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Cooking With Craft Beer: Three Artisanal Brewers Producing Peach Ale

“Beer: the original social network.” ~ Unknown



If taste is interconnected to a food experience, every producer and chef believes the experience should resonate with you. Their feeling of expression through a meal, a bottle of beer, or wine produced speaks through the time and attention paid to that product. A producer tends to be endlessly thoughtful, paying attention to every detail, tasting notes, and integration of their recipe. They are after a flavor that leaves us wanting more and looking for that taste again. In 1993, I visited a small winery in Mendocino County, making small batches of chardonnay aged with toasted oak barrels. I drank that bottle or two, maybe three; I wanted to find that oak-filled char left on my palate again.


A Hand-Crafted Beer Culture - The Fruity Saison

It had me thinking, how did they get there with that after-note? What if we smoked or grilled peaches and added them to a sweet bread recipe with barrel-aged peach Saison instead of yeast? Side Project Brewing Company makes a fruited Saison in aged wine barrels. So, I started looking for Saison peach brew and sweet bread recipes. Saison comes from the French meaning ‘season,’ with high carbonation and a dry finish. But, in my 1-2 hour search online, I didn’t find peach beer made in Georgia, given peaches are the state fruit. If I had delved deeper, I might have found what I sought. Saison brew in aged wine barrels allows for a slow oxygenation aging process.

American Oak wine barrels naturally showcase vanilla and baking spices throughout the aging, and these barrels are home to natural yeast. With a 100-day aging, tasting notes and layers of flavor shine through with each batch. Russian River Brewing Company made a small collection of peach beer bottled like champagne. Which begs the question, was this brew aged like champagne, a quarter turn using the old school riddling racks? Or brewed and aged in wine barrels in neighboring Sonoma Valley? I stumbled on Colorado's Crooked Stave Petite Sour Peach and canned, artisanal sour beer. It runs a secondary fermentation through oak foeders, infusing the fruit into the brew before canning.


Integrating Beer Into Our Culinary Experiences

An effort is being made not just to pair beer with cheeses and meats. There is a movement in cooking with beer, and thousands of publications addressing everything from grilling to braising and even baking with beer. I usually don’t think about braising my French cuts of beef in beer on Sunday. Are butchers offering recipes that pair a chuck roast or beef brisket? Boiling or steaming sausages in beer and the beer's flavor to the overall dish and the sausages will adopt those tones of vanilla and earthy flavors from the farmhouse Saison using barley.

Peach Pound Cake

Baking With Beer

Baking and infusing beer into a breakfast loaf with honey butter sounds delicious. When I read about sweet bread recipes adding fermented fruity beers, my mind started to run toward the bakery aisle. The list of ingredients varies slightly from a traditional loaf cake. Adding olive oil, ripened peaches, and honey. And one must remember the 12 ounces of the peach ale of your choice. Bake at 350 degrees for 50 minutes or until firm. Whip up some honey butter for your morning coffee and sweet bread. Enjoy!


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