Eat Your Beer
Artisan beers in Burlington, Vermont have become a passion of mine since the day I discovered Switchback beer, created by Burlington Brewmaster, Bill Cherry. I feel that the craft beer industry really took off once Switchback was first sold in bottles in October of 2002. The beer is an unfiltered red amber beer that is created with 5 malts that make the beer well balanced and refreshing. I know that there were two breweries in Burlington prior to that. I worked briefly in the kitchen at Vermont Pub and Brewery in the early 1990’s, while Greg Noonan crafted his various new beers in the pub basement. I was too young, inexperienced, and still in love with tequila to appreciate the wonders of Greg’s infamous beers. As I research the Brewmaster these days, and visit craft breweries in Vermont, I have learned that Greg has inspired so many people in the current microbrew and craft beer industry. I regret not appreciating him more at the time, and with Greg’s passing away from cancer in 2009, I can only appreciate him through the memories of his friends who were inspired by him.
The second brewery is Magic Hat Brewery created in 1994. This brewery has remained true to its original South Burlington business model, in spite of being bought out three times. The brewery is currently owned by Costa Rican company, Florida Ice and Farm Co. You can sample as many of the beers for free at the brewery, but they don’t sell by the pint, or offer you a BBQ pork sandwich. You can purchase a growler to go, which I have done many times…my favorite go to from Magic Hat is the #9
One person inspired by Greg’s work is Brewmaster and proprietor of Queen City Brewery, Paul Hale. Paul honored Greg with the Gregarious Scotch Ale, a rich malty Scotch Ale made from several Scotch malts. Queen City Brewery is a business founded in 2012 with Paul Hale and his partners, Paul Held, Phil Kszuba, Maatren and Sarah van Ryckevorsel and the first beers were poured in June of 2014. The Yorkshire Porter, Landlady Ale, St Amondus Pale Ale, and the Duchess of Antwerp, a Belgian Blonde Ale were the first beers sold . Hale's beers are traditional, and many recipes were created by Paul in his basement of his Vermont home he shares with his wife, Ellen Zeman and daughter Sophie. Paul’s great natured personality and generous sharing of stories, in which he tells of the beers fermenting within a few steps away, invites visitors to become frequent patrons. The large Mahogany bar, that was once a part of the Champlain College community until sold to Paul for use in the new brewery, is where patrons gather to sample, or grab a pint after work and talk about their day.
My love for the craft brew from Queen City Brewery began with a sample of Yorkshire Porter at a Wine and Cheese tasting at the Inn at Essex a few years ago. The Porter reminded me of my dense deep chocolate cake, and I thought to myself, "I need to make a cake with this right away." I made the first sample of Porter cake and it was good, but not exactly what I had hoped for. I had heated the beer, which brought out the yeast flavors, which I didn’t care for in my chocolate cake. I did seven more variations using my favorite dark chocolate cake recipe, and finally got it to the place I wanted it to be. The first recipe using QCB was born, and since then over 25 recipes have been developed featuring their beers. My favorite beer to cook with is the Steinbier, with its bold smoky flavor created by greywacke stone heated over a beechwood fire in the brewery parking lot. The searing charred rocks are lowered into the wort, heating it to a boil creating a smoky caramelized flavor that cannot be achieved otherwise. The Steinbier is a great ingredient in my homemade barbeque sauce for slow roasted pork ribs, and a smoky marinara, hearty enough to stand up to heady PEI Mussels, tossed with homemade linguine pasta.
For the past two years, I have created amazing food from QCB beer, enjoying every bite along the way. Today, I am creating a recipe book to showcase my favorites for others to try and enjoy as well. Please join me as I write about this journey of creating my first in a series of cookbooks, and blog about my Thirty Year Love Affair with the Food in Vermont: Queen City BRewery Edition
Thank you for reading, and feel free to contact me,
Chef Sandi Earle
April 9, 2017