Tag Archives: Figs

Homebrew #12: Milk Stout w/ Figs

25 Oct

A lead on a free crop of backyard figs with a few weeks until they fell triggered the preserving instinct… and instead of jam, how about my first homebrew aged on fruit?

The only fig beer I’ve had was a sour beer at Cascade in Portland, which I didn’t really like, so I tried to think of other combination… fig saison? figs and oatmeal? figs and cream? Hmm, how about a milk stout (a stout with lactose sugar, which yeast can’t ferment, leaving a sweeter beer) with figs?

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The grain bill combined basic 2-row barley with a little white wheat, Crystal 60L, chocolate malt, roasted barley, and the lactose, with Magnum as bittering hops and no aroma hops to keep this a very malt-focused beer (I’m skeptical that figs + hops would be a pleasant combination in any case). As I’ve been doing for most brewing recently, I kept this to a smaller batch size (about 2 gallons) to make it easy to brew in a single stovetop pot on a weeknight:

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I got a decent amount of wort out of the mashing process, and decided to boil it down farther than usual, bringing it to an original gravity of 1.080 — this should end up closer to an imperial stout in strength (though the lactose makes that gravity reading a little misleading, as some of that sugar won’t actually get fermented to alcohol).

About a week later, after primary fermentation was over, I picked and peeled a few pounds of fresh figs, caramelized them in a hot pan (a dual-purpose flavor enhancement + sterilization tip from an online forum), and deglazed with a bit of the beer in progress before adding them back into the fermenter.

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And after a few weeks on the figs, I carefully siphoned it out with a filter (trying to avoid fig seeds or residue in the beer), bottled it, and made a goofy label. And just yesterday I finally cracked one open and tried it:

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I was pleasantly surprised– it’s quite a good beer. An excellent smooth, roasted-but-not-too-bitter, rich, flavorful stout, with just a hint of some fruit under the surface (tasting opinions ranged from blueberry to fig). This might be good with food as well.

That was a lot of work for just 10 beers, but I’ll stow them away for special occasions, and the process is part of the fun…

From Lamb to Plate

16 Sep

Last weekend I had friends over for a nice dinner: a delicious whole leg of lamb (from a local farm, slaughtered and butchered by a friend just a few days before), a salad of wild arugula + homemade ricotta + roasted yellow nectarines, roasted eggplant with dry-farmed tomatoes and preserved lemon, and a platter of five kinds of figs. This is the story of the food:

The lamb was from Amador Grazers (all grass fed, no antibiotics or growth hormones). If you’re not squeamish about such things, you can see a photo of my friend slaughtering and butchering it here.

I made an herb paste of rosemary, thyme, black pepper, sea salt, and about a head of crushed garlic, and rubbed it on every surface of the leg:

I let it sit for a little under an hour while I preheated the oven to “425” (which in my oven is 350). I put the leg in and roasted it for about 90 minutes, occasionally checking the temperature. When the inside of the thickest part hit 130 (and the thinner areas were at 135), I took it out and let it rest half an hour before carving. It was absolutely delicious– moist and so flavorful. I probably could have even gone more rare:

While the lamb was resting I improvised a sauce: I deglazed lamb fat and crunchy bits from the pan by adding some red wine and briefly boiling, then tossed in four diced up really soft figs and some mint and simmered it for about 10 minutes to reduce it into a sweet, rich sauce.

Earlier, we’d made ricotta (milk, cream, salt, lemon juice — I’ve made it before), which went well with the especially spicy wild arugula and some yellow peaches I’d roasted in the oven while the lamb was resting:

For dessert, a platter of figs, every variety I could find at the farmers’ market. Clockwise from the right: Black Mission figs (the common ones), Brown Turkish Figs, green Kadota Figs (my favorite: with an especially jammy pink center), a small black fig whose name I don’t remember, and Candy Stripe figs.

A good evening and good company.

p.s. If you’re curious how one transports a raw eight-pound leg of lamb on ice for an hour and a half without a car, here’s the answer: