Category Archives: Books

Book Review: Punch: The Delights (and Dangers) of the Flowing Bowl

This book has almost nothing to do with beer. However, it has quite a bit to do with booze in general.

If you’re the sort of person that geeks out over food and drink, you’ll probably really enjoy this book. It’s well written, heavily researched, and full of first hand accounts of the sort that generally we’re now reduced to read reading about in 140 characters or less. My favorite is a story of an admiral who made a bowl of punch so large that a ship’s boy rowed around in the middle of it serving the punch to the guests.

The book’s divided into three sections, the first being a general history of the different punches in general and their main ingredients. The second is smaller than the other two, and amounts to an extremely technical discussion of the art of punch making. The third is 30 or so authentic punch recipes, with the original and then the authors best guess on how to approximate it using modern ingredients. It has the distinction of having recipes that include two of the oddest ingredients I’ve ever seen: ambergris and hydrochloric acid.

This book is good, if you happen to be a member of the target audience.If you’re a major food\beverage geek like me, check it out. If you’re a history buff, check it out. If not, well the author is talented but he’s not the Carl Sagan of Punch.



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Oatmeal Stout Panna Cotta

Stolen from The Naked Pint, and delicious sounding.  If you can’t find an oatmeal stout, a chocolate or milk stout would work equally well. You’re going for roasty coffee\coco notes. I’d avoid Irish stouts as they tend to be a bit thin and may even be a little sour. If you can’t find creme fraiche, use sour cream. A metal mixing bowl placed over a pan of boiling water works for a double boiler.

1 1/2 tsp gelatin

2 Tbs cold water

1 1/4 cups Samuel Smith’s Oatmeal Stout

3/4 C whole milk

3/4 C plus 1 C whipping cream

1 vanilla been, cut length wise and with the pulp scraped out or 1-2 Tsp vanilla extract.

2/3 C sugar

2/3 C plus 2 Tablespoons creme fraiche

In a double boiler  mix gelatin and water and set aside.

Over medium heat bring stout to a boil and reduce beer to a 3/4 C.

In a nother pot, combine milk 3/4 C cream, vanilla and sugar, bring to a boil.

Place water and gelatin over boiling water in lower half of double boiler, and stir the gelatin until dissolved. Whisk into cream mixture.

Whisk in stout, and then 2/3 C creme fraiche.

Strain and put in serving bowls, chill for 6 hours.

Whip remaining cream and creme fraiche into soft peaks.

Top panna cotta with whipped cream.


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Book review and appologies

After a month or so vacation, all of which I’m going to blame on the recent birth of my second child (which happened roughly a week ago), I’m back. With a book review.

<i> The Naked Pint </i> may or may not be worth reading. It’s aimed mainly at women folk, which the publisher sort of lets you figure out on your own. I  got the feeling the authors were out to jam in every joke they’ve ever thought of about any given topic they cover. If there’s a sentence without a punchline shoehorned in that book,  It’s hiding somewhere in the copyright information.

That said, they actually do know their stuff beer wise, and most of the jokes are actually amusing. The course they’ve outlined for introducing yourself to different styles does make sense. It starts off with those styles best suited to modern American taste, and works it’s way towards the “serious” styles. Also, if you’re the kind of person that likes to have handy dandy lists of beers around, they’ve got you covered.  They also have some delicious looking recipes in the back that I’ll share at some point.

So all and all, I’d give this book a resounding “it was o.k.” I’m not sure I’ll read it cover to cover again, but I’ll probably check out their recommendations before heading to the local dealer of vice.

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Book Review: The Brewmaster’s Table

A quick note before I get started. My weekly schedule has had a sudden shift, I’m more employed this week than last week. As a result, I’ll now be doing my Monday post on Tuesdays.

So nothing will have changed.


Short review:

Get this book.

Slightly Longer review:

Don’t get this book because then you’ll have no need to read this blog, you’ll know it all already.

This is the best book about food and beer I’ve seen. It’s well written, well researched, and full of beautifully done photographs.

Long review:

The first time I read this book was about 3 or 4 years ago, the second time was about 15 min. after I finished it the first time.  Since then I’ve probably read it six or seven times. It’s that good.

Garrett Oliver lives the life I want.  He’s the head brewmaster for a brewery known for great beer (Brooklyn Brewery), and when not on the job he apparently spends his time eating really good food and writing books about it.

The first section of the book is a rather in-depth look into what makes beer beer. It mainly looks at a general history of beer and the brewing process. Every re-reading has yielded some little factoid for people to pretend to be interested in when I bring it up at a party.  For those keeping count, I’m now up to nine things I know.

After that warm up, Mr. Oliver really shows off his beer lore chops, and goes into a discussion of common styles. He gives the history of each style, a description of the generally agreed upon flavors, aromas, etc. that you can expect when you get that style, and what foods go well with it. This is where the book REALLY shines.  The ideas are so good, and so well described that I’ve actually gotten dehydrated from drooling so much while reading it.

My favorite pairings that I’ve gotten to try so far:

English Barley wine and English Stilton- Actually, if you sat me down and said “Chris what’s your Favorite?” with no further clarification, I would either say “my wife” or “J.W. Lee’s Vintage Harvest Ale” with Stilton, depending on my mood.

Dopplebock with roasted Venison- I eat more deer than any other meat, and my fall back preparation involves a spicy adobe inspired rub. If I didn’t know better, I’d swear that Celebrator was made just to have with roasted white-tail with spicy cocoa rub.

Wit with omelets- Not only does it taste good, but it’s beer with breakfast (or brunch). It’s basically the best part of Mimosas without having to buy crappy champagne (let’s be honest if you’re using good champagne in a Mimosa, you either are: obscenely rich, pretty dumb, or both).

For this week’s recipe, I’m going to keep it simple.

Milk Stout Float

1 scoop of good vanilla icecream.

1 bottle Milk stout (also known as a cream stout or sweet stout)

Put scoop of icecream in mug and pour the beer over.







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