It was a quiet Tuesday, until I got a post on Facebook from the New Belgium Brewing company. Nevermind the earthquake we had or the hurricane that was on the way; they started selling Fat Tire beer in Maryland! My favorite beer, that I have traveled far and wide to get, is finally available in my home state.
I first discovered this tasty brew when I was in college. At that time, Fat Tire wasn’t distributed anywhere east of the Mississippi River. From Carbondale Illinois, we would drive to Missouri to get a keg of it for special occasions (birthdays, end of the semester, etc). Other than that, I had to rely on the rare occasion that someone would visit me from where it was sold, and hope they remembered to bring me some. There are several flavors of beer that New Belgium makes, all of which are good, but the toasty amber ale that Fat Tire is rings my beer bells. If you can get it, buy some today (no, I’m not getting paid to say this).
To celebrate the new arrival I decided to combine two of my favorite things: beer and cheese. Home made soft pretzel bites and beer cheese dip to be exact. Obviously, this snack is good for just about any situation, such as breakfast, lunch or dinner. Just be sure to have a cold frosty one to wash it all down with.
Home made soft pretzels (adapted from a recipe by Alton Brown)
- 1 1/2 cups warm (110 to 115 degrees F) water
- 1 tablespoon sugar
- 2 teaspoons kosher salt
- 1 package active dry yeast
- 22 ounces all-purpose flour, approximately 4 1/2 cups
- 2 ounces unsalted butter, melted
- Vegetable oil, for pan
- 10 cups water
- 2/3 cup baking soda
- 1 large egg yolk beaten with 1 tablespoon water
- Pretzel salt
Combine the water, sugar and kosher salt in the bowl of a stand mixer and sprinkle the yeast on top. Allow to sit for 5 minutes or until the mixture begins to foam. Add the flour and butter and, using the dough hook attachment, mix on low speed until well combined. Change to medium speed and knead until the dough is smooth and pulls away from the side of the bowl, approximately 4 to 5 minutes. Remove the dough from the bowl, clean the bowl and then oil it well with vegetable oil. Return the dough to the bowl, cover with plastic wrap and sit in a warm place for approximately 50 to 55 minutes or until the dough has doubled in size.
Preheat the oven to 450 degrees F. Line 2 half-sheet pans with parchment paper and lightly brush with the vegetable oil. Set aside.
Bring the 10 cups of water and the baking soda to a rolling boil in an 8-quart saucepan or roasting pan.
In the meantime, turn the dough out onto a slightly oiled work surface and divide into 8 equal pieces. Roll out each piece of dough into a 24-inch rope. Cut dough into 1 inch pieces and place onto the parchment-lined half sheet pan.
Place the pretzels into the boiling water, 10 at a time, for 30 seconds. Remove them from the water using a large flat spatula. Return to the half sheet pan, brush the top of each pretzel with the beaten egg yolk and water mixture and sprinkle with the pretzel salt. Bake until dark golden brown in color, approximately 12 to 14 minutes. Transfer to a cooling rack for at least 5 minutes before serving.
Fat Tire cheese dip, aka: Heaven
- 1 8 oz package cream cheese
- 1 8 oz block of sharp cheddar, shredded
- 1/2 cup Fat Tire beer (or another amber ale)
- 1 1/2 Tbls prepared horseradish
- 1/2 tsp garlic powder
- 1/2 tsp chipotle powder
- 1 tsp salt
In a bowl microwave cream cheese for 45 seconds or until extremely soft and smooth. Stir in beer, horseradish, garlic, chipotle and salt. Microwave again for 45 seconds and gradually stir in the shredded cheese a little bit at a time. Microwave again as necessary to just barely melt the cheese and make the sauce smooth.