#Beer Tacos!!

The wife and I went to visit White Birch (http://www.whitebirchbrewing.com/) a few weeks back to sample some beers and shoot the breeze with the awesome crew there.  While there, we scrounged some of the swag they had lying around, a few items which were leftover from the beer festival they hosted over the summer.  One such was a copy of Draft magazine (http://draftmag.com/) from May/June 2012, which had a cover feature on food, specifically “6 Easy (Beer-Infused!) Mexican Meals,” which completely pulled me in like the Death Star tractor beam.  It’s quite…operational.

The recipe that we settled on this time around was slow cooked pork tacos with pickled onions and lime sour cream.  The pork is IPA infused.  That was all it took to sell me on it!  The recipe calls for any IPA, and we chose Shipyard’s Monkey Fist.  I’ll throw a review of the beer up at the end, in case anyone is interested.  But first, the food.  Here’s the recipe as it was written in Draft:

1 tablespoon canola oil
3 pounds boneless pork butt or shoulder, trimmed
1 12-ounce bottle IPA
1 cup salsa, plus more for serving
1 tablespoon ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt, plus a pinch
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1 small red onion, thinly sliced
1/2 cup distilled white vinegar
1/2 cup sour cream
1 tablespoon lime juice
warm corn tortillas, fresh cilantro sprigs, and crumbled cotija cheese for serving

This is a slow cooker meal, which partially lends itself to the ease of the recipe itself.  The other part that makes it so easy is that I bought a bomber of IPA, only needing 12 ounces, and was able to “purge” the rest while cooking.  The sacrifices one makes to cook for family…geez.

As far as the nuts and bolts of cooking, we made a couple of alterations, including skipping out on the lime-sour cream, although that’s easy enough to whip together at the end.  Also, we used a homemade salsa that my wife had put together a while back made from ingredients from our CSA farm…more along the lines of a pico de gallo.  Alright, now for some follow the leader.  Heat the oil in a Dutch oven over medium heat.  Add the pork and brown on all sides, roughly 8 to 12 minutes total.  Once browned, transfer the pork to the slow cooker.

Keep that stove going, because we aren’t done with the pan.  Add the beer, salsa, cumin, salt, and cayenne to the pan.  Bring to a simmer and pour over the pork.  Put the lid on the slow cooker and cook until the pork is tender and falling apart, 4 hours on high or 8 hours on low.

Meanwhile, separate the onion and place in a medium bowl along with the vinegar and pinch of salt.  Cover and refrigerate for at least 1 hour or up to 1 day.

When the pork is done, transfer to a clean cutting board and let cool slightly.  Drain the onion slices.  Shred the pork with two forks.  Serve on warm corn tortillas with the onions, lime sour cream (if you choose), cilantro sprigs, and cotija cheese.  Very tasty meal, if I don’t say so myself.  And, as I said before, ridiculously easy to make.

Now, on to the beer.

Shipyard Monkey Fist IPA

Monkey Fist is a fairly recent addition to the Shipyard family of offerings, and it is a lovely American-style IPA.  Poured from a bomber into a true pint, the beer is a deep, vibrant, copper-orange coloring with a chunky, frothy, uneven half-inch of off-white head. Aromas of buttery biscuits and toast in the background giving rise to a citrus-heavy hops presence, with a wet grass character, as well. Some caramel highlights on the nose, also. Flavors are roasted, with a strong caramel malt backbone that is quickly overwhelmed with a blast of wet, fresh hops that are resiny and peppery spiced. Strong and effervescent citrus characters of very tart grapefruit clean the palate and awaken the taste buds. Very tasty and very well-balanced. The increased carbonation and sharp citrus notes give the mouthfeel a bit of a thin, sharp kick towards the end of the palate. The aftertaste is tart and bitter grapefruit, as well as a good presence of hops that now display some cedar and pine characteristics. Quick, bitter, and resiny finish lets you know exactly what you’ve been drinking. Good, tasty beer, and at a very drinkable 6.9% ABV.  Different from the flagship offerings we are used to from Shipyard, but with that same focus on flavor and quality.  Worth searching out.

Good beer is an exciting thing to find.  Discovering multiple ways to use a good beer is even more exciting.  Stretch out your creative wings in the beer section as well as the kitchen, and as always, drink educated my friends!


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