If you are coming to The Big Brew Beer Fest in Morristown, NJ, come visit my table for your free pretzel necklace! It only costs a like, and likes are free!
There are not many things in this universe that get me more excited than Tommy Chong at 4:19 P.M. on April 20th in Amsterdam, but a Beer Festival happens to be one them. For those of you that have never heard of this amazing phenomenon, here is a brief description that should make you feel worse than Homer Simpson after he eats his soul donut, for not knowing about these events sooner. A beer festival is comparable to Comic Con, except instead of all the comics and fan boys dressed in tights, there is a shit ton of beer.
In other words these events attempt to showcase the best craft beer our wonderful planet has to offer, and for a reasonable fee, you get to taste all the hops and barley your belly and brain can handle. Furthermore, most of these events pair their adult sodas with other mantastic goodies, including but not limited to food, spirits, party paraphernalia, and many more products that make men swoon like fashionistas smack dab in the middle of the Avenue des Champs-Elysées in Paris.
On September 28, 2013 The Big Brew Beer Festival took over The Morristown Armory and dropped a proverbial beer bomb barrage on Morris County that will from this point on be known as the Belch that was heard around the world. After taking some lumps after last year’s event, to say The Big Brew Beer Festival improved slightly, is like saying that Breaking Bad was kind of a good show. It was apparent that the head honchos of the Big Brew Beer Festival not only took every complaint from last year seriously, they took this year as a challenge to make The Big Brew Beer Festival into what they envisioned it could become from the very beginning. Their hard work and dedication created a Craft Beer event that New Jersians could be proud of. Which is no simple accomplishment considering that Grumpy Cat ain’t got nothing on us Jersey folk. We can hate on literally anything!
There were three ticket options for the two sessions of hoppy shenanigans at The Big Brew Beer Festival. One could purchase a V.I.P. ticket for $75.00, a general admission ticket for $45.00, or a designated driver ticket for a measly $10.00, which happened to come with 1,000 Karma Points for making sure your inebriated friends got home safely. The V.I.P tickets granted you access to the event one hour earlier than the general public, entrance to the V.I.P. beer area, and free food from the Morris Tap & Grill V.I.P. spread.
Now it is the time that I stand on my soapbox that is obviously filled with beer bottles, and preach to my congregation. My fellow foodies and craft beer geeks, I ask you one very simple question? Was there really ever a choice of what ticket we had to purchase? I mean honestly, if you consider yourself even a half-ass Cicerone or Gourmand the list of beers and food that the V.I.P. ticket offered was worth well more than the $30.00 dollars extra you paid, not to mention the one-hour head start. If you screwed up and purchased the general admission ticket this time around, I will let it slide and not report you to your respective guilds, but remember for next time, and there will be a next time, you can scrimp and save on health care, car insurance, and your significant others but never, not ever, on food and drink!
What was that? Do we have some non-believers in the crowd? Let me drop some hop –knowledge on you in the form of the V.I.P. beer list:
Tuckahoe Brewing Co. – Holly Beach Pumpkin Ale
Ommegang – Game of Thrones “Take the Black”
Duvel – Tripel Hop
Captain Lawrence – Xtra Gold
Brooklyn – Silver Anniversary
Starr Hill Brewery – Smoke Out (Limited Release)
Ramstein – Barrel aged, dry hopped Oktoberfest
Victory Brewing – Ranch DIPA Double Simcoe, 4 Hop Bock
Boulder Beer Co. – Honey-of-a-Saison
Epic – Brainless On Cherries
Flying Dog – Gonzo
Great Divide – Wolfgang Doppelbock
Neshaminy Creek – Highwater Hefeweizen
Oskar Blues – G’night Imperial Red
Sly Fox – Black Raspberry Reserve
Smuttynose – Homunculus
Stone – 17th Anniversary
Weyerbacher – Blasphemy
Yards – Cicada Indigenous Ale
Slumbrew – Attic & Eave Toasted Brown Ale
LakeFront Brewery – 25th Anniversary Brandy Barrel Imperial Pumpkin
3 Beards Beer Company – Bearded Lady Rye & Raspberry Belgian Pale Ale
Big Muddy Brewing – 17th St. Smoked Amber Ale
Boom! As long as you did not just jump onto the Craft Beer bandwagon to impress your mates or shag a scrummy girly, that list should have made you randier than Austin Powers on ten Viagra pills at the Bunny Ranch!
Still not convinced eh? Alright maybe I have to appeal to the carnivore within you, to persuade you to purchase the right ticket on February 15, 2014, when the Big Brew Beer Festival comes back to town. The following is the jaw dropping, palate appeasing, foodie approved V.I.P. menu that was brought to you by the culinary mastermind Chef Eric LeVine and his prodigious crew from The Morris Tap & Grill:
Smoked Beef Brisket Sliders with Cole Slaw: These sliders may have been like Tyrion Lannister in stature, but their flavor reminded me of his on screen presence, large and in charge. The subtle smokiness of the brisket paired exquisitely with the tangy slaw to create an impeccable bite of awesomeness.
Beer Braised Pork Cheeks with Garlic Mashed Potatoes: Some people are turned off by pork cheeks, and to them I say, “good, more for me.” The cheek is a fantastically tender muscle that when served right, and it was prepared by Morris Tap & Grill so you already know it was, in my opinion can be the best part of the pig. That is except for, of course, the belly, which is where Bacon Town is located and is more sacred than the Pope, Jesus, and the Vatican combined.
Chicken Carnitas with Beer Pickles: The chicken that stuffed these carnitas was not only bursting with flavor but was so moist and juicy the taco shell almost could not contain all the spicy goodness that it was charged to protect. The addition of the beer pickles was a stroke of genius and created an expertly balanced dish.
White chocolate and Busted Barrel Caramel Mousse: After demolishing all the savory food that the Morris Tap & Grill was offering the V.I.P. guests, there was only one dish left to sample. This light and airy mousse was the perfect ending to the flawless lunch that was provided by the MTG staff. Not only did it taste like a spoonful of heaven with a drizzle of OMG, it was not overtly heavy which left enough space to tackle the tremendous amount of beers that The Big Brew Beer Festival still had to offer.
I know this is a blog so you can see that I just dropped the microphone on the ground and walked off the stage. If the beer list and the food pictures did not make you drool like a politician during lobbyist season, then I think you may be reading the wrong blog. Perhaps this blog is more your speed, Dr. Dull Mc. Boringstien.
After enjoying all the thirst quenching bucket list beers that the V.I.P. area had to offer and chowing down on the amazing concoctions that the Morris Tap & Grill provided, it was time to venture to the 100 plus tables that littered the gigantic convention center. The Following is a list of these wonderful purveyors of the sudtastic and intoxicating:
3 Beards Brewing – Lumberjack Black Lager, CowPuncher IPA
Ace Cider – Pumpkin, Perry, Apple
Abita – Turbo Dog, Purple Haze
Anchor Brewing – Big Leaf Maple Red, California Lager, Liberty IPA
Alchemy & Science – Curious Traveler, Just IPA
Big Muddy Brewing – Galaxy IPA, Vanilla Stout
Blue Point – White IPA, RastafaRye
B Nektar Meadery – Evil Genius, Black Fang, Necromangdon
Bolero Snort Brewery – Blackhorn American Black Lager, Ragin’ Bull Amber Lager, There’s No Rye-ing in Basebull Rye Beer
Boulder – Mojo IPA, Hazed and Infused, Sweaty Betty, Kinda Blue
Breckenridge – Regal Pils, Vanilla Porter
Brooklyn – Oktoberfest, Blast!
Butternuts Brewing – Porkslap Pale Ale
Captain Lawrence – Pumpkin Ale, Captain’s Reserve Imperial IPA
Carton Brewing Company – Boat Beer, Pumpkin Cream Ale, Carton of Milk Stout
Climax Brewing – Oktoberfest, ESB
Crabbies – Ginger Ale
Cricket Hill -Fall Festivus, East Coast Lager, Hopnotic IPA
Doc’s Cider – Pumpkin Cider, Apple Cider
Duvel – Duvel Single, Maredsous Brune
East Coast Brewing Co. – BeachHaus Cruiser IPA, Winter Rental, BeachHaus Pils
Epic – Smoke and Oak, Barley Wine
Firestone Walker Brewing Company – Union Jack, Double Jack, Reserve
Flying Dog – Snake Dog, Dogtoberfest
Flying Fish Brewing Company – Oktoberfish, Exit 4, ESB – only on draft
Fort Collins Brewing – Major Toms American Wheat
Full Sail – Existential Ale, IPA
Goose Island Beer Company – Pere Jacques, 312, Oktoberfest
Great Divide – Rumble IPA, Claymore Wee Heavy
Great Lakes Brewing Co.– Oktoberfest, Dortmunder Gold Lager
Gritty’s – Maine IPA, Black Fly Stout, Pub Ale
Harpoon – Octoberfest, Saison Various
Horny Goat Brewing – Hopped Up N Horny IPA
Ithaca Beer Company – Flower Power, Apricot Wheat, White Gold, Cascazilla
Keegan Ales – KD’s Triple, Longest Day IPA, Mother’s Milk Stout
Kuka Andean Brewing Company – Pumpkin Porter, Imperial Rye IPA, Belgian Triple, Belgian Golden Ale
LakeFront Brewing – Fixed Gear, Pumpkin Lager
Lancaster Brewing Company – Milk Stout, Strawberry Wheat
Latis – Estaminet, Palm, Steenbrugge Tripel
Left Hand Brewing Company
Magic Hat – Seance, Elder Betty
Moa – Imperial Stout, Breakfast Ale
Moonlight – Kurt’s Apple Pie, Sensual
Neshaminy Creek – Dunkel Weizen, Trauger Pils
Newcastle – Newcastle Brown and Werewolf
Old Dominion – Double D IPA, Oak Barrel Stout
Ommegang – Abbey, Scythe & Sickle
Oskar Blues – Dale’s Pale Ale, Old Chub
Otter Creek Brewing Company – Hopsession Pale Ale, Oktoberfest, Lager
Pyramid – Oktoberfest
Ramstein Beer – Oktoberfest, Double Platinum, Gold
River Horse – Hippo Lantern, Special Ale
Sam Adams – Boston Lager, Oktoberfest, Angry Orchard Crisp Apple
Sea Dog – Blueberry
Shed Brewery – IPA, Mountain Ale
Shiner – Oktoberfest, Black Lager
Shipyard Brewing Company – Smashed Pumpkin, Monkey Fist IPA
Sierra Nevada – Kellerweis, Flipside Red IPA
Sixpoint – Crisp Pils, Righteous Rye
Slumbrew – Flagraiser IPA, Happy Sol, Porter Square Porter, Trekker Trippel
Sly Fox – Rt 113 IPA, Pikeland Pils
Smuttynose – IPA, Pumpkin
Southampton Public House – Pumpkin Ale, Double White, IPA
Speakeasy – Tallulah Pale Ale, Prohibition Ale
St. Ambroise Brewery – Pumpkin Ale, Apricot Wheat Ale
Starr Hill Brewing Company – Boxcar Pumpkin Porter, Whiter Shade of Pale, Double Platinum, Smoke Out
Stone Brewing Co. – Ruination, Cali-belgique
Stoudts Brewery – Heifer in Wheat, Oktoberfest, Pilsner
Summit – Extra Pale Ale, Oktoberfest, Porter, Pilsener
Tommyknocker Brewery – Small Batch Pumpkin Harvest Ale, Pick Axe IPA, Maple
Troegs – Perpetual IPA, Javahead Stout
Tuckahoe Brewing Co. – Dennis Creek Pale Ale, Steelmantown Porter
Unibroue – Chambly Noir, Blanche De Chambly, Trois Pistoles
Victory Brewing Company – Hop Wallop Double IPA, Headwaters Pale Ale, V12, Hop Devil
Weihenstephan – Kristal Weisse, Vitus, Oktoberfest
Weyerbacher – Double Simcoe IPA, Imperial Pumpkin
William’s Bros. – Fraoch Heather Ale, Kelpie Seaweed Ale, Midnight Sun
Wolaver’s Organic Brewery – IPA, Pumpkin, Oatmeal Stout
Wychwood Brewery – Hobgoblin Strong Dark Ale, Ginger Beard English Beer, Hobgoblin Strong Dark Ale, Ginger Beard English Beer
Yards – Pynk, Brawler
Tenth & Blake – Blue Moon Harvest Pumpkin, Crispin Cider
After wandering around this beer maze for a few hours, if you were not smiling from ear to ear, something is wrong with you. You are broken, and there is no amount of cow bell that will fix you. Unless, perhaps it is not more cow bell that you need but some ridiculously good Cheese Curds from The Cow and The Curd truck that happened to be parked in the venue. Not a cheese fan, yet you still needed some sobering food to assist you in your journey, The Big Brew Beer Fest thought of that too, featuring food from The Office Beer Bar & Grill, 40 North, and Nicole’s Ten strategically located throughout the event.
So let’s discuss what we have learned today shall we? The Big Brew Beer Fest not only addressed but exceeded the concerns that were expressed after the first year of this event, which by the way I still loved. Secondly, the beers that were offered at this event would make our founding fathers, whom by the way loved themselves some hooch, cry like a disgraced English man after the revolutionary war. Furthermore, the food that was served at the Big Brew Beer Festival is the kind of food that is slightly more addictive than nicotine and three times tastier than anything your grandmother ever made, and that is a promise. Finally and seriously most importantly is the fact that this astounding, intriguing, brilliant, and insert obligatory adjective here, event is coming back to the Morristown Armory on February 15, 2014, and if you are not in the house, you have no excuse! See you there!
So you have secured the privilege to host the largest event in most people’s social calendars all year and you want to hold on to this honor for years to come. This is not an easy task my friend! At least half of your friends and family that are attending your New Year’s Eve party this year have thoughts of forcing a coup d’état, that would make Napoleon Bonaparte blush, leaving your house empty on this festive occasion. The best way to quell this treacherous scheming is to fill your visitors’ bellies with delicious foodie fare that will have them craving your apps like Charlie Sheen desires seven gram rocks. The following is The Blue Collar Foodie’s Top 5 Coup Quashing Appetizers.
1: Candied Bacon with Mixed Nuts
If you read this blog you are well aware of my love of, alright obsession for, bacon, so it should be no surprise that the first appetizer on my list is full of salty smoked swine. I created this recipe for Christmas this year because I had some left over slab bacon that I did not want to go to waste. It was a huge hit, so even though there is no official recipe yet, it is not very difficult to make. Please note that when I made this delightfully spontaneous dish I did not measure the spices so feel free to tweak the recipe to fit your tastes.
First you will need to acquire the following ingredients:
1 Pound of Slab Bacon (preferably from your favorite Pork Store)
1 Table spoon Cinnamon
Maple Syrup (Enough to coat bacon)
2 Table spoons of Brown Sugar
- Cut the Bacon into ¼ inch bite sized pieces making to cut against the grain as to preserve the integrity of the fat to meat ratio of the slab bacon.
- Place a ½ pound of the cut bacon into a skillet set to medium high heat.
- Sprinkle ½ tablespoon of cinnamon on Bacon once a layer of grease forms on the bottom of the pan. Mix Well
- Cook bacon until very close to being done and then drizzle maple syrup into the pan coating the bacon evenly.
- Cook Bacon until it is crisp.
- Remove Bacon from pan and place on plate and allow it to cool for approximately 10 minutes.
- Repeat steps 2-6 for the other ½ pound of bacon.
- Fill two serving dishes (I use holiday tins to be festive) with the Emerald’s mixed nuts and top with Candied Bacon.
- Dust with Brown sugar and mix well to incorporate the bacon into the nuts.
This dish is easy to create and even easier to serve to your guests. Simply prepare this crunchy, salty, sweet concoction the night before and set it out shortly before your guests arrive. I assure you this hodgepodge of awesomeness will make at least a few of your guests Tweet the praises of your shindig, like a 14 year old girl who just received her first kiss.
New Year’s Eve Parties are hard to cook for because people are constantly on the move. Furthermore, everyone is dressed up to ring in the New Year, so unfortunately the gold standard in appetizers, The Chicken Wing, is absolutely out of the question. Right? Wrong! This tangy Buffalo Chicken Dip is the perfect solution to this sticky fingered dilemma.
This is another dish that can easily be made the night before and reheated just prior to your guest’s arrival. Paired with a strong tortilla chip like Tostitos Scoops this magical potion will make your Grandma’s Onion Dip feel like Latoya Jackson at a family reunion.
As most of you already know, I am from the Armpit of our fine country, New Jersey! New Jersey is known for a few things; the Mob, thanks to the Sopranos, the New Jersey Turnpike, thanks to the smell of cheese and death that emanates from it, Snookie, thanks to Ulster County, New York, and Jersey Fresh Produce, thanks to being the Garden State. As the Facts of Life theme song once said, “You take the good, you take the bad,” (I just lost a man point there) and that pretty much sums up my love hate relationship with New Jersey. I could do without being associated with the horrid odor of the Turnpike and Snookie invading my shore line like an overweight, orange skinned, vodka laced Godzilla, but then I would have to do without the mouthwatering taste of fresh Jersey Tomatoes and I can’t have that!
In celebration of the only good thing to be associated with New Jersey since the first game of Baseball was played on June 19, 1846, I present to you this jaw dropping bruschetta recipe that will make your guests proud to be from THE GARDEN STATE. Unlike ordinary Bruschetta recipes, this one throws sun dried tomatoes into the mix, and then prompts you to melt cheese on pre-made toast squares. What you end up with is an appetizer that is not only healthy but is also a true crowd pleaser. These crispy slices of heaven will make your guests completely forget that Chris Christie is our governor and their car insurance is higher than most people’s mortgages.
If you are anything like me you always have some left over Christmas Ham that you are not quite sure what to do with. Sure you can have Ham and Cheese sandwiches for lunch for a month, or you could make some fantastic Split Pea Soup, but why not share the wealth, in the form of a crunchy tasty treat. These crunchy Swiss cheese and Ham patties are a great way to recycle that Holiday Ham in a fun and scrumptious way.
The home style appeal of these flavorful morsels transport me back to a simpler time when instead of Panko or Tempura batter, cornflakes would do just fine as a crunchy coating. I like to serve these delicious nuggets with a variety of mustards, such as Dijon, Spicy Brown, and Yellow.
This recipe is one of my all-time favorites for any kind of entertaining. Fried Green Beans can be served to a small dinner party with a refined palette or to a group of booze laden football fans on any given Sunday. Either way these crispy fried tidbits are always a hit.
Kat and I found this recipe when we first got our Deep Fryer and went on frying binge that almost caused a zombified John Candy to rise from his grave and join us. We literally fried everything, French Fries, Tator Tots, Hot Dogs, Twinkies (R.I.P.), Oreos, Snickers, and when we ran out of the normal things to fry, we went rouge and started tossing veggies into the hot oil. After we gained 10 pounds in a month and our cholesterol was twenty points higher we had to retire the fryer for a while but this recipe always remained a staple.
Weather you use all or none of the recipes above, I hope that reading this article inspired you to create some amazing appetizers for your guests. Remember your friends and family came to your house to celebrate the New Year, it is up to your spread to keep them coming back for more. I hope your New Year’s Eve Party will be a complete success and no usurpers are victorious. As Cersei Lannister said, “When you play the game of thrones you win or you die.”
Happy New Years to you all and thanks for a wonderful 2012!