Midtfyns Bryghus, a microbrewery centrally located on the Island of Funen, Denmark. In 2006 when the brewery was only two years old the American born ‘bon vivant’ Eddie Szweda took over the operation. After just a few years at the helm he had positively transformed this unknown brewery and helped putting Funen on the map of great breweries – nationally as well as internationally.
Not the ordinary brewery
There are plenty of reviews of Midtfyns Bryghus’ beer, so I will focus on two very different aspects; the brewery itself and a recipe of a delicious sauce made from the brewery’s ‘Imperial Stout’.
I have visited breweries before but Midtfyns Bryghus is different. I met Eddie during the ‘Cherry Festival’ in Kerteminde in Denmark where he had a small stand promoting and selling his beers. I asked him if he would have time to give me a quick tour of his brewery as I am writing an article about the culinary island life on Funen. He was very open and enthusiastic, and a week later I drove to Årslev to see what they are all about. From the very first moment I knew that Midtfyns Bryghus was not the ordinary microbrewery. One thing I love about smaller breweries is the passion for beer. Not just the final product but also the very process itself: brewing and coming up with new ideas and concepts. This was no different at Midtfyns Bryghus. Same enthusiasm and passion, but it did not end there. Looking at the beers, the shop (located at the brewery), the future plans and ideas, the awards, the hospitality, Eddie’s character and the operation itself it was clear to me that Midtfyns Bryghus is much more than just a brewery; it is a gateway to Danish culture, it is the American dream, it is quality of service and products, and it is innovative and responsible solutions. Eddie recently relocated from Brobyværk to Årslev and bought brand new, custom made brewing equipment from the Danish company JTM Brew owned by Thomas and Jesper. Cheaper solutions exist in countries like China, but Eddie wanted the money to stay in the country, which was one of the reasons why he purchased the more expensive Danish solution. I was lucky enough to meet Thomas, one of the two owners, at the brewery. He was helping Eddie in the production, which I found very interesting. The commitment from JTM Brew, the appreciation from Eddie and the rest of the crew as well as the common passion for beer and the craft of brewing makes this relationship between buyer and supplier genuine and beneficial. Another part of Midtfyns Bryghus that was very remarkable was the fact that all the beer labels do not just have beautiful designs, which function as lures to the human eye, but are all printed in braille making it possible for visually impaired to examine the beer before buying it. The brewery is, according to Eddie, the only one in the world doing that.
From left to right: (1) Eddie in front of newspaper articles (2) Chris, a happy blogger tasting the ale (3) The new equipment at Midtfyns Bryghus
Midtfyns Bryghus sells twelve different beers plus an additional three seasonal. As I few days after the visit had to cook for a smaller birthday event I decided to use one of the beers to create a recipe in honor of Midtfyns Bryghus as well the birthday kid (my mom!). I generally think that beer is completely overlooked in cooking, so I though it would be a fun little challenge to implement the taste of Funen and Midtfyns Bryghus in a dish. I wanted to make a gravy that would suit lamb, or any kind of game, a rebellious act as wine is often the flavor agent in these kind of sauces. I decided to use the ‘Imperial Stout’, a full-bodied beer brewed from a blend of roasted malt varieties and aged with oak wood, and add typical game flavors like rosemary and juniper berries. I wanted strong flavor without overpowering the beautiful chocolate, oak, vanilla and coffee characters of the beer, so keeping it simple was the key. It turned out to be super delicious and of course we share the recipe with you!
From left to right: (1) Ale at Midtfyns Bryghus (2) A selection of beers from Midtfyns Bryghus (3) Lamb on the BBQ
Lamb with Imperial Stout gravy (serves 6 people)
4 dl. / 1.7 cup Imperial stout from Midtfyns Bryghus
2 dl. / 0.9 cup Vegetable stock
200 g / 7 oz. carrots (cut in chunks)
200 g. / 7 oz. onions (cut in chunks)
50 g. / 1.8 oz. celery (cut in chunks)
10-15 juniper berries (crushed)
1 big sprig fresh rosemary
50 g. / 1.8 oz. butter butter
2 tablespoon oil (canola works well)
3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
2 dl. / 0.9 cup heavy cream/whipping cream
2 tablespoons molasses sugar or cane sugar
1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar or apple cider vinegar
Salt and pepper to taste
Add oil to a vessel and heat on high flame. Add carrots, onions, celery, juniper berries and rosemary and fry for 4-5 minutes. Add the stock and the stout and reduce by one third. Strain and reserve liquid. In a sauce pan add the butter and heat on medium flame. Add the flour and whisk continuously for 5-10 minutes (until the mixtures is dark caramel brown). Add the hot beer/vegetable stock little by little while whisking. Add the cream and bring to a boil. Remove from stove and add sugar and vinegar. Taste with salt and freshly ground pepper.
1 kg / 2.2 pounds lamb culotte (or other similar cut like sirloin)
8 small twigs of fresh rosemary
2 teaspoons black peppercorns
10 Juniper berries
8 cinnamon sticks (Cassia cinnamon, not Ceylon)
1 dl / 0.4 cup olive oil
Coarse sea salt
With a sharp knife pierce the lamb meat and force the rosemary twigs and cinnamon sticks through. Using a mortar and pestle crush the juniper berries and black peppercorns. Add olive oil. Drizzle the meat with the juniper flavored oil and sprinkle with coarse sea salt. Cook in an oven or BBQ until the core temperature has reached 50 degrees Celsius (120 degrees Fahrenheit). Cover with aluminum foil and let the meat rest for 5-10 minutes before serving.
Enjoy! It is delicious!
http://jtmbrew.com/ (Danish / English)