Endless Beer: The Focal Banger

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If you know craft beer, you know the Alchemist out of Vermont. They brought us the famous Heady Topper and now this. The Focal Banger brings with it claims of superiority even over the Heady Topper. It is an American IPA with TONS of hops jammed into each pint-sized can. Thanks to a good friend, I was able to try a can of this out myself. Otherwise, take a trip up to New England and find out when they hand this stuff out. Here are our thoughts:

Tasting Notes

Aroma: Close your eyes and think of the senses of walking through a hop garden. That’s what this smells like – fresh hops surrounding you.

Appearance: The can says “Drink from the can!” so I have no idea.

Mouthfeel: CRISP. A very refreshing, clean, and crisp mouthfeel from start to finish.

Taste: HOPS. Then some more hops. Some sweet malts, and finally more hops. But these are flavorful hops. Juicy citrus hops lead the way, followed by pine and other earthy hop flavors. This is the hoppiest beer I’ve had without losing the integrity of the beer of tasting too bitter.

Overall: Find this beer! It’s true – this is better than Heady Topper. Focal Banger gives you everything you want in an IPA. It is crisp and refreshing, has fresh, juicy flavors, and tastes like the can is actually filled to the top with hops. Try it for yourself.

Endless Pairings

Cheese: Aged gouda with dried apricots, fig jam, and crackers.

Appetizer: Truffle fries.

Main Course: Fish tacos with a side of guacamole

Dessert: Key Lime Pie

Cigar: Gispert Toro

Leftover Easter Candy Cookies

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It’s been over a week since Easter and you still have a bag of random candy visited somewhere you think nobody can hear you when you crack into those wrappers. With every crinkle is a little bit of regret. Meanwhile, you stare into the bag wondering when the hell you will ever reach the bottom. We here at Endless Simmer are problem solvers. Which is why we bring you Easter Candy Cookies. Take whatever easter candy you have (minus jelly beans) and throw them into these suckers. You won’t regret it.

Ingredients

  • 3 cups flour
  • 2 tsp. baking soda
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 2 sticks room temperature butter
  • 12 tbsp. sugar
  • 1 cup packed brown sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 tsp. vanilla extract
  • Your remaining chocolate Easter candies CHOPPED

Recipe

*Preheat oven to 350 degrees

  • Blend butter, sugars, and add eggs and vanilla until mixed
  • Gradually mix in dry ingredients – do not overmix
  • Stir in the candy
  • Bake on cookie sheet fro 8-10 minutes

We didn’t bake all of the dough at once – it will freeze well and bake it whenever you have a hankering for a warm cookie.

Decadent Fudge Brownies

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After a long, hard day, we tend to gravitate toward one of two things (sometimes both): booze or junk food. Last week, I just had to have junk food. Lucky for me, my wife made homemade, fudgy, super-chocolaty brownies. These things are so decadent, thanks to Dutch dark cocoa, espresso, and lots of butter, that there is no need to top them with ice cream. Just an ice cold glass of milk and a brownie – that’s all you need to turn any day around. Don’t believe me? Try them for yourself.

Decadent Fudge Brownie Recipe

Ingredients

  • 4 large eggs
  • 1 1/4 cup double dutch dark cocoa
  • 1 tsp. coarse salt
  • 1 tsp. baking powder
  • 1 tsp. espresso powder
  • 1 tbsp. vanilla extract
  • 1 cup unsalted butter
  • 2 1/4 cups sugar
  • 1 1/2 cup flour
  • 2 cups chocolate chips (mix it up to what you like – half dark, half milk, all milk, peanut butter – the world is your oyster, damnit)

Recipe

Preheat oven to 350 degrees and grease 9 x 13″ pan

  • Beat eggs, cocoa, salt, baking powder, and vanilla for about 4 mins on medium speed
  • Melt the butter with sugar until all butter is melted over low-med heat (do NOT let it bubble)
  • Add hot butter/sugar mixture to the egg/cocoa mixture and stir until smooth
  • Add flour and chocolate chips – stir until smooth
  • Pour batter into the pan and cook for about 30 minutes or until toothpick comes out clean

To-Drink List: Top 10 Whiskeys to Try Before You Die

We love food, we love beer, we love wine, we love booze. Of course, as we all grow up and mature, the kinds of beer, booze, and wine we enjoy tends to change. Now that we are all “adults,” it is important to know when it is and is not okay to bring a box of wine, a six-pack of Natty Light, or a bottle of Sailor Jerry. We got you covered on beer and cocktails. But what about the classic whiskey? That’s why we bring you our list of the top ten whiskeys to impress. Whether it is bourbon, single malt, or a blend, we have you covered. Enjoy – literally try them all.

 

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10. Knob Creek Single Barrel Reserve

Knob Creek can be found in nearly any liquor store. This is a good starter for drinking whiskey straight. This is a smooth bourbon that goes down nice and easy!

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9. OOLA Discourse Three Shores Blended Whiskey

Many scoff at the thought of blended whiskey. However this is a blended whiskey that will turn anyone. The blend features some of the best whiskeys in the world in one bottle. This is a well balanced sweet, spicy, and smooth blend to get you started.

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8. Clyde May’s Bourbon

Impress your friends with this sweet bourbon. Don’t add water. Don’t add ice. Just pour it into the glass and drink it up.

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7. Angel’s Envy Rye

Now this stuff isn’t cheap, but well worth every penny. This stuff gives new meaning to rye whiskey with it finishing off in rum barrels. The spice of the rye meshes well with the sweetness of the rum barrels. YUM.

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6. Four Roses Single Barrel Bourbon

This award-winning bourbon packs a punch. Four Roses is a well-known brand amongst whiskey lovers, but the single barrel provides fruity undertones without losing the strength of a bourbon whiskey.

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5. Catskill Distilling Co. Rye

While this may be more difficult to find, it is well worth the search. Catskill Rye comes out of the Empire state with a complex flavor profile. Some find the description of “leather” as odd. However, the flavor comes out underneath other flavors such as caramel and vanilla finishing with smoky and spicy flavors (that “wood” description they provide).

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4. Basil Hayden Bourbon

At 80 proof, this bourbon goes down easy straight. Smooth flavors of spice and honey make it an enjoyable whiskey that is worth keeping in your liquor cabinet.

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3. Bulleit Rye 

You’ll find this one behind just about every bar you go to. Tend your own bar with this for anything from straight whiskey to mixed drinks. Or keep on dumping in Old Crow and not realizing that whiskey can taste good even in mixed drinks.

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2. Woodford Reserve Kentucky Straight Bourbon

This one has been around for quite a while. What does that mean? Well developed flavors through maturing in barrels and perfecting the cuts. With such great color to the bourbon and TONS of flavor – you can’t go wrong with Woodford Reserve.

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1. Teeling Irish Whiskey

Of course, we can’t leave out Irish whiskey! Like the Irish, Teeling packs a punch. In your face spice hits you first, along with a nicely balanced boozy flavor. Definitely not for the faint of heart, but if you are going to go with an Irish whiskey – start here.

Basil, Mozzarella and Tomato Panini – in a Waffle Iron!

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After making a list of crazy things to make in a waffle iron, I decided to “have at it” myself. But what to make? And how much of a mess do I want to make in a waffle iron? Lucky for me, I had a snow day to experiment. Every once in awhile, we make BMT paninis for lunch to satisfy some cravings. BMT meaning basil, tomato, and mozzarella. We make ours with pesto instead of basil. Anyway, I made the typical BMT sandwich and threw it in a waffle iron to make the panini.

The key to this recipe is the bread. A crusty bread is a must when it comes to shoving it into the waffle iron. If you pick a slice of bread that is soft, you will just end up with a big, gooey mess in the waffle iron. We used ciabatta. With the waffle iron bringing heat to both sides of the sandwich, there is no need to flip, and the hit gets to the cheese much quicker. Try it out for yourself!

BMT: Basil, Mozzarella and Tomato Panini…in a Waffle Iron

Ingredients

  • Crusty bread
  • Mozzarella cheese
  • Basil pesto
  • Tomato

Recipe

  • Get out the waffle iron and grease well
  • Build your sandwich
  • Put it in your waffle iron and hold it down with force You may have to rotate your sandwich to evenly flatten it

Easy enough?

Endless Beer: Manayunk Brewing Co’s Chocolate Peanut Butter Crunch Porter

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Think peanut butter shake. Do you taste that? The smooth and rich flavor of peanut butter? Mmmm, so good. Now, imagine that flavor in a can of beer. Manyunk Brewing Company, near Philadelphia, brings you the Chocolate Peanut Butter Crunch Porter. The brewery sought out to create a beer that brings the flavors of a porter along with in your face peanut butter (and a little chocolate). The question is – did they meet the mark? Check it out.

Tasting Notes

Aroma: Peanut butter throughout. A slight bitter note of coffee and chocolate, but overwhelmingly peanut butter.

Appearance: Dark dark brown – nearly black.

Mouthfeel: Very smooth, not much of an aftertaste, high carbonation.

Taste: Peanut butter, peanut butter, peanut butter. Taste starts with strong peanut butter flavor. Little chocolate flavor is there, but you do taste a hint of the porter in between the notes of peanut butter.

Overall: For the peanut butter lover, this is one of our favorite peanut butter flavored beers. It does not taste artificial, but as if you are eating freshly roasted peanut butter. I’d say it would ALMOST satisfy my craving for a Shake Shack peanut butter shake (that says a lot).

 

Endless Pairings

Cheese: Swiss with crustini, honey, and almond.

Appetizer: Spicy shrimp skewers.

Entree: BBQ Baby Back Ribs with mashed potatoes.

Dessert: Chocolate Peanut Butter Pie

Cigar: Drew Estate Java

French Onion Soup Made Easy

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Don’t tell me that you skip over the crock of french onion soup whenever it is on the menu. I have a hard time not getting it! The cheese that oozes over the top of the crock, the delicious piece of bread in the middle, does it really matter what the broth tastes like at that point? But still, even the broth of french onion soup beats out most soups. Then there are the strategies in eating it. Some people mix the cheese in and eat throughout, others save the cheese for last, even others dive right into the bread. No matter what way you eat it – it is indeed tasty.

So one of those cold winter days (feels literally like yesterday), my wife took out the dutch oven and asked “what do you think of french onion soup tonight?” To which my response was, “well, do we have enough cheese?” Hells yes we did. Hours later, we had nice hot bowls (sorry, we don’t have crocks yet) of french onion soup oozing with cheese over the top. This was a success that went straight into the recipe book. Here you go.

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