Tag Archives: Sommbeer

Vivant – Can a Brewery have good beer and good food?

From David- Founder of Sommbeer:
I love my daughters.  They just aren’t’ too crazy about brew pubs.  When we announced we were going to Brewery Vivant after we saw the Museum in Grand Rapids, Emm’s response was “you’re going to drink beer while we eat warmed up frozen food”.  I bristled at her harsh response but knew it could be true.  Good breweries do not always measure up when it comes to food.IMG_3759
We walked into Vivant just a few minutes after they opened up for the day (no I wasn’t banging on the door).  We were immediately greeted by a hostess and seated in a booth.  I was already impressed as the interior was a beautifully renovated church.  She handed us all menu’s and I immediately panicked.  Nothing looked familiar. It was all “high end” French food, for the most part.  We coaxed Emm into trying some new stuff and then waited.
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Food: The waiter was super friendly and talked to my family as I researched the beer menu.  Along the conversation, he suggested to Emm, that when she grows up and goes to college she should always remember to go back and visit her parents (Dude! I thought to myself, you just earned yourself a nice tip).  We ordered our food, beers and pops.
The appetizer showed up – Duck Confit Nachos (a mountain of chips smothered in sauce and duck meat).  We couldn’t be happier.
My wife and youngest ordered a hamburger and grilled cheese, both outstanding.
Emm ordered a bowl of wild mushroom soup.  Something she never had, trust me. She loved it.
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I ordered deer sausage.  Fantastic earthy flavor, I even ate my brussel sprouts.   All the food is super high quality and unique.  In fact it was unique to the point that they took more than a few culinary risks – and succeeded.  Only issue was the cost $$$.  Our bill for two adults and two kids hit around $100.  That said, it was a great meal and we will be going back.
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Beer: Our hostess explained later that Vivant is all about the Belgian wild yeast style of beer.
Update 2017: My taste has evolved since I first wrote this article. Belgian style beers have become one of my favorite styles of beer. It’s not uncommon on many a beer night for my belgians to even edge out my previous favorites – stouts and scottish ales.
I ordered a glass of their Egoiste and followed it with one last glass of Dubelicious – I loved them both.  Here’s what I learned about this style of beer, to enjoy it to it’s fullest I have to prepare myself for it.  Belgian wild yeast style is kinda tangy like sour dough bread.  Doesn’t matter the variety they make it still has that tangy flavor.  If beer is like music (a post on this later) then this tanginess is a high pitched trumpet. My wife ordered their Fat Paczk beer that arrived in a tulip glass.  That beer was out of this world good!  It’s been a week since our visit and she still talks about that one beer.
When we walked out, our hostess greeted us again (the service here is unreal).  My family took this opportunity to start shopping at the gift shop.  I grabbed a souvenir glass and the hostess recommended I purchase some Vivant beer (Acidulated Trip) to pair with my glass!  What an up-sell.
Emm and I avoiding Paparazzi
Emm and I avoiding Paparazzi
Brewery Vivant surprised me.  I have been in search of a brewery that has both great beer and food.  What I found was great food, beer and service.  My daughters are the toughest critics believe me and they were happy.  We will be going back.
Sommbeer – John Fahner @fahrn13 also reviewed some beers from Brewery Vivant.
– David
Check out this beer review for Brewery Vivant –> Solitude

Drunken Marinade

I’m not a chef and I’m not even the primary cook in my family.  Honestly, I think my family keeps me around just for the spare kidney and my grilling/smoking skills.  My primary cooking function is to take the workload off my wife.  So I do it for fun and I have a lot of freedom to mess around.   While my wife has to worry about making a balanced meal for the kids with vegetables, meat, fruit etc… I focus my energies on things like making a good marinade.
When John started this site, this was the first food item I thought of. Problem is I don’t really know how to make it.  My marinade is usually made the day before I smoke or grill.  Usually this occurs on a Friday evening when I’ve had a few beers and I’ve forgotten to make the marinade.  I have attempted to recreate this beer recipe inspired and created by beer.  There are no measurements and the ingredients change every time, because again – I’ve had a few beers.
Why use marinade?
Marinade infuses the meat with great flavor but also tenderizes the meat.  This is especially true for the rougher cuts that are prized for the ‘low & slow’ cooking method used while smoking.  The acids in the marinade make the meat tender, the salt pulls in the moisture and the spices add flavor.
Base ingredients
My base ingredients are apple cider vinegar, mustard and salt.  Everything else is added to make it unique or fun, or because I’ve had a few beers.
– Apple Cider Vinegar
– Mustard (nothing fancy required)
– Salt
Here’s how I have fun making my “Drunken Marinade”
  1. Grab a bowl and add the cider
2. Add the mustard and salt.  Easy chief, you’re tipsy so go heavy on that cheap mustard not so much on the salt.
Additional Additions – Beer is my Inspiration
This is the fun part.  Beer, wine, liquor removes inhibitions so I tend to explore and find new marinade flavors I otherwise would never consider.  One sobering word of caution: If it doesn’t taste good by itself it will not taste good as a marinade.  I used a bad beer once and the meat tasted like stale bad beer, not good.
I’m drinking a spicy IPA and I’m drawn to the label on a bottle in my fridge.  Turns out lemon juice tastes great in marinade and helps to tenderize the meat.
Uh, well now I’m drinking some fine wine but I’m immediately bored with it.  I’m a beer guy so this is going in.
This is where things can get stupid. I like sriracha sauce, it has a funky chicken on the bottle.  I add it but it’s a big gamble (turns out ok).  Soy sauce is added for flavor and salt and I’m drunk.
Marinade – it’s not pretty
Add the meat since that’s why I’m making this marinade.  Yes, I bought some “clearance meat”, leave me alone.
The bag of meat goes into my 30 degree winter garage over night.
Tomorrow we grill…..

 

The Sommeats Food Rules

Food is just like anything else in life, in order to really enjoy it there are rules. Granted, enjoying food isn’t really the most challenging task in the world, but these rules are designed to help you achieve a more in depth love of your culinary delicacies.

  1. First thing’s first, NO FAST FOOD!  I know I know, this is a view point that is controversial and many of us prefer our quick fix solution for a “meal” but this stuff is just gross. In fact many times I’m not even 100% sure that this food can really be considered food.  If you have to eat on the go try to hit somewhere with more local ties.  Not only will the food taste better but you’re also helping your community. Win win.

2. Easy on the condiments.  There’s a time and a place for condiments but in reality their use is massively over killed in our society.  Ranch on pizza…. GET OUT! In fact let’s just get rid of Ranch dressing all together.  Condiments are fine when used in moderation, but at no point should they be used to mask the flavor of the vessel they’re going on.  A sausage requires mustard, a chicken wing requires blue cheese (NOT RANCH) and there’s a wide variety of applications for hot sauce.  There’s no need to cover a perfectly good steak with some random goop found in the salad dressing aisle at Walmart.

3. Embrace the weird! When it comes to eating don’t be scared off by something that looks like it might be weird.  There’s no shortage of weird looking items in your produce aisle and all those bizarre fruits and veggies might open your eyes to a truly blissful food experience. Have a friend that is offering you durian encrusted fried chicken?  Fear not! Eat that bird right up, it might be amazing! Remember, when you eat it should be the food that’s afraid of you!

4. Food and Booze are friends! Whether you’re using a wine to deglaze a pan or marinating some chicken in a summer wheat ale the applications for booze in cooking are almost limitless.  Plus whatever you don’t use for cooking you can drink, a definite benefit!

5. Cook for yourself! You don’t have to cook every night, or even every day. But you should have a few, or a bunch, of dishes that you can whip up for yourself.  Maybe your forte is smoking meat in the middle of winter, or maybe it’s whipping up a pot of chili to graze on over the course of a weekend. Cooking for yourself will make you appreciate food in restaurants more and you’ll figure out little nuances that make each meal your own.  Sure, the cleaning up after part kind of sucks, but the end result of a well cooked meal is an extremely rewarding simple pleasure in life.

 

Cheers!

Welcome to Sommeats!

My name is John Fahrner, I’m the editor of the site Sommbeer. Over the last few years David (the founder of Sommbeer) and myself have been working to build a  community dedicated to sharing our love for craft beer.  Sommbeer isn’t going anywhere, but as we’ve continued to work on Sommbeer we’ve noticed one reoccurring subject that keeps coming up in our writings, travels, and social interactions.  Simply stated we love food.  Cooking food, smoking meats, ordering take out, or pairing food with a craft beer.  With this in mind we decided it was time to launch a new project, and thus Sommeats was born!

We’re planning to create a community based around food, just like we did with Sommbeer.  Also just like Sommbeer we will always be looking for writers to contribute and express their passion for food.  Recipes, techniques, reviews, recommendations, or even just food wisdom and debate is welcome on Sommeats.  If you’re interested in contributing please check out our writers page on Sommbeer and send us a note at info@sommbeer.com so we can get you set up.

Also just like Sommbeer let’s remember Sommeats is about fun.  Our motto on Sommbeer has always been that we don’t take serious beer too seriously. Like beer, food is meant to be enjoyed, not stressed out over or blown up into something bigger than it is.  Have fun, sit back, grab a beer and a taco and Welcome to Sommeats!

Make sure to check out and like our Facebook page for Sommeats, and if you haven’t already like our Facebook page for Sommbeer too!