Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Beer of the Week: Fraoch Heather Ale

Fraoch Heather Ale
Beer of the Week 1/22/11 to 1/28/11

This week's Beer of the Week is a bit out of the ordinary. The girl and I went to a traditional Burn's Supper, and while enjoying our haggis, neeps, and tatties (I'm not swearing at you, I promise!), we drank Scottish Williams Brothers Brewing Fraoch Heather Ale.

Heather is one of Scotland's beloved national symbols. It grows wild all over the country, and turns the landscape purple when it flowers in the summer. There are over 5 million acres of it! Rarer white heather is considered lucky, and a sprig of it is often worn for good fortune.

The Williams Brothers website describes their ale and how they infuse it with this flower:
Brewed in Scotland since 2000 B.C. heather ale is probably the oldest style of ale still produced in the world. From an ancient Gaelic recipe for "leann fraoich" (heather ale) it has been revived and reintroduced to the Scottish culture.

Into the boiling bree of malted barley, sweet gale and flowering heather are added, then after cooling slightly the hot ale is poured into a vat of fresh heather flowers where it infuses for an hour before being fermented.

While reading that, you might have thought, "Beer brewed with heather? That could be really floral!". However, this is definitely not the case. You can taste the heather, but it's not overpowering. On the other hand, the beer is not quite as drinkable as others I've recommended here because of its dry finish.

Fraoch is not available in many liquor stores or restaurants, so if you do see it, pick up a bottle and give it a try!

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Graham Cracker Candy

Photo courtesy of the girl

Looking to make your girlfriend smile this Valentine's Day? Skip the boxed chocolates and make her this delicious candy! The girl and I made this for Christmas, but it's perfect for any occasion.

It's a variation on the well-known saltine candy recipe, made instead with graham crackers and almonds. Don't be shy about adding the salt! It may seem like quite a lot initially, but the salty finish really makes the whole thing come together and keeps it from being overly sweet.

Graham Cracker Candy

Adapted by the girl from “Homemade Candy from the food editors of Farm Journal”, and the blog "Not Without Salt"


4.5 graham cracker sheets
1/2 cup slivered almonds, toasted
3/4 cup dark brown sugar
1/2 cup + 2 T butter
Sea salt or any fine finishing salt (we used pink Hawaiian sea salt)
3/4 bag bittersweet or dark chocolate chips


1) Lightly butter a 9 × 9 baking dish, and pre-heat the oven to 325*.

2) Arrange the graham crackers on the bottom of the dish and sprinkle the toasted almonds on top. Put aside.

3) In a medium saucepan, melt the butter. Add the brown sugar and boil for 3 minutes. Then pour this mixture over the crackers and almonds in an even layer. (I recommend drizzling in up and down rows, then using what's left in the saucepan to fill in the gaps.)

4) Sprinkle with a good amount of salt. You want 3 - 4 grains in every square inch. (The salt keeps the candy from being too sweet, as it's the last flavor you taste.)

5) Place the dish in the oven and bake for 10 - 12 minutes, or until the sugar mixture is bubbling all over.

6) Remove from the oven. Once it's stopped bubbling, sprinkle on the chocolate chips and let the residual heat melt them. Use a spatula or knife to smooth the melted chocolate chips so they cover the entire surface.

7) While still warm, score the candy with a sharp knife. (I'd recommend small squares, as the candy is very rich.)

8) Place in the freezer for 10 minutes to set. Remove, and use the sharp knife again to cut along the score marks.

Serve immediately, or keep in an airtight container for up to one week. The candy can also be frozen for up to one month.

Friday, February 4, 2011

Beer of the Week: Maine Beer Company Peeper Ale

Maine Beer Company Peeper Ale
Beer of the Week 1/15/11 to 1/21/11

A few years back, I decided I wanted to try my hand at making beer, to learn the process - so I took up homebrewing as a hobby.

One part of the process is to bottle condition the beer. This means the beer is finished in the bottle, left unfiltered, and carbonated naturally (without being injected with gas). However, it can take quite awhile to get the beer properly carbonated.

I was at the liquor store recently and noticed that Maine Beer Company's Peeper Ale is bottle conditioned. I immediately picked one up as I rarely see this type of beer sold in stores. While the Portland, Maine company is committed to producing good bottle-conditioned beer, they're also committed to using 100% wind energy and donating 1% of their sales to environmental non-profits as stated on their label. This is a beer company I can get behind!

As for the beer itself, the Peeper Ale is of the American Pale Ale style. It pours a golden, almost orange color with a very frothy head that dissipates quite slowly with good lacing on the glass. The smell is very hoppy, which I generally don't like in a beer. However, when you take a sip, the hop flavor is not nearly as strong as that of an Indian Pale Ale. (The Maine Beer Company uses 100% American hops for their beers, although I couldn't find out the exact type.) The hops lend a nice citrus flavor and are also slightly floral. You can taste the malts as well, which give the brew a nice body. Peeper Ale does have a slight bitterness at the end, but it will not keep you from wanting to drink more. The aftertaste stays with you for awhile as well, but it's a pleasant one. This is definitely worth picking up a bottle of if you see it in the store!

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...