The stout is here! The first thing we’ve ever brewed is drinkable!
It’s not the full-bodied stout that K was dreaming of, but then again it’s our first effort and it’s from a kit. Since we brewed it, we’ve been accumulating more knowledge, equipment, and experience, so there are high hopes for future efforts. The knowledge is from friends and family who have shared wisdom derived from their own brewing adventures. (I swear, it seems like almost everyone we’ve met recently is a secret brewer.) The equipment includes a treasure trove of things from an amateur winemaker getting out of the game and a stove for the basement so K doesn’t have to bring everything up and down two flights of stairs to brew. The experience comes from brewing a megabatch of mead and a minibatch of banana wine. I swear I’ll post more about that this week! This is all to say: there are great beer-related adventures ahead of us.
And in the meantime, we get to enjoy a very passable first batch of stout.
Home-brewed beer is a great thing to have around the house if you’re going to have houseguests, or if you’re the house-visitor. Whether showing up on the doorstep with a sixpack in hand or welcoming road-weary friends with a tall glass of something cold and relaxing, a gift of beer is the ultimate signifier of hospitality in our mid-20s ragamuffin social circle (unless you’re an overachiever and bring salmon you caught, smoked, and canned yourself).
And if you want to take your beerspitality game to the next level, let me introduce you to beer bread.
Sidebar: look how rainy it was two days ago! Since then we’ve returned to a sunny, snowy permafrost dungeon.
I discovered a recipe for beer bread on the internet during my senior year of college, and it quickly spread among my fellow crunchy female denizens of the campus Outdoor Interest House, aka the Loj. We posted a modified version of the SCUM Manifesto on the fridge and proceeded to make bread out of every beer that crossed the threshold, from seasonal pumpkin ales to Keystone Light (only tolerable toasted with peanut butter). If you’re a bread beginner, this recipe is a great way to have a loaf on hand within the hour. And even if you’re a more seasoned baker, it’s a tasty quickbread and very easy to adapt to whatever you have on hand, sweet or savory.
Loj Ladies’ Beer Bread
1 12oz. beer. “The better the beer, the better the bread.”
3 cups flour. Use whatever you think will complement the beer’s flavor, but don’t exceed a 1:1 ratio of white to wheat unless you want a seriously dense loaf.
1/3 cup sugar. Or use honey, maple syrup, or another sweetener of your choice. Also, this amount is variable: use less for a more savory bread, or more for something that could almost pass for dessert.
1 T baking powder
1 t salt
1 T melted butter. Or use oil, lard, margarine (but margarine is nasty), etc.
Add-ins or toppings. Berries, oats, nuts, chocolate chips, cheese, herbs, what have you.
Mix dry ingredients until evenly incorporated, then add wet ingredients and stir to blend. Stir in any add-ins, or top the loaf with oats, milk, or any other preferred glaze or topping. Bake in a greased pan at 350 for about 45 minutes – it’s hard to overcook this bread, by the way. When in doubt, wait till an inserted straw comes out clean, or wait for the crust to brown a little.
I tailored this loaf around our stout, using half whole wheat flour, honey, and oats. It was marvelous.