The Biblical Brew Off is Back!

Team Moses and Team Jesus are back and facing off once again to see which congregation’s beer reigns supreme.  But this year they also have to reckon with the women of the newly formed Team Eve. As before, each entry will be blindly evaluated by qualified judges according to BJCP standards. The team with the highest average score will be declared the winner.  There will also be a people’s choice- each person in attendance will get to vote for their one favorite beer.

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But this is not just about bragging rights.  Each team will be competing for a charity.  Representing my parish of St. Tim’s, Team Jesus will be competing for North Light Community Center.  Team Moses from Rodeph Shalom will be competing for HAIS (Hebrew Immigrant Aid Society). And Team Eve, made up of women from both congregations, will be competing for the Philadelphia Interfaith Hospitality Network.  The purse will be split with 50% going to the winner’s charity and 30% to second place and the remaining 20% to third.  That way none of these worthy causes will walk away empty handed.

It all takes place this coming Saturday, May 7th at Rodeph Shalom (615 North Broad Street).  Doors open at 7 pm.  Advance tickets are only $25 and can be purchased here. That gets you unlimited samples of the different beers, BBQ from Deke’s and a commemorative pint glass. We’ll also have custom growlers, t-shirts for each team and amazing baskets filled with beer and other goodies to bid on in a silent auction.

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The only way to win this basket filled with rare beers from Vermont is to come to the Brew Off!

We hope you will join us for what is sure to be memorable evening of friendly competition, food, fellowship and of course beer.  Best of all, every penny we net goes to benefit those who are homeless, hungry and who have had to flee from war and persecution.

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Thanks to Brian Biggs (who draws the logos) and Home Sweet Homebrew for all their support!

It’s Team Jesus vs Team Moses. The Biblical Brew Off is Back!

In what we hope will be bigger and better than ever.  For the second time homebrew teams from Saint Timothy’s Episcopal Church and Congregation Rodeph Shalom will be laying it all on the line to see which faith makes the better beer.  Team Moses will be putting up three of their best in the rematch in hopes taking the title away from Team Jesus in the 2nd Annual Biblical Brew Off.     arm-wrestle

If you’re not familiar with the event from last year, each congregation will brew 3 beers which will then be blindly evaluated by experienced judges according to BJCB standards.  The team with the highest total points from their 3 beers will be declared the winner.  There will also be a people’s choice- each person in attendance will get to vote for their one favorite beer. 140510_biblical brew off_030

But we will not simply be competing for bragging rights.  Every penny above our actual expenses will go to charity.  Team Jesus will be competing for North Light Community Center while Team Moses will be competing for Jews in All Hues. The purse will be split with 2/3rd going to the winner’s charity and 1/3 to the other – that way everyone walks away a winner.  Of course we encourage donations and will give someone from each charity a few minutes to talk about their mission.

This year promises to be bigger and better than ever since it will be part of Philly Beer Week.   Join us on May 30th at 7pm at Rodeph Shalom (615 North Broad Street).  Tickets are only $35 ($40 at the door) and can be purchased here.  That gets you unlimited samples of the different beers, BBQ from Deke’s (a local favorite) and a commemorative pint glass. Best of all its all to benefit local people in need and those who struggle to fit in.

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Big thanks to our judges (Nancy Rigberg, Danya Henniger and George Hummel)  Brian Biggs (who drew the logo), Home Sweet Homebrew, Michael Mafodda of Blue Stone Creative Group who got us the glasses and shirts, Erin Wallace and Barren Hill for donating the People’s Choice prize and to James Zelniak of Punch Media for all of their support!

Nerd Alert!

Once a nerd, always a nerd.  My middle and high school years were spent dressed in fiendcamouflage and memorizing the contents of the Fiend Folio.  I went to Renaissance Faires, in costume, complete with chain mail I made myself.   If that doesn’t make me a nerd, I don’t know what would.

In the decades since much has changed about my life.  My clothes come from Nordstrom Rack as opposed to I. Goldberg. I haven’t played D&D in almost a decade (though I still have my  Fiend Folio) nor can I remember the last time I shouted Huzzah! or walked around Mount Hope with a smoked turkey leg and leather mug.

But the fact is, I’m still a nerd.  I just swapped memorizing facts about fictional monsters for memorizing the ABV and IBU’s of hundreds of different beers.  Instead of reading countless trashy novels of Gor,  I now devour the equally lurid but far longer and better written Game of Thrones.  Once a nerd, always a nerd.

But every once in a while my nerd-i-verses collide.  And so it was that last month I found myself immersed in the great nerd-convergence as fragments of my past mingled with the present.

Like millions of others my wife and I were looking forward to April 12th with great anticipation.  If you need to ask why April 12th was significant then I fear that what I am about to share will just leave you shaking your head.  But please read on nonetheless.

As the date for the premiere of Season Five of Game of Thrones drew closer we started planning how we could celebrate this momentous event in the style it deserved.

DSC_4200And so it was that my many nerdy facets starting coming together.  The fact that I am now a beer nerd came in handy.  I went to the cellar and broke out my collection of all five (to date) GOT themed beers from Ommegang.  My wife did her part by breaking out her GOT cookbook- a Feast of Ice and Fire.  And Ren Faire background kicked in by providing chain mail, a shield and sword to decorate the table.

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The end result was either totally awesome or kind of sad (though how anyone could failDSC_4221 to be impressed by bacon lattice topped beef pie is beyond me).  It all depends on whether or not you are a nerd.  Because no matter how much your tastes may change over the years the fact remains: once a nerd, always a nerd.  And you know what, I’m just fine with that.

 

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Keeping busy with the Beef and Beer

Well I have to confess I have not had time to write a post for this week because my time has been taken up prepping for our parish Beef and Beer which is this Saturday.  Props to Jessica for the cool logo.  BnB_2014

This will be our fourth year with this fundraiser for the parish and we always take the time to brew a few special sixtels for the event.  This year we will be serving a Festbier and a wet-hopped IPA with Cascades and Centennials from my garden.   I wrote about picking them and brewing this particular brew in The Joy of the Harvest post last month.

If you are in Philly on Saturday I hope you can make it.  Advance tickets are $25 and $30 at the door.  All proceeds go to further our mission work in the local community, at our sister mission in Kentucky and around the world.  Hoping to see you.

 

 

Habaneros, Ghosts and Scorpions… Oh My!

I try to know my limits.  How much can I eat without feeling stuffed and immobile?  How much can I drink without getting schnocked and then waking up hung over? I have even allowed such better judgment to govern my hot pepper intake.  It used to be that I looked forward to eating food so hot that the sweat would be dripping off the end of my nose.  Although my mouth can still handle the heat, with each passing year the unfortunate truth is that my gut makes me pay dearly for the pleasure the next day.

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Knowing this I have stayed away from the recent additions to the nuclear arsenal now embraced by extreme fire eaters, namely the Ghost and now the Scorpion peppers. If I have to be judicious with Habaneros (which clock in at 350,000 scovilles) what possible interest could I have in peppers that tip the scales at 1,000,000 and 1,500,000 respectively?

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But on a beautiful September afternoon I threw all that caution to the wind and decided to make a hot pepper mash using all three members of the Holy (Shit That’s Hot) Trinity of hot peppers mentioned above.

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Based on much previous experience the first thing to do was to make sure I could work DSC_3290outside using the side burner of my grill.  I made the mistake of making a mash using only habaneros indoors once.  If you have ever been pepper sprayed then you have an idea of what it was like trying to breathe in my kitchen once those peppers hit the hot oil in the pan.

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DSC_3293With that object lesson firmly in mind I took my garlic, onion, peppers, salt and honey out into the garage.  From there I thought it would be simple.  Cook things down then puree.  I knew I did not want to lean too far over the pan because of the toxic fumes.  Little did I know what I was actually in for.

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After five minutes of cooking I found I was coughing anytime I approached the pan.  Meanwhile, one floor above and inside what I thought was the relative safety of the house my wife had run around and frantically closed all the windows because even the trace amounts that blew in were making her quite unhappy.

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By the time I transferred from pan to food processor my throat was tight and my cheeks were burning as if I had touched them after handling the peppers.  The sweat was dripping from my forehead and nose the way it does after eating a hot vindaloo curry.  If just being around this concoction has this effect I can only imagine what actually ingesting it will do. I tried the tiniest amount on a tortilla chip and it left my tongue happily burning for five minutes.

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DSC_3302Since you may be wondering the same thing let me tell you what I have done with past (albeit it milder) batches.   I tend to use a teaspoon to tablespoon amount of the mash as an ingredient in making the sauce for my Ultimate Wings.  You can also use it to spice up chili or if you are daring use a little as a relish on a cheese steak or other sandwich.  The good news is that you don’t have to use it quickly.  Just store it in some tupperware in your fridge and it will last for a year or more.  I can only assume that it is so toxic that no bacteria can grow in it.

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I look forward to testing my limits and trying my triple threat mash as part of some new daring dish.  I will post an update when I do.  If you make it for yourself  please let us know how you like it!  And whenever you do make sure you have a cold beer (or six) handy to quench the flames.

A Showdown of Biblical Proportions

Let me begin by apologizing for my absence. For parish clergy Holy Week and Easter are kind of like April 15th for accounts.  But I’m back now and really excited to announce our latest efforts to promote a creative connection between beer and spirituality.

As some of you know in the last couple of years I have developed a friendship with Rabbi Eli Freedman from Congregation Rodeph Shalom (a large Reformed synagogue in Philly).  We have worked together on the Rabbi, Priest and Minister Walk into a Bar presentations and  since then have gotten our congregations together to brew and share fellowship.

But now the time has come to throw down the gauntlet and see which congregation arm-wrestlemakes the better beer.  We are excited to announce the Biblical Brew Off.  Each congregation will brew 3 beers which will then be blindly judged by qualified judges according to BJCB standards.  The team with the highest total points from their 3 beers will be declared the winner.  There will also be a people’s choice- each person in attendance will get to vote for their single favorite beer.  That winner will then get to brew with Scott Morrison from Barren Hill Brewery.

But we will not simply be competing for bragging rights.  Each team will be competing for a charity- my parish of St. Tim’s will be competing for North Light Community Center and Rodeph Shalom will be competing for The Food Trust. The purse will be split with 2/3rd going to the winner’s charity and 1/3 to the other one- that way no one walks away with nothing.  We will also encourage donations and give someone from each charity a few minutes to talk about their mission.

It all takes place on May 10th at 6 pm at Rodeph Shalom (615 North Broad Street).  Tickets are only $30 and can be purchased by going to:

rodephshalom.org/men-rs-broad-street-interfaith-brew

That gets you unlimited samples of the different beers, BBQ from Deke’s (a local favorite) and a commemorative pint glass.

Stay tuned for more updates.  If you’re in the area we sure hope you will join us for what is sure to be memorable evening of friendly competition, food, fellowship and of course beer.  Best of all its all to benefit those who are hungry and in need.

Thanks to Brian Biggs (who drew the logo), Home Sweet Homebrew, Blue Stone Creative Group and to James Zeleniak of Punch Media for all of their support!

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Turkey, Pumpkin Pie and Growlers?

Thanksgiving

We love to cook.  Carefully choosing the recipes, going shopping for the right ingredients, prepping, rubbing, marinating, setting the table.  It all comes together when we sit down around the table.  Of course Thanksgiving (especially for 14) requires even more than our usual amount of organization and effort.  But not to worry, we’ve got it in hand.  From the organic turkey that I just started brining to the pies my wife started putting together last night, we have it down to a science.

1298392524-beer_vs_wineBut then it comes time to plan the beverages.  I know that many people prefer wine.  It still has a stranglehold on fancy meals the way beer has a lock on the ballpark.  But I want beer and I want it to truly compliment the meal that we have worked so hard to create.  In fact, I want it to pair so well that it might seduce a few of those wine drinkers away from their Zinfandels and Rieslings.

The problem is there are not obvious pairings for the traditional array of turkey, mashed potatoes, etc.  If you’re having pork or sausage then a good German Helles or Dopplebock turkey1is the way to go.  Brown Ale or Porter with your burger.  A biting IPA or even a Imperial Russian Stout to go with that rich and spicy chili.  But turkey, green beans and sweet potato casserole?  That’s not so obvious.

The best source of advice on pairing food and beer can be had from Garrett Oliver, brewmaster of Brooklyn Brewery and author of the monumental work, The Brewmaster’s Table.  He recommends Bierre De Garde (which like Saisons tend to vary wildly within the limits of the style).  Having tried it myself on several occasions I can agree with himi that it’s a good choice.

growlerPersonally, I am hoping for a growler of Burton (English Style) IPA from the new Barren Hill Brewery to pair with my turkey.  Balanced and understated in terms of hops it should go nicely with the earthy flavors of the meal while biting through the fat of all the butter and gravy.

What about you?  What beer best complimented your Thanksgiving?  Please let us know.  In the meantime, let me wish you and yours a blessed and safe Thanksgiving.