It is certainly no secret that we enjoy having both different beers as well as wine during our travels. We had heard about a brewery in Denver that was creating beers with fermented grapes and we knew that we had to give them a try. The Liberati Restaurant and Brewery has 15 different Oenobeers, or beers made with as much as 49% of the fermented ingredients coming from grapes. We sampled several of the beers that they offered and each had its own flavor profile. For some, there was no mistaking the wine component of the beer as the grape flavors were very noticeable. There were others where you wouldn’t even know that the beer was brewed with grapes if you hadn’t read the menu. And there was even one beer that tasted exactly like a port wine and, if you didn’t know better, you would never think it was a beer.
The first beer that we tried was called the Sea of Cherries and it was definitely on the fruity side. It was made with Pinot Noir grapes, but the flavor of the cherries certainly were up front. The second beer was a Franciacorta that was bubbly and the champagne-like qualities certainly came through. Next was an Imperial Kolsch and the taste was that of a traditional beer despite having been brewed with Pinot Grigio grapes. Another beer that was more on the traditional side was a Nut Brown beer that was darker beer with a nutty flavor. The final beer that we tried was the Port Oenobeer, which we have already mentioned tasted exactly like a port wine, bold and delicious.
It is certainly an interesting innovation in brewing beers. Even with the grapes, the beers can have just as diverse flavors as any other beer, including IPA’s. Although we only tasted one-third of the beers on their list, we are excited to try them again the next time that we are in Denver. The restaurant itself has a wide variety of Italian food and a wonderful atmosphere, including an outdoor patio area.
One of the things that we found throughout Europe were meals with a fruit sauce that accompanied the meat. Often times it was something a little gamey like duck or lamb, but it is a combination that works well with chicken and pork also. Cooking the fruit down to an almost jam-like consistency provides a nice fruity counterbalance to the taste of the meat. We cooked pork chops and basted them with butter and oil as they seared in order to keep them moist and tender. This particular recipe serves two people, but it is easily adjusted to serve more. It would be great with skin-on chicken thighs as well.
2 Pork Chops – thick cut
3 cups Cherries – pitted (we used frozen cherries)
3 tbsp Granulated Sugar
1/2 tsp White Wine Vinegar
2 tsp Dried Rosemary
1 tsp Lemon Zest
1 tsp Dried Thyme
1 tsp Garlic Powder
2 tbsp Unsalted Butter
2 tbsp Extra Virgin Olive Oil
Salt and Pepper to Taste
In a small sauce pan, combine the cherries, sugar, vinegar, 1 tablespoon rosemary, salt and pepper. Bring to boil over medium-high heat, gently stirring, until the mixture is thick, but keeping the cherries mostly intact, about 20 to 25 minutes. Stir in the lemon zest and put the compote into a bowl and let stand to cool. Refrigerate for at least 2 to 3 hours or over night. Season both sides of the pork chops with the remaining rosemary, thyme, garlic, and salt and pepper. Heat the butter and olive oil in a medium skillet over medium-high heat until the butter is melted and begins to simmer. Carefully place the pork chops into the skillet and cook until browned, about 3 to 4 minutes. Flip the pork chops and continue to cook for another 3 to 4 minutes, basting them with the butter and oil frequently to keep them moist and tender. Place the pork chops onto serving plates and spoon half of the cherry mixture over each.
One of the things that we enjoy when we travel is tasting all of the different ways that places use seasonal fruit with wild game. Although pork isn’t game food like the elk, duck, or goose, it does stand up to bold flavors like the food that we find during our travels. This isn’t an Asian plum sauce, but an actual reduction made with this seasonal fruit. We chose to make this with thick-cut pork chops, but it could just as easily be done with a pork tenderloin as well. It is certainly the type of meal that can be served for a holiday or special occasion, but it also works for a weekday meal as well. As usual, this recipe serves two, but it can easily be increased for more.
2 Large Pork Chops – about 1 1/2 inches thick
1 cup Beef Stock
2 tsp Fresh Ginger – peeled and grated
1/4 cup Rice Vinegar
1/3 cup Honey
4 sprigs Fresh Mint
3 Plums – cut into 1/2 inch pieces
2 tbsp Unsalted Butter
3 tbsp Vegetable Oil
2 tsp Garlic Powder
2 tsp Dried Rosemary – chopped
2 tsp Dried Thyme
Salt and Pepper to taste
Using a vegetable peeler or pairing knife, remove the zest of the orange into wide strips. Squeeze the juice of the orange into a medium sauce pan and add the zest. Heat the sauce pan over medium-high heat. Add the vinegar, honey, and beef stock and whisk the ingredients together. Add the mint and simmer for about 10 to 15 minutes. Add the plums and continue to cook until the plums are soft, adding the butter after about 10 minutes. Continue to cook for about another 20 to 25 minutes until the sauce thickens. Remove the mint, season with salt, and keep warm while the pork is cooked. Season both sides of the pork chops, which should be at room temperature, with the garlic powder, rosemary, thyme, salt, and pepper. Heat the vegetable oil in a skillet over medium-high heat. Cook the pork chops in the skillet until browned and cooked to the desired doneness, about 6 to 8 minutes per side. Place the pork chops onto plates and spoon sauce over the top. Serve with your favorite side dishes.