As Oktoberfest draws to a close, this series concludes with a beer that remains an enigma to me: the IPA. I do not particularly care for IPAs, yet of all the beers we tasted in Beer School, an Cleveland’s Great Lakes Brewing Company’s Lake Erie Monster was actually my favorite. I liked this beer so much that I sent my mom, who lives in Ohio, on a search for it. LEM is a seasonal beer, so there was not much left here in North Carolina by the time I had my first taste of it in July.
I suppose now is as good a time as ever to come clean that, sometimes, my sister and I like to send our mom out on little quests. We drop a casual hint like, “Gee, I’d really like to try such-and-such but I can’t seem to find any here.” And off she goes. We like to think we are doing her a favor by keeping her active. Not to mention, she is really good at finding things!
So that is how it came about that I asked Mom to check out just what Great Lakes’ beers were available at Kroger the next time she stopped by. There was no Lake Erie Monster available, but for whatever reason, the search did not stop there.
Fast forward to a lovely August afternoon when I get a text message from my sister that reads, “Look what we found in Honor, Michigan!” And lo and behold, accompanying the message there was a picture of a fairly beat-up four-pack of Lake Erie Monster. Apparently, Mom had never stopped looking for it. I have been told my sister got down on her hands and knees to look at the back of a bottom shelf where she found the lone remaining beer available. I have a great family.
I saw the Lake Erie Monster once. I was probably 10-years-old, and I was fishing for Walleye with my dad on Lake Erie. I was probably doing more tagging along that actual fishing, but that’s beside the point.
This next part is a little embarrassing to write, but it’s a true story. You see, we are in the middle of lake, practically in Canada, and I had to pee. Boys are so lucky. Anytime they have to pee, they just tell you to turn around and let it fly. But when sitting in a boat in the middle of a lake with no hope of going to shore anytime soon, girls have to get in the water to pee. So as I creeped in to the water, I saw a little head pop up about 20 yards out. It was the monster.
I got back into the boat and held it the rest of the day. I was not about to get sucked under and drowned or eaten alive by that thing. Now at this point, I know you are probably thinking, “what an idiot-kid with an over-active, paranoid imagination.” Say what you will, but I saw that sucker’s head.
I also heard Big Foot messing around outside of my bedroom window when I was about the same age. Mom insisted it was just a tree branch and the wind, but she was not in the room when I heard him. (That little episode got me banned from ever watching Unsolved Mysteries again.)
So, now that I’ve completely destroyed any credibility I may have once had, allow me to tell you about these delicious fried apples. Like I did with the lambics, I had a hard time figuring out what to make with an IPA. They are so bitter that baking was out. But as I looked around for recipes and got to thinking about my options, I thought an IPA would work nicely in a beer batter.
When I was much younger, my family would occasionally go to a restaurant that served fried pickles and fried apples. That was a pretty novel thing for the childhood version of myself to experience, and I have never forgotten it. So, after a lovely trip to the farmer’s market on a beautiful fall day, I decided to fry up some beer battered apples.
India Pale Ales, or IPAs, originated not in India but in England. Brewers added extra hops to preserve the pale ales being sent to British soldiers in the India. The soldiers liked it so much that they kept asking for it when they got back home, and eventually, brewers decided to make it a permanent thing. Today, there are English IPAs, American IPAs and Imperial – or Double – IPAs.
English and American IPAs are similar in terms of bitterness, color and alcohol-by-volume. English IPAS range from 40 to 60 IBUs (international bittering units), while American IPAs range from 40 to 75 IBUs. With a SRM (standard reference method) of four to 15, one will find a wider range of colors in American IPAS. English IPAs run from eight to 13 on the SRM scale. Both have an alcohol by volume content ranging from five to 7.5 percent.
The Imperial or Double IPAs up the ante with an ABV that starts where the others leave off at 7.5 percent and goes up to 10 percent. They land between 60 and 120 on the IBU scale and eight to 15 on the SRM scale.
So with that, I conclude my 2012 version of Oktoberfest. I have received feedback from some that they have not liked this series at all. Others have said they enjoyed it. Any errors, omissions or severe miscommunications of the information provided are most definitely my own. Until Oktoberfest rolls around again, Cheers!
- Day 1: German Beers & Pretzels
- Day 2: Belgian Beers & Soup
- Day 3: Dark Beers & Chocolate Stout Bread
- Day 4: Lagers, Ales & Huevos Rancheros
- Day 5: Beer Spiced Cupcakes
- Day 6: Sours & Cherry Lambic Cookies
- Day 7: IPAs & Beer Battered Apples
Beer Battered Apples with Cinnamon Cream Cheese Dip
- For the apples
- 1 cup flour
- 1 cup India Pale Ale
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 3 small to medium apples
- For the dip
- 4 ounces cream cheese
- 2 tablespoons granulated sugar
- 1/2 teaspoon vanilla
- 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
- Heat the oil in a skillet over medium-high heat while you prepare the apples and batter.
- Whisk together the flour and salt in a medium bowl.
- Pour in the beer and stir until thoroughly combined.
- Core the apples and slice into rings, or simply slice them into thin wedges. Peel the apples prior to slicing only if desired.
- Dip the slices or wedges into the beer batter one at a time, then gently drop into the hot oil.
- Fry until lightly golden brown, using a slotted spoon to remove and place on a paper-towel lined plate.
- Repeat until all apples are fried.
- Keep warm by transferring to a baking sheet in the oven (for heaven's sake, do no put the paper towel in the oven - this is likely something I would have done as a kitchen novice.)
- Prepare the dip by beating all ingredients - cream cheese, sugar, vanilla and cinnamon - until well combined.
There is definitely room for experimentation in this recipe. One idea is to add a teaspoon of cinnamon and use a different type of beer for the batter. Same goes for the dip. Mix it up a bit by adding ginger or nutmeg in place of cinnamon.