A festive evening of meat appetizers and beer should be no-fuss entertainment. "Relax and enjoy yourself. It's OK to sip on the beer before your guests arrive," says Maud Franklin, a beer connoisseur and general manager of the Brickhouse Brewery in Patchogue.
WHAT TO BUY There are 24 bottles in a case of beer. Plan on purchasing three cases - one of each type of beer - Franklin says, adding that designated drivers also should be taken into consideration. Also ensure that you have "one or two funky little bottle openers" for the occasion.
HOW TO SERVE Keep beers refrigerated and "don't stress about what to serve [them] in," Franklin says. "Play with your glassware. I'll put a really fine stout into a wine glass just to make it fun. There's no law that says you have to serve it in a particular stemware."
Franklin said some beers can even be served in ice cream or milk glasses.
Most of the food (see recipes below) can be served on platters or plated individually, says Paul Komsic, the Brewery's assistant head chef. The meat appetizers can be prepared slightly ahead of the guests' arrival.
BEER AND APPETIZER PAIRING Amber or red-style ale and German sausage rolls
Amber or red-style ale is medium-bodied and malty, Franklin says.
GERMAN SAUSAGE ROLLS
20 (4-inch-long) bratwurst
10 sheets (5 packages) puff pastry
1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Place bratwurst on a baking sheet and bake until it's lightly browned, about 10 minutes. Cool bratwurst and cut each in half lengthwise.
2. Trim sheets of puff pastry so they measure 8 inches square. Cut each sheet into four squares. Roll one individual 4-inch square of puff pastry around each halved bratwurst.
3. Place pastry-wrapped sausages on a new baking sheet and bake until puffy and golden brown, 10 to 20 minutes.
4. Let cool briefly, and serve
WHY THEY WORK "The slight sweetness of the puff pastry and the flavors inside the bratwurst - German seasonings and pork - complement the maltiness of a red or amber ale," Komsic says.
BEER AND APPETIZER PAIRING Stout with mocha beef kebabs
Stout is full-bodied, malty and very dark brown to black in color, Franklin says. "It's roasted. It has full flavor to it," she says, adding that stout is "usually more roasty than normal beer and not as sweet" and "usually served less carbonated, so it gives a smooth texture to it."
MOCHA BEEF KEBABS
1 1/4 cups unsweetened cocoa powder
1/2 cup unflavored, very finely ground coffee
1 tablespoon salt
1 tablespoon pepper
3 pounds beef-stew meat, cut into 1-inch chunks (40 pieces)
20 (6-inch) bamboo skewers
3 red bell peppers, cut into 1-inch pieces
1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Combine dry ingredients in a large bowl. Put beef cubes into rub and mix with hands so they are well coated on all sides.
2. On each skewer, alternate 2 chunks of beef and 2 pieces of red pepper, leaving some space in between.
3. Spray sheet pan with cooking spray and bake skewers 8 to 12 minutes, depending on preferred doneness. Let rest briefly, and serve.
WHY THEY WORK "The chocolate and coffee in the rub complement the creaminess and the roastiness of the stout," Komsic says. "When somebody sees it at the party, they'll say, 'Oh, wow.' But it's really simple. Just put the rub on it and let it bake."
BEER AND APPETIZER PAIRING Brickhouse Brewery's Blitzen ale and prosciutto crostini and beer mustard
Brickhouse Brewery's Blitzen ale - a seasonal beer on tap for a limited time. "The Blitzen is golden in color and is made with local honey and orange peel," says Maud Franklin, a beer connoisseur and general manager of the BrickHouse Brewery in Patchogue. "It's also made with an assortment of winter spices such as nutmeg, allspice and just a tiny bit of cinnamon."
PROSCIUTTO CROSTINI AND BEER MUSTARD
40 thin slices of prosciutto
2 small or 1 large loaf seedless Italian bread, sliced to a half-inch, (40 slices)
Extra-virgin olive oil, for drizzling
4 to 6 cloves garlic, peeled and halved
2 cups any style mustard
1/2 cup Blitzen ale
1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Place slices of bread in one layer on a baking sheet and bake until golden brown, about 10 minutes.
2. Rub each slice of bread with the cut side of a halved garlic clove. Drizzle with oil. Top each one with a slice of prosciutto.
3. Combine mustard and ale. Top each crostino with a dollop of beer mustard, and serve. Makes 20 servings.
WHY THEY WORK "This dish works well with the beer because the saltiness of the prosciutto complements the honey in the beer, similar to the way melon complements prosciutto," says Paul Komsic, the brewery's assistant head chef. "The winter spice in the beer complements the mustard to tie the whole dish together."
INFO The BrickHouse Brewery, 67 W. Main St., Patchogue; 631-447-2337, brickhousebrewery.com