Thursday, February 17, 2011

Monticello Reserve Ale

Big news in Charlottesville's world of microbrews. The Thomas Jefferson Foundation and Starr Hill, a microbrewery that started in Charlottesville and has won 14 prestigous awards for its craft beers, have teamed up and here is the Feb.01,2011 Press Release from the Starrr Hill website:

Introducing Monticello's new microbrew, just in time for President's Day!

Monticello Reserve Ale will be sold in 750ml bottles at Monticello and Starr Hill's Tasting Room ONLY. It will be brewed and bottled locally at Starr Hill Brewery, in Crozet, Virginia, by Master Brewer Mark Thompson.

A revolution is brewing in the artisanal beer worlk, inspired by the taste of Thomas Jefferson and what was brewed historically at Monticello. The Thomas Jefferson Foundation, in collaboration with Starr Hill Brewery, announces the launch of Monticello Reserve Ale, the official beer of Monticello.The public is invited to a free tasting to celebrate the launch of Monticello Reserve Ale, Presidents' Day, Monday February 21, 12 p.m. - 3 p.m. -in the Thomas Jefferson Visitor Center Museum Shop at Monticello. The launch will include the tapping of the first keg. Free tastings will be provided.

Monticello Reserve Ale is inspired by what was produced and consumed regularly at Monticello. It is made from a combination of wheat and corn, lightly hopped. Brewing beer was an important plantation activity at Monticello. Beer, one of the "table liquors" served with meals, was a staple of the Jefferson household. Records go back to 1772, when Jefferson's wife Martha oversaw the periodic brewing operations, producing 15 gallon casks of small beer - beer with low alcohol content - about every two weeks.

In 1815, Jefferson writes in a letter to Joseph Coppinger (himself a brewer):"I am lately become become a brewer for family use, having had the benefit of instruction to one of my people by an Englishh brewer of the first order."

Large-scale brewing began with the appearanace of a British brewer detained in Albemarle County during the War of 1812. Captain Joseph Miller improved upon the quality and quantity of Monticello beer, introducing ale, stronger beer suited to storage. While at Monticello, Joseph Miller trained the enslaved Peter Hemings in the arts of malting and brewing. Hemings - a brother of Sally - carried on the brewing operations, making 100 gallons of ale every spring and fall.

Jefferson wrote in 1821 that he had "no receipt for brewing," doubting "if the operations of malting and brewing could be successfully performed from a receipt." Using ingredients grown on the Monticello plantation, Jefferson's brews varied based on the grains that were available at any given time, including barley, and larger quantities of corn and wheat. At Monticello, about three-quarters of a pound of hops were used for every bushel of malt.

Presidents' Day Tasting
Monday, February 21, noon to 3:00 p.m.
12:15 p.m. Tapping of the first keg
Free public tasting

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Recipes for Entertaining With Virginia Country Ham Slices

Here are some ideas for entertaining with Virginia Genuine Smithfield or Country Ham Slices just in time for Super Bowl:
Fruit Picks: Wap thin ham slices around melon balls, fresh figs, or pear slices. Serve with picks.
Honey Blues: Spread softened Blue Cheese on baguette slices, top with ham slices, and drizzle with honey.
Party Rolls: Mix softened butter with brown sugar, Dijon mustard, ground cinnamon and ground cloves to taste. Spread on tiny yeast rolls and stuff with thinly sliced ham. Wrap in foil and heat until warm.
Country Ham & Sweet Potato Crescents: Add a spoonful of cooked sweet potato and a slice of country ham to a flat refrigerated crescent and roll before rolling into shape. Lightly sprinkle with cinnamon and sugar before baking.
Chicken Smithfield: Stuff boneless butterflied chicken breasts with ham slices and white cheese. Sprinkle with olive oil and chopped herbs, wrap with bacon and bake.
Caesar Salad Smithfield-Style: Just add strips of thinly sliced country ham to a savory Caesar Salad