Beer Braised Chicken – Brown Ale Braised Chicken

My plate, sans my pint of homebrewed IPA

Dear Denise, Thank you for thinking about your Brother. The recipes you passed along are going to be a hit.

I tried the “Brown Ale Braised Chicken” – that is the official title for the recipe. My sister found several recipes in the October issue of Better Homes and Gardens…. in a section labeled, “Cooking with Beer”. Life doesn’t get much better than that!

I had a left-over mini Newcastle Brown Ale keg in my refrigerator that need to be consumed…I used almost a pint for the recipe, there was about a pint and a half left that helped me through the labor of preparing the dish.

I will have to admit that I altered the recipe just a bit…The ingredients for the rub were not sufficient to coat the 8 chicken thighs. I am also of the opinion that the size of the chicken thighs Better Homes and Garden had in mind for the recipe do not match the offerings found in my local Texas supermarket. The 8 thighs I purchased weighed in at 6.8 pounds! I have a large deep sided skillet and it was full to the brim!

I will provide the recipe as prepared.

  •   3 tbsp brown sugar
  •   1 tbsp chili powder
  •   1 ½ tsp salt – sea salt
  •   1 ½ tsp ground cumin
  •   1 ½ tsp ground black pepepr
  •   8 skin on chicken thighs
  •   3 tbsp oil –
  •   1 medium onion sliced
  •   2 stalks celery chopped
  •   8 small whole carrots with tops trimmed to 1 inch
  •   2 tbsp all-purpose flour
  •   1 pint of a brown ale
  •   1 cup chicken broth
  •   4 cloves of garlic peeled
  •   1 big handful of celery leaves chopped along with fresh thyme   – chopped

Preheat oven to 350 F. In a small bowl combine brown sugar, chili powder, salt, pepper and cumin. Use as a rub and let thighs sit 10 minutes.

In a large oven proof skillet brown chicken until skin is crispy. Remove chicken, drain fat reserving about 2 tbsp.

I the same skillet cook the onion, carrots and celery in the reserved fat until tender – 5 minutes or so. Stir in flour and cook for 1 minute. Stir in beer and broth until simmering. Return chicken to skillet, add garlic, cover and bake for 40 minutes.

Remove from oven and sprinkle the chopped celery leaves and thyme across the top. I enjoyed my plate with a pint of my homebrewed IPA….so good.

Out of the oven and sprinkled with celery leaves and fresh thyme.



The Making of the Imperial Stout

I really enjoy stouts….not an everyday beer but as one of those that can top the evening off with that deep dark and sensuous flavors abundant in mature stouts. My last Imperial stout was brewed in December of 2010 – that last bottle consumed in July of 2012 and it was the best of the 40 bottles….it aged so well. I wanted to recreate that beer but as I always seem to do…I wanted it to be better!

The ingredients.

I started with a partial mash recipe…takes a little more time on brewing day but increases the complex flavors in the stout. I have used mail order suppliers in the past but I am also a firm believer in supporting local business. These guys are top notch…and on top of that they usually have a homebrew on tap to sample! Brewing day did not go smooth as I noted in a previous post but I think the results will not be compromised. The racking process discussed in my last post is a real positive indicator that the beer will be wonderful. The original gravity was pretty high, 1.093. I was concerned that I may not have aerated the wort enough before fermenting in the primary. I thought that it would take off vigorously and need a blow off tube…not. There was a good steady bubbling in the airlock, a thick two + inch thick krausen in the fermenter so I had fingers crossed that the yeast was working hard. The gravity when racking to the secondary addressed my concerns. The gravity had dropped to 1.024, a significant drop indicating that fermentation is nearly complete! If I run it through a calculator it comes out around 9.3% ABV….a pretty potent brew. With the addition of the toasted oak dowels and the infusion of the dowels in bourbon I should have a very complex and satisfying beer. Two months and then bottle and then wait a little more. I am hoping that it will be ready by New Years Eve – roll into 2013 with my new stout!   My bride and I had a nice visit with my cousin down in the Medical District here in Houston last night. We decided to make it a date night and after dinner we stopped by the Flying Saucer in downtown Houston, 705 Main St.  The varieties on tap, in cans and bottles is mind-boggling. I did join the saucer club but it may be several years before I have my name enshrined on the walls. Once you sample 200 beers your name is placed on a saucer and hung on the walls or ceiling for all to see. They were wise enough to put a daily limit on how many you can officially add to your tally – three beers per visit – I think that is a smart and sane way to manage the process. After two months I sit at 6 on my tally….it will be years getting there but hey, everyone needs a goal or two in life, eh?

So, what should I brew next….something for my wife I suppose! A Belgian Wit or a nice Blonde Ale….I will mull it over and yes, I know, seek her input! TTFNDrink local, drink smart,Bishop

Bishop – Beer – Bakersfield

It I was back to my hometown last week for a consulting job and then spent the weekend visiting family. Bakersfield and beer go well together….when I was growing up it was a case of Coors in the bottle for $5.25! My exposure to real beer didn’t happen until Uncle Sam stationed me in Kaiserslautern Germany. Real beer – they told us when we arrived in country to respect the German beer and not drink it like your Coors back home. Did I listen? No! Did I learn? Kinda!

I blame the way the Germans count for some of my learnings. I learned a few key phrases in German like – “Ein bier bitte.” – one beer please. I would ask as well as hold up one finger, most of the time they brought two beers. I knew I said it correctly but I received 2 beers consistently….Why?

In Germany and for that matter many other countries around the world the index finger represents 2 – the thumb is the digit that represents the number 1. So, even if my language skills were decent – from a distance in an environment with some background noise, visual cues are stronger! They see the index finger and hear or see me mouth the word bier and two cold ones arrive. Oh darn, I guess I will just have to drink them and practice my enunciation better…wrong…language includes visual cues that cannot be discounted.

Oh yes – back to Bakersfield – nice home town brewery – Lengthwise out in the Southwest and now off of Rosedale at 2900 Calloway. Great beers brewed by the lads and also a nice selection of craft beers from others….food – well it is OK, the beer is the highlight. Triple Hop Red Ale and Centennial Ale were my choices. The Red Ale is listed as their best seller and for good reason! Check them out online or in person

Lengthwise Brewing Company: Bakersfield Brewery, Bakersfield Beer, Bakersfield Microbrewery, Bakersfield Brew Pub, Great Beer, Great Food, Great Times

Went off to visit my Mom over in Los Osos….she had a honey-do list for me and we spent a nice couple of days enjoying the central coast weather! I am a fan of Firestone Walker Brewery in Paso Robles and while grocery shopping for mom I spotted a new, to me, offering called the 805! It doesn’t get much more local than 805 area code…..which was also Bakersfield’s area code before it outgrew its britches and changed to 661. Paso, San Luis, Santa Maria. Pismo, Avila …… etc., knows that 805 is the local home. It is an interesting beer. I like the Double Barrel better but 805 is very drinkable. I left a few in Mom’s fridge…they are safe with her and should still be there on my next trip….unles my brother-in-law, Bill snags a few! I had to laugh a little at dinner on Saturday night…I ordered a Fat Tire and the owner poured it into the glass….he poured a nice head on the beer and apologized….I smiled and told him that I liked the head on the beer…he did just fine. My only complaint…they needed some local offerings! Celia’s Garden Cafe – they do dinner now…

Firestone Walker Brewing Company Beers

Love it – Keep It Local…805!


































TTFN – Drink Local!






Bourbon and Oak Infused Imperial Stout

Last weekend I was able to get my Imperial Stout racked to the secondary fermenter. In the prep and sanitation process I noticed a potential problem with my plans to include the toasted oak dowel that I had so lovingly crafted and infused in bourbon for several weeks. The opening on my glass carboy looked like it was going to be a tight fit when inserting the toasty oak. I went out to the garage and picked up the oak dowel remnant from my turning process and tried a fit test….oh crap… doesn’t fit!

Plan B…..rechuck the toasted and soaked dowel sections and turn then down a little. That would delay the racking to the secondary because I would want to ensure that the dowels were sanitary…another couple of weeks in bourbon to be safe. Not a catastrophe but just two more weeks added on to the entire process. I didn’t plan on having my first tasting until December so not a deal killer.

I looked in the mason jar and it appeared that the dowels looked to be a bit smaller in diameter….I’m thinking I might be in luck. I thought back to the roasting process and it did seem that the dowels had shrunk, but would they then expand after infusing themselves with the bourbon???? Ok, extract the dowels with a sanitized stainless steel fork and by golly….they slipped right through the top with room to spare. Now, hopefully after a couple of months they don’t swell up and give me problems retrieving them!

Below is a shot of the carboy and airlock. I decided to use some of the bourbon in the mason jar to provide additional protection in the airlock. Now the challenge – I must be patient!

Five gallons of my Imperial Stout, bourbon infused and toasted oak resting on the bottom. Note the bourbon in the airlock! My wife’s common lament is visible to the right!



Billings Montana – Beer: Part 3 of 3

The third part of my visit to Billings was at Carter’s Brewing Company. The beer selections were outstanding. What I found even more interesting was the young woman who was pulling beers. Lift your thoughts to a little higher level guys….she was one of the most knowledgeable beer servers that I have ever encountered. I sat patiently at the bar waiting my turn to order as she educated a handful of college age girls on the hops, the malt and variations that differentiate the beer offerings. She did it in a way that engages you in dialog….not just being told about the beer.

The offerings were displayed on a big colorful chalkboard behind the bar…….the standards and those on rotation. Michael Ulrich, owner and head brewer is a creative and energetic brewer. I never really got to sit and really enjoy a pint here. When Christie the barmaid worked her way through the education and sampling process for the many offerings I was truly confused….but that was OK with her. She soon found out that I brew my own and that I am an IPA fan and that was all she needed….she put a splash of this one and that one in small glasses and based on my responses she would pull another one for me. I was overwhelmed with both the variety and the quality of the beers. Now, there were a few that were not my cup of tea….but that does not mean that they weren’t good beers, just different.

The taproom per Montana law shuts down at 8:00PM – you still have till 9:00 PM to vacate the bar. I spent a big chunk of time picking her brain on the various beers, hops and flavors….I walked out very impressed with Carter’s, Angry Hanks, Montana Brewing Company and the energy these folks pour into their craft. I must go back with no work planned….visit the breweries, try the fishing, maybe even the rafting….Chrisites and her husband raft using oar boats and see the countryside.

Cody and Cris did show up and they bought me a pint at the bar next door after Carter’s closed up, it was good and it was cold but I didn’t write down the choice. I have been using the notes feature on my iPhone to keep my tastings in order but I got lost in conversation and did not want to be rude writing rather than listening. I promise to do better on my next visit.

Check the link out below to Carter’s…… now if that ain’t a good ole boy, then I don’t drink beer! TTFN – Bishop

Billings Montana – Beer; Part 2 of 3

Part 2 of 3 is being finished up Sunday morning, very early ,still dark, at the local Starbucks. As is my morning ritual, I ride my bicycle down to Starbuck, enjoying the mostly “quietness in the air” at this time of day. This morning was “lovely”….. the cold front had passed through yesterday and it is 64 degrees Fahrenheit! Don’t laugh, in Texas that is indeed a cold front! I enjoyed it. I didn’t start sweating as soon as I lifted my leg to climb on the bike. In fact I may not even approach a sweat even on the ride home….just a little over a mile each way.

Part 2

So, after a long day in the training class that I delivered on Thursday, I was ready to chill out and see what my research on the local brewing scene would produce. I visited with a few of the attendees and they gave high marks to Carters and Angry Hanks, both of which were on my list and both easy walks from the hotel. Two of the young engineers in the class, Cris and Cody, were heading off to Carters later that evening and I told them that I may see them  there.

The walk down to Hanks on North First Street was interesting. The walk took me by the local Greyhound Bus Depot. Now that is a different slice of life hanging out in the alley behind the building. It brough back memories of Bakersfield, California’s Greyhound depot. When the three black and white channels on the tv set were not worth watching, mom would load us up into the station wagon and we would go down to the depot and – she called it. do a little people watching! She would have loved the ring side seat here in Billings.

I arrived at Angry Hanks, a converted service station with a fenced in patio section. The folks that I followed in were bringing “take-out” food in. It seems that is the norm here at Hanks. Get off work, grab a few boxes of hot-wings or whatever your fancy is and enjoy a couple of cold ones. Hanks is a tap-room and not a pub or restaurant. Which means they can only be open from 4 PM to – well last beer poured by 8 PM and everyone out before 9 PM. Limit is 3 pints per person. Three pints of good craft beer is plenty – they range from 5% ABV to 8 or 9%  for some of the stouts.

Unfortunately I did not haul my Nikon along to Hanks so you will have to view the iPhone perspective. Note the Growlers along the back wall – left. You can fill your Growler but it is sealed…consumed elsewhere.

This is comfortable and incredibly laid back place. I sampled just two pints, just because! I had the double IPA. It was officially called the Head Trauma India Pale Ale. I am a fan of IPA’s and this one did not disappoint me. Very nice aroma and taste.  Next in my hand was a pint of Street Fighter Imperial Red Ale. Mr. Tim Mohr, owner and brewer, knows how to brew. This indeed a microbrewery – from what I understand, 90% of the beer brewed here is consumed on site…I suppose the other 10% goes out in the growlers.

While doing my research I ran across a site where customers can leave their opinions, ratings and thoughts. Lots of 3 out of 3 ratings. There was one that I will mention that gave it a zero and called it “skanky” – My opinion on his label….he probably did not belong in Angry Hanks in the first place, probably sported a manicure, wore something from Ralph Lauren – clothes and the smelly stuff too. He should have sampled his beers over at Walkers Grill – linens, waiters, menus and someone to kiss his behind!

My description of Hanks and the crowd……I am smiling just thinking about it. Lots of locals, European tourists (3), fly fishermen and women, river rafters, bikers, a young lady in a 50’s dress, fish net stockings platform heels and a wonderful smile. There was purple hair, red hair – like crayon red, piercings, tattoos, leather and a young family with three bright-eyed kids sitting up on the tall stools. I liked the place and I liked the beer. Mr. Mohr has a creative touch. I wish Texas would get around to voting on the law changes that would allow craft brewers this type of outlet…..time will tell!

The line-up and ya gotta love it – blue painters tape with hand written descriptions! Again – sorry for the iPhone lack of picture quality – Hun, I think I need a new one!



Part 3 is almost ready…. coming soon.


Billings Montana – Beer; Part 1 of 3

I am home from my trip to Billings and the research did not do the brewing community justice….Billings, Montana Knows Beer! Wow, I am impressed!

Part 1 – on the day I arrived I checked into the Crown Plaza Hotel…well located and walking distance to lots of food and beer. The other plus, they have a shuttle to and from the airport. Enough of that. After checking in it was time for food and beer. I wandered down to the Montana Brewing Company Restaurant and Brew Pub. They had 8 of their offerings on tap. I wanted to maintain my equilibrium so I ordered the sampler, 8, four once servings……that seemed to be manageable, 32 ounces of beer, really just two pints over a meal!

What caught my eye on the menu was the Gorgonzola Chicken Sandwich and of course the 8 beer sampler. So, how did it go? Well, I’ll tell you how it went.

The sampler arrived first. – Yee Haw Cowboy = served with a  placemat describing each sample.

I drank them in the recommended order. Yes dear, I do follow orders – sometimes!

The MBC Golden Ale was up first. It was a nice crisp tasting beer, one that you could probably drink all day long in the summer. A very refreshing beer.

The next in the sequence was their Happy Hour Hero – an English ale. They described it as a session ale and I would agree. It was also very easy to drink – a nice golden honey color and nice, nice taste. Two for Two on the Bishop-Beer-O-Meter!

The MBC Wheat was also a winner – I am beginning to see a pattern here! Comes with a lemon slice that compliments the mild citrus taste and aroma. I think my bride would enjoy this ale – nice citrus notes but they are in the background and no coriander/bitter orange that the Belgian Wit beers seem to carry. Low on the IBU scale but that is not a bad thing. I may want to try to clone this one for my bride!

Next in the recommended sequence was the Pomegranate Wheat. I was expecting something that might be too sweet and fruity but I was pleased with the offering. Yes there was the pomegranate flavor but it was really more of an accent flavor and not dominant. I am a lover of pomegranates….goes back to my childhood – my aunt Josie would make pomegranate jelly every fall and I loved it. My uncle worked for the water company in Taft and the Western Waterworks equipment yards were ringed with pomegranate bushes/trees. I loved to peel and eat the pomegranates…lots of work, small rewards but the flavor is awesome. Leaves me longing for some buttered toast and my Aunt’s jelly.

My waitress’ favorite MBC beer was up next. The MBC Amber Ale – first sip and I said to myself, “Oh my!” This was a good beer, nice feel in the mouth, nice aroma and enough malt flavor without being overwhelming. She knows her beer.

The MBC Pale Ale was next up and this was my favorite. The cliché popped into head – “Now that’s what I’m talking about!” it was that good – in my opinion of course! Nice hops flavor, pleasant aroma, copper-colored and slightly cloudy…..very nice beer.

The British Invasion IPA by MBC followed the Pale Ale. IBU rating of 50 but honestly I was a little disappointed – I was expecting something a little more bold in the hops aspect of the beer. Now, don’t get me wrong, this is a good beer but not what I expected as an IPA.

Last on the sampler list was the MBC Custer’s Last Stout – and oatmeal stout. Complex flavors – a bit of a bitter coffee flavor and a bit of a caramel aroma. A good stout but not quite and bold as I like. Still, very drinkable and a good beer to end an evening with on a cold Montana winter night….not sure I want to be out in the Montana winter cold at night, but this stout may stave off the chills if I find myself out!

My choice….I had a couple of bites of Gorgonzola chicken left so, I ordered a pint of the MBC pale.  I gues that makes 3 pints of beer – still a reasonable number and not overwhelming. I still found time that afternoodn to spend nearly an hour in the hotel gym….not napping, I really worked out- trust me!

Perfect philosophy –

I spent a little time watching the action in the brewing room behind the glass. Clean and well laid out.


Montana – who knew? The state is very well represented in the craft brewing category – Part 1 B – I did try a Big Sky IPA the next evening at dinner with my client….Missoula, Montana beer from the Big Sky Brewery – it was good enough that I had two! Check out the Montana listings in the link below.

Montana Breweries – Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia



Imperial Stout Additions

Not many votes but my first choice was number one on the list. Oak infused with bourbon has been designated as the route to take. I decided to make my own oak spirals – not really a spiraling cut but I believe it will work. I shot a video of my handiwork on the lathe creating extra surface are for the oaky and bourbon flavors but couldn’t post on this blog – just still photos. I have enough to make many more for a fraction of the cost of commercial oak spirals.  I also roasted the oak in the oven 1 hour 45 minutes at 400 F and 30 minutes at 450 F. I wandered off during the roasting process to run some errands….when I returned to the house I could detect the “robust” odor of roasted oak… wife’s description of the odor was not as complimentary….she had her candles burning in an attempt to mask that wonderful robust and oaky scent.

I cut the spiral cut dowel to fit into a wide-mouthed mason jar. I went off to the liquor store to buy the bourbon, a less expensive bourbon than I have in the bar……No Pappy Van Winkle for this effort, I bought Evan Williams – a Kentucky bourbon. I chatted with the store clerk and she seemed to know a little bit about bourbon. I explained my intent and she offered this one as having a bit of a smoky flavor. The reviews are not real good as a drinking bourbon – I did pour a little over ice and I think I would agree with many of the reviewers – mix it with something, do not drink neat or even over ice(my choice). Should be fine for my intended purposes though.

The dowel partially cut – repeated the pattern the entire length using my parting tool.

Same dowel viewed from a different angle. Left rough for better liquid absorption and release of flavor.

I will allow it to soak for another week, then transfer my Stout over into the secondary and add my bourbon soaked oak dowel.

PS – the color of the dowel after roasting was about the same color as “tanning moms” face at her peak of brown-ness….roasted oaky brown is my description of her hue!