toe of frog
  • 1 wool of bat – balled (it’s easier to toss into the cauldron)
    • If you can get wool on it’s own, that’s great, otherwise remove it from the skin yourself
  • 1 tongue of dog – whole
    • MUST be from a poodle
  • 1 adder’s fork (tongue) – whole
  • 1 stinger (tongue) of a blind-worm – whole
    • I know, it feels like overkill on the lizard tongues, just bear with me
  • 1 lizard’s leg
  • 1 howlet’s (small owl’s) wing
    • Can actually be a baby owl or just a small older owl – doesn’t really matter as it’s only for texture
  • 1 scale of a dragon
    • You’ll obviously want to add more, but don’t, you’ll regret it… and not in a fun way
  • 1 wolf tooth
  • 1 pound of mummified Witch
    • Like the poisoned entrails, you CAN make your own, but I recommend buying 
  • 1 maw and gulf of ravined salt-sea shark – cleaned, but left whole
    • Basically the mouth and throat. You can include the stomach, but not the contents, that’s disgusting
  • 1 root (between 1-2 cups) of hemlock – dug in the dark, bark removed, grated fine
  • 1 liver of a blaspheming Jew – minced
    • Thanks Janet, you realize this makes us look antisemitic, right?
  • Either 1 gallbladder of a goat, or 1 pint of goat gall (bile) – your call on that one
  • 3 slips of yew – slivered during the moon’s eclipse
    • Yes, it connotes sadness, but we are trying to brew up toil and trouble, after all
  • 1 nose of a Turkish man or woman
  • 1 pair of lips of a Tartar
    • Fun fact: there are around 6 million Tatars living in and around the Volga Region!
  • 1 finger from a baby strangled at or just after birth and left in a ditch by a whore
    • Yeah, this one’s dark. Let’s blame Janet again for the last three ingredients. 
  • 1 complete set of tiger entrails – diced
    • This is a thickening agent – fresh will work, but I find dried tends to soak up the excess moisture more effectively
  • 2 gallons of baboon’s blood – for cooling purposes
  • 2 cups of blood of a sow that has eaten her nine farrow
    • It’s easier than you think to find a sow that’s eaten her nine piglets
  • The liquefied fat of a hanged murderer – you only need, like, 2 tablespoons
    • It takes about a week or so for a body in the sun to sweat it’s own fat out – just be patient
  • A cauldron – half full of water
  • Salt and pepper
  • Parsley (or cilantro if that’s more your style) – for garnish

OK – I know the list LOOKS daunting, and – if I’m being honest – pretty disgusting, but I know for a fact you can find most of this stuff at WholeFoods. Just ask the attendant, he’ll be happy to fetch you some tiger’s entrails out of the back room.

Granted, it's complicated, but you can get more animated than this when you're making your own!

Granted, it’s complicated, but you can get more animated than this when you’re making your own!

Oh, and PLEASE make sure to gather, clean and prep all of the ingredients ahead of time. You don’t want to hit a wall, and overcook the goat bile while you’re waiting for an eclipse so you can sliver off some yew. I mean, that’s just embarrassing.

And now for our step-by-step directions:

First, light a fire, if for no other reason than to keep warm. I say this because as tempting as it may be to go about willy-nilly cooking up some “Toil and Trouble”, you have to have a target, and the recipe need to be well-timed. As you know, we famously used this delicious concoction on King Macbeth, and we had ample warning that he would be seeking our assistance (after all, he took our whole “you’ll totally be king of Scotland” advice to heart almost immediately).

Once the ingredients are cleaned and prepared, place your half-full cauldron atop your fire. I know you’ll want to dive right in, but you need to wait for the brindled cat to mew three time, the hedge-pig to whine four times, and the Harpier to yell “‘Tis time, ’tis time!” As a warning, some Harpier’s like to yell “Wind chime, wind chime!” Which SOUNDS similar if you’re not listening closely. Just pay attention: you’ll get there.

Once the cat, hedgehog and harpy have sounded the proverbial alarm, you usually have between 1-2 hours to get all the way up to the baboon’s blood, so you’ll be happy that your water is already coming to a boil.

Oh – side note: It’s not absolutely necessary to be chanting and dancing around like our characters are in the play. Sure, you can do it if you like (and it’s a decent way to remember the recipe if you forget to print it out) but really it’s a simple Shakespearean device used to set our lines apart from those of the other characters in an attempt to emphasize our role in the story and make our lines memorable to the dummies milling about in the audience. I mean, I STILL have “double, double toil and trouble; fire burn, and cauldron bubble” stuck in my head… and I saw the play at a special *ahem* invitation-only showing in 1612. No big deal.

Once it reaches that nice rolling boil (you can salt it if you like) add the poisoned entrails, the toad and the fenny snake fillet and allow them to cook down for 10-12 minutes, stirring frequently. You’ll smell that wonderfully acrid stench as the poison (from the entrails AND the frog) begin to effervesce. It’s magical. Seriously.

The next seven ingredients (eye, toe, wool, tongue, fork, sting, leg) can really go in at any time during the next ten minutes or so of cooking, but all MUST be thoroughly combined in the cauldron before the howlet’s wing is added. You’ll see why. Hint: take a step back; it starts flapping.

After that, everything up to the tiger entrails (scale, tooth, mummified flesh, shark guts, root, liver, gall, yew, nose, lips, and baby finger)  can go into the pot at basically any time.

I know what you’re thinking: “but won’t that be really watery?” Yes, adventurous home cook, it will be. It’ll look like a depressing low-viscosity bile with random things floating in it, and that is appealing to NO ONE.

But I’ll let you in on our little secret. Two words: Immersion Blender. That’s right, if you have one of these wonderful little machines, go ahead and blend it all together. It won’t affect the flavor OR the supernatural outcome, I promise.

If you don’t have an immersion blender – ummm, go buy one, like, NOW! – you can let everything cook down on it’s own before adding the tiger entrails. It’s fine, it will just take a while.

Add the tiger guts SLOWLY, one chunk at a time, stirring constantly. This part’s a little tedious, but TOTALLY WORTH IT when you finally see how thick and slab it makes the gruel.

Let it cook for another few minutes after everything is incorporated, and then cool it the baboon’s blood. As we all know, aside from being an effective ingredient for cooling magical stew, blood of baboon is also a wonderful, albeit powerful, thickening agent. Add it slowly and carefully, until the whole mixture can be deemed firm and good.

At this point you have to wait for the target of your charm to not only show up, but also to beg of you speak. Be sure not to talk first, it’s just not how this stuff works. The timing here is variable, and there’s no hedge-pig to give you a “heads-up” as to when to begin, so be patient. Bring a book.

Once they start begging and groveling, add the activation ingredients in quick succession. The sow blood obviously goes in first, followed rapidly by the sweated fat of a hanged murderer. Stir if you choose, but the desired effect will be achieved either way. As a friendly warning, apparitions may appear at this point, or anytime hereafter.

Congratulations, you’ve doubled your target’s toil and trouble! You can now sit back and enjoy the ensuing chaos!

Keep in mind that I’m a bit of a purist when it comes to my original witchcraft recipes, but please let me know if you make any substitutions or find any satisfying work-arounds; I’m always open to fresh new ways to influence fate!

PS – Brian asked me to include a beer pairing. I know you think I’d lean towards a Scotch Ale, but I would actually recommend something full-flavored but sessionable, like Stone Go-To IPA. That way you can observe the downfall of – say – a Scottish lord, without losing your focus or having to take a nap before their ultimate downfall at the hand of their subordinates.

Cheers!

 

Simple Spice-rub Salmon Tacos with Grilled Corn Slaw

As a home cook, I not only enjoy trying new recipes, and experimenting with new types of food, I also enjoy refining old favorites. The following is a new twist on one of our household mainstays: the salmon taco. You’ll notice that many of our favorite flavors are at play here – chipotle, cilantro, and cumin, etc. – but I’ve changed around a few things as well. I’ve made some additions to my favorite salsa slaw recipe, and refined my salmon rub as well. I’ve made different versions of this recipe in the past (1) (2) (3) but I think this one is a new favorite!

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Salmon Rub:

  • 1 lb Salmon fillet
  • 1/3 cup brown sugar
  • 1 tsp chili powder
  • 1 tsp cumin
  • 1 tsp black pepper
  • 1 tsp smoked paprika
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp ground coriander
  • 1/2 tsp garlic
  • 1/2 tsp kosher salt

Slaw:

  • kernels of two grilled corn cobs
  • 2 cups shredded cabbage
  • 1/2 cup chopped cilantro
  • 1/4 cup fresh salsa
  • 1/4 cup sour cream or plain greek yogurt
  • 1/2 tbsp agave syrup
  • 1 chipotle pepper in adobo, minced
  • salt and pepper

Other Ingredients:

  • Guacamole
  • Tortillas
  • Lime wedges

Directions:

Preheat the grill over high heat. Place the shucked corn cobs on the grill, drizzle with a little oil (watch for flame-ups), season with a pinch of salt and pepper, and grill the corn over high heat for 5-8 minutes (turing frequently) to give the kernels a nice sear. Remove the corn from the heat once the kernels are cooked through and have a little char to them.

In a small bowl, mix the sugar and spices together for the rub.

Apply the spice rub to the flesh side of the fillet. (You may have to remove some bones first. If so, make sure to do so gently, with small pliers, without tearing the meat apart.)

Once the grill is hot, place the fillet on the grates flesh side down. Sear the salmon for 2-3 minutes over high heat. The sugar will caramelize, coating the fish in a shell of sweet and spicy flavor.

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Flip the fish onto the skin side, reduce the heat to medium-high, and continue to cook until it reached your desired level of done-ness. For me, it takes about another 5 minutes.

With a large kitchen knife, cut the kernels off the cobs, and put them in a mixing bowl with the other slaw ingredients. Toss the ingredients together, and season with salt and pepper to taste.

Assemble the tacos on tortillas of your choice with a layer of guac, a layer of flaked fish, a large spoonful of slaw, and a squeeze of lime.

Enjoy!

Turkey Sliders with Grilled Bacon and Apple Slaw

This little beauty of a recipe came to me out of thin air. Fine, maybe not out of thin air, but certainly out of some kind of air. Come to think of it, what’s thick air? Humid air? Dirty air? Rain? I feel like it would be easier and/or more likely to pull things out of any of those. Maybe that’s where the saying came from… or maybe it came out of thin air.

This is going nowhere. Moving on.

This recipe is based on my simple and delicious turkey burger recipe that’s become one of my standard dinners. As I was searching for burger buns I came across a package of King’s Hawaiian rolls – you know, in the orange bag? – which inspired me to make sliders. I decided to stick with turkey (to maintain the perception of healthiness) and make some sort of slaw to complement the protein. I figured if I added a dash of spice to my original recipe I could create something salty and sweet to go with it. As an apple and a few other ingredients found their way into my cart, I remembered that my friend had just given me a package of his homemade bacon, which I knew I could weave into my creation.

I got home and got to work.

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Burger Ingredients:

  • 16 oz ground turkey (lean)
  • 1 egg
  • 1/2 cup finely shredded pepperjack cheese
  • 1/3 cup breadcrumbs
  • 2 tsp dijon mustard
  • 1 tsp chipotle tabasco sauce
  • 3 cloves garlic – minced
  • 1 small shallot – finely diced
  • 3 green onions – finely diced
  • salt and pepper

Slaw Ingredients:

  • 1 large fuji apple – julienned
  • 2 medium carrots – julienned
  • 3/4 cup green cabbage – julienned
  • 1/2 lb bacon – grilled and finely chopped
  • 2 tbsp honey
  • 2 tbsp apple cider vinegar
  • salt and pepper

Other Stuff:

  • King’s Hawaiian Rolls
  • Sweet Baby Rays
  • 1/2 cup shredded cheese (to make cheeseburgers)
  • Any other damn thing you want to put on the burgers

To prepare the Burgers, simply prepare and mix all of the ingredients together in a large bowl. If you’re thinking about subbing out the cheese, I would caution you that the richness, saltiness and moisture of the pepper-jack is important to the creation of moist sliders, especially given the use of lean turkey for the protein. Turkey dries out very quickly, so make sure you add something (such as, half a cup of pepperjack cheese) to ensure that your burgers turn out nice and juicy.

Form the mixture into eight to ten slider-sized patties (2-3 inches wide, 1/4 inch thick) and preheat the grill over medium-high heat.

To make the slaw julienne (I use this mandolin, it’s affordable and very easy to use) the apple, carrots and cabbage, and mix them with the other ingredients. It’s that simple.

These burgers are THIN, so pay attention when you cook them. Place the patties on the preheated grill, and close the lid, cooking for an initial 3-4 minutes. Flip the patties, apply cheese, and cook for an additional 3-4 minutes. That’s it. There’s no second flip, and certainly no extensive cooking times. If you’re worried about the turkey being cooked, slice one of them open after resting them for a few minutes.

See? They’re done. Huh. Should have trusted me.

Give the rolls a quick toasting (you’ll probably have to halve them first) and assemble the burgers by placing the cooked patties on the grilled buns and topping them with a spoonful of the mixed slaw (and perhaps a dollop of BBQ sauce).

Serve with beer, and enjoy!

 

Brian’s Brew Review: Stone Saison

Holy crap folks, the always epic Stone Brewing Company knocked it out of the park with this easy drinking bad boy. Stone Saison is a modern reinvention of a Belgian classic.

Brewed it it’s original form to slake the thirst of hard-working Belgian farmhands, the saison is meant to be flavorful and refreshing without being heavy. The literal definition of a farmhouse ale, the saison (or “season” in French) used to be brewed during the fall and winter and saved for consumption during the hot summer months. The ale was known to be spicy and flavorful as a result of the infusion of hops, fruits and other spices, though flavors (like recipes) varied widely from farm to farm. By some accounts, farm hands were allotted up to five liters of the brew per day, and while that sounds like an excessive amount (five liters is roughly equal to just over ten pints) most traditional saisons clocked in at roughly 3% ABV.

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Thankfully, Stone has opted for a more modern approach. Given that their intention is not to motivate 18th century field laborers, but to provide delicious beverages to thirsty millennials, their Saison registers a healthy – but nearly sessionable – 6% ABV.

The brew pours a hazy light golden color and is capped by a thin, milky-white head. The nose is simple at first; an initial sniff yields just a hint of classic Belgian notes, but a deep, robust inhale reveals notes of apple, citrus and spice.

These hints of flavor are immediately amplified with the first sip. Though I expected the traditional heavy breadiness of a Belgian, the initial flavor is surprisingly subtle. The flavor of bread is certainly present, but it’s balanced by a creamy malt characteristic reminiscent of a classic pilsner, all of which yields to a delectable combination of citrus and floral flavors as the beer washes across the palate. The finish is decidedly Belgian, though a resurgence of breadiness once again gives way to a hint of spice and the subtle sweetness of honey.

Stone Saison is an interesting and wonderfully drinkable brew designed for the back porch, but strong and flavorful enough to be consumed all year long. Pick one up today, you won’t be disappointed!

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Check me out on Untappd for more of what I’m drinking!

 

Simple Smoked Salmon Spread

It’s a Northwest heatwave folks! Peel off your shirts (leave the jeans on though, please), take the socks out of your sandals, and buy Lowes out of their stock of portable air conditioners. That’s right, it’s finally hit the mid 80’s here in the Seattle area.

Now, you might say, “The mid 80’s? That’s not hot!” 

Well, you’d be absolutely right… but it IS the state of our present weather pattern, and as you may know those granola-crunchers down on First and Pike need something to passively complain about.

So if you find yourself taking a break from forming a chain of kayaks in an effort to stop an oil rig from leaving the port of Seattle, you may want to whip up a batch of this simple smoked salmon spread, which is perfect as a savory appetizer, or a simple, delicious dinner on a hot day.

PS – A word to granola-crunchers: this has fish and dairy products in it, it is not granola.

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Ingredients:

  • 6-8 oz. smoked salmon (preferably pre-spiced)
  • 1/2 cup lite sour cream
  • 1/2 cup reduced fat whipped cream cheese
  • 3 green onions, diced (separated)
  • 1 small shallot, diced
  • Salt and pepper
  • Baguette for serving

Place the smoked salmon in the bottom of a large bowl, and gently flake the fillet into small pieces using a fork. Prepare and add the sour cream, whipped cream cheese, two of the onions and the shallot. Fold the ingredients together in the bowl until they’re thoroughly combined. Add salt and pepper to taste.

I find that this recipe is better if you let it sit for a few hours before serving, which allows the flavors to blend together, and the sharpness of the onion and shallot to mellow.

Serve the spread on sliced rounds of the baguette (toasted or grilled if you wish) with the remaining onion sprinkled on top for garnish.

Serve and enjoy!

Brian’s Brew Review: Beer Camp There and Back (English Bitter)

I bought two 12-packs of Sierra Nevada’s collaborative brewing endeavor, Beer Camp Across America, when I first saw them in stores during the summer of 2014. I purchased them in late August, brought them home and happily stored them on my brewing station… and then subsequently forgot all about them. The school year began, and with it came a whole host of other considerations – new students, an altered schedule, a brand new class, and working with a full-time student teacher – all of which took precedence over my methodical beer sampling. I knew that I would need to spend some time with these brews; to savor what was sure to be the only examples of these limited collaborations that my taste buds would ever be privy to. So I let them sit… until a few weeks ago, when I noticed the forlorn boxes sitting in the same place I had set them so many months before, practically begging to be opened. So in honor of the first one of these special brews I am also kicking off my new “Brian’s Brew Review” blog format.

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The first thing you notice when you take a sip of There and Back English-style Bitter is (oddly enough) the bitterness. It’s not a citrusy, hop-forward character, like that of your generally-floral American IPA, but a smooth bitterness characteristic of the style. While that first impression lingers on the tongue and slowly coats the roof of your mouth, you begin to notice the easy-drinking medium bodied feel of the beer. This gives way to a subtle breadiness, and then a lingering bitter aftertaste. Most notably, both the aroma and flavor of the copper-colored brew have a subtle note of caramel that’s oddly comforting. It begs to be consumed.

Sip, savor, repeat.

There and Back is the collaborative endeavor of Sierra Nevada Brewing Co. and New Glarus Brewing Co. Pick one up… if you can still find them!

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Check me out on Untappd to see what I’ve been into lately!