— The Bake and Brew

Sierra Nevada Celebration

Indiana got its first snow last night, St. Louis had a thin layer of frost, and winter beers are back on the shelves. St. Charles, which is basically Santa’s workshop during December is already putting up Christmas lights and garland on the street lamps, so I thought it was okay to crack open the most Christmas-y of beers for me, the Sierra Nevada Celebration. With that adorable cabin smothered in snow, this is my celebration. Here’s to looking to snow-capped mountains in two weeks, and here’s to a town covered in Christmas decorations and carolers when I return.

All in all…
This is a light and fresh IPA with a lovely amber color and a gorgeous frothy head that disappears quickly, and smells like pine needles. It’s full, smooth, and sweet with plenty of hops and just a little bitterness left over. This is perfect for a transition into winter when the abstract concept is still okay, but we haven’t been hit with bitter winds and trying to climb out of bed on cold mornings. If you aren’t ready for full on winter warmers and dark strong beers to carry you through to spring, and you’re still holding on to bright hoppy beers, then grab this one.

Recommend to a friend?
Come on down, we’ll head down to the Gingerbread village (for real) and we’ll split one on the brick streets.

Lightweight-safe?
We’re on the verge of a “no” at 6.8%, but once the holidays hit we’re allowed to be a little jolly.

Plus one?
See previous comment about staying jolly.

Get a six pack?
That would make me one happy girl.

The Hops
Sierra Nevada Brewing Co. – Chico, California
American IPA

 

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11-12-13

Well we’re here folks. 11.12.13.

While Fresh Hop season is fading (moment of silence), I want to make sure everyone knows about this great photo contest that Beertography and All About Beer are hosting to win a full one-year subscription to the magazine. I love all the photo contests that Beertography hosts, so go over and check this one out!

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Wheat ale cake

I’m counting the days at this point. I’m counting the days until I get to see the mountains again, and until I get to see my best friend again. I’m heading to Wyoming in three weeks, and have already started a list of all the sweaters and warm clothes I should bring. There’s a fluffy white hat, a favorite knit sweater, and my favorite flannel PJs. Plus an extra cribbage set. I’ll get to wake up to mountains out the front and back windows. Three weeks until I get to drink a beer in a valley, stand by a river, and cuddle with a German Shepherd by a wood stove. And did I mention skiing? Oh my goodness, my loves, I get to ski again. There is no other feeling like gliding down a mountain quietly and cutting through beautiful snow.

Let’s just say it’s going to be nearly impossible for me to get back on that plane. After a while I forget how breathtaking the mountains are, and how still they make me. I forget how comforting epic, natural beauty is, and how it makes everything else melt away. Some things wonderfully fall into place when the blue sky takes up your entire view.

It is truly a miracle that any of this buttercream frosting ended up on this cake at all. If you do anything this coming weekend, make this Strawberry Buttercream Frosting by Add A Pinch. This girl has everything right here, and I found myself this past Sunday night sneaking a whole spoonful of this frosting straight from the bowl. She even replied to one of my gushing comments about this recipe by suggesting frosting cookies with this – mind blown. I can’t even deal with how delicious that would be.

The process was really very simple, and the only change I made to these recipes was to use beer in place of some milk, so I’m simply going to give you the links below to these great recipes and great instructions. The white cake was sweet, smelled heavenly, and this buttercream frosting is simply unreal.

Wheat Ale White Cake with Strawberry Frosting

*I made two layers (same size as you see above) with this cake recipe.

Wheat ale cake

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The Session, a.k.a. Beer Blogging Friday, is an opportunity once a month for beer bloggers from around the world to (virtually) converge on a single beer related topic, each bringing their own unique perspective. This month is hosted by Tasting Nitch, with our prompt being (in general): women & craft beer. 

I’m a little late on this month’s Session post, as I’ve been waiting for The Biercast to release their latest episode on Women & Beer, where another lady and I sit down with the hosts to talk about this very subject. I’m going to try to keep this entry brief, simply because trying to unpack this subject and do it justice is a daunting task in any format. However, I had a blast talking to Eric & Andrew from The Biercast (and special guest Whitney) about women & craft beer, and I highly recommend you give this a listen. But first…

What made sitting down with these guys to talk about what could be a touchy subject, and where we could all end up saying something regrettable was how open and forgiving we all were (save a few eyebrow raises amongst ourselves..shhh…just kidding…kind of). Talking about the engagement of women in any cultural/societal area is tough, and can be a hot issue. It’s really hard to hold the conversation in the first place, and on top of that, it can feel like the stakes are so high. It can feel as if you say the wrong thing (especially as a woman) then you’ll have a wave of backlash coming your way. But even before we started recording this episode we all pretty much agreed that it’s okay if that happens. It’s okay to voice an opinion we all still may be working out. It’s okay to let the conversation go down a hole, and have to dig ourselves out. It’s okay to get stuck. If we’re willing to hear constructive criticism, if we’re willing to let others figure out what they think, if we’re willing to admit we may have a flawed idea, then we can have a great talk. As long as we give each other the benefit of the doubt, as long as we’re kind and forgiving, then we can move our elbows a little bit and feel this subject out.

And if you’re similar to myself and haven’t had much resistance to participating in the craft beer community, and feel that this is a superficial topic, then I still want to write down this point:

Even though we started off talking about craft beer…we think about advertising, we think about marketing, we think about women’s roles and how women are portrayed in advertising. Okay, what does that mean for our society? What does that mean for our culture? What does that mean for how men view women? What does that mean for our interactions together? And what are the consequences in our interactions with each other?… If we want to go there, we can do that…we even touched on how women talk differently than men. Even though this is a relatively light subject, women speak differently. We have different ways of communicating, and that’s a very deep subject at the heart of when we think about feminism and gender roles. 

From this conversation tonight, at least in our experiences, if women in craft beer…if it’s not equally balanced…this is a great platform to start getting there.

So give it a listen, be kind to us as we move through the conversation, pick up a beer, and keep this going.

the session

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Because you’re a darling, I bring you this cake. Because you made it through Monday. Because it’s dark outside and winter is coming. Because you’re here I bring you this cake that will shoot sunshine directly into your kitchen.

This cake is the stuff of dreams. The lemon cake itself is light and more airy than you could believe, and it seems hardly real that something so soft can hold its shape. The raspberry filling is tart, splashed with lip-puckering raspberry ale, and the balance of the raspberry and lemon is beautiful. They bring out the best in each other, and then when you taste the lemon cream cheese frosting…well you’re just going to squint your eyes and smile.

Founders Rubaeus Raspberry Ale

Lemon Cake (also Lemon Lover Cupcakes)
(recipe from My Baking Addiction)
Yields one 9 inch round cake layer

zest from one lemon
1 1/2 cup granulated sugar

8 Tablespoons unsalted butter, room temperature
1/2 teaspoon lemon extract (it’s worth the money)
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 1/4 cups cake flour
1 Tablespoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 1/4 cup buttermilk
4 large egg whites
yellow food coloring as needed

Italicized ingredients/measurements are those differing from the original recipe.

1. Mix together flour, baking powder, and salt in small mixing bowl. Beat eggs and milk in a separate bowl.
2. In medium bowl, rub lemon zest and sugar together until the sugar is a uniform pale yellow and feels damp. Add butter, vanilla extract, and lemon extract, and cream until smooth.
3. Add 1/3 flour mixture, mix well. Add 1/2 wet mixture, mix well. Add 1/3 flour. Mix. Add remaining 1/2 wet. Mix. Add remaining 1/3 flour. Mix until just combined. Gently stir in food coloring until you reach your desired yellow.
4. Butter and line 9 inch cake pan with parchment paper. Batter will fill pan about halfway. Bake at 350 degrees for 30-35 minutes or until a knife inserted comes out clean.
5. Let cake cool completely, and cut layer in two halves horizontally.
6. Spread raspberry ale filling on bottom half generously. Assemble the top layer, and frost with lemon cream cheese frosting.

Lemon dream cake

Raspberry Ale Filling

One 10 oz bag frozen raspberries
1 Tablespoon cornstarch
2 Tablespoons water
2 Tablespoons Raspberry Ale (Founders Rübæus Raspberry Ale), flat

1. Let frozen raspberries thaw in a medium saucepan until soft.
2. Mix cornstarch, water, and beer together. Pour over raspberries.
3. Bring mixture to a boil slowly while crushing raspberries, and let boil for one minute. Mixture should change consistency to become thick.
4. Take off heat and let cool to room temperature.
5. Store extra filling in airtight container and use within 2-3 days.

Lemon dream cake

Lemon Cream Cheese Frosting

8 ounces cream cheese, softened
1/4 cup unsalted butter, softened
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 teaspoon lemon juice
1/2 teaspoon lemon extract
2 cups confectioners sugar

Beat all ingredients together until fluffy, but not too runny. You may need to put the frosting in the refrigerator to chill for just a few minutes halfway between mixing. Frost, and store in fridge after cake has been out for a few hours.

To store for longer periods of time, cut your cake into slices and seal with cling wrap. Freeze sealed pieces of cake, and put individual pieces in the refrigerator about 8 hours (or overnight) before enjoying.

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