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Chocolate Porter Berry Cobbler


¾ cup flour
¼ cup quick oats
¼ cup white sugar
¼ cup brown sugar
¼ tsp salt
½ cup chilled butter
3 cups berries* (thawed if frozen)
7 wt oz dark chocolate (about 1 ¼ cups)
¾ cup porter or stout (I used Stone Smoked Porter with Vanilla Bean)

Add the flour, oats, both sugars, and salt to a food processor, pulse to combine.
Add the butter, process until combined.
Place in the freezer until the filling is ready.
In a double boiler over medium heat, add the chocolate and the beer, stir until melted, remove from heat.
Stir in the berries.
Place 4 oven safe bowls (8 to 10 fl oz size) on a baking sheet.
Add the filling to the bowls, about 2/3 full.
Add the topping until level with the top of the bowl.
Bake at 350 until golden brown, about 45-50 minutes.

I used a combination of strawberries, raspberries and blackberries. Because overly ripe berries are so hard to ship, most pickers choose those to freeze, making frozen berries of a very high quality. Don’t be afraid to use frozen berries when baking, they are often the best choice and most often frozen in season rather then grown in greenhouses out of season like some berries often are in the winter.

Brews That Bring The Heat

Chili-infused beers have been around for a while, but a truly spicy beer is still something that can turn heads. And sometimes a few stomachs. An experienced beer drinker won’t bat an eye at the occasional addition of ancho or chipotle, these flavors are often paired with mellowing chocolate or caramel notes. As in Theobroma, a 9% ABV, Aztec-inspired ale by Dogfish Head, where chilies are brewed with honey, annatto seeds, and Aztec cocoa nibs. Or the similarly themed Cocoa Molé (9% ABV), a new addition to New Belgium’s Lips of Faith series. The idea behind both of these brews is to lightly pepper the beer in order to accent the strong chocolate notes that might otherwise be overpoweringly sweet. But what happens when brewers start giving chilies the main stage? Rogue started with their Chipotle Ale (5.5% ABV), a version of their amber ale spiced with roasted chipotle peppers, but some brewers are learning that variety really is the spice of life.


Ghost Face Killah

Twisted Pines set out to make the “hottest beer in the world” with the infamous Ghost pepper at the forefront. Taking the name of one of the Wu Tang Clan rappers (initially without permission, but it turns out people like having beer named after them), Ghost Face Killah is a 5% ABV golden wheat that makes no attempt to offset the scorching concoction of Serrano, Habanero, Jalapeno, Anaheim, Fresno, and dried and smoked Ghost Peppers. Heat is really the name of the game here, so the weaker of heart, or esophagus, may want to venture just a sip or two for posterity, and then use the rest as a pre-infused marinade.


Crime and Punishment

Also never one to go easy on their fans, Stone Brewing Company pulls no punches with their recent release of the aptly named duo Crime and Punishment. Stone has dabbled in chili beer before, producing a chipotle-infused version of their Smoked Porter (5.9% ABV). That, however, pales in comparison to these two behemoths. Part of their Quingenti Millitre series, which has historically never been available outside of the Stone brewpub, Stone took two of their already formidable brews, Double Bastard (an imperial version of their infamous Arrogant Bastard ale) and Lukcy Basartd (an intentionally misspelled blend of Arrogant Bastard, Oak-Aged Arrogant Bastard, and Double Bastard) and brewed them with a fiery mélange of sixteen different peppers including, Fatali, Black Naga and Ghost, then aged the spicy brew in American Oak, Kentucky Bourbon barrels. The result: two powerhouse brews that demand an iron will and tendency toward the masochistic. Crime (9.6% ABV) which uses Lukcy Basartd as its base, wastes no time, bringing the heat right on the nose, along with milder fruit notes, before hoppy and wood flavors from the Oaked Arrogant Bastard start to come through on the mid-palate, then it burns all the way down. Punishment (12% ABV) builds off Double Bastard’s bitter profile, with the sweetness of the bourbon-barrel aging really shining against the gradually intensifying heat that starts subtle then rages to a gasping finish. The aroma on Punishment also defies description, but you’ll have plenty of time to enjoy it, as the beer demands the same reverence and deliberate sipping as the spirits it was aged with.

Chicken Thighs with Rosemary Tomato Beer Sauce

2 tbs olive oil
4 chicken thighs, bone in and skin on
1 tsp salt
1 tsp pepper
1 tsp garlic powder
1 cup chopped red onions (about ½ a large onion)
3 garlic cloves, minced
1/2 cup wheat beer
1 (14.5 wt oz) can diced tomato
1 tbs minced fresh rosemary
½ tsp smoked paprika
½ tsp cumin
salt and pepper to taste
Chopped parsley or chives for garnish (optional)


Preheat oven to 400.
In a cast iron skillet over medium high heat, add the olive oil until hot but not smoking. Sprinkle the skin of the chicken thighs with salt, pepper and garlic powder. Place in a skillet, skin side down until skin has browned and fat has rendered, about ten minutes. Turn over and cook until the bottom has browned. Line a baking sheet with aluminum foil. Transfer chicken to baking sheet, place in oven until sauce is ready, about 10 minutes. Add the onions to the skillet and cook until browned, about 3 minutes. Add the garlic and cook for about 30 seconds. Add the beer, scraping to deglaze the pan. Cook until slightly reduced about 2 minutes. Add the tomatoes, rosemary, paprika, cumin, salt and pepper. Cook, stirring occasionally, until slightly reduced, about 5 minutes. Add the chicken thighs back into the skillet, simmering until chicken is cooked to an internal temperature of 165 degrees. Sprinkle with parsley or chives before serving, if desired.


Serve over rice, mashed potatoes or pasta

Glassware 101: The Weizen Glass

Also known as a “fancy beer glass” the Weizen (German for “wheat”) is the curvier sister-in-law of the Pokal. Tall, with a wide mouth and a pronounced curve to the base, the Weizen glass is perfect for any German wheat beer. That curvaceous body is more than just eye candy though; light, dark or bock, the long body showcases the cloudy color of the beer, and the steady curve keeps the fluffy head a constant. The wide mouth works hard to release those heady volatiles and banana notes, and the narrowing at the base keeps the unfiltered wheat sediment trapped at the bottom of the glass, rather than stuck in rayour ‘stache.

The Weizen glass is a good date for any Hefe or Dunkelweizen, or their American counterparts.

Glassware 101: The Mug

If you just want beer, and lots of it, then you’re probably already familiar with the mug. Lots of room, and a strong, sturdy handle, mugs can be as small as 10 oz., but most are between a pint and 1.5 liters. The Seidel is a traditional German mug made strong to survive spirited clinking, slamming, or drunken falls, and with plenty of volume to make up for the inevitable party fouls.

The Stein is steeped in a little more culture. German for “Stone,” the Stein was typically made of stoneware, with a wide base for stability, and a slight curve in the top to form a perfect head, without spilling over. And if spilling is a big concern, most have metal lids on a hinge. This is a throwback to the time of the Black Plague, where they were crucial to keeping disease-ridden flies from ruining your favorite Bavarian brew, but they’re still there today for a pleasant conversation piece.


Glassware 101: The Pilsner

Also known as a Pokal,this glass is tall and slender, narrow at the bottom and widening into a trumpet shape. It is often stemmed or flared at the base for balance. Named for both the beer and its city of origin (Plzen, in the Czech Republic, and Pilsner being the style of beer that originated from a city-owned brewery), the Pilsner glass is usually made to hold a 12-oz. pour, and its tall body showcases the clear, sharp color of Pilsners and similar beers, while also promoting head retention. For beer, the Pilsner glass is the equivalent to a champagne flute: low volume, showcased color, and promoted carbonation. The action of tipping the tall glass to drink and setting it back down ensures that the beer is rushing down an ever-increasing length, swirling the contents and releasing more CO2.

Naturally, the Pilsner glass is perfect for its eponymous brew, but it also goes well with most Lagers and Bocks.

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