Vegan Brew

homebrewing + beer + vegan food = yum

Oatmeal guava pancakes with coconut porter infused syrup, bourbon braised coconut bacon and roasted fingerlings

Yup. Bringing it back, after a an extremely long hiatus. You’re not interested in why, so let’s move on to what I hope will be a fresh start. Lots of ideas in my head and maybe some will even inspire Kevin to complete one of the half-dozen draft posts he’s started :)

So, a little while back The Cinnamon Snail – ever so creative gurus of vegan food truck cuisine – had a special breakfast item: Bourbon hazelnut pancakes with cranberry orange relish, pine nut butter, & dark beer syrup. I KNOW, RIGHT?! WOW! Missing out on the special inspired me to get into the kitchen on one otherwise lazy football-filled Sunday. Here are the results.

I started with the syrup, since it takes some time to boil down. I made syrup infused with Maui Brewing Company’s Coconut Porter, following the same method I used for this glaze. Basically, a 3:1 ratio of maple syrup to beer, boiled down to a consistency that’s right for you.

For the pancakes I once again turned to the Veggie Works cookbook. I used the oatmeal pancake recipe, making a few modifications.

Oatmeal Guava Pancakes

1 cup boiling water
1/2 cup rolled oats

1/2 cup white flour
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 cup guava juice
1/2 cup almond milk
1 tablespoon of Earth Balance spread

Cook the oats in the water for 3-5 minutes, covered. Mix the remaining dry ingredients together in a bowl. Add the juice, almond milk and Earth Balance to the oats and mix well. Pour the oatmeal goop into the flour mixture and beat into a batter. Heat a skillet, oil and cook ‘m up.

I paired the pancakes with some Buffalo Trace-braised coconut bacon (by the way, very lame that Maker’s Mark is watering down their bourbon), made with applewood liquid smoke. I also added a little bourbon barrel-aged Worcestershire Sauce that Kevin hooked us up with. Meanwhile, I chopped up fingerlings I picked up at the Farmers’ Market and roasted them with coconut oil, pepper, smoked salt and some Pain is Good jerk seasoning.


The results were awesome. The syrup had the sweet barley flavors of bourbon and a slight burnt flavor that was distinctly like the toasted coconut notes that come from aging in a charred oak barrel.  Combining this with the bacon and the tropical fruit of the pancakes brought the flavors out even more. If I were to make this again I would probably add some actual fruit (pineapple?) and top with some crushed, toasted macadamia nuts. Pair it with Coconut Porter or your favorite breakfast beer and start the day off right. Enjoy.



The Tipsy Vegan

On more than one occasion, when I’ve told people about this blog I’ve been asked: “have you heard about John Schlimm’s upcoming book The Tipsy Vegan?” John Schlimm is the author of 11 books, including The Ultimate Beer Lovers Cookbook, and is a member of one of the oldest brewing families in America, Straub Brewery in Saint Marys, Pennsylvania. Needless to say John’s latest book  on cooking vegan with booze was right up my alley and I was stoked when we were generously provided a pre-release copy to review (many thanks to Lara at Da Capo Press).

The book itself is very well designed: filled with colorful pictures and well organized. The sections of the book are not only broken down by recipe type (e.g., The Guzzler’s Garden of Side Dishes), but also by the type of booze you want to cook with. Recipes using everything from amaretto to whiskey are indexed at the beginning of the book, making it easy to find the beer recipes :)

I had hoped to make a wide variety of dishes before this release-day review, but only had time for one dinner. Let me be clear, though, the recipes couldn’t be much easier…it was my “research” of things boozy that has kept me from cooking & writing. The fact that the recipes use simple ingredients and are very easy to make are a big plus for people who don’t want to spend a lot of time in the kitchen. Also, unlike so many vegan recipe books and blogs that center on meat analogues, there is an obvious focus on vegetables, something I really appreciate.

Tonight I made Blitzed Brussels Sprouts Moutarade, sprouts cooked in a cognac-infused mustard sauce, and Bottom’s Up VegeBean Stew, a hearty bean and vegetable stew cooked in beer broth. All was served over quinoa (not the first time you’ve seen these ingredients together on VeganBrew).

The Brussels sprouts were easy to make and very tasty! I’ve never cooked with ‘yack before, but absolutely love it. The oak and fruit from the cognac are nicely balanced with the strong flavors of mustard and lemon.  The slight bitterness of the Brussels sprouts add another layer of goodness. Big fan of this recipe.

The vegetable and bean stew calls for 12 oz of beer of your choice, with the suggestion of either light lager (for cool, summer stew) or a dark beer (for a fall/winter warmer). John also encourages adding homebrew or spices to make the beer unique each time. I did take his advice, using applewood smoked “bacon salt” (thanks Kev), fava beans in place of lima beans and homebrewed dry stout for the beer (more on this beer later.) Definitely a tasty meal, though I probably should have cooked the stew as long as the recipe instructed (2.5 – 3 hours) to get the full flavor experience. No doubt, the perfect recipe for a slow cooker!

My only complaint about the book would be that I expected more beer recipes –  more like a veganized version of The Ultimate Beer Lovers Cookbook. Nonetheless, my first experience with The Tipsy Vegan is a success and I look forward to making other recipes. I’ve already bought the ingredients for the Lentils in the Fast Lane and The Boozer’s Smoky-Spicy Baked Beans. This is a great cookbook that would make for a fun gift for the vegan boozer in your life. Get yours today!

ThanksLiving 2011 at Woodstock Farm Animal Sanctuary

As mentioned in a previous VeganMofo post, the Woodstock Farm Animal Sanctuary is a small piece of heaven for more than a hundred animals. Though it might be a bit early to think about Thanksgiving, WFAS held its 6th annual ThanksLiving vegan feast on Sunday, October 16th to ensure attendees get a glimpse of the fall foliage without freezing their tushes off in November.

Before the feast was served,  we enjoyed some delicious hors d’oeuvres – faux gras from The Regal Vegan, Buffalo Bites and (my favorite!) Cape Cod Cakes from Blossom and “Beef” Medallions with Béarnaise Sauce using a new flesh-alternative called Savage River. While the appetizers were passed, attendees had a chance to bid on a huge table of silent auction and raffle items, including gift certificates to Candle Cafe, Blossom and V-Note,  VIP passes to the Daily Show & Colbert and many other awesome prizes. Also, the bar was pouring stellar drinks, including Smoked Porter, Pale Ale or Arrogant Bastard donated by Stone Brewing Company!

The trays of hors d’oeuvres seemed endless. I had to cut myself off to save room for the main course, prepared by uber-amazing chef Terry Hope Romero. Check out this menu!

Now, onto the entrees….but before we stuffed our own gullets, the guests of honor got to feast!

No guest speakers this year, just Jenny Brown (director/co-founder) “dropping bones of truth on us” and giving many, well-deserved props during the meal. Dinner was brought to your table in one packed plate. The Chipotle Sweet Potato Bisque with Cashew Crema was where I started and may have been my favorite part. Rich and hearty with just enough spice. Perfectly paired with Stone Smoked Porter and a great comfort food for the rainy fall evening, The Cornbread Sofrito Stuffing with Veggie Chorizo was a close second…a very creative Latin touch added to the traditional stuffing. I, like pretty much every vegan, am a huge fan of kale and loved the Massaged Kale Salad with Raisins and Toasted Almonds. Finally, the “bird,” Chicken Rajas in Orange Garlic Mojo made with the new Savage River faux chicken. The faux meat market isn’t something I’m big into these days, but this wasn’t bad. I didn’t find it to be much different (if at all) from Gardein, but definitely a lot better than the May Wah stuff, in my opinion. Anyway, a great alternative if you need something meaty to make the Thanksgiving meal complete.

Finally, super-talented vegan baker extraordinaire Danielle Konya of Vegan Treats blew our minds with her out-of-this-world desserts. An assortment of everything from pumpkin pie to peanut butter bomb was served up.

It was yet another hugely-successful WFAS event. If you didn’t make it, be sure to come out next year. Stay up-to-date with WFAS announcements, because the tickets are gone in the blink of an eye and…I say this from personal experience…you don’t want to be that sucker who only gets to read about how awesome it is on the internet :)

Vegan in Portsmouth, NH

Another VeganMofo, is here. That’s cool and all, but I have to say every time I read “vegan mo-fo” I think of Vegan Muthafucka, which is just fucking weird.

Anyway, a week in with no posts, we’re off to a bad start! The first few days of October both Kevin and I were outside of Portsmouth, New Hampshire running the Smuttynose Brewing Co. Rockfest Marathon mentioned in the previous post (still time left to donate to the Woodstock Farm Animal Sanctuary fundraiser!) The race was pretty horrible for both of us. We each had an illness or injury and the cold, driving rain destroyed any hope of overcoming it. It was quite a challenge, but we both pushed through, crossing the finish line with rather disappointing times. On the bright side, we got to sample some vegan food and beer in and around Portsmouth, which made the experience slightly less painful.

Smuttynose Brewing Company, who sponsored the race, and its sister brew pub, Portsmouth Brewery, are the dominating craft breweries in the area. As you may know, Portsmouth Brewery is creator of the infamous Kate the Great, Russian Imperial Stout. Definitely an awesome beer, but there are so many other great beers poured at the brewery and some stellar vegan options on the menu to boot! We hit up the brew pub the night before and after the race. We had the carb-heavy Smoked Tofu with Rice Noodles, an enormous portion of stir fried noodles, loads of veggies and Tofu Lin style smoked, pressed tofu.

There is also a tempeh wrap on the menu, as well as the usual pub food offerings of hummus and a veggie burger. Note, we did not get a straight answer on whether the Brewery Veggie Burger is vegan. While the ingredients seem straight forward – a blend of tofu, toasted oats, roasted fresh vegetables and spice – when I asked, I was told dismissively “no it’s not vegan, it’s got some stuff in the burger.” Probably worth asking again.

There beers were excellent! Very good timing on our part, as the wet-hop-brewed Hop Harvest II was on tap, which appears to be brewed with fresh Citra hops. This beer is truly outstanding – definitely one of the best wet-hop beers I’ve ever had. Huge fresh hop aroma, lots of tropical fruit flavor. Incredible. I’m not a big Gose fan, but Portsmouth is one of the few pubs where you’ll find one brewed and we were also lucky to be there while it was on.

Also worth mentioning, there is an all vegan raw restaurant called Revitalive Cafe just south in Newburyport, Massachusetts.

I didn’t really enjoy my raw “tuna” wrap so much, but Kevin and Jaime liked their dishes, including the Taco Salad, Raw Vegan Pizza and the Revita-Wrap (shown below).

Finally, I would not leave Portsmouth without an organic vegan pizza cooked in a wood-fire oven at the Flatbread in downtown Portsmouth.

Delicious artisan flatbread pizza with all the fixing and a good number of decent beers. SO good!!

Smuttynose promo to benefit Woodstock Farm Animal Sanctuary!

Join us on September 8th at The Half Pint in NYC to benefit the animals and the work of Woodstock Farm Animal Sanctuary (WFAS). The Half Pint is generously donating 25% of the tab at an upcoming Smuttynose Brewing Co. promo night to WFAS …and insanely amazing vegan fare will be available for purchase (all proceeds benefit WFAS) from Blossom du Jour!

Brett of VeganBrew is hosting this benefit as part of his upcoming marathon run, October 2nd – World Day for Farm Animals – at the Smuttynose Brewing Co. Rockfest Marathon, to benefit WFAS. You can also help raise funds by donating to the Crowdrise project page. We hope to raise $2,620 for WFAS – anything you can give is very much appreciated!

In addition to The Half Pint”s regular lineup of fantastic craft beers, Smuttynose beers featured will be:

Farmhouse Saison
Robust Porter
Star Island Single

Come out for a few pints for a good cause!

Vegan Friendly Beer Bars in Philly

Philadelphia prides itself on being “America’s Best Beer-Drinking City,” which may be a debateable topic (look how many other cities have attempted to copy our “beer week.”)  I’d argue, without question, that Philly is also America’s most vegan-friendly-beer-drinking city.  In other words, when I’m out drinking, I want good vegan pub food.  And without a doubt, I get that at many, if not all, of the establishments I normally frequent.

Here’s my attempt at introducing & summarizing what you can get while visiting the many bars & pubs around town.  My criteria was simple:

  • Must have multiple vegan options on the menu, clearly marked as such.  Lame attempts like hummus & portabello sandwiches don’t count.
  • Must have craft beer.  No crap on tap!

I’ll start from deep South Philly (where I live), working my way north through the city, as far as Fishtown, before swinging out west to University City.  I don’t think I’ve missed anything, but please let me know if I have!

South Philadelphia Tap Room

SPTR has a special place in my heart – for the longest time it was the only craft beer bar in my area of town – and it is the place where I learned to love craft beer.  In fact, I still remember the 3 beers I had my first visit over 7 years ago: Victory Throwback Lager (a pre-prohibition style lager), Hoegaarden, and Troegs Dreamweaver Wheat.

The tap room has 13 taps and one cask-ale hand pump – always filled with a variety of awesome stuff.  Their main vegan option on the menu is the vegan hoagie – grilled tempeh, marinated mushrooms and tofu mayo on a long roll.  I’ve traditionally not been a fan of any mayo-type foods, vegan or not, but this stuff is to die for.  For the longest time I felt this was the best vegan sandwich in the city, though it has some serious competition now (see Khyber Pass Pub below.)  Pair it with the steak fries – which come with the best homemade ketchup in the world (I normally don’t like ketchup, but I love this!)  During weekend brunch, you can get a nice tofu scramble dish as well.  Sometimes the soup specials are vegan; check the menu – they normally label everything appropriately.  They also recently introduced a vegan pizza as a starter – roasted eggplant, spicy marinated cherry tomatoes, baby arugula, black olive olive oil, which is fantastic provided you like the flavor of black olives.

They also own & operate BREW across the street, which is a coffee bar & takeout beer shop all in one.  They probably have the best selection of takeout beer in South Philly.

1509 Mifflin Street, South Philly (Newbold)
From the subway (orange line) get off at Tasker/Morris, walk south on Broad 2 blocks to Mifflin, and head west on Mifflin for a block & a half

Cantina Los Caballitos

The Cantina is probably my go-to spot for food, year round.  On the vibrant and now-hip East Passyunk Ave, this Mexican restaurant/bar has a handful of craft beer taps, but more importantly, vegan fajitas.  These fajitas are no joke: smoked tofu, perfect seitan, wild mushrooms, onions & peppers, black beans, rice, guacamole… It is suitable for splitting between two people (but I rarely do, instead opting to roll myself home afterwards.)  Dining in at Cantina also means a bottomless bowl of freshly made chips and two salsas for dipping (red & verde.)  Like the other bars from this owner (Royal Tavern, Khyber Pass Pub) – everything vegan is marked as such on the specials board & in the menu.

If the vegan fajitas are too much food for you – try the vegan beef burritos, or go light and refreshing with a mixta salad (avocado, romaine lettuce, jicama, orange sections, radishes, almonds, piquin chile vinaigrette.) If you have room after your meal, they always have Vegan Treats cake available for dessert.  Prime eating hours are usually pretty cramped here, with a decently hipster’ish crowd, so be warned.

1651 East Passyunk Ave (at Morris St), South Philly (East Passyunk Crossing)
Via subway (the orange line) – get off at the Tasker/Morris stop and walk east on Morris.


Just a few blocks north of the Cantina on Passyunk lies the Pub on Passyunk East, or as most people call it, The POPE.  This dark bar (with a dungeon-y feel to it) has 14 craft beer taps & several vegan food items on the menu (clearly marked as well – notice a trend?)  Beer-wise, they almost always have Sly Fox O’Reilly Stout on a nitro tap, for those seeking a Guinness-esque (but fishgut-free) dry irish stout.  Their happy hour (4-6pm during the week) offers you half-priced draughts.  They regularly get all of the “good” stuff that gets distributed to Philly – think Russian River Supplication & Lost Abbey Angel’s Share.  On the food side of things, you can find fried seitan fingers, & a seitan cheesesteak (with a cheeze-wiz’esque nutritional yeast-y type of vegan cheese), and a mushroom & nut meatloaf.  (Edit 11/9/11: Menu was recently downsized, and the vegan meatloaf is now gone.) Sometimes their daily specials include vegan options, so check the board outside of the bathroom.  And on the weekends you can stop by for brunch, which always has at least 2 vegan options.

1501 East Passyunk Ave (at Dickinson), South Philly (East Passyunk Crossing)

Royal Tavern

If you continue heading north/east on Passyunk for another half-mile, you’ll reach the Royal Tavern.  Owned by the same people as the Cantina, this really cozy establishment (complete with original tin ceiling & a gorgeous bar) has been cranking out vegan pub food for what seems like forever.  They have 8 craft taps (usually featuring a lot of east coast favorites) and a decent-sized bottle list.  Their menu tends to rotate every few months, but they always have several vegan salads, entrees, and sandwiches (clearly marked) along with daily specials.  Some of the more awesome’r things I have had at Royal: tempeh club (grilled tempeh, vegan bacon, lettuce, tomato, basil aioli) and the sloppy joe (vegan beef, spicy tomato sauce, smoked coleslaw, sliced jalapenos.)  Like their sister establishments, you can find Vegan Treats cakes offered for dessert.  On the weekends, check them out for brunch and try the tofu & tempeh hash (roasted tomatoes, mushrooms, spinach, breakfast potatoes, toast.)  Bonus points for having Xlerator hand dryers in the bathroom here as well!

937 East Passyunk Ave (at Carpenter) South Philly (Bella Vista)

Monk’s Cafe

Monk’s Cafe is one of the premier Belgian bars in America.  Tom Peters, Monk’s owner, is directly responsible for first introducing Chimay to Americans, back in the 80s.  Monk’s is also directly responsible for getting some of the west coast’s best breweries to distribute to the Philadelphia area (Russian River, Lost Abbey / Port Brewing.)  You’ll regularly find 13 craft & Belgian beers at the back bar and 6 at the front, along with arguably (actually – this is not remotely debateable) the best bottle list in the city – chock full of all the vintage and hard-to-get beers that people regularly drool over on

If you grow hungry while getting your drink on at Monk’s, well then you are in luck!  They always have several vegan options on their seasonally-rotating menu; currently you can find summer wraps (seitan, papaya, peaches, sweet peppers, fresh corn & jicama wrapped in romaine leaf with mint & sesame lime dressing), a vegan burger (2012 Note: the bun is disappointingly no longer vegan) , grilled moroccan seitan pita, a seitan cheesesteak (omit the cheese to make it vegan), and vegan meatballs (seitan & mushroom meatballs over udon noodles tossed with a nut-based romesco sauce.)

Monk’s also has many special beer dinners throughout the year.  If you give them advance notice, they will make sure all of your food pairings for the dinner are vegan (and excellent.)  I’ve attended two of these thus far and they were unbelievable.  A word of warning: this place can get very crowded during peak dining hours & during any special events – and the space is pretty cramped as-is.  But it is a must stop for anyone seeking great beer in Philadelphia.

264 South 16th Street (at Spruce), Center City (Rittenhouse Square)
Via the subway (orange line) get off at Walnut/Locust, walk west on Locust 2 blocks to 16th, then 1 block south

Nodding Head

Walking a few blocks north of Monk’s will lead you to Nodding Head brewpub & restaurant.  A quick warning: Nodding Head fines a bunch of their beers with isinglass, so you’ll need to ask a waiter or bartender which beers on tap at the time are vegan.  Usually, they only fine their hoppy beers (their pales & IPAs) so mainstays like the Grog (a nice sessionable english brown ale), 60 Shilling (scottish ale) and Monkey Knife Fight (lemongrass & ginger lager) are safe.  They also have one of the best American examples of berliner weisse – the Ich Bin Ein Berliner Weisse, which is never fined.

On the food front, you can find several tasty vegan items: white beans and sage (a tasty stew served with warm pita bread), vegan burger, and polenta puttanesca (polenta, mushrooms, basil tofu in a puttanesca sauce.)  Nodding Head is a very fun place to hang out at with friends (they have dart boards and the 2nd level view of Sansom Street is nice) and the crowd is usually pretty manageable.  If I worked in Center City, I’d probably find myself stopping here for lunch quite often.

2/19/2012 Note: as of recently, the “vegan burger” is served on an egg-washed roll & the polenta puttanesca is no longer vegan (it has actual dairy cream in it, as per the last waiter I had.)  With the diminishing vegan options here, I can no longer recommend a visit.

1516 Sansom St (between 15th and 16th), Center City
From the subway (orange line) get off at Walnut-Locust, walk a block north to Sansom, then head west for a block & a half
From the subway (blue line) get off at City Hall, walk a block and a half south on 16th, then head west a half block

Belgian Cafe

Heading north-west of Center City towards the Art Museum / Fairmount area, you’ll find a plethora of nice bars.  My favorite to go to is the Belgian Cafe, from the same owners of Monks Cafe.  When the weather is pleasant, it is a nice 1.3 mile walk from City Hall up the parkway, past the Art Museum (run up the steps like Rocky if you must!) to the Belgian Cafe, where you will be greeted with 12 taps featuring great belgian imports and craft beer.  The beer list tends to include more accessible beers than the often-rare offerings that their sister bar features, but it is stellar nonetheless.

Foodwise.. the Belgian Cafe never disappoints my friends and I – the menu is borderline epic.  For starters, you can get the stuffed tofu (tofu marinated in Spaten Optimator, stuffed with dried cherries, cashews, cilantro, & garlic), the vegan bbq wings (corn meal crusted seitan “wings” with spicy bbq sauce – be sure to ask for the vegan basil aoli to dip in!), or the vegan spring rolls.  If you want a sandwich or entree, you can go with the vegan burger or vegan tempeh cakes (tempeh with dill-lemon vegan aioli, grilled corn & grilled asparagus.)  If you happen to find yourself at the Belgian Cafe on the weekend during brunch, you can get the vegan cream chipped beef (sliced seitan with well seasoned tofu “cream” served over multigrain toast.)  Bonus points: Xlerators in the bathroom!

601 North 21st St (at Green), North Philly (Fairmount)
From the subway (orange line) get off at Spring Garden, walk west 7 blocks, then head north on 21st for 2 blocks until you hit Green

Khyber Pass Pub

Since the Khyber revamped itself in the last year (new ownership – same owners as the Royal & the Cantina – and new focus on dining & beer) there is no better place to go for pub & grub in Old City. Or possibly anywhere in the city, period. 20 taps (including 1 nitro) & 2 cask hand pumps – few places have such a great selection.  You’re almost always guaranteed to find a fresh cask of Yards ESA on one the hand pumps – few beers pair so well with that style of serving – and they often have beers you just don’t see around town.  I can’t gush enough about the beer here – but what really rules is the food!

The Khyber prides itself on Cajun/Southern BBQ comfort food, and doesn’t leave us vegans out in the wind.  Everything on the menu and the specials board is clearly marked.  For starters, you can have the vegan buttered popcorn (sometimes they have a vegan bacon salt varient as well!), the nachos with vegan bbq pork (sans cheese & sour cream) or one of the daily soup specials (like gazpacho or gumbo z’herbes, which is currently my favorite soup in the entire world.)  If you have room for something bigger, you can get the vegan bbq pulled pork sandwich, the grilled vegan sausage sandwich, or the vegan fried chicken po-boys (complete with an awesome homemade vegan mayo that even I like.)  All sandwiches come with one side; the vegan sides include fries, sweet potato fries, mashed potatoes (my recommendation), collard greens, and vegan coleslaw.  Like their sister restaurants, you can get Vegan Treats cakes for dessert (I’ve sometimes stopped here just for cake after catching a movie at one of the nearby Ritz theatres.)  Bonus points: Xlerators in the bathroom!  Extra Bonus Points: they host many of the Vegan Cocktails Philly events & pull out even more vegan offerings (like vegan “meat” pies) on those nights.

56 South 2nd St (at Chestnut), Center City (Old City)
From the subway (blue line), get off at 2nd st and walk south one block

Cantina Dos Segundas

For completeness sake, I’m including Dos Segundas here, even though the menu is very similar to Cantina Los Caballitos (same chef, same owners, same vegan fajitas!)  Last week I heard they had jackfruit tacos as a special.  Yum.  Dos Segunas has a very convenient location in Northern Liberties, a few doors down from the Foodery, who offers the best selection of takeout beer in the city (albeit at very premium prices.)  On Thursday nights, around 7:30, you can usually see me and a pack of 30-50 other crazies running south on 2nd, past Dos Segundas, as we (the Fishtown Beer Runners) often run down 2nd as our route towards Center City bar destinations.

931 North 2nd St, North Philly (Northern Liberties)
From the subway (blue line), get off at Spring Garden, walk west to 2nd St, then up 2nd St for 3 blocks.

Memphis Taproom

I’ve already detailed the recent Vegan Beer Dinner at Memphis, so it should be no surprise that this place is one of the best pubs in town due to its stellar beer selection (10 taps, 2 hand pumps) and killer vegan food.  The well-marked menu rotates seasonally, so some dishes may come and go (like some of my favorites: the jackfruit “crab” cakes, the beer-battered miso tofu (fish & chips style), and the smoked avocado lettuce & tomato sandwich.)  Currently they have grilled peach (with buckwheat noodles, sesame, cucumber, cilantro), charred string beans, chicken-fried portabello sandwich (not your ordinary portabello & veggie sandwich!  with vegan mayo), a vegan veggie burger, the famous smoked coconut club (grilled lemon garlic tofu, smoked coconut, tomato herb mayo), and shitake schnitzel (smoked potato salad, braised red cabbage, mustard “cream” sauce.)  On occasion, I’ve gotten some vegan desserts like cookies here. For brunch, you can get the veggie burger or the vegan rooster (tofu scramble with vegan blood sausage, smoked coconut, roasted new potatoes and toast.)

Outside, Memphis has a cute beer garden where you can drink cans of craft beer along with gourmet hot dogs (they have vegan dogs there).  Memphis is a little out of the way for anyone that doesn’t live in North Philly – but it is totally worth the trip.  Bonus points?  You guessed it, Xlerators in the bathrooms.

2231 East Cumberland St (at Memphis), North Philly (Fishtown / Port Richmond / Kensington)
From the subway (blue line), get off at Berks, walk north a block to Norris, take a right, follow Norris 4 blocks to Memphis, turn left and walk 9 (short) blocks to Cumberland

Local 44

Out in University City (near UPenn & Drexel) – Local 44 is, without a doubt, a must stop.  Owned by the same awesome couple as the Memphis Taproom, with the same genius chef behind the menu, you’ll find yourself staring down 18 taps and 2 hand pumps, then drooling over the extensive vegan food offerings (all clearly marked on the menu.)  Like the menu at Memphis, some of the food changes from time to time, but the vegan options are always plentiful.

For starters, you have the warm spinach dip & pita chips (roasted garlic, fried onions, mornay sauce), chips & dip (sea-salt chips, french onion dip), grilled peach salad (avocado, baby arugula, sesame wasabi vinaigrette), shrooms & chips (chicken-fried portabella strips, maple mustard, red bbq sauce).  If you want a sandwich, try the pastrami spiced seitan reuben or a black bean burger.  Even hungrier?  Go for the mac provencal (sundried tomatoes, soy mornay, olives, rosemary, orange zest.)

If you are looking for brunch at Local 44 – they’ve got you covered there as well!  There is something called migas (tortillas, tofu, peppers, onions, ro-tel queso), tofu scramble, shirred tofu (garlic tofu, sautéed spinach, mornay sauce, roasted potatoes and toast), and shitake scrapple.  For anyone not from the area – scrapple is a “pennsylvania specialty” and involves a gross mush of pork scraps (literally), cornmeal, and flour.  This varient uses tasty mushrooms instead.  The best brunch item they have, however, are the pb&j french toast sticks (with brown sugar banana cream & dark chocolate).  A few months back, a group of 5 of us (longtime vegans) all split this and pretty much ranked it amongst the best dishes we have ever had. Period. You can also get the seitan reuben or the black bean burger for brunch.

4333 Spruce St (at 44th), West Philly (University City)
From City Hall, take the 34 trolley (along Baltimore ave) to 44th St, then walk 4 blocks north to Spruce

Mad Mex

Mad Mex is a Mexican restaurant nestled right in the middle of UPenn’s campus.  They’ve been offering tofu sour cream & vegan cheese in their burritos for well over a decade – dating as far back as the late 90s when vegan-rella was the best you could get.  I don’t go here as often as I used to, but there’s plenty to be had: over a dozen different burritos, many of which can be veganized by choosing the grilled portabellos or marinated tofu as the protein source.  If you don’t want a burrito (or enchiladas, or quesadillas, you can get the pennsyltucky fried tofu (tossed in sweet soy sauce, peanuts, sesame seeds & cilantro), the chickpea chili soup (you can get the vegan cheese & tofu sour cream on this as well), or the herb-o-vore’s tofu tacos.  Beer-wise, you’ll find 20 taps of mostly craft beer (with some clunkers like PBR & miller lite thrown in there – this is a college bar after all.)  Bonus awesomeness: show a student id from 11pm-1am any night of the week and your food is half price.  (The student id is a new requirement.)  This place gets very crowded late night during the school year.

3401 Walnut St, West Philly (University City)
From the subway (blue line), get off at 34th st and walk 2 blocks South on 34th St until you hit Moravian (after Sansom, before Walnut – it looks like an Alley).  Make a right on Moravian and follow that till it dead-ends.

Oaked Belgian Imperial Wheat Stout

Oaked Belgian Imperial Wheat Stout: say that three times!  Or just shorten it with “Allagash Odyssey Clone”.

Odyssey happens to be my favorite non-sour from Allagash.  Essentially, it is a big stout, brewed with a healthy portion of wheat, fermented with belgian yeast, and aged in new American Oak barrels for some amount of time.  I highly recommend trying this beer – my first taste of it precluded the recent belgiany-stout rash that seems to be going around, so it will always be special to me.

A few years back Rob Todd, owner of Allagash, was at a “Meet The Brewer” type event at the South Philadelphia Taproom.  I kept gushing about how much I loved Odyssey, so after encouragement from my wife and prodding via text from Brett, I worked up the nerve to walk up to Mr Todd, tell him how much I loved Odyssey, and ask him how to brew it.

“I can’t tell you that, it’s secret! … Just kidding” he began with.  He proceeded to give me an array of pointers which got me on the right track to brewing a similar beer.  It was an awesome experience, and Rob Todd is a straight up awesome dude.

My general notes from my conversation with Rob:

  • A lot of cane sugar; cheap and easily fermentable to ensure dryness
  • Roughly approaching it like a stout in terms of proportions of roasted grains – but trying for a pretty even (40/60 or 50/50) ratio of wheat to 2-row/pale
  • Belgian Wheat (not wit) yeast strain that will give good phenolics & mild spices while playing off the wheat, and being able to ferment a high gravity beer
  • Age a portion on New American Oak (American oak is more vanilla-y & aggressive than French oak) and the rest in stainless (and then blend)

Since this was going to be such a big beer (10+% ABV) and I had just used Wyeast 3942 Belgian Wheat, I decided to dump the wort on top of the used yeast cake from my Belgian Mild.  I generally try to target 6 gallons at the end of the boil, getting 5.5 gallons into the fermentor on most of my beers, so this recipe reflects that.


  • 9lb US 2-Row (42%)
  • 7lb 8oz white wheat malt (35%)
  • 1lb roasted barley (5%)
  • 8 oz Belgian debittered black malt (2%)
  • 3.5 oz flaked barley (1%)
  • 2 lbs sugar (9%)
  • 1 lb light dried malt extract (because I missed gravity)
  • 6 oz wheat malt extract (because I missed gravity)
  • Wyeast 3942 – Belgian Wheat
  • .7 oz Galena (14.1 AA%) at 60 minutes
  • .4oz Hallertau Hersbrucker (3.8 AA%) at 5 minutes

I had major efficiency issues with this batch.  I inadvertantly opened up the rollers on my grain mill too much, and ended up with a pre-boil gravity off by nearly 14 points!  To compensate, I added 6oz wheat DME and 1lb light DME and boosted the sugar to 2 pounds (from 1.5.)  The DME & extra sugar helped close the gravity gap a bit – my OG ended up only being 4 points off (1.085.)  I fermented this batch at 68, using a chest freezer with a temperature regulator.  This strain has a range up to 74, but I really wanted to keep the phenolics to a minimum.

After 12 days fermenting (very vigorously, very quickly – I had to rely on a blowoff for this batch) I was down to 1.016.  At this point, I transferred into a corny keg and added the oak.  I used 2 oz of American Oak cubes from Williams Brewing (Boiling in water for 15 minutes to sanitize.)  I aged this keg for 8 months at basement temperatures (for me, mid 60s in the winter), the final 2 being at 55 (back into the chest freezer.)

The final verdict?  I loved this beer.  Rich mouthfeel, pleasant roastyness, excellent head retention.  Unfortunately, I don’t think it tasted very much like Odyssey – the phenolics in this beer were much more pronounced.  I actually think it tasted a lot like the Stone Belgo IRS (the last iteration – not the current one spiced with Anise, which I find to be quite vile.)  In hindsight, I wish I would have bottled the majority of this batch to make it last longer – it was too easy to pour off 6 oz at a time from the tap for tastes “just to make sure it still tasted right.”  I’ll definitely brew this again – hopefully hitting my gravity marks – though I might ferment it a few degrees cooler, using a big starter rather than a yeast cake, which I think would make it more Odyssey-esque.

Vegan Beer Dinner at Memphis Taproom

Those of us living in Philly are so lucky to have Philly Beer Week – an entire week-plus of events celebrating and sharing awesome beer.  I’ve been to several great events this week, having had the chance to try such rare gems as Mikkeller I Beat U, Hill Farmstead Double Citra IPA, several from Lost Abbey (Framboise de Amorosa, Cuvee de Tomme, Red Poppy, Amazing Grace, Veritas 008 & 009, Duck Duck Gooze & Its Pineapple-Guava variant), Russian River Supplication, North Coast Rasputin XII… this list could go on and on.  But the best Beer Week event I attended thus far was the Vegan Beer Dinner at Memphis Taproom.

I’ve been a huge fan of Memphis ever since it opened.  From day 1 they’ve made sure to include a plethora of vegan options on their menu – clearly marked.  I love when restaurants do this – it makes it feel so much more inviting to us vegans, and it avoids the awkward barrage of questions every visit.  Currently their dinner menu (it changes every few months) includes such delightfully awesome dishes as the smoked coconut club & seitan shepherds pie, but in the past I’ve had things like jackfruit “crab cakes” and smoked avocado lettuce & tomato sandwiches. Yums all around.  My only complaint about Memphis is that it is not in my neighborhood – so I usually have to run there (about 6 miles from my house, a good pre-brunch warmup) or take the subway.

Dan Shelton Rambling

Truffled Beluga Lentils: Green Apple, Pickled Beet, Blood Orange, paired with Jolly Pumpkin La Roja

This might have been my favorite course of the night.  We learned during Dan Shelton’s long-winded “introduction speech” (he is the infamous Shelton Brothers beer importer/distributor) that Jolly Pumpkin owner & head brewer Ron Jeffries is himself also vegan.  I’ve always been a fan of JP’s offerings and La Roja, a flanders style amber, is one of my favorites.  Tart, a little sweet, some nice tannins and not too much burning acetic character going on.  I’ve only had beluga lentils before at Horizons but I sure will pick some up in the future.  The sourness from the pickled beet & the sweetness from the apple & blood orange really made the flavors of both the lentils and the beer really pop.  Plus, anything served “truffled” makes me happy. (Do yourself a favor and pick up some black truffle salt; you’ll thank me later.)

Braised Carrot; Beer Battered Miso Tofu, Pea Shoots, Red Wine Chocolate Jus paired with De Ranke XX Bitter

Memphis used to have beer battered miso tofu (“fish & chips” style) on the menu, but its been ages since I’ve seen it.  This was an excellent opportunity to remind me of what I was missing.  Personally, I wasn’t in love with the red wine chocolate jus (I tend to not like combining chocolate with savory foods), but I devoured everything else you see on this plate.  Really enjoyed the XX Bitter as well – very aggressive hop-wise with a little more than a hint of classic (barnyard-y) brettanomyces.  Dan Shelton described the brett character as “what Orval used to be like.”

Shitake and Leek Dumpling; Mushroom tea, ginger, black pepper oil, charred scallion paired with Mikkeller 10

I could eat this soupy dish every day for the rest of my life and I don’t think I’d get sick of it.  All of the flavors here blended quite nicely.  Mikkeller 10 is a followup to their single hop ipa series; in this instance they added 10 different varieties throughout the boil.  Very fruity, a tad bit herbal, all around tasty.

Dessert: Peche Mortel Poached Calimyrn Fig, Toasted Almond, Coffee Caramel, Popcorn Milk, paired with Du Ciel Peche Mortel

Personally, I’m not a huge fan of figs.  I don’t dislike figgy flavors in various dishes, or even in some big, complex beers like Belgian strong dark ales, but I don’t love biting into giant fig chunks.  Nonetheless, I licked this plate clean.  I do wish I asked how exactly “popcorn milk” is made, because I certainly want to try it again.  Peche Mortel was a great pairing here; it is one of the best coffee beers in the world (they use fair trade coffee in it, as well.)

Cheers for Chef Jesse Kimball (Phillies hat) & his crew!

Cheese Course: Aged Macadamia Cheese, Cashew & Crystal Algae Blue Cheese, pickled blueberries, Smoked Coconut Marmalade paired with Spezial Rauchbier

Even back before I was vegan, I was never a “cheese person” – the type of person to go to a wine party with various fancy cheeses that smell funny.  Semi-recently, though, I ordered Dr Cow nut cheese from pangea; it seemed interesting enough to try.  I’m not sure what happened – maybe it did not survive the trip from Maryland well, or maybe it sat in my fridge for too long, but it was dreadful.  This sampling (which was from Dr. Cow), on the other hand, was wonderful.  I enjoyed the texture and the taste, and the toasted bread sticks provided for spreading on were perfect.  The smoked coconut marmalade was great… But we already know Chef Jesse is the master at smoked coconut (see him on Diners, Drive-ins and Dives.)

And finally, no trip to Memphis is complete without using the rest room, and drying your hands with an xlerator – the only worthy hand dryer in the world.  I’m trying to figure out how to integrate one of these into my house.

In closing, this event was awesome.  The beer pairings were pretty spot on and the portions were just right. Our table of 5 left very satisfied!  Leigh from Memphis hinted that they will do it again next beer week – I can’t wait!

Sonoran Hot Dogs and Mexican Lager

Hi, it’s Jaime here with my first VeganBrew guest post.  I’m usually lurking behind the scenes as a taster/editor/amateur food stylist, but I was inspired to come out from the shadows when I saw this AP article in my local Albany rag.  Brett and Kevin have been falling down on the job, so I figured I’d jump in.  I don’t know why the AP wrote this story, but maybe in the aftermath of the royal wedding and Osama’s demise, there’s no news left to report in the world.  Anyway, I was simultaneously grossed out and fascinated by concept of a bacon-wrapped hot dog in a soft bun with a million toppings.  I decided it had to be veganized, and would make a perfect Cinco de Mayo-themed post for VeganBrew, paired with my favorite cerveza Mexicana, Negra Modelo.  Here are some of the basics I started with:


4 veggie dogs
4 slices of veggie bacon (I recommend Lightlife Smart Bacon)
4 bolillo rolls or sub rolls
1 can black or pinto beans
1/2 t Adobo seasoning
1 jar salsa
1 container Wayfare Cheddar Sauce or vegan queso of your choice
1 jar sliced jalapenos
1 tomato
1 onion
2 T cilantro

yellow mustard

Let me start by saying that many of these ingredients were not my first choice.  First, I went to my local Mexican market in the hopes of scoring authentic pan bolillo, but I struck out.  I had a fleeting thought of making the bolillo from scratch, but quickly realized that was not happening.  So a pack of sub rolls would just have to do.  The trick, however, was in steaming them.  Just a minute or so in the steamer basket on the stovetop transformed mere sub rolls into a moist, delicious base for fake-meaty goodness.

The next strikeout was in the bacon department.  My intention was to use Lightlife Smart Bacon, but our local co-op was out, so I was left to choose between Yves Veggie Canadian Bacon and Lightlife “Fakin Bacon.”  I was concerned that the Fakin Bacon wouldn’t be flexible enough to wrap around the dog without breaking, and I was also afraid it would be too tempeh-ish, so I opted for the Canadian Bacon.  It wrapped great, but the flavor didn’t quite stand out once the whole behemoth came together.  I’ll definitely use the Smart Bacon next time.  Finally, SoyBoy Not Dogs are mediocre at best, but SoyBoy is the bomb when it comes to their bulk tofu, which is the firmest and freshest around, plus they’re kind of local being from Rochester and all, so we’re brand loyal.  What can I say?

Anyway, on to construction:

I soaked a couple of skewers while I diced tomatoes, jalapenos and onions and Brett fired up the grill.  Then, when it came time to do the bacon wrapping, I discovered that Brett had “helped out” by throwing away the sticks in the cup that he thought were garbage.  While soaking the skewers a second time, I heated a can of organic black beans in a skillet with 1 T chopped jalapenos, 2 T salsa, and about a half t. of Adobo, my all-time favorite seasoning.

When I couldn’t wait any longer for the skewers to soak (after about 8 minutes) I wrapped the bacon around the dogs, secured it with a skewer, and brushed each dog with a generous coating of olive oil, taking care to keep the oil off the skewers.  After a quick 5 minutes on the grill, flipped halfway through, the dogs were ready to be blanketed in a sea of toppings.

Starting with the buns fresh out of the steamer basket, I split each one open and removed some of the inner bread to create a little cavern, which I ladled some of the beans into.  Then I added a dog, some salsa, Wayfare Cheddar Sauce, chopped tomatoes, onions and jalapenos, Veganaise, yellow mustard, and chopped cilantro.  Here’s what it looked like all assembled and ready to be conquered like the French in the Battle of Puebla.  (Sorry — obligatory Cinco de Mayo reference)

The results were muy delicioso.  I was initially concerned that the mustard would clash terribly with the other toppings, but I was wrong.  Everything melded, with each bite highlighting a different part of the mix.  The Negra Modelo complemented the dog perfectly.  My only complaint, as I mentioned earlier in the post, was that the veggie Canadian bacon wasn’t bacony enough to stand out in the crowd, so I definitely recommend using Smart Bacon.  If you try it, please post and let me know how it turns out!

Vietnamese Summer Rolls wtih Mango & Apricot Wheat Beer Dipping Sauce

Very sorry for the long lag in posts. Life has been a bit crazy for me, with a recent move to NYC. Lots going on – including a stolen laptop and shitty wireless connections – that has kept me from the blog. Kevin will have to provide his own excuse for being lame :)

Anyway, while visiting Albany two weekends ago, I was inspired by the (temporary) break in bad weather. With the first signs of a thawing out, I had summer on the mind and wheat beer in my glass. I’ve been looking for a way to use up a million-sheet pack of rice paper wrappers I’ve had for a while. With many filling options on hand, Jaime and I got to work making summer rolls based off of this recipe. To incorporate the fruit and wheat beer flavors that go so well with everything summer, I came up with a recipe for a fruit and American wheat beer infused dipping sauce.

First,  get the dipping sauce together:

Mango and Apricot Wheat Beer Dipping Sauce

1 12 oz bottle apricot wheat beer (I used Ithaca Apricot Wheat. Dogfish Head ApriHop would work nicely too)
1/3 cup apple cider vinegar
juice of 1 lemon
1/4 cup agave nectar
1/2 mango, chopped
lemon and orange peel
1/2 teaspoon ginger powder
2-3 dried red chilies

Add everything to a sauce pan. Bring to a boil, lower heat to medium-high and boil for 12 minutes. Remove chilies and puree the mixture. Let cool.

While the sauce is cooling, get started on the rolls. We didn’t really measure anything and you don’t have to use what we used. Some basics to have on hand, though: rice paper wrappers, vermicelli noodles (cooked), lettuce,  cilantro and thinly sliced carrots. We also added thinly-sliced red pepper, flavored tofu (Soy Boy Tofu Lin) and half of a mango.

Prepare the wraps as Sala at Veggie Belly suggests. When the dipping sauce has cooled, place the rolls around the sauce and serve with some American wheat and/or fruit beer.

I cannot take any credit for the tightly-wrapped fatties. That was all Jaime. The flavors were super fresh and citrusy. The sauce had a complimentary tropical fruit burst that reminded me of Amarillo hops. Plenty of spice in the sauce, but did not dominate the flavor. Very yummy stuff.  For many reasons, looking forward to making these again whenever Spring/Summer finally arrives here in the Northeast.

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