What does pie and beer have in common? Not much except for the women flavor masters that held an important role in the history of these two culinary delights. English women settlers brought pie over to the Americas and women were the first to brew beer. I tried to find pie recipes that use beer in them, but most are savory with more ancient origins of meat pies. The Food & Wine Magazine has a recipe worth trying that is Sweet Potato & Honey Beer Pie. This would be perfect for your next book club meeting with this book club pick, The Lager Queen of Minnesota, by J. Ryan Stradal. A warm story, depicting a falling out between sisters, family tragedies, and the cycles of life, is told with a strong feminist voice.
The two sisters, Helen and Edith choose two paths completely different from each other. One leading to a simple family life and the other an ambitious entrepreneur’s journey. Through Helen reader’s experience the sexism of her time, as she embeds herself into a once female industry to what is now a male dominated field; the beer manufacturing business. Her fascination with beer was more of a calling driving her to build her very own brewery. Edith on the other end is just as sweet as her famous pies. Her motherly persona is what has her caring for everyone in her circle. Her character fits perfectly with the term, “Minnesota Nice.”
Stradal does a wonderful job at mixing in the history and cultural around craft beers and breweries, along with his selection of setting. Not only do readers learn about the history of women being in the forefront of brewing beer, but also about the variations in ingredients, and the fermentation processes that create distinct beers. Minnesota is the perfect setting for this novel, as it is know for its selection of craft beers and breweries. Also, the Urban Growler Brewing Company was the first women-owned micro-brewery in Minnesota, opened in 2014 by Brewing Master Deb Loch and partner Jill Pavlak.
I really enjoy Stadral’s writing style as seen in his other novel, Kitchens of the Great Midwest. In both of these pieces, he shares each of the main character’s perspectives, personal experiences in the past and present, jumping timelines, which all eventually lead to a united crossing of paths in the present at the end. Although, there were not many food references throughout the story, I greatly enjoyed looking at the process of brewing just like any culinary venture; selecting ingredients based on flavor profiles and such.
“A Beverage of Leisure is a Serious Business.”Whiskey Pike by Jeff Phillips
Not being a beer drinker myself, but a fan of cookery, I found this novel entertaining and inspiring. It’s always nice to read about hardships that shape one’s life and from which greatness develops. I would recommend this book to any craft beer fans, along with curious minds of concoctions. Also, if you like sweet family reconciliation stories, this should be on your TBR list.
Here is my book inspired recipe: Peach Pie Beer Bread.
Peach Pie Beer Bread
- 1 9×5 Loaf Pan
- 1 Pastry Cutter or fork
- 2 1/4 Cup All Purpose Flour
- 3/4 Cup Sugar
- 1 tsp Baking Powder
- 1/2 tsp Baking Soda
- 1/2 tsp Salt
- 10 oz Hefeweizen Beer Or other beer (Lager)
- 2 Tbl Extra Virgin Olive Oil Or Vegetable Oil
- 1 tsp Vanilla Extract
- 1 tsp Almond Extract
- 1 1/2 Cups Peaches: peeled and chopped bite size About 3 Fresh Peaches
- 1 Tbl Sugar
- 1/2 tsp Cinnamon
- 2 Tbl Packed Brown Sugar
- 3 Tbl All Purpose Flour
- 2 Tbl Cold Unsalted Butter
- 1 each Large Egg
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Coat loaf pan with cooking spray.
- In a small bowl, combine crumble topping ingredients, (brown sugar, flour and cold butter).
- Use your pastry cutter or fork to combine until your mixture is all pea-sized crumbs. Place this in your freezer for later use.
- In a small bowl, combine all peach ingredients (peaches, sugar, cinnamon) and stir to fully coat peaches. Set aside.
- In a medium bowl, shift your dry ingredients together, (flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, salt), and set aside.
- In a medium bowl, whisk your wet ingredients together (egg, beer, oil, extracts).
- Add your wet ingredients to your dry ingredients and stir with a wooden spoon or spatula until well combined and no more flour is seen.
- Gently stir in peaches and their juices into the batter. Pour mixed batter into the prepared loaf pan. Evenly sprinkle the crumble topping on top of the batter.
- Cover with foil for 30 minutes. Remove foil and return to the oven. Check (15 minutes later) for doneness after a total of 45 mins. Use a thin knife or skewer to poke the middle of the loaf. If it comes out clean then that means it is done. If it is not clean, keep baking. Once its ready, let it cool on a cooling rack before serving.