Craft beer has become a national obsession these days, and Seattle is unquestionably the frontrunner among cities producing the most craft beer in United States with more than 174 breweries in the Seattle metropolitan statistical area. (Followed by Chicago: 158; and Denver: 148.)
And the trend doesn’t stop with artisanal beverage either. A handful of breweries are taking this phenomenon to the next level by serving food that infuses a variety of handcrafted beer in the recipes itself.
To learn more, we sat down with Jed Laprade, Executive Chef at Beardslee, a brewery-cum-restaurant known for incorporating beer into food in very creative ways.
A 10-barrel, craft beer system is at the heart of Beardslee Public House, as is the scratch-casual, locally-inspired, comfort food created by Chef Jed Laprade, who moved from the Seastar Restaurant And Raw Bar to open this Bothell eatery with Chef John Howie in 2014.
Craft beer is central to the Beardslee experience, and besides all the usual `top hits’ on the Beardslee menu, Laprade has also introduced an assortment of food options that actually use beer in the making.
“We try to use the beer in as many ways as possible because we are after all a microbrewery, and it makes the dining experience here a little more special,” says Laprade. “And since we prepare everything from scratch, it is easy for us to incorporate beer in recipes in imaginative ways. The end results are delicious, and perfectly complement the variety of craft beer we are serving our guests.”
Over the years, Chef Jed Laprade has fine-tuned some really amazing beer-infused recipes, and while a few are presented during special beer events only, others are available on the Beardslee menu for you check out the next time you are there.
“Making food that people crave, and want to come back for more, is our number one goal, of course,” says Laprade. “But by putting beer in some of our recipes, we have made food here really fun. Plus, most of our guests do not see the microbrewery we have on premises, and one way of making them aware of it is by using beer as ingredient in the food we serve.”
Here are some of our beer-steeped favorites from the Beardslee menu:
Stout-Infused Devilled Eggs
• “We soak our devilled eggs in stout to impart a unique flavor and color, and then we make a spicy, mustard devilled egg filling for this popular appetizer,” says Laprade. The chef also takes mustard seeds and `blooms’ them in more stout beer, so they almost look like caviar when sprinkled on top of the devilled eggs, adding more complexity to the mustardy flavor.
Spent Grain Pretzels
• One of the things Beardslee does a little differently with beer is taking leftover grain from the beer-making process and incorporating that into some of their baking. “When Drew Cluley, our head brewer, is done with the grains, he saves us a large amount that we then use to bake pretzels. They impart a nice, nutty, almost a beery taste to the freshly-baked pretzels,” says Laprade.
Greanleaf IPA Jalapeno Hummus
• Not just jalapeno, Beardslee reinvents this popular Middle Eastern starter dish with the Greenleaf IPA that the brewery has on tap. Beer seems to work well as an ingredient in hummus, and the IPA really emboldens the garlic and tahini present in the recipe.
Cauliflower And Cheddar Soup
• “From time to time, we do a cauliflower and cheddar soup with ESB [extra-special bitter beer],” says Laprade. “We take the ESB, reduce it down to a syrup, and then we drizzle it over the soup. The bitterness of the beer makes a nice, unexpected counterpoint to the rich, creaminess.”
• Beardslee makes sausages that are infused with beer to impart a subtle hoppy, bitterness to the richness of their sausages. “The bratwurst is one of our most popular items that we make in-house,” says Laprade. “We also make a stout mustard to go with that. We cook the mustard down with stout beer.”
Dessert Stout Float
• “One of the fun things we do with beer in the dessert section is the Dessert Stout Float,” says Laprade. “Not too many people order it, but when they do they really like it.” The stout has chocolate notes to it and blends with the vanilla ice-cream, creating a cold, frothy root beer float of sorts – for adults!
Stout Chocolate Cake
• Chef Laprade is putting the final touches on a new dessert item that will be available shortly: Stout Chocolate Cake. “I’m using stout and porter – really rich, dark, roasty beers that will pair well with the chocolate, just like the stout float,” he says.