Homebrewed Eats – Beef and Stout Stew

When we have a brewday at Mostly Harmless there are a few things that are gonna happen.  We’re gonna brew some beer (duh), we’re gonna drink some beer (duhhh), we’re gonna smoke some cigars, and we are going to eat.  Most of the time we just hit up a local pizza joint or sports bar but occasionally we throw down some home cookin’.  OK, I throw down some home cookin’, Brian’s the type that makes scrambled eggs in a mug in the microwave and would likely starve to death if not for his wife.  Scratch that, he’d just live off beer and multivitamins.  Anyhow… this week I decided to make up some beef stew to go with brew day.  While Brian was tending the strike water for our session IPA (Rainy Day IPA, stay tuned for more info on that) I got to cooking.

Homemade Beef and Stout Stew

Homemade Beef and Stout Stew

Most beer geeks have had, or at least heard of, Guinness Stew – beef stew brewed with Guinness.  This is my take on that recipe using a bottle of our HOTDOS Oatmeal Stout.  I did some Googling and looked at a few recipes and then threw this together from what I found, most closely based on this one.  In all honesty making a good pot of stew is pretty easy, here’s what you need to do.

INGREDIENTS

2 Lbs lean stew beef
2 Tbsp olive oil
2 Tbsp flour
Salt and pepper to taste
Dash of cayenne
2 large onions, diced
2 large cloves of garlic, minced
2 Tbsp tomato paste dissolved in 1/4 cup beef broth
* If you don’t have beef broth you can use 1 tsp powdered beef bouillon in the flour mixture and dilute the tomato paste with water)
10 oz of your favorite stout
2 cups baby carrots or large diced carrots
1 lb diced potatoes
8 oz sliced mushrooms
1 tsp dried thyme

DIRECTIONS

  1. Toss stew beef with 1 Tbsp of the oil.
  2. In a bowl, combine the flour and all dry seasonings.
  3. Toss the meat with the seasoned flour.
  4. Heat remaining Tbsp oil (use a bit more if needed) in a large skillet over high heat.
  5. Brown the meat on all sides.
  6. Reduce the heat to medium and add the onions, garlic and tomato paste diluted in broth or water.  Cover and cook for 5 minutes.
  7. Transfer the beef and onions to a crock pot and pour 1/2 the stout into the skillet.
  8. Heat to boiling and hold for 5 minutes, stirring well to deglaze the pan.
  9. Pour the sauce over the meat and add the carrots, potatoes and mushrooms.
  10. Cook on high for 3-4 hours, stirring occasionally.
  11. Approximately 30 minutes before serving add the rest of the stout to the pot and stir well.

When done the stew should have a nice, heavy sauce on it without being too thick.  If sauce is too thick you can thin it with a bit of water.  If sauce is too thin dissolve 1 tsp of corn starch in 1 cup of cold water and add in small increments to the stew, stirring and allowing the sauce a couple of minutes to thicken.  Serve with fresh-baked crusty French bread and more STOUT!

It was cold and dreary and rainy here yesterday and after a long brew day in the elements this was just what we needed.  It came out great and I’ll definitely make it again.  If you try it out let me know what you think.

Cooking the beef and onions with tomato sauce

Cooking the beef and onions with tomato sauce

De-glazing the pan with the stout.

De-glazing the pan with the stout.

Into the crock pot.

Into the crock pot.

Racking, tasting and testing.

We’re feeling some withdraws over here at tMHBC.  We haven’t actually brewed in about a month now and it’s starting to stress us out.  We’ve had plenty of other stuff to keep us busy but as of this weekend our beer pipeline is running dry.  We do have some meads fermenting, but we’re still a few months away on all of those.  We need to brew soon before Brian does something crazy… er.

The lack of actual brewing sure doesn’t mean we’ve not been busy.  Last weekend we bottled our Kiwi Kaleidoscope IIPA (which we’re pretty sure is going to be awful) and this weekend we racked over 5 gallons of our Pirate Pancake Syrup mead to secondary so it can start clearing up.  This was started on 09/28 so we’re just short of 3 months into fermentation.   The samples from this were excellent, I think this is going to be a fantastic mead.  We’re also planning another batch of this using blood oranges that we’ve dubbed Sailor’s Warning, I’m really starting to enjoy meads.

5 gallons of delicious Pirate Pancake Syrup

5 gallons of delicious Pirate Pancake Syrup

We sampled some of our Nutstalgia – Coconut this weekend and it was pretty good.  The aroma is awesome, roasty and nutty with a nice coconut fragrance, and the taste is much the same but nothing “amazing”…  just decent.  So far we’ve sampled the plain, black cardamom and coconut versions of this and my favorite has been the plain brown ale.  It’s a very solid, above average brown ale in my opinion.

Nutstalgia Coconut Brown Ale

Nutstalgia Coconut Brown Ale

Other weekend bottling of a Brickwarmer Holiday Red Ale, a kit brew from Northern Brewer that was done for a friend’s wife as a gift to him for Christmas, and testing out our fermentation chamber to see if it can successfully hold high temps for brewing Belgians.  So far it’s been holding a 5-gallon carboy of water at 90°F for 3 days so looks like we should be good.  I imagine the chamber is sealed well enough that once it’s up to temp it doesn’t have to work that hard to hold it there.  Provided temps continue to hold well we’ll brew a saison after the first of the year, I’m still researching and formulating the recipe right now.  I think we’ll slide in one more brew day after Christmas and before the saison.  Brian’s been researching some sessionable IPA’s and we’ll likely brew that and our Sailor’s Warning this weekend.

I hope everyone reading this has a very Merry Christmas and an awesomely prosperous and Happy New Year!

Our IPA tastes like soy sauce.

Dammit.   Dammit, dammit, dammit.

Our most recent brew was a really aggressive IIPA using all New Zealand hops and racked onto kiwi fruit that we’d dubbed Kiwi Kaleidoscope.  We did everything right on this beer.  Mash temps, CO2 purges, oxygenating, finely controlled fermentation temperature, pasteurized kiwi, CO2 purge before racking onto pasteurized kiwi, and even made a super-awesome label.  We nailed this.  So why the hell does it taste like soy sauce?  Well, I don’t know for sure.  But I’ve done some research and there are a few possible culprits.

Kiwi Kaleidoscope, we had such high hopes for you

Kiwi Kaleidoscope, we had such high hopes for you

Oxidation due to hot side aeration.  One expected possible cause of soy sauce taste in homebrew is oxidation due to hot side aeration (HSA).  HSA can be caused from splashing wort during mashing, lautering or cooling post-boil.  There are many people that believe HSA to be a myth, while others say it’s a very real issue that affects certain malts more than others and greatly decreases the shelf life on beer, especially heavily hopped beers – and ours was 126 IBU.  I’ll include some additional links at the bottom of this post on discussions of HSA.

Yeast Autolysis.  RIP yeast.  Autolysis happens when dead yeast cells rupture and release off flavors.  Whether or not this is a legitimate concern for homebrewers is debated as one cause on a commercial scale is the weight of a large volume of wort compacting the yeast cake on the bottom of the fermenter.  When homebrewing, it is unlikely that the weight applied in a typical 5-10 gallon batch would be enough to cause the cells to rupture, even after a long period in the fermenter.  It is believed that you can avoid autolysis in homebrew by using healthy yeast in a well-prepared wort.  Some people advocate for racking to a secondary fermentation in order to minimize the risk, however the necessity or racking to secondary versus the risks of exposure when transferring are another debated topic in homebrewing today.

Although autolysis seems unlikely in most homebrew applications, our beer had another factor that may have contributed to possible autolysis and off flavors…

Protease enzymes in kiwi (Actinidain) breaking down proteins causing autolysis.  Let me preface this section by saying I know very little about the chemistry of how this works.  The info I’m sharing here is from talking with others, Googling, and a discussion of this issue I posted on reddit.com/r/homebrewing.  FYI… r/homebrewing is a great forum for homebrewers of all levels, check it out.

Kiwi contains the protease enzyme Acitinidain, which works in the same way as the protease Bromelain, both of these are used in meat tenderizers and found in kiwi, banana, pineapple, mango and papaya.  It is possible that these protease enzymes broke down the proteins in the wort/beer and caused autolysis and the unfortunate soy sauce off flavor in our beer.  Protease enzymes should be denatured at pasteurization temperatures, but it would likely take longer to denature the enzymes than the shortest pasteurization time.  I did find a few other recipes that used the kiwi towards the end of the boil or at flameout, perhaps these methods would denature the enzymes at avoid any issues during fermentation.

Unfortunately none of these items are 100% guaranteed to be the issue.  However I’ll take the info I’ve learned here and try avoid making these mistakes in the future.  We might even try Kiwi Kaleidoscope again and see if we can beat whatever it is that got us this time around.

Sima – Finnish quick Spring mead

A couple weeks ago someone posted on a homebrewing forum about a recipe from 1900 for a quick “mead”.  Of course one of the awesome things about internet discussions is that someone is likely to know details about any subject out there and I quickly discovered the recipe was for Sima (see-mah), a Finnish quick mead traditionally brewed to be enjoyed during the Vappu festival celebrating the start of Spring.  It’s popular to serve sima with funnel cakes however we didn’t have any funnel cakes so we improvised and served us with churros from Little Caesar’s.  Dee-lish.

Traditional sima and Little Caesar's churros

Traditional sima and Little Caesar’s churros

As expected there are variety of recipes out there for sima however all of them include sugar, brown sugar, lemon and raisins.  A few include the addition of honey, molasses or dark corn syrup and the recipe that I used was the only one that I found that contained hops.   I took the original recipe and tweaked it to make a one gallon batch and got to brewing.

Sima – Finnish quick mead
Instructions for a 1 gallon batch

INGREDIENTS

  • ⅔ gallon water plus additional to top off
  • ⅓ lb honey
  • ⅓ lb brown sugar
  • ⅓ lemon
  • 4 grams hops (we used East Kent Goldings)
  • ⅛ tsp yeast
  • 2-3 raisins per bottle at bottling time
  • 1/4 tsp sugar per bottle at bottling time

DIRECTIONS

  1. Dissolve the brown sugar and honey in boiling water.
  2. Peel the lemon and carefully remove the white from the peel.  Slice the lemon and remove the pips.
  3. Pour the boiling water over the lemon peel, lemon slices and the hops.
  4. Top up the jug to 1 gallon with clean, cool water.
  5. After the mixture has cooled, dissolve the yeast in tepid water and add to the mixture
  6. The mead is then left to ferment.
  7. The following day, strain the mead and draw the mead off into bottles.
  8. Add a couple of raisins and some sugar to each bottle and then cork the bottles carefully.
  9. Store the bottles in room temperature for 6 hours then store in a cool place.
  10. After one week the mead is ready.

A few notes on my preparation.  Many recipes used just lemon slices without the need to peel and remove the seeds, if I was doing this again I’d probably go that route.  Filtering this was a bit of a pain.  I tried using a coffee filter and that clogged so I tried paper towel and that clogged.  Eventually I used the filter that came with my funnel however it allowed some of the hop residue through.  Meh, no big deal.  I’ve read on some other sites that sima will produce about 0.5% ABV per day that it ferments, however it doesn’t taste very good if you let it ferment more than about 10 days.  If brewed and bottled as instructed above it is suitable for children due to the super low ABV, should be <0.5%.  Sima won’t keep very long but make sure that it stays in the fridge to store it, if it heats to room temp the fermentation will start up again.

And the taste… I got a lot of brown sugar followed by honey and lemon with a touch of hoppiness.  It’s lightly effervescent and extremely refreshing.  I thought it tasted good, and would definitely make/drink it again.  Brian thought it was great and is ready to brew another batch, of course he wants to let this batch go a bit longer and up the ABV.

This was a fun experiment and produced good results.  It’s super easy and would be a cool project to do with your kids.  When you serve it don’t forget the churros.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.