Feeling a bit sentimental this time of year, here’s my feelgood, squishy, heartwarming column of the year. To properly enjoy this column, pour a glass of really good beer, slice some boerenkaas cheese and start a fire in the fireplace (if you don’t have a fireplace, an aluminum trashcan will do. Be sure to open the windows so you don’t die. Suffocating from smoke & carbon monoxide might damper the romantic experience of this column.)
Ever walk into a house & feel that warm glow from scents wafting from the kitchen? Mulled ale warming on the stovetop does just that! It’s an awesome welcome to friends stopping by on a cold winter evening and whacks you upside the nostrils, which is just the effect we’re all going for during the holidays, right?
Here are a couple of ways to do this: Buy a quality ale… hearty & malty is my favorite style… a half dozen 750 ml bottles should do. Pour a bottle into a big, honking saucepan and mix in a couple tsp of sugar and as much ginger, nutmeg, cinnamon & cloves as you like. I like whole cloves & cinnamon sticks for the reaction as much as the flavor. “Hey, Jensen! There’s floaters in this stuff!” One more thing: an egg. Separate the yolk from the white, put the egg whites into some unsuspecting guest’s nog for fun, then put the yolk in a little bowl with another tsp of sugar and beat it with a whisk, fork or whatever you can find in the garden shed until it turns nearly white.
Slowly add a little warm ale to the mixture so you don’t get any scrambling when you add it to the mixture. Now go ahead and slowly add it to the mixture. Why add the egg yolk? So you can say you did & act like it’s some big honkin’ production like those drama queen dudes on the cooking shows who yell at each other until they all cry. It also adds a little “something” to the taste. Try the ale with & without the egg yolk and you’ll see. Just don’t come cryin’ to me if you ruin it. Tell it to the guys on the cooking shows.
To serve, get a sieve & ladle it through the sieve into mugs for your friends. Some people also like to add honey to the ale. Yeah, I’m “some people.” You may also want to make Wassall, which is easy: Put some sugar in the bottom of a saucepan, pour a pint (or more… much more) of warm beer into it and add as much ground cinnamon, nutmeg & ginger as you like. If you add too much spice, add more ale. If you add too much ale, add more spice. If you add too much spice again, buy a bigger saucepan and add more ale. The first time you try this, you’ll be surprised just how much this process can escalate. I was and so was my neighbor Kevin whose slightly used 1998 Ford Fiesta aluminum gas tank worked pretty well when I got the mixture just right.
When you get it right, just let it sit there until your guests come. It can sit well for hours & hours. Really. It ain’t goin’ nowhere and it’s not like you have to worry about the beer getting warm, right? When friends come over, heat it slowly at low fire ( I use fire. “Low Temperature” if you use that new-fangled electricity thing). Some folks like to serve it with thinly sliced toast. I guess this time I’m not “some folks.” My pal Charlie suggests that another way to do this is to put a can of beer in someone else’s microwave on “high” for thirty minutes and sneak out of the house and watch for the reports on Facebook. You’d be right in guessing Charlie isn’t very popular on “Wassall” days.