She’s a keeper…

Last night, as my bride and I haunted the hotel bar at the Tudor Arms hotel in Cleveland, one of my new friends in town for a beer festival at FirstEnergy Stadium shared a bit of wisdom with me.

He affirmed for me that my bride of fourteen years was beautiful and a keeper.

He’s right, of course. And I already knew that. But I sure got the impression that he enjoyed sharing that with me. See, I’ve had a bit of a rough go lately. Things have been stressful and busy as hell with work. Stressful dealing with the house in Illinois. I’ve been PERSONALLY busy, as I drive my eldest daughter 400 miles round trip to obtain Oral ImmunoTherapy for her peanut allergy. So, I’ve been more stressed lately than I have been at any time since 2005.

As a result, my beautiful bride planned a one night getaway for us. To that mecca of exotica…Cleveland!

Now, I’ve never had much to say about Cleveland. Good or bad. It simply was. My buddies and I hit a Tribe game a few years back. That was fun. But, I wasn’t excited by anything there. Until this trip. We stayed at the Doubletree Tudor Arms, which was a pretty nice place. From there, we went out to the Great Lakes Brewing Company for dinner and a couple of brews. Enjoyed some Lake Erie Monster, and Ales for ALS White IPA, and a Commodore Perry IPA. The good news is, my shrimp and grits was delicious. The bad news was, I was too full to drink much more.

Still, we soldiered on, and went to Nano Brew Cleveland, where I managed two more pints of local brew. First being the Nano Brew Cluster Bomb, and the second being a Market Garden Brewery Viking Pale Ale, which I believe may have been my favorite brew of the night. It was on cask, and reminded me so very much of homebrew.

After two brews, though, I just couldn’t put any more down. Sadly, I failed to invoke the rule that “beer has food value, but food has no beer value”, and so we went back to the room to chill out for a while, before we went down to the hotel bar for a couple more.

After a FANTASTIC night’s sleep, we packed up and headed to Lucky’s Cafe for breakfast. Which was FAN. TAS. TIC. Pecan encrusted bacon and delicious biscuits and gravy for me, and a summer squash omelette for her. And nearly everything is sourced within 100 miles, with much of their food coming from their urban farm. So very cool. Check it out if you get the opportunity.

So, my new friend from the bar, you’re absolutely right. M’lady is a keeper. She went through a lot of trouble to go out of her way to show me a good time for the evening, and take my mind off my troubles.

For that, I’m ever grateful.

Gift from a friend

Many moons ago, at an employer far, far away, I had the good fortunate of meeting a gentleman that became my friend. Though he was many years my senior, we always found things to talk about. Beer, technology, and family (I was a new and proud papa) were among the topics that I discussed with him as I worked on their Citrix Metaframe server. Millions of dollars were lost for every however many hours it may have been down, at any given time. At least that’s what the manager of the department liked to tell us.

During one of these discussions, my friend Curt and I were discussing either beer or bratwurst. I forget which. But we ended up discussing how they come together most beautifully.

And a fire was started.

You see, my friend turned me on to cooking with Guinness. Lots of people boiled their brats in beer, he shared. But, what kind of flavor does that really provide? By boiling in Guinness, he explained, you add a very definitive, unmistakable character to the sausage. A character which was further enhanced by adding a few cloves of garlic to the beer as you were boiling them.

My friend retired from our mutual employer shortly after 9/11/2001. To my recollection, I have not made bratwurst any other way since. A couple times, I may have experimented with another good beer, but I no longer was satisfied with some American macrobrew. He’d opened my eyes to the world of cooking with Guinness, which is now a staple in our kitchen. Just like salt, pepper, and hot sauce.

A couple of years ago, I started looking for him, so that I could share this information with him. Let him know that he’d started me down a path to foodie-dom. But sadly, I learned that he’d passed away in 2008. Not until after he’d gotten to spend a few years in retirement with the his wife, daughters, and his grandchildren.

And thanks to Curt “Please don’t call me John”, I will never hear the word “HORRIBLE!” again without smiling.


Guinness Brats
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Delicious, flavorful sausages. Intended to be eaten with mustard and onion.
  • Bratwurst- Raw. Do not buy the variations. What they do to them is not as good as what you will do to them.
  • Guinness
  • Few cloves of garlic
  • Onions
  • Buns
  1. In a saucepan that's JUST large enough to hold all of the sausages that you're looking to cook, pour some Guinness into the bottom of the pan.
  2. Add the few cloves of garlic to the beer. Personally, I'll slice it thin, but pressing it is fine.
  3. Add sausages.
  4. Cover the sausages with more Guinness
  5. Personally, it's important to me to keep the pan as small as possible. I want to make sure that I don't cook with more Guinness than necessary, as I can drink what I don't cook with!
  6. After you get the beer boiling, it probably cooks for ten minutes or so. As long as the brats are fully submerged, the sausages should be cooked for the most part. Pull them out of the beer, and put them on the grill.
  7. Warning-Keep the flame low, and watch them. They're' going to swell up after they were boiled, and will likely split. When they split, they WILL flare. And they're just not as good overdone. You're only adding them to the grill to brown them up a bit.
  8. Take 'em off, throw 'em on a bun with some chopped onion and good mustard, and enjoy. And maybe give a thumbs up to my man Curt for showing us the way.