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The Smoking Musket Tailgate Menu: WV Beers vs. Youngstown State

Cheers, craft beers, Mountaineers as we celebrate WVU under the lights.

It’s the home opener for our West Virginia Mountaineers and the football gods have blessed us with a 6 p.m kickoff. That means plenty of time for tailgating. Two essential ingredients to tailgating are beer and a grill. For this menu, we’re going to combine them in a gloriously Midwestern meal.

When I think of Ohio, my mind immediately goes to sausages. Brats, hot dogs and kielbasa are all staples of a good Ohio cookout. But, man cannot live on sausage alone, so for this tailgate, we’ve rounded out all the food groups and drowned them in beer.

Now, I know all By-Godders are committed to their favorite cheap beer, but I want to try to reveal to you the great craft beer we have in the area, so each recipe includes a good brew from West Virginia to use.

Brats in a Beer Hot Tub

This is one of the most upper-Midwest things I can think of: brats cooked in beer and onion. This method of cooking the brats may take a bit longer, but it produces so much more flavor. The trick here is to use a hoppy beer, not a cheap beer. Why? The hops and high alcohol content will inject more flavor into the brats and the onions. Also, you’ll want real, fresh brats that are in the styrofoam and plastic wrap, not pre-packaged.

Basically, you want an aluminum tray, cover the bottom in sliced onion. Then, lay your brats on top of the onion, cover with another layer of onion, then put slices of butter on top of that. Next, pour a can of beer into the tray to cover the brats, maybe more, if you want. This recipe calls for red pepper flakes or Cajun seasoning; I advocate for a good, seedy mustard instead.

You’ll want to grill to be about 400 degrees before putting the tray on. Close the lid and let them cook for about 20 minutes. After that time, open the grill, move the tray to one side and oil the other side. Pull the brats from the and sear them on the grill for about 8 minutes, turning a couple times.

These brats will end up both crisp and juicy, giving you that snap when you bite into them. Serve them however you want, but I highly suggest putting a few of the onion slices on top.

For this recipe, I’ll recommend the Big Timber Brewing Logger Lager Pils.

Beer-Marinated Vegetables

Side dishes are important in a tailgate, and this method takes vegetables that you’d normally cook on the grill, but takes them in a different direction. I’m actually very intrigued by the idea of beer-marinated portobello mushrooms and think the zucchini and squash would greatly benefit from the beer.

You can follow this recipe exactly, or take the vegetables (not the mushrooms, which are a fungus) and make kabobs out of them. If you go the kabob route, cut the vegetables into similarly sized portions instead of how the instructions dictate.

Like I said with the brats, you want to use a decent beer. In fact, I’ll recommend the Greenbrier Valley Brewing Co’s Wild Trail Pale Ale for its fruity and earthy flavors and high alcohol content.

Beer Cheese

So beer cheese played a vital role in my college life. As a fraternity man at Lenoir-Rhyne University, we frequented the Olde Hickory Taproom at least weekly. This was the best spot for locally brewed beer and great pub food. Among this food was the sexually arousing beer cheese.

Made from their Piedmont Pilsner beer and sharp cheddar, this was the perfect dipping sauce for chips, vegetables, mozzarella sticks (talk about orgasmic), or even as a topping for a burger. This would also be great with tortilla chips or pita bread slices.

For this, cube 16 ounces of sharp cheddar cheese (you can get a fancy cheese from the Kroger cheese stand, or just store brand) and block cream cheese into a food processor and pulverize it with garlic cloves and some spicy mustard. Once pulverized, pour in ⅔ cups of Nate’s Nut Brown Ale from Chestnut Brew Works and mix again. Refrigerate for at least an hour before serving.

Chocolate Guinness Cups

Probably the first beer that came to mind when thinking about dessert was Guinness. Chocolate plus a stout beer is a great combo, mixing the sweet chocolate with the coffee flavor of a stout.

Now, this dessert requires some baking talent, but you can make these on Friday night, put them in small mason jars and refrigerate overnight. These are good individual desserts and this recipe could actually make four small mason jars, but make enough for everyone at your tailgate.

You can use Guinness or use the Miner’s Daughter Oatmeal Stout from Mountain State Brewing Co.

As we welcome our Mountaineers back to Milan Puskar Stadium, let’s remember that we love our team and it’s this is as much a celebration of them as it is us. Tailgate it up as long as you can and don’t do anything to get arrested. There’s a lot of football to be played to get arrested on Youngstown State weekend.

Remember, Mountaineers don’t lose tailgates.