Did you know that after water and tea, beer is the most popular drink in America? It is also the most widely consumed alcoholic beverage, dating all the way back to 9500 BC. I can’t help but wonder if my great grandfather, Herman Berghoff was aware of this when he decided to revolve his career around the production and consumption of beer. What began as an interest and attempt to recreate Dortmunder, a German lager, turned into his and now my livelihood.
July is American Beer Month. And while it may just sound like another Hallmark holiday or an excuse to create a Beermosa or Berghoff Shandy, it also celebrates how the Berghoff began! Herman Berghoff started his entrepreneurial journey with Herman Berghoff Brewing Co in 1883 and soon opened the Berghoff Café in 1898, as a mode to sell his Berghoff Dortmunder Beer. Through the Prohibition and other tumultuous times Berghoff and Berghoff Beer has remained a Chicago classic. While we no longer brew it ourselves (it is brewed by Minhaus Craft Brewery in Monroe, Wisconsin), we continue to sell countless steins a day. Beer is an ingredient in many of our classic dishes, such as Berghoff Beer-Braised Brisket, Berghoff Beer Bread, and Beer-Braised Pork Loin to name a few, and a classic American drink. Let’s raise a stein to American Beer Month and how Berghoff all began.
The best of both worlds-barbecue and beer-are combined in a beer-braised brisket that creates its own unique barbecue sauce. It’s slow-cooked but perfectly simple to prepare, and it may make you as famous as it has made us.
- 1 (3 1/2 – 4 pound) boneless beef brisket, trimmed of excess fat
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1 teaspoon cracked black pepper
- ¼ cup olive oil
- 2 pounds onions, sliced
- 1 bay leaf
- 1 (12-ounce) bottle Berghoff Lager beer
- 2 cups beef broth
- 1 cup prepared barbecue sauce
- 8 kaiser rolls or onion rolls, halved
Season the meat with salt and pepper. Heat the oil in a 6- to 8-quart wide, heavy pot over moderately high heat until hot but not smoking. Brown the meat well on all sides, about 10 minutes total. Remove from the pan and set aside, reserving the fat in the pot (do not clean the pot).
Sauté the onions with the bay leaf in the fat remaining in the pot over moderate heat until golden. Remove from the heat and transfer half of the onions to a bowl. Arrange the brisket over the onions remaining in the pot, then top with the remaining onions. Add the beer and broth, (the liquid should come about halfway up the sides of the meat). Cover the pot and braise for 1 ½ to 2 hours, pour the barbecue sauce over the brisket, and continue to braise for 1 more hour. Remove the meat from the pan and let it rest for about 30 minutes. In a saucepan, reduce the braising liquid to a sauce-like consistency.
Transfer the brisket to a clean cutting board. Slice the meat across the grain and distribute among the bottom halves of the buns, topping with the upper halves. Top with additional barbecue sauce, if desired.