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Tastemakers: Alpine Tavern & Eatery Corned Beef Hash Skillet/Bell‘s Two Hearted Ale

Rick Coates - March 7th, 2011
Alpine Tavern & Eatery Corned Beef Hash Skillet
This is the season when corned beef enjoys much popularity on Irish themed menus here in America. Despite the fact that corned beef has no connection to the roots of St. Patrick’s Day and has never been considered a national dish in Ireland, its popularity with Irish Americans dates back to the 1800s when Irish immigrants in the northeast substituted corned beef for the traditional bacon (thick cut ham similar to Canadian bacon) in their boiled dinner.
There is no historical evidence that corned beef was even “invented” in Ireland; the practice of brining meats has been found throughout many European cultures. Even in America early settlers brined meats in the fall and so corned beef found its way on several kitchen tables regardless of one’s cultural heritage. In fact in 1861 President Abraham Lincoln served corned beef at his inaugural dinner, which at that time was always in early March. Corned beef was also popular at many springtime formal dinners during that era including the Easter table.
Now corned beef has become synonymous with St. Patrick’s Day celebrations, yet with the exception of the occasional reuben throughout the year, it is somewhat of a forgotten dish much as turkey is outside of Thanksgiving. But for the connoisseur of corned beef there are some restaurants that stay committed to it year round like the Alpine Tavern & Eatery in Gaylord. Not only do they offer a mouthwatering reuben but have two corned beef breakfast items on their menu.
The Corned Beef Hash Skillet on their breakfast menu is exceptional. What sets this apart is that they make their own corned beef. So often when ordering corned beef hash for breakfast restaurants use some sort of Spam from a can, lacking the texture and flavor of a good homemade brisket.
Alpine Tavern serves their corned beef hash in chunks. The Skillet is a nice presentation with a crisp layer of hash browns, onions and peppers, Swiss cheese and two eggs (prepared to your liking, but try over easy for the best result) and then topped with a Dijon cream sauce.
So if you are in the Gaylord area on St. Patrick’s Day be sure to start your day with this hearty breakfast and yes, it pairs well with Guinness. Regardless of what time of the year, the corned beef from the Alpine Tavern & Eatery is worth seeking out. To see their menu or to confirm hours (they open for breakfast seven days a week at 7 a.m.) go to or call them 989.732.5444. --Rick Coates

Bell’s Two Hearted Ale

Since Michael Jackson passed away (not the music icon but the great beer critic) a few years back there has yet to be a replacement to his throne of beer authority. Adrian Tierney-Jones the editor of The Brewer’s Herald, whose writings on beer also appear regularly in The Brewers Guardian and The Daily Telegraph, has authored The Big Book of Beer and served as editor of the 960 page book, “1,001 Beers You Must Taste Before You Die,“ published last year is certainly one heir apparent to Jackson’s reign as the expert on beer in the world.
Making the list was 10 brews from five Michigan breweries, certainly a disappointing showing for Michigan craftbrew enthusiasts, especially considering Shorts Brewery did not have one beer making the list. But overall when you consider that there are currently 20,000 plus beer options available, the fact that 10 Michigan beers made the list of 1,001 must taste beers before you die is impressive.
Bell’s Two-Hearted Ale made the list and that should come as no surprise to enthusiasts of Michigan beer. In 2010 Zymurgy Magazine (the homebrewers magazine) asked their readers to vote for their favorite commercially made beer and Two Hearted Ale finished second in the poll. Several years ago I attended a beer dinner with Michael Jackson and he referenced Two-Hearted Ale “as a beer that was going to put Michigan on the beer map.”
Two-Hearted is an American-style India Pale Ale (IPA) named after the the river in the U.P. made famous by Ernest Hemingway. This hop intense ale is made exclusively from the Centennial hop varietal grown in the Pacific Northwest resulting in citrusy aromas. A significant malt body balances this hop presence; together with the signature fruity aromas of Bell’s house yeast, this makes Bell’s Two Hearted Ale very drinkable and it lends itself well to the new craftbrew drinker and the one with a seasoned palate. This beer pairs well with spicy dishes, ever wonder what goes great with hot wings go with this brew.
Bell’s Two Hearted Ale is available in the bottle and is served on tap at several establishments throughout Northern Michigan. --Rick Coates

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