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Love At First Sip: Beer Bread With An Apricot Twist
by Sandra Lewis    Mon, Oct 15, 2007, 12:01 PM
I’ve never been a beer drinker.

Why bother, I always thought, especially after watching the “Laverne and Shirley” television show as a teenager.

Laverne and Shirley were bottle cappers at the fictional Shotz brewery in Milwaukee, Wisconsin.

This Yiddish hop-scotch ditty from the show’s opening scene forever cemented in my mind that beer makers and beer drinkers were a crowd that perhaps I’d prefer to not hang out with:

“Schlemiel! Schlimazel! Hasenpfeffer Incorporated!”

“An inept, clumsy person! A chronically unlucky person! A German stew made from marinated rabbit!”

I’m not sure where the “Incorporated!” plays into it, but you get the picture.

My tastebud's translation on the whole beer scene: there is no taste, no body, might as swill water flavored with alcohol.

That is until I was introduced to craft beer maker Pyramid Brewery in Seattle and had my first taste of Pyramid’s Apricot Weizen.

It was love at first sip.

Lovely, not too sweet, with just enough apricot for my tastebuds to take notice.

And I had a revelation.

All beers and brew masters are not created equal.

Craft beer makers, like Pyramid, are artisans who are small, independent, and adhere to traditional brewing methods and ingredients. On a personal tour of Pyramid's brewery in Seattle I learned that taste is Pyramid's ultimate pursuit and they don’t cut corners on the process or the ingredients.

Pyramid’s flagship beer, Hefe Weizen, is a wheat beer brewed with two-row barley, wheat, and caramel. It’s an unfiltered beer true to the hefe weizen style which means your eyeballs will notice some cloudiness in the liquid, but your tastebuds will benefit from the flavor of the yeast left in the beer.

Even when a style of beer calls for filtration Pyramid filters only once to catch lingering solids.

Beer making is an art and a science. Lean too much to the science side of beer making and the result is the mass-produced, colorless, mostly tasteless liquid that the majority of Americans call beer because their palates don’t know the difference.

These beer makers use less expensive adjunct grains like corn and rice which add no flavor and serve only to sugar and thin the beer. In addition, multiple filtrations leave the beverage with coloring more akin to water than beer.

Some historians speculate that before mankind learned to bake bread we had mastered beer.

Smart bunch we are. Except it’s taken a very long time, domestically that is, to learn to make it tasty.

But we’re catching on.

Craft brewers’ supermarket sales increased 17.8% in 2006 while large domestic breweries sales continued to lag behind a 2004 peak. The total craft beer market increased by 12% in 2006.

Pyramid Breweries is a leader of the craft brewer's pack and there's a reason.

Their brews make your taste buds dance.

Mazal tov to us all.

This recipe combines the best of both worlds -- beer used in bread making.

Beer Batter Bread
3 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
3 tablespoons firmly packed light brown sugar
1 tablespoon baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
1 bottle beer, unopened and at room temperature
4 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted, plus extra for greasing

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Grease 9x5 inch loaf pan.

In a bowl, stir together the flour, brown sugar, baking powder, and salt. Open the beer and add it all at once; it will foam up. Stir briskly just until combined, about 20 strokes. The batter should be slightly lumpy. Pour into the prepared loaf pan and drizzle the melted butter.

Bake until the top is crusty and a cake tester inserted into the center comes out clean, 35-40 minutes. Let rest in the pan for 5 minutes, then turn the loaf out onto a rack. Serve wam or at room temperature the day it is made. Cut into thick slices and accompany with plenty of butter.

Sandra's Cooking Notes:
- From "Bread" published by Williams-Sonoma.
- I used a bottle of Pyramid's Apricot Weizen which imparted its lovely apricot flavor to the bread.
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Comments (2)add comment
written by Jamie Williams , October 19, 2007

Thank you for the nice article and I look forward to using your Beer Bread Recipe!
We hope to see you back in Seattle soon.

written by Ashley , November 30, 2007

I now have you to thank for introducing me to my favorite new beer. I made the bread too and it's very yummy!

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