The Holiday: Independence day celebrates the official adoption of the Declaration of Independence way back in 1776. To most Americans, this national holiday conjures up memories of fireworks, parties, and backyard cookouts with friends. Many of us patriotic citizens open up a cold one and unknowingly pay homage to our country’s ale loving and homebrewing forefathers — George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, Ben Franklin, and of course Sam Adams.
This is a busy holiday for many. Quick and simple patio fare allows more time to visit with friends, light off some fireworks (in certain states), and sip more suds. This 4th, we’re putting a gourmet and patriotic spin on basic grilled grub and washing it down with some fabulous American craft beers. Our own John Hancock if you will.
The Meal: Today’s brew-n-cue will include three courses: an appetizer, a main course with a side, and a light, warm-weather dessert. We chose a craft beer to complement each course, starting off with blue and white corn tortilla chips with salsa. The main course is red, white, and blue burgers with a summer salad. For the dessert, berries and cream. For the beers we chose a White (Wit) ale, a American Red Ale, and a Blue(berry) ale — all American of course.
The Appetizer: Stars and stripes chips and salsa. Blue and white corn tortilla chips and salsa make for a festive, easy, and inexpensive appetizer.
- The Beer: Brewery Ommegang’s Witte — a New York brewery’s take on a Belgian Wit (white).
- The Pairing: This refreshing Wit’s subtle spices contrast against the salsa while the beer itself is über drinkable on a hot holiday afternoon.
Appetizer Directions: Open bags of blue and white tortilla chips then dump into a large bowl. Pour jar of favorite salsa into another bowl. We used Pace Medium Salsa. Pop the Wit’s top and enjoy. Really tough, I know.
The Main Course: Red, White, and Blue burgers — onion, barbecue sauce, and blue cheese infused hamburgers topped with tomatoes and onions. A quick, delicious, and festive Independence Day take on a backyard BBQ staple.
- The Beer: Summit Brewing Co. Horizon Red Ale — A robust red ale out of St. Paul, MN with a solid malt profile and plenty of hops.
- The Pairing: The burnt caramel and roasted black malt notes complement the rich, smoky meat while the substantial citrus and piney hop flavors commingle with the onion and blue cheese.
Burger Directions: Chop a white onion. Then put an equal amount of the chopped onion and crumbled blue cheese into a bowl. Add just enough of your favorite BBQ sauce (we chose Sweet Baby Rays Original) to lightly cover, then mix well. Use approximately 1/3 cup of the mixture for a 1/3 lb burger (we like ground chuck for the fat). Cook over medium heat until desired doneness. Serve on a toasted bun with sliced tomato, onion, and barbecue sauce. Open beer, pour into pint glass and enjoy!
Advanced Grilling: To add a smoky flavor, cook meat over indirect heat with a tinfoil smoker pouch or smoker box filled with oak and hickory chips. Move over to direct heat after about 15-20 minutes. If using a kettle type charcoal grill, just rotate the grill grate, but not with your bare hands!
Summer Tomato Salad Directions: Dice equal amounts tomato and onion. Put one part each of onion, tomato, and blue cheese into a bowl. Add olive oil, malt vinegar, cracked black pepper and sea salt to taste. Mix well. Serve alongside burger or even on top.
- The Beer: Blue Point Brewing Company’s Blueberry Ale — A balanced, light-bodied and thirst quenching blueberry brew with an interesting grainy finish.
- The Pairing: Fresh strawberries and blueberries + tasty berry beer=berrylicious dessert.
Dessert Directions: Mix together ½ pint heavy whipping cream, 2 tsp of honey, and ¼ tsp of vanilla extract. Whip until soft peaks form. Serve in small cups or Martini glasses, layering strawberries and blueberries throughout. Crack the blueberry brew and enjoy!