Flavorful ales and specialty brews pour into the spotlight April 13 during the third annual Blue Chip Brewfest at Blue Chip Casino Hotel and Spa.
"This is an educational opportunity for beer connoisseurs," said Jack Elia, director of operations-hospitality at Blue Chip Casino.
Elia said the event offers guests the chance to sample and learn about various brews and breweries all in one location.
"There'll be more than 50 different breweries and more than 250 different flavors of beer," he said. "They'll have the opportunity to taste things they may not have had or seen before."
Local and national breweries will participate in the event highlighting the diverse landscape of U.S. microbrews.
Among breweries scheduled to be featured are Three Floyds Brewing Co. of Munster; the new Burn' Em Brewing of Michigan City (which hasn't officially opened yet); Shoreline Brewery of Michigan City; Four Horsemen Brewing Co. from South Bend; Sun King from Indianapolis; Barley Island; Chicago Beer; Evil Czech of Culver, Ind.; and Blue Moon Brewing.
According to Elia, last year 1,100 people attended Brewfest and he's expecting about 1,500 this year. Blue Chip is partnering with Indiana Beverage in presenting the event.
Guests will get a chance to talk with brewers and other ale experts about their offerings while sampling diverse products.
It's also a great networking event. "As you go around from table to table you hear people asking how the brews are made (and other questions)," Elia said. During a VIP time slot, from noon to 1 p.m., guests will also have a private tasting along with beer and food pairings.
Feedback from the event, he said, has been positive. "They love the fact that there are so many different varieties and they always want us to do another one," Elia said. Blue Chip's Brewfest has become one of Michigan City's not to miss events.
The various food options served during the V.I.P. event are created by Blue Chip's executive chef Patrick Higgins and his culinary staff. Higgins said, in honor of Brewfest, the staff has also come up with various dishes for the casino's eateries It's Vegas Baby and The Game that use brews and ales as ingredients.
"We have a (sampling) of items that have been cooked with beer," Higgins said, adding there's a Fish and Chips dish featuring Fat Tire ale, a Braised Short Rib recipe that stars Irish Stout and a Braised Bratwurst that features Samuel Adams Boston lager.
"We're playing around with other ideas," Higgins said. About pairing the food flavors and brews, Higgins said "It's a lot of fun and it's a learning process."
For the Beer Batter:
1 cup all-purpose flour
1 cup cornstarch
1 12-ounce can beer (ale, lager)
1 large egg
2 teaspoons kosher salt
1 teaspoon Cajun seasoning
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
For the Fish:
6 cups peanut or canola oil
1 1/2 pounds skinless fillets (cod, flounder, fluke, or haddock), cut into four pieces, less than 3/4-inch thick
Salt and pepper
Malt vinegar, or lemon
DIRECTIONS: Preheat fryer to 350 degrees. Mix all dry ingredients together then add wet ingredients. Dredge fish in flour then dip in batter. Slowly place in hot oil and fry in deep fryer for 5 minutes.
Braised Short Ribs
2 pounds beef short ribs
2 tablespoons olive oil
3-4 sprigs of thyme
1 bay leaf
1 medium yellow onion (diced)
1 medium carrot (diced)
2 stalks of celery (diced)
5 garlic cloves
2 tablespoons tomato paste
3 cups dark beer
2 cups beef/veal stock
DIRECTIONS: Preheat oven to 300 degrees. Season ribs with salt and pepper, dredge in flour and sear in a heavy bottomed pot. Remove and brown carrots, onion and celery with tomato paste. Add garlic thyme and bay leaf. Deglaze with beef/veal stock and add beer. Add ribs back in pot. Cover and braise in oven for 3 hours. The last 30 minutes remove lid. Remove from oven and let rest for 10 minutes.
Guinness Ice Cream
1 1/2 cans Guinness draught beer
2 cups heavy whipping cream
1 cup milk
1 cup sugar
3 egg yolks
2 tablespoons and 2 teaspoons molasses
DIRECTIONS: Pour the Guinness into a pan. Boil it down to about 1 1/2 cups, set on low heat to simmer. Mix the egg yolks and sugar in a bowl, stir in milk, then warm Guinness concentrate. Add in cream and molasses. Chill in fridge for 2 hours before you put it in your ice cream maker. Mix in ice cream maker until done, pour into a new glass or plastic bowl, cover and place in the freezer to further solidify for about an hour.