Standing Stone Brewing Company

Food

Behind the Scenes: Tips and Favorites from Our Bartenders

Our bartenders are a valued part of the team at Standing Stone Brewing Co. They make sure our beer, wine and special libations get from the taps and bottles to you, efficiently and beautifully. Our mix masters take care to make sure every beverage is served with quality (and sometimes even a little entertainment). Their efforts make for happy customers. In the Sneak Preview’s 2010 Best of Ashland, our own Mike DuBois was among the top “Favorite Bartenders” and we received mention for “Friendliest Bar Staff.”

We asked two of our bartenders, Gina Velando and Mike, to share some of their suggestions for crafting and serving great drinks. As always, these experts were happy to pour it on.

What is your favorite specialty drink to make?

Gina– Our SSBC Chai Toddy (Standing Stone Black Chai Tea, Spiced Rum, and Tuaca liqueur), since it awakens the palate, and senses, fully. Research tells us that “70-75% of what we perceive as taste actually comes from our sense of smell.” Any time I’m mixing up a Chai Toddy several noses up and down the bar can be heard echoing… “mmmm, that smells good!”

Do you have a favorite beer to suggest to customers?

Mike– My favorite beer to drink and serve is the Double IPA. This beer offers medium-high hop bitterness with a crisp citrus finish. It’s great to enjoy on its own or paired with the rich flavors in a burger or pizza. It’s everything I love in a beer!

What are some seasonal ingredients people can use when making their own cocktails at home?

Gina- It’s hot toddy season! I’m a fan of the classic winter warmer with whiskey, honey and lemon in hot water. Numerous Oregon distillers are turning out some great whiskeys, like Hood River and Pendleton Canadian Blend Whiskey. Let your closest liquor store know you would like to see these Oregon products made available! Throw in a lemon wedge and add some sweetness, taking advantage of the taste and health benefits of local honey. Then, top with hot water. This drink will soothe an aching throat and warm cold bones!

Do you have a favorite food and beer pairing from our menu?

Mike– Beer pairs so well with food, it can be hard for me to choose a favorite duo. A classic match is a hoppy beer with a hearty burger. The hops have an astringent quality that cleanses the palate of the rich flavors, helping every bite taste like the first. I suggest trying a pint of our Amber with our Black and Blue Burger. The Amber, which won a bronze award at last year’s Brain of Brewer’s competition in Colorado, boasts medium hop bitterness and a medium-light refreshing body. The caramel characteristics from the roasted malt pair well with the Rogue Creamery Blue Cheese that tops our Valley View beef patty. All in all, a local and delicious choice for anyone interested in food and beer pairings.

Thanks Mike and Gina for offering your suggestions! We hope our customers enjoy our favorite beverages as much as we do.  Please let us in on your preferred drink or food and beer pairing  by sharing with us online or face to face with our bartenders.  We always appreciate the input and new ideas!

Behind the Scenes: Chef Eric Bell’s Seasonal & Globally-Infused Inspirations

Standing Stone Brewing Co.’s chef, Eric Bell, is busy in the kitchen year round with seasonally inspired dishes to please our customers. We asked him a few questions about seasonal cooking and where he finds his inspiration for our tasty specials.

What seasonal ingredients can we expect to see coming soon on the specials board?

Now is the time when oysters and mussels are really nice. We are also seeing local jerusalem artichokes (also called sunchokes), shallots and root vegetables. Occasionally, we’ll feature nettles from Northern California that we use on our Nettle, Goat Cheese and Italian Sausage pizza. On the flip side, the weather has been really hard on limes and grapes.

Any tips for people cooking at home in the winter?

For home cooking, I suggest using the oven often. In the winter, it’s nice to heat up the kitchen and house with something slow. I’ve got my oven filled with high temp bricks which I preheat for a while. Then, I have a thermal mass that can create a great crust on whatever I put in there. To offset the extra energy I use, I’ll cook several meals at once and I’ll do at least one soup at the same time, too. The soup I freeze in small containers to try to keep my wife, Sophie (she’s pregnant), well fed.

The SSBC specials span a wide range of cultural dishes. Where and how did you learn about some of these traditional meals?

Some recipes of mine I learned from my Chinese and Vietnamese grandmothers. When I was learning Pho I would take a bowl to be analyzed, and for the first month every bowl was handed back to me with a “No”. It was rough. Little by little I learned until finally the bowl was not given back until the next day, clean and empty.

Often in Italy, kitchen workers are young and do not know as much as the community grandmothers. Usually, it is a matriarch guiding the others. Many people cook to make money, and there is plenty of “tourist” food all over Italy. But, there are also those who will never compromise tradition because their interests lie in beauty, living a full life and maintaining quality. It is those people, that I search out.

When I wanted to learn about Thai food, I studied history, tradition and recipes, but I also attribute my knowledge to Thai friends like Wilat and Pom (owner and chef of Sawadee), and my favorite Chinese Realtor, Mony Ty. It was Mony who told me about the Barranco from Monterosso, and the “Insalata di Frutty di Mare” in Cinque Terre.

Vicente Cardenes taught me Chili Verde, but Vicente’s wife, Susanna, makes one of the best Moles I’ve ever had. A dishwasher in SLC taught me carnitas. There is no chef who makes better carnitas than Ricardo. He learned from his grandfather.

In each case, I tried to learn from artists who value what they do. I like to cook from scratch, using the best and healthiest local ingredients I can find.

Thanks Eric! We love the dishes Chef Bell brings to SSBC and hope you come in soon to enjoy them as well!

Celebrating & Appreciating the Best of 2010

As 2011 settles in, we wanted to reflect on all the great things 2010 brought to Standing Stone Brewing, and appreciate everyone who helped make those things happen. Here’s our 2010 Top 10…

Beer

1. Larry Chase came on as master brewer and he’s taken our beer lineup to the next level. He’s tapped his creativity to craft a fabulous specialty beers, including Milk & Honey, Pilot Rock Pale Ale and Farmer Brown Ale, complementing our other excellent everyday offerings. This trend continues with Madrone Red kicking off 2011.

2. We launched “Brewer for the Day” (inspired by our experience with our first-rate intern, Acacia Baldner), which allows beer enthusiasts to work with Larry and brew a batch of beer. One participant wrote a blog and Larry caught two more in action. Check it out.

3. Lallemand awarded a Gold to our Hefeweizen and a Bronze to our Amber Ale in its “Brain of Brewers” contest, plus a cash prize that we invested in equipment to brew more amazing beer!

Food

4. Ultra-local beef and eggs hit our menu thanks to a partnership with Valley View Farm. We purchase Valley View Beef and raise egg-laying chickens on the farm, just three miles away. Kudos to our kitchen team for mastering the art of butchering and to Melza for researching chicken breeds and rearing.

5. The City of Ashland approved our proposal to lease City land and start a farm to raise livestock, chickens and produce. Right now, we buy as much produce from local growers as we can, and thank them for their hard work and wonderful offerings.

Sustainability

6. We started an employee yoga program, inspired by employee and yoga instructor, Lindsey Holy, who developed the concept and teaches the sessions. Our employee bike commuting program turned one year old and keeps growing. Our team members make all the best things happen, and we keep looking for ways to appreciate them and give back.

7. Our well-received kegged wine program expanded with the debut of Misty Oaks Stuckagain Heights Pinot Noir. We enjoy looking for more wines to complement our lineup, delivering the best in quality and conservation.

Events & Community

8. We helped bring American Craft Beer Week to the Rogue Valley in May with events, tastings, a specialty beer, guest beers, food pairings and more. Look for events in 2011.

9. The first annual Siskiyou Challenge Relay was held, supporting Rogue Valley Farm to School, a favorite cause. Standing Stone was a lead sponsor and our team made a great showing. We also took part in annual favorites like the JPR Wine Tasting, Brews and Boogie, A Taste of Ashland, the Food & Wine Classic, the Mt Ashland Hillclimb Run and Car Free Day. We’ll be back!

10. We launched a blog and ramped up our facebook and twitter activity to engage more with our customers and community. Your support is the cornerstone of our success, and we want to make it easier to share news and get your feedback to keep doing better.

Thanks everyone! Here’s to another fabulous year!

Savor Local Flavor Year Round

Anyone who knows us knows that we’re passionate about using local ingredients as much as possible. We love offering the freshest foods and beverages to our customers, supporting hardworking farmers and food artisans, and reducing our environmental “foodprint.”

Local foods are most often associated with the warm, sunny days of late spring through fall, when fruits and vegetables flourish and show up in farmers markets, grocers and Community Supported Agriculture boxes. However, there are lots of ways to revel in regional eating through the year.

Our restaurant purchases  Valley View Beef from a farm just a few miles away, and we have our own flock of egg-laying chickens. (Check out a recent article for more information and great photos.) We’re lucky here in the Rogue Valley, where we have several winter Community Supported Agriculture programs offering meat, dairy, produce, bread and more. Look for programs in your area at Local Harvest and ask others for recommendations.

Do a little research to find all-season favorites from local purveyors, such as bread, baked goods, meat, dairy and eggs. Nuts, legumes and grains may also be available, since producers can dry and store these well after harvest. Read product labels, consult your grocer and chat with friends and neighbors to find homegrown goods.

Get savvy about produce growing seasons (these differ by location) and over-winter storage to stay a step ahead. Start planning now to grow some of your own next year – thinking about spring helps make the colder days go faster! Kale, collards, chard, beets carrots, parsnips and Brussels sprouts can grow well into early winter, and emerge in the first days of spring. Winter squash, potatoes, onions, garlic, apples, pears and other crops can be stored for use several months after harvest. Learn about basic storage techniques and stock up at home, or look for locally-grown items where you shop.

Don’t forget preserved foods, including canned (jarred), dehydrated and frozen items, as well as jams, oils and sweeteners like honey or maple syrup. If you have culinary inclinations, learn how to can, freeze and dry favorite foods. For starters, try drying herbs and canning tomatoes, sauce and salsa. We ferment and can our own kim chee at the restaurant.

If you come across regional foods that your local store doesn’t carry, ask them to stock them. This helps build markets for small-scale producers and share their wares more widely.

When you start to dig in, the possibilities are endless. Enjoy, and feel free to leave a comment sharing your ideas for finding, preserving and savoring local goodness!

Prepare Your Palate for the 30th Annual JPR Wine Tasting

We’re excited to join the 30th Annual Jefferson Public Radio Wine Tasting. This annual extravaganza takes place December 9th from 6-9 PM at the Ashland Springs Hotel.  It’s one of our favorite events to participate in, and supports our local public radio station, JPR.

This gathering offers a sampling the best wines from 37 highly-acclaimed, favorite regional wineries, as well as plenty of savory and sweet fare from food artisans, fine restaurants and confectioners in the Rogue Valley. Tasting tables fill the hotel’s conference and ball rooms, so there will be plenty to keep you satisfied for the entirety of the evening. Attendees will receive a souvenir tasting glass, which helps eliminate waste and make this more sustainable. We like that!

The event also features a “Not So Silent” auction, which is a great place to get unique holiday gifts that benefit a great cause, and live music from Pachanga and the Flat Five String Band.

Last year, Standing Stone Brewing Co.’s Goat Cheese Spinach and Artichoke Fondue with Multiseed Crackerbread was a big hit, and we promise to please your taste buds again this year with another of Chef Eric Bell’s creations. Don’t forget to stop by our friends at Noble Coffee Roasting as well to refresh your palate and reawaken your senses between wine and snacks.

We look forward to seeing lots of our favorite local customers, JPR supporters and community members, and meeting new folks, just as we have in years past.

Advance tickets are available online, at the Ashland Food Co-op and Adam’s Deli & Catering (Medford) or by calling 1-877-646-4TIX. This event is sponsored by the Ashland Food Co-Op. If you’re visiting from out of town, the Ashland Springs Hotel is offering a reduced rate for attendees who request the “JPR Block of Rooms.”

By in Food, Sustainability 0

Talking Turkey 2: Tips for the Perfect Thanksgiving – Hosting & Sustainability

We hope you’re getting ready for a fabulous Thanksgiving! To follow up our post with tips for a terrific Thanksgiving meal (and drinks), here are a few more helpful ideas from our team to help you plan a stellar, stress-free, sustainable event. Feel free to post a comment to share your tips for celebrating, too!

Rachel Huntley, Event Coordinator

As the event coordinator extraordinaire, can you share a few tips for hosting a stress free, memorable Thanksgiving?

There are several ways to save stress and time without compromising the quality of your food or your experience. First, keep guests happy before the dinner with light and easy appetizers and a little activity to buy you more time to organize your thoughts and the meal without pressure. Try putting out Rogue Creamery Blue Cheese or Sharp Cheddar, wines and beer for guests to do their own tasting and pairing. Toasted artisan baguettes with garlic and butter are a good addition. They’re easy palate pleasers, and even better with local tapenades and spreads such as those from Rising Sun Farms next door in Talent, OR. Offer paper and pens to encourage note taking and discussion.

Whenever we organize an event at Standing Stone we do as much prep work ahead of time as possible, while ensuring freshness and quality. Prep vegetables, grains and legumes beforehand, store them in the fridge and finish on Thanksgiving Day. Many dishes can be prepared a day or two before, such as cranberry sauce or your favorite casserole. Make Thanksgiving a celebration week and enjoy relaxed cooking while focusing on the holiday’s joy, gratitude and togetherness.

Brandon Schilling, Sustainability Coordinator

As our sustainability coordinator, what simple tips can you share with folks to eliminate waste and have a positive environmental impact during the celebration?

Thanksgiving traditionally involves sharing a home cooked meal with family and friends, though some eat out or purchase prepared foods. There are ways to make all of these options more environmentally-friendly. Sustainable Thanksgivings ensure that we have more to come, so it’s important to do what we can.

Use reusable dinnerware for the meal (plates, utensils, beverage glasses, napkins, etc.) and storing leftovers. Reuse foil from baking dishes to cover leftovers as well.

For those celebrating at a favorite eatery, walk, bike or carpool. Pick a venue close by, too, as you’ll save fuel and might cross paths with friends. The restaurant’s practices shape its sustainability impacts so pick accordingly, such as selecting one that offers local and organic foods and uses reusable tableware. Bring your own reusable containers if you think you’ll have leftovers to-go.

If you’re staying home and hosting, invite guests through e-vites or phone. You might even try to arrange a carpools among guests or encourage them to walk or bike, which will help shake that post-meal trance and promote a good night’s sleep.

Rogue Valley Brambles Farm in Talent, OR

Your meal choices have a big impact. If you’re planning on serving turkey, choose one that’s local and organic, or at least antibiotic- and hormone-free. Grass-fed heritage turkeys are an especially tasty and smart choice. Your quest to find the freshest, local bird may bring you to a local farm, perhaps harvesting a turkey yourself, quite a memorable experience!  Stock up on local produce to enjoy what’s fresh and in season, such as sunchokes, squash, brassicas, root vegetables and more. Look for regionally-grown grains, legumes and dairy products as well. Try challenging yourself to stick to what our predecessors would have eaten for the first Thanksgivings.

Shop as locally as possible and look for items with minimal or no packaging, or packaging that can be recycled. Buy baking supplies, nuts and grains and in bulk. Gently remind guests not to waste food and drink by taking only what they’ll finish. Compost kitchen trimmings and any food left on guests’ plates.

Enjoy, and don’t forget to give thanks for the plants and animals that are our sustenance, and for our food security!

Talking Turkey: Tips for the Perfect Thanksgiving Feast

At Standing Stone Brewing Company, we’re all about welcoming our community for a delicious cuisine and beer in an enjoyable atmosphere. We hope our guests feel a little of the spirit of Thanksgiving on each visit, enjoying a great meal in the relaxed company of family and friends.

Our team is savvy about fabulous food and drinks, and how to prepare and present them in sustainable style. We thought we’d share our two cents to help you celebrate a terrific Thanksgiving full of savory seasonal fare and, of course, excellent craft beer. We’d love you to share your ideas, too, so please post a comment!

Jeff Hunt, Line Cook

What’s your favorite, foolproof way to cook a turkey?

To keep moisture around the turkey and add great flavor, try using a mirepiox in the bottom of the pan. The combination of celery, onions and carrots is the flavor base for lots of favorite soups and stocks, and the additional aroma is sure to offer guests a treat with the fragrance of the baking bird. Don’t forget salt and pepper either. These basic additions can make a world of difference.

Have you ever tried a “beer can chicken” recipe with turkey?

Beer can turkey unfortunately doesn’t turn out as well as its counterpart “beer can chicken.” Often a turkey is too big and takes too long to cook for this method. However, if you really want to give it a whirl, use a smaller turkey. Often, organic and heritage turkeys tend to be a bit smaller, so go for the smart choice.

What side dishes do you suggest, using seasonal, local ingredients?

Thanksgiving’s traditional dishes are inherently in season since the holiday is founded on appreciating the harvest. I suggest sticking with these traditions while adding a creative and new spin. Try sweet potato au gratin instead of the usual sweet casserole with marshmallows. We make a savory bread pudding at the restaurant and like to add all the seasonal vegetables we can get our hands on, like chanterelle mushrooms, onions, spinach, and garlic. This would be a nice twist on traditional stuffing. Sunflower seeds are in season now. Try adding some to your pie crust for an extra crunch and pleasant flavor. We especially love doing this for pumpkin cheesecake crust.

Larry Chase, Brewmaster

Which Standing Stone beers pair best with the Thanksgiving meal?

With turkey and stuffing try the Pilot Rock Pale Ale. We offer this and all of our beers to go in liters, half-gallon growlers and kegs. Its spicy nuances will match the spices traditional spices in stuffing, its palate cleansing hops will prepare you for the next bite and its upfront citrus flavor will add a new dimension to the turkey and stuffing.

Which Standing Stone beers go well with pumpkin pie and ice cream for a unique desert experience?

Try our Milk & Honey Ale, which has  sweetness to match the cinnamon and nutmeg of pumpkin pie. Our Oatmeal Stout stands on its own as a great after dinner beer with many dessert-like qualities, including nuances of roasted coffee and dark chocolate.

CraftBeer.com has lots of food & beer pairing tips for more ideas.

That’s all for now. Check out part two of this post pairing for ideas on hosting an unforgettable and stress-free Thanksgiving, and doing it in sustainable style.

Did you make it to the Food and Wine Classic?

Top Chef Chandra from Cucina Biazzi

If you were around this weekend for the Ashland Food and Wine Classic at the Ashland Armory, then you may be feeling like we do this week…satisfied from sampling the delicious beer, wine and food, and inspired to take home some of the culinary wisdom and creativity we saw from Ashland’s top chefs.

If you missed it, here’s a recap to whet your taste buds for next year…

Standing Stone Brewing Co. was one of two beer vendors at the event, along with Caldera and several local wineries and artisan bakeries with treats to satisfy every savory and sweet taste bud.

While we poured hearty tastes of our Amber Ale and Harvest Ale for the crowd, Ashland’s finest chefs had thestage for the four rounds of Ashland’s Top Chef Showdown.

Chefs from eight local restaurants participated, including:

Omar’s

Cucina Biazzi

Lark’s

Tease

Chateaulin

Peerless

The Black Sheep Pub

Allyson’s

Omar's competes in the final round

Chef Chandra Corwin of Cucina Biazzi won Top Chef this year in the final round against 2009 Top Chef Franco Console of Omar’s. The secret ingredients for the last round, unveiled as the clock started, were whole rabbit and Dabob Bay oysters. Congratulations to all of the chefs who participated, truly showing talent under pressure!

Thank you to the Ashland Chamber of Commerce for coordinating another successful Food and Wine Classic event. We’re happy to be a part of Ashland’s favorite culinary exhibition every year. Missed it this time? We still pour hearty tastes of our beer at the restaurant, any time of the year.

Birds of a Feather: Melza and our Chickens

At Standing Stone, we love showcasing our coworkers with hidden talents (and not-so-hidden ones, too). This week we want readers to know about server, bartender, photographer and resident chicken expert extraordinaire, Melza Quinn, and share an update on the expansion of our chicken flock.

Melza has been with Standing Stone Brewing Co. since the summer of 2009, when she began serving and hosting. She had just moved to Ashland after a cross country road trip from Florida. She says she was searching for a community where people know their farms and have a passion for food, and she found it here. Lucky for us!

Melza has a passion for working and living locally, which is why she is such an important piece of our Standing Stone puzzle. A weekly patron of the Tuesday Farmer’s Market, Melza knows many of our local farmers by name and makes a priority to visit and learn as much as she can about Southern Oregon and our available year-round bounty. She recently visited Thompson Creek Organics in the Applegate valley and came back raving about how beautiful the orchards were and how accommodating owner, Blaire Smith, was with his tour of the orchards and cellar.

Melza’s latest passion at Standing Stone is chickens. Currently, our flock  has 45 egg-laying chickens, providing all of our restaurant’s eggs and ensuring they are all free-range and hormone and antibiotic free. Melza is researching the best breeds for egg production,optimal housing methods and how to start producing our own chickens for meat so that all the chicken we serve will remain the freshest and most healthful option for our guests. The future of our chicken operation will be the fruits of her labor!

You can also get a glimpse of Melza’s photographic and artistic talents, and our chickens and cows, in our front window, where the brewing tanks live. She recently put up a window display to showcase up-close-and-personal pics of our cows and chickens, and is working up another one to catch your eye and show off our local farming friends.

Ashland Food and Wine Classic Preview

Halloween has passed and it’s time for the next big thing on our calendar – Ashland, Oregon’s 4th Annual Food and Wine Classic, held November 5th – 7th. We’re taking part in this weekend long event, which brings together Southern Oregon’s best beer, food and wine vendors to offer samples, educational workshops and the Top Chef Showdown.

To start the weekend off, previous years’ Top Chefs, Franco Console and Neil Clooney, will be preparing a three-course dinner at the Ashland Armory on Friday. On Saturday and Sunday, the 2010 Top Chef Competition and Showdown take place at the Armory from 12-5, with lots of local food and beverages to enjoy while watching the excitement. Standing Stone Brewing Co. will be there pouring tastes of beer and selling pints from our brewery. There will also be a People’s Choice dessert competition between several local restaurants, and spectators are welcome to bid on the sweet dishes afterwards.

Local artisan food and beverage providers sampling at the Armory include:

  • Apple Cellar Bakery
  • Branson’s Chocolates
  • Caldera Brewing Co.
  • Cary’s of Oregon
  • Dagoba Organic Chocolate
  • EdenVale Winery
  • Enchanted Florist
  • French Kiss
  • Grizzly Peak Winery
  • Homemade Confections
  • Nobel Coffee Roasting
  • Organic Nation
  • Rise Up! Artisan Bread
  • Rising Sun Farms
  • Standing Stone Brewing Co.
  • Sterling Silver Food Company
  • Vintner’s Kitchen
  • Weisinger’s of Ashland
  • Willamette Valley Vineyards
  • Windridge Vineyards

Throughout the weekend, there will be several workshops to indulge your culinary curiosity and creativity. Don’t miss the homebrewing workshop, held Saturday and Sunday 10-11:30 AM, led by expert brewer, Bob of Grains, Beans and Things. There’s also the ever-popular wine tasting class, and one holiday table art promises to help the crafty entertainer get a jump on holiday decorating.

You can purchase tickets from the Ashland Chamber of Commerce by following this link, or at the door.

We recommend buying your tickets in advance, since some events sell out.

There’s a full menu of options from tickets for the dinner, one or both weekend days with or without workshops, or the complete event package.

Hope to see you there!