Sprecher Brewings and Doings – Ginger Bread

While reading M magazine the other day we discovered Shawn Kolo’s recipe for Stout Ginger Bread and thought we’d try making it with Sprecher Imperial Stout.  Kolo is Head Chef at Andrew’s Restaurant in the Delafield hotel, Delafield, WI.  Ginger bread is one of those great seasonal foods that evokes sensual memories of childhood, holidays, family  and warmth despite the cold.  We also enjoyed this recipe because it is easy to make and it isn’t overly prescriptive, e.g., it calls for stout.  Instead of any old stout, we used Sprecher Imperial Stout because this beer has so much character.  The recipe also calls for molasses, but not any particular type of molasses.   We opted for Dark molasses, which really brought out the licorice flavor and balanced well with the ginger and other spices.  Next week we’ll try Mild molasses and see how the tastes differ.   The dark molasses created a ginger bread that paired very, very well with Sprecher Imperial Stout and Sprecher Generation Porter.  Here’s our take on Chef Kolo’s Stout Ginger Bread:


1 cp Sprecher Imperial Stout

1 cp Dark Molasses

1/2 tsp Baking Soda

2 cps All-Purpose Flour

1 1/2 tsp Baking Powder

2 Tbs ground ginger

1 tsp ground cinammon

1/4 tsp ground cloves

1/4 tsp ground nutmeg

3 large eggs

1 cp Packed Dark Brown Sugar

1 cp Granulated Sugar

3/4 cp Vegetable Oil

* A note about spices — use the freshest spices available; freshness really does make a difference.   Spices from the grocery store work fine, but if you have a local spice purveyor that will provide small amounts try going there.  That way, you won’t have to purchase more than you need and you won’t have excess spice aging in your kitchen.  (Here in Milwaukee we have the Spice House on Old World Third St., Outpost, and Penzy’s Spices).

Cooking Instructions:

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Generously butter a 10″ cake pan and dust with flour,  knocking out excess flour.

2. Bring stout and molasses to a boil in a large saucepan and remove from heat.  Whisk in baking soda and then cool to room temperature.

3. Sift together flour, baking powder and spices in a large bowl.  Whisk together eggs and sugars.  Whisk in oil, then molasses mixture.  Add to flour mixture and whisk until just combined.

4. Pour batter into cake pan.  Bake in the middle of the oven until a toothpick comes out with just a few moist crumbs adhering, about 40 minutes.  Cool cake in pan on rack for 5 minutes.  Turn out onto a rack and cool completely.  Serve w/ ice cream or fresh whipped cream and Sprecher Imperial Stout or Sprecher Generation Porter.

Wisconsin Beer Tax

Is  Sprecher Brewing Company, along with members of the Wisconsin brewing industry, the Wisconsin Grocers Association, the Tavern League – which represents 5,000 bars and liquor stores –  right to oppose the current beer tax increase propsal now in the legislature?

Wisconsin will have a $6.6 billion budget shortfall this year so to some in the legislature  it makes sense that they raise taxes and cut services wherever possible, even though people are  losing jobs, businesses and homes.   Theoretically, increased tax revenue along with cuts in public spending will result in a decreased budget shortfall and all will be well.  But generating operating revenue by increasing taxes at a time when people’s incomes are diminishing seems chimerical, a reactive grasping at straws more than anything.  Be that as it may, doing something is far better than doing nothing.   Best if it’s the right something.

Rep. Terese Berceau and Sen. Fred Risser, both Madison Democrats, proposed a beer tax increase from $2 to $10 per barrel to help fight drunken driving and treat alcohol addiction and mental illness.  The beer tax has not been raised since 1969 and is currently the 3rd lowest in the nation.  According to a May 15 article in Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, “Berceau said her plan would raise tax on a 6-pack from 3.6 cents to 18 cents.  Overall, it would cost beer drinkers $40 million to $48 million.”   Sounds like a lot of money for worthwhile programs, but one must question whether Rep. Berceau’s estimate of the cost to the consumer is accurate.

In other words, if the barrel tax begins at the breweries, the multiplier effect will kick in and an additional fee will be added at each stop along the way (distributor, retailer) so the final cost to the consumer ends up being significantly higher.  Potentially, this means more tax revenue and more funds for worthwhile programs all things being equal.  But all things are not equal at present.  We’ve gone from an economy where a significant majority of the population felt flush to one where a significant majority is counting every dollar and saving rather than spending.   The net effect is less consumers and higher unemployment, evidenced by the recent waves of layoffs as well as stores, restaurants and bars closing due to lack of business.

Personally, I question whether now is the right time to raise the beer tax.  What do you think?

Sprecher Brewings and Doings

Minneapolis was a long drive then a whirlwind trip meeting lots of cool beer people. Check out the Industrial Bar in Minn, and the Happy Gnome in St. Paul. Both places have a great selection of beer on tap, including some Sprecher. After this road trip, expect to see more Sprecher in the area. And if you don’t, ask for it at your favorite store or bar. J.J. Taylor, our distributor, can deliver whatever you want.

Want to try some Sprecher? Tonight I’ll be sampling beers at Beans & Barley, 1901 E. North Ave, Milwaukee, 5:30-7:30pm. It’s a reataurant, deli and store focusing on natural foods. They make some of the best in the business. Fabulous burritos, chili, carrot-ginger salad dressing, cheese assortment, and bakery. Plus, they carry a nice selection of beers!