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Hometown Brew

Unless you live under a rock, you’ve heard by now that Miller Brewing Co. and Coors Brewing Co. have announced their intention to create a joint venture that will be known as MillerCoors. The news made me think about our hometown beers and brewery beginnings.

When I think of hometown brews, the first brewer to come to mind is Miller Brewing Co.

Miller produces some of the tried-and-true standbys we all know and love (like Miller Lite, High Life and Miller Genuine Draft), and I’m a big fan of this past summer’s new release, Miller Chill.

But Miller wasn’t the first. Pabst and Schlitz are also a part of Milwaukee’s beer beginnings.

The first brewery to open in our corner of the state was Pabst, which enjoyed 153 years of business here in Milwaukee, closing its doors in 1997.

Schlitz, or “The Beer that Made Milwaukee Famous” also comes to mind as a hometown brew. Schlitz immediately donated thousands of barrels of beer to Chicago after the Great Fire of 1871, which earned the brewery the ‘famous’ slogan. 

Thanks to Miller Brewing Co., we can still consider Pabst, Schlitz and their many beers hometown favorites, since they are now brewed at the Miller plant.

The best way I can think of to celebrate our Brew City past, present and future is by throwing a hometown beer-themed party. Not only are Milwaukee’s beers famous world-wide, they are also very drinkable and tasty. They make for a great celebration of Milwaukee’s food and beer heritage.

Ask each of your attending friends to bring a different hometown beer, whether it be Miller or a beer that reminds them of their hometown. But don’t forget the newest members of our family and make sure someone grabs some Coors Banquet, Coors Light, Molson and Blue Moon. The party will also give you a chance to enjoy some of the food we’re known for like Usinger’s or Klement’s sausage, bratwurst and hotdogs, cheese from West Allis Cheese or the bevy of barbeque options from Saz’s. Be proud of your hometown!

Put Some Beer in that Bird!

If you haven’t tried beer can turkey, you’re missing out.  I’ve used this technique with chicken too, but cooking turkey this way gives Thanksgiving dinner a whole new flavor.  In case you’re not familiar with the technique, I’ll give you the rundown:

Take a can of beer, either cut the top off or use a skewer to add a few additional steam holes near the top, add seasonings, carefully place the upright can inside the turkey (so the bird is balanced as if its standing on its legs), cook and ENJOY!  That may be slightly simplified, but that’s the concept.  The beer steams and seasons the turkey from the inside and adds excellent flavor.

For the record – the beer matters.  I recently heard from a blog reader that Miller Chill is great with chicken.  When choosing the beer, take into consideration the ingredients that were used during brewing and make sure to use complementary seasonings.

Here’s a recipe from to try out.  If you’re not sure about trying it at Thanksgiving with the whole family, try it with a whole chicken at another time.

Beer Can Turkey
1 (9 to 10 pound) whole turkey, thawed or fresh
2 teaspoons dry mustard
2 teaspoons granulated onion
2 teaspoons paprika
2 teaspoons kosher salt
1 teaspoon granulated garlic
1 teaspoon ground coriander
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/4 cup canola oil
12 to 24 ounces beer (Miller Genuine Draft,

  • Remove giblets, neck and any excess fat from turkey. Rinse with cold water; drain well.
  • In a small bowl combine spices, herbs and seasonings.
  • Meanwhile, preheat gas grill with all burners on high or build a charcoal fire. Reduce heat to Indirect Medium heat (about 350ºF) or position gray-ashed briquettes on either side of an aluminum drip pan. Pour beer inside turkey sitter and set aside.
  • Blot turkey dry with paper towels. Rub interior of bird with 2-3 teaspoons of rub mixture. Brush turkey all over with oil and place drumstick-side down on sitter. Season turkey Place turkey/sitter directly on the grill rack cooking grate, carefully balancing the bird.
  • Grill over Indirect Medium heat for about 2-3 hours until the juices run clear and a meat thermometer registers 185 degrees F in thigh and 170 degrees F in breast. Wearing barbecue mitts, carefully remove turkey from the grill, being careful not to spill the hot beer. Discard the beer.
  • Let turkey rest at least 20 minutes before carving. Serve warm.

Makes 12 servings.

NOTE: On some grills, lid may not close completely. In this case, a small gap will still allow turkey to grill thoroughly. For added safety, place foil over turkey to avoid contact with grill lid.

Thanksgiving Pairing Tips

 I love Thanksgiving.  Our whole family gets together, and my wife makes a killer sweet potato casserole.  And of course, being the beer lover that I am, I love to figure out which beers pair well with the different dishes and courses of my Thanksgiving dinner.  Here are some of my favorite duos.

In spite of the fact that we’re about to consume a giant meal, we always have snacks like veggies and dip and cheese and crackers out beforehand.  Cheese and beer actually pair better together than cheese and wine (according to a study that came out last November from The University of California) so sometimes we get a little fancy with the cheese platter.

  • Smoked Gouda and Shiner Bock
  • Fresh Mozzarella and St. Pauli Girl Dark
  • Aged Cheddar and Bell’s Pale Ale
  • Gruyere/Aged Swiss and Great Lakes Holy Moses White Ale

Turkey and all the fixings:
Because of its smoky and herbal flavorings, turkey tastes great with an Oktoberfest like Sam Adams Octoberfest, Leinie’s Oktoberfest or Paulaner Octoberfest.  Or try an amber ale like Bells Amber Ale, Coors Winterfest or Murphy’s Irish Amber.

Pumpkin Pie:
Arguably the best part of Thanksgiving dinner is the pumpkin pie.  I don’t want the sweetness of my desserts to overpower my beer so I like a robust, dark beer with my pie.  Try a stout like Murphy’s Irish Stout or Gray’s Oatmeal Stout.  I also enjoy Anchor Steam Christmas Ale, Lakefront Pumpkin or Blue Moon with my final course (before leftovers, that is).

Make the most of those leftovers!

Cooking with Beer

Welcome to the holidays!  ‘Tis the season of shopping, gifts and parties.  I'm sure you're familiar with the "BYOB Leftover" phenomenon - your guests all contribute to your holiday party by bringing along a 12-pack of their favorite beer and then leave you with the leftovers after the party.  I'm all for cracking open a cold one by the fire, but I have some other more creative ideas for using up that leftover brew.

Cooking with Beer
Beer makes a great ingredient in a lot of recipes.  Here are a couple of my favorites, perfect for using up leftover holiday beer.  I'd recommend making them both and dipping the bread in the chili.

Beer Bread (from
3 cups self-rising flour
12 oz. Bells Winter White, Hacker-Pschorr or another amber-colored beer
3 Tbsp. sugar
Combine ingredients and mix thoroughly.  Place in well-greased bread pan.  Bake at 350 degrees for about 1 hour.  Allow to cool for 10 minutes before removing from pan.

Game-Day Chili (from
2 pounds ground beef
1 medium onion, chopped
3 to 4 garlic cloves, minced
2 (15 oz.) cans pinto beans, rinsed and drained
3 (8 oz.) cans tomato sauce
1 (12 oz.) bottle Leinenkugel's Creamy Dark, Capital Brown Ale, Samuel Adams Winter Lager or another dark beer
1 (14 ½ oz.) can beef broth
1 (6 oz.) can tomato paste
1 (4.5 oz.) can chopped green chilies
2 Tbsp. chili powder
1 Tbsp. Worcestershire sauce
2 tsp. ground cumin
1 to 2 tsp. ground red pepper
1 tsp. paprika
1 tsp. hot sauce
    Cook first 3 ingredients in a large pot over medium heat, stirring until meat crumbles and is no longer pink. Drain well.  Combine meat mixture, beans, and next 11 ingredients in pot; bring to a boil. Reduce heat, and simmer for 3 hours or until thickened. Makes 6 to 8 servings.

Beer Tasting
If you have a variety of beers leftover after a party, throw another party!  Make the second party a beer tasting where the point is to appreciate the subtle flavors of many different beers.
Look at and smell the beer.  Take a small sip to get an initial taste.  Try to determine unique tastes and ingredients through each of these steps.  Most importantly, compare the tastes of different types of beer to examine both the subtle and drastic differences between beverages.  This can be a great way for friends to experience new and different beers and to use up the stock left over from any holiday gathering.


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