In a time where there’s a brewery on every corner and everyone is an IPA-expert, there are still two traditional varieties that are sipped the most: ales and lagers. Whether you keep it simple and only pay attention to flavor or you get fancy with the fermentation techniques, we’ve got the low-down on these two variations of beer and how they’ll play into your Super Bowl Party. With Jacksonville’s ever-evolving craft beer scene, it’s important stay in the loop about what’s brewin’ in the Bold City. Here are some important similarities and differences between ale and lager:

Ales

If you didn’t know already, the brewing process is the main difference between ale and lager. That means the first step to understanding these two beers is learning about the brewing process! Ales originated in England in the 1700s, where they created the idea of brewing at warmer temperatures (between 60 to 75 degrees Fahrenheit). This distinct process results in a beer with very unique taste, smell and texture.

Ales are a craft brewery favorite, typically focusing on IPAs (India Pale Ales) and APA (American Pale Ales). Another common ale variety is a stout, which is typically an acquired taste reserved for seasoned beer drinkers. They’re dark, robust, heavy and certainly not for everyone.

When someone talks about an ale, “citrusy, robust and bold” are common buzzwords that find their way into the conversation. We have no doubt an IPA will make its way into your Super Bowl beer selection. At Valley Smoke, we’ll be serving up some of our favorite ales to keep the party going. From small-batch craft options to our rotating draft, there’s something for everyone to sip on during the big game.

Our Favorite Menu Items to Pair With Your Ale:

– Farm House Mini Sandwiches: Buttermilk Biscuits, House Cured Country Ham, Pepper Jelly

– Carolina Style Chopped Pork

– Smoked Chicken Wings: Alabama White BBQ Sauce or House Buttermilk Blue Cheese

Lagers

The cooler temperatures used to brew lagers causes the yeast to settle at the bottom during the fermentation process. The result of this German process is a crisp, clean beer. Compared to ales, lagers are far lighter in color; often transparent. The most common crowd-pleasers are lagers. Lagers are a go-to choice for novices and experienced beer drinkers alike.

While ales may have more complex layers of flavor, “crisp and smooth” are good descriptors for a lager. Lighter beers typically fall into the lager category and are usually high in carbonation. Many casual beer drinkers prefer lagers because of their mellow flavors.

One of our favorite things about a lager is how well it pairs with pretty much all food, especially BBQ. The menu at Valley Smoke is right up any beer drinker’s alley. Here are our favorite menu items to pair with your cold lager:

– Crispy Chicken Livers with Red Pepper Jelly, Whipped Lemon Cream and Fried Shallots

– Valley Smoke Beef Brisket

– Local Shrimp & Chorizo Pasta

 

Thanks to the brewing and fermentation processes created by some old guys a couple hundred years ago, we now have the beers we love and enjoy today.While both of these beers are distinctly different, we have a great variety of both. Whether you’re sipping a cold beer watching the game or enjoying a private party at Valley Smoke, we recommend trying one of each to see what you prefer. We can’t wait to see you! Cheers.

Now that Halloween’s over, it’s finally time to think about Thanksgiving, everyone’s favorite holiday! Whether you celebrate with family or friends, begin your day with a marathon, parade or snuggled in bed, it’s important to focus on what’s really important and leave the stress of meal planning to us. These side dishes are the perfect accompaniment to grandma’s traditional turkey, will impress the in-laws and are super easy to bring to your best friend’s potluck.

 

Creamy Baked Mac ‘N’ Cheese

Mac ‘n’ cheese never lasts that long, but this recipe is going to blow your mind! In a food processor or blender, combine one cup cottage cheese, two cups milk, one tsp dry mustard, a pinch or two of cayenne (depending on how spicy you like it), grated nutmeg, salt and pepper. Combine cheese mixture with 1/2 pound uncooked macaroni and close to a pound of grated cheddar cheese (save 1/4 cup of the pound for topping) and add to a buttered baking dish. Bake for 30 min at 375° then top with butter and the 1/4 cup of leftover cheese. Bake for another 30 minutes.

 

Not in the mood to prepare mac and cheese for your big group? No problem. We make the best dang mac ‘n’ cheese this side of the Mississippi…but we may be biased. Order a pint or two for your Thanksgiving dinner and find out for yourself.

 

Sweet Potato Casserole

The best part of Thanksgiving is that calories don’t count (just go with it), so we know you’ll come back for seconds of this sweet potato casserole. In a large bowl mix four cups of mashed sweet potatoes,1/2 cup white sugar, two eggs, 1/2 teaspoon salt, four tbsp butter, 1/2 cup of milk and 1/2 tsp of vanilla extract. Once smooth, move to a 9×13 baking dish. In a separate bowl, mix 1/2 cup brown sugar, 1/3 cup flour, three tbsp butter and 1/2 cup chopped pecans and sprinkle on top of the sweet potato mixture. Bake at 325 degrees for 30 minutes.

 

Cranberry Sauce

We fully believe this slow cooker cranberry sauce will beat all others and have you drizzling it all over the turkey, potatoes and everything else on your plate. Nobody has to know you made it in a slow cooker, either! Serve it in a beautiful crystal bowl and your guests will think you’ve been working on it all day. In your slow cooker, combine 1/2 cup orange juice, 1/2 cup water, 1/2 cup brown sugar, 1/2 cup white sugar, 1/4 tsp ground cinnamon and 12 ounces of fresh cranberries. Cook on low for three hours, then bump the temperature up to high for another 45 minutes. Don’t forget to stir the mixture once every hour.

 

Green Bean Casserole

This classic recipe is nearly impossible to mess up, can be made ahead of time and travels great in a casserole dish. All you need is a can of cream of mushroom Soup, 3/4 cup of milk, a pinch of black pepper, two cans of drained green beans and one 1/3 cups of crispy fried onions. Mix the soup, milk and pepper in a 1.5-quart baking dish and then stir in the beans and 2/3 cup of the crispy fried onions. Bake at 350° for 30 min, top with the remaining onions and bake five more minutes, or until onions are golden.

 

No matter how you celebrate this year, these dishes are sure to knock it out of the park. Hey, you might even get off the hook for cleaning duties! One of the best things about celebrating Thanksgiving in the south is the variety of dishes and the ability to stray away from the traditional. Happy Thanksgiving from the Valley Smoke family!

 

Whether you’re watching your alma mater and reliving the ol’ college days or rooting on your favorite pro team Sunday night, I think we can all agree that half the fun of a football game is the tailgate party. The perfect tailgate requires a great playlist, some ice cold drinks and flames under the grill. It doesn’t matter if you’re a grill master or a novice…the folks at Valley Smoke have some great ideas to help you win the tailgate (no matter the score of the game).

 

Burgers

No reason to reinvent the wheel here. Keep the day easy and stress-free with some simple, juicy burgers. Prepare the seasoned beef patties the night before the party and you’ll impress your friends on game day, not to mention you’ll still have plenty of time for a few rounds of cornhole! This may seem like a no-brainer, but don’t forget to supply the buns, condiments, pickles, lettuce, onion, tomato and whatever else you think your guests will prefer on their burgers. A perfectly cooked burger is great, but it’s nothing without the right fixins.

 

Chicken

Whether you choose to bring buffalo chicken wings, barbecue chicken breasts or beer can chicken, you’re sure to be a huge hit at the tailgate. No matter how you make your chicken, a strong buffalo sauce and a tangy barbecue sauce will give your friends options and make everyone happy. If you choose to bring wings or chicken breasts, be sure to marinate them the night before.

 

Corn on the Cob

When tables are occupied by avid flip cup players and every truck’s tailgate is covered in food and party supplies, having food you can eat right out of your hand can be a lifesaver. Unlike what you’re probably accustomed to, there are a variety of ways to season and cook corn on the cob. One easy way to prepare the corn is to remove the husk and rub the kernels in butter, salt, pepper, chili powder and lime. Wrap the freshly seasoned cob in aluminum foil like a tootsie roll, and that’s it, you’re ready to grill! This is a great game day dish because it can be prepared the day before and thrown on the grill when ready. If you’re in the mood for some Mexican flare, simply throw the husk-free cob on the grill and coat the hot corn in mayonnaise, sour cream, dill, lime juice, salt and pepper, and top with feta cheese and chili powder.

 

Grilled Shrimp Skewers

Bring the heat on game day with some grilled shrimp skewers. Skewers are easy to prepare and even easier to eat at a laid-back tailgate. Coat the shrimp with salt, olive oil, lemon, parsley and cayenne pepper. If you want to make these skewers even healthier, we recommend adding some roughly chopped veggies, such as onions and bell peppers. The prep work is easy: Marinate your favorite veggies in Italian dressing and soak the skewers in water before adding the meat and vegetables (pro tip: soaking your skewers in water prevents food from sticking to the kebab).

 

Keep these great foods at the top of your list for your next tailgate and nobody will even remember the score. If you’re really looking to impress your guests and keep the day carefree, then our amazing team has you covered with carry-out options. Here are a couple of our favorite BBQ dishes that transport well and fit perfectly into any tailgating spread:

Smoked Chicken Wings

Wood-Fire Boneless Beef Short Rib

Fire-Spice Pork Belly

Wood-Fire Local Shrimp

Any dish from the Pit

Pickles add a certain tang to any dish and we can’t get enough of them! We make our pickles in-house and they add the best flavor to all of our meals that come from the pit. There are so many things you can do with pickles. You can enjoy pickles with a plate of fall-off-the-bone meat or simply blend them into a relish. The options are endless, but we have a few favorite ways to incorporate sweet and spicy pickles into your next meal:

Pickle Relish

There’s nothing like tailgate food during this football season (can we get a #DUUUVAL?!) What’s better than a hot dog on a Sunday before watching the Jags play? A hot dog with pickle relish before the game. It’s delicious and super easy to make. All you need is a jar of your favorite pickles, chopped onion, a pinch of sugar and your favorite mustard. Simply, throw the pickles and onions in a food processor until they’re finely chopped, then add in the sugar and mustard. Stir them all together, then you can store your homemade relish up to a week!

Dill Cheese Ball

We love cheese almost as much as we love pickles, which is a lot. Put them together and you’ve got a match made in heaven. This recipe is perfect for any and all cheese boards, whether it’s for a holiday party, tailgate or just because it’s a Thursday and you need a pick-me-up. It’s an easy recipe that you can enjoy any time, for this recipe you’ll need cream cheese, dill pickle relish, finely chopped onion, cheddar cheese, worcestershire sauce, mayonnaise and fresh parsley. All you need to do is combine all of the ingredients, excluding the parsley, until smooth. Then form into a ball, refrigerate and then serve and sprinkle parsley on top. So easy that you can make it for any occasion, big or small!

Cuban Sliders

Here in Florida, we’re familiar with delicious Cuban food, thanks to our neighbors south of the equator. The popular Cuban sandwich is well-known for its ham, mustard and pickles, of course! We have a special spin on the traditional Cuban – we make them into sliders. Pick out your favorite roll bread, thinly sliced ham (the good stuff…cold cuts have no place on a good Cuban), a tangy mustard, the best pickles you can find and some swiss cheese. Throw them all together and you’ve got a kickin’ Cuban slider that highlights your favorite pickles.

You’ll never go wrong with pickles: sweet, tangy or spicy. There are so many reasons to celebrate this Fall, whether it’s for football, holidays or a big life event. You have the best pickle recipes to please any crowd. If you want to see how we treat our pickles, stop by and order the best meat from the grill you’ve ever had. We’ll add some pickles on the plate to take your meal to the next level. We can’t wait to see you at Valley Smoke this Fall!

 

Cookouts might be full of grilled meat and veggies, but they’d be nothing without a sweet treat at the end! Sweeten up your next Ponte Vedra beachside cookout with one of our favorite summer desserts. Desserts come in all shapes in sizes and flavors. You can go the tangy route, the rich indulgent route or you could go the refreshing route. Whichever type of dessert you choose, you just can’t go wrong with sweet.

 

Lemon Tart

 

Summer and citrus go together like sand and the ocean. Lemons are so fresh during the summertime and complement any meal you’ve got on the grill. A sweet and a little bit salty crumble underneath a layer of tart and tangy lemon custard is a match made in heaven. Serve this dish with some whipped cream for guests to pile on as much as their taste buds desire.

 

Berry Parfait

 

Whipped cream and berries…does it get any more simple and delicious? Masurate the berries before assembling the parfait with sugar, lemon zest and some juice so that the berries pack a punch of flavor. Layer the berries you just perfected with the whipped cream, and just like that your dessert is ready for enjoying. Cookouts have a lot that goes into them and this dessert will take a little bit of the pressure off.

 

Summer Fruit Pie

 

Nothing screams America quite like homemade pie. The great thing about a summer fruit pie is there’s so much flexibility with the ingredients. In the mood for strawberries and peach? Awesome. Want to go for something a little more tart like blackberries? Throw ‘em in! If you choose to stick with the seasonal theme, we suggest strawberries and peaches. Throw in some lemon zest and you’re well on your way to rocking the dessert table.

 

Peach Crisp

 

Layered peach slices with melted cinnamon sugar and butter and granola on top all baked to a gooey perfection is definitely hard to resist. We suggest that you get the first plate of this dish because it’ll go quick. It’ll be a crowd pleasing dessert for a big cookout. It’s hard to go wrong with these ingredients and your fellow partiers are going to a adore your baking skills.

 

Killing it in the kitchen is a masterful skill that will certainly make your friends jealous! Pick out a dessert you know you’ll enjoy and make it your own! We’d like to think of this as a suggestive list of desserts to inspire your next cookout. But hey, if you and your group aren’t much of the cooking type, stop by Valley Smoke for some waterfront sweets.

 

It’s that time of year again…red, white and blue everywhere! We love a good American celebration, but there are definitely a few requirements to celebrating the holiday in style. You’re in luck, because your local modern BBQ restaurant is full of fun ideas to make your Fourth of July the best one yet.

American Classic: BBQ

Not only is BBQ a southern delicacy, it’s an American tradition (especially on Independence Day!) The sweet and tangy taste of barbeque sauce is sure to leave your guests wanting more. Our Valley Smoke Beef Brisket is an awesome option that’s sure to exceed any and all expectations. Plenty to share and, best of all, plenty to enjoy!

Patriotic Sippin’

Celebrating Fourth of July definitely calls for a whole lot of red, white and blue. Don’t skip out on the theme when it comes to your drinks! We suggest sticking to drinks with strawberries or blueberries to keep the color scheme and tastes in line with the holiday! You’ll feel extremely patriotic and while sipping on a nice red, white or blue spritzer.

Sparklers, Sparklers, Sparklers

It’s definitely not an Independence Day celebration without sparklers and fireworks! There aren’t many things that scream freedom like exploding firecrackers into the air. Here in Jax we do it big, and we don’t just mean the grand finale fireworks show. Let that American flag fly and send up some fireworks for those who have fought and are fighting for our freedom.

Backyard Games

Keep your party-goers entertained all night long with some awesome backyard games. Whether it’s drinking games or classic family fun games, you’re guests will be thrilled to keep the party going all night. We love a great old fashion game of cornhole or even giant jenga if you’re feeling adventurous. Playing games will keep your guests entertained in between eating BBQ and watching fireworks.

We love the Fourth of July as much as the next guy. Come celebrate in true American fashion with platters of great BBQ and glasses of any whiskey drink your heart desires. It just doesn’t get better than that! If you already have party plans, call ahead for catering options that are sure to impress the guests. Here are a few of our favorites:

  • ‘Que for 2 – 3 Meat Combo with 3 Sides, Buttermilk White Bread, Pickles
  • Farm House Mini Ham Sandwiches – Buttermilk Biscuits, House Cured Country Ham, Pepper Jelly
  • Butcher’s Block Sampler – House Cured Charcuterie & Southern Cheeses, Local Honey, Marcona Almonds, Grilled Baguette

A meal begins with your drink choice and sets the tone for all of the courses to follow…yeah, no pressure! Here at Valley Smoke, we make it easy. Although we have a robust menu, you can’t go wrong with your selections. The key is knowing which entrees, appetizers, desserts and drinks complement each other. Stick to one flavor palette and you’ll be on a fast-track to the perfect meal. Here are some of our favorites meal pairings from Valley Smoke. Bon appetit!

4 Tips To Planning Out A Tailor-Made Meal:

1. A well-balanced meal is your goal, not a meal that tastes the same from course to course. We suggest you avoid duplicating flavors. For example, if you order our Cocktail Pimento Cheese, take it easy on the cheese in the courses to follow. Lucky for you, we have plenty of delicious meat to choose from…

2. Fruit is normally never showcased during the beginning portion of your meal. This is because the sweetness that comes from fruit often dulls the appetite. For this reason, fruit shows up mainly in desserts.

3. Creamy soups are food for the soul. However, they don’t pair well with creamed vegetables such as our Poblano Cream Corn. Heavy, creamy starters shouldn’t be followed up by creamy sides. Instead, try a side like a mixed green salad!

4. Who doesn’t love sauce? Sometimes we get stuck on loving just one sauce. But the key to a complimentary meal is to mix it up a little and test out all of the homemade sauces Valley Smoke has to offer.

 

The menu is full of great options, but these options should balance strong, sweet, subtle and sharp flavors along with varying textures, colors and temperatures. The choices with more subtle flavors are mainly carbs such as rice and potatoes, which should be paired with strong flavors that can be found in meats or well-seasoned vegetables. Here’s an idea of what flavors, colors, temperatures and textures best compliment one another:

 

Complementary Courses are the Key

1. Complementing Seasonings: Starting off with a simple drink choice? Perk up your palette with a heavily seasoned appetizer to get your meal started the right way.

2. Complementing Temperatures: Varying temperatures throughout your meal creates interest and a much needed contradiction. Warm foods stimulate your appetite and appear in almost every course, so adding a cold side salad to any meal gives your meal balance.

3. Complementing Textures: Even in food, “opposites attract” is still a phrase that reigns true. Crunchy and smooth textures are ideal in meals, such as soup and salad. You could even just get our smooth Simple Tomato Soup that comes with crunchy grilled cheese croutons. Absolutely delicious!

 

 

Now that we shared the guide to help you navigate the perfect meal, here are some sample pairings for your next meal at Valley Smoke:

 

 

Mock Menu #1

  1. Chardonnay
  2. Roast Beet Salad – pecan / pears / southern blue cheese / tender greens / local honey sherry vinaigrette
  3. Heritage St. Louis Style Ribs – bacon garlic green beans / german potatoes / pickles / garlic toast
  4. Hummingbird Cake – cream cheese frosting / strawberries / coulis

 

Mock Menu #2

  1. Pale Ale
  2. Oak Smoked Burrata – arugula / tomato peach compote / Georgia olive oil / basil / grilled baguette
  3. Filet Mignon – grilled onion / smokey brandy jus / mashed potatoes
  4. Lemon Pie – cream chantilly

 

Mock Menu #3

  1. Riesling
  2. Oysters – iced raw – mignonette, house hot sauce and saltines / wood-roasted – chili and garlic butter / fried – cornmeal crusted and creole remoulade
  3. Good Breed Chicken – pickles / garlic toast / whipped potatoes / grilled broccoli
  4. Barbara’s Pineapple Upside Down Cake – vanilla ice cream / rum caramel sauce

 

 

These meal plans are just for inspiration, so feel free to substitute your own favorites to get the best tailored meal for you! We hope you feel equipped to walk in and order the perfectly paired meal at Valley Smoke. See you soon!

 

 

At Valley Smoke, we specialize in two things: bourbon and BBQ, so you could say we know a thing or two about a tasty BBQ sauce! Let us be your guide into the world of sauces. There are many different styles of barbeque that come from different regions of the United States. From the Carolinas to Texas to Kansas, the meat cuts and sauces vary to create very unique forms of ‘que. Let the experts (us) school you in the main BBQ sauces:

 

Vinegar Based

Vinegar based sauce is a staple in the world of barbeque. It’s acidic flavor was adopted in traditional Carolina BBQ but has made its way all around the United States. Unlike other ‘que styles, vinegar based sauce doesn’t call for tomato in the recipe. Rather, they rely on vinegar (usually cider) with a combination of other spices. Spices typically found in this type of sauce include cayenne, black pepper, hot sauce, crushed red pepper or salt. The amount of each spice added depends on how spicy you want the spice to turn out. At Valley Smoke, we have two vinegar based sauces, one with red peppers and one without. The one with red peppers is a hit for those who like a kick to their ‘que. The one without is a go-to for those who don’t enjoy a the heat with their barbeque.

 

Sweet & Smoky

What’s better than some thick, sweet sauce on barbeque that’s been cooked to perfection? We’ve yet to find an answer. Sweet and smoky sauce originated in Kansas City, Missouri and has since become an American original, you can find it in almost any BBQ restaurant. Some Mcdonald’s in Missouri actually provide sweet and smoky as a regular sauce option! It’s typical base of molasses and ketchup has a flavor some people just can’t resist. Other ingredients usually consist of Worcestershire, brown sugar, vinegar and soy sauce. Here at Valley Smoke, we offer a standard molasses based sauce for those who love sweet BBQ and one with red pepper for those who love a sweet and tangy profile.

 

Mustard Based

Mustard based sauce is a delicious creation we can thank the people of South Carolina for! If you love a tangy flavor, this is probably the sauce you reach for when eating BBQ. Mustard-based sauce is usually thinned with vinegar and spiced with a zingy flavor to perfectly dress any pork cuts. Valley Smoke offers two different types of mustard based sauces. One is called the three mustard, made with three different types of mustard (hints the name). The other is a spicy mustard based sauce for our tangy and heat lovin’ customers.

 

At Valley Smoke, we take barbeque pretty seriously. We believe sauce should be created with only the best and freshest ingredients, which is why we homemake all out sauces. Come see us at Valley Smoke in Ponte Vedra Beach, Florida and we’d be more than happy to let you sample all our sauces over a few craft cocktails and some tasty ‘que. Call or click here to make reservations today!

At Valley Smoke, we love whiskey and its various forms. Bourbon, rye or scotch – you name it, we got it. We all know whiskey makes for a delicious winter cocktail but summer is approaching quickly and we aren’t quite ready to part ways. With refreshing summer fusions of strawberry, cucumber, rhubarb, mint, blackberry, peach or lemon, you’ll learn very quickly brown spirits are very versatile. Here are a few of Valley Smoke’s favorite warm weather cocktails that’ll have you boozing all summer long:

 

Derby Sour

Woodford Reserve/ Lemon/ Simple Syrup/ Bittermilk #3 Smoked Honey Whiskey Sour/ Cooper & Thief Red Wine Blend

The name ‘derby’ has been given to a number of cocktails, reference to the Kentucky Derby, bourbon is the most popular base spirit. The sour recipe is a lovely, refreshing twist on the Kentucky Derby classic, the Mint Julep. The Derby Sour is a sweet, delicious summer cocktail for a whiskey lover.

 

Rock and Rye

High West Double Rye/ Rock Candy/ Luxardo/ Star Anise/ Cinnamon/ Lemon/ Orange/ Clove

You make not recognize the name but you’d know the classic cocktail if you saw it. Ya know, the one with the rock candy sticking out of it. It’s origin is traced back to the 20th century when bartenders added rock candy, or rock candy syrup, to smooth out the bite of a young rye. It was often used as a remedy for sniffles or a sore throat. Back then, it was more of a remedy while now, Valley Smoke has crafted it into an exciting refresher.

 

Cucumber Gimlet

Nolet’s Gin/ St. Germain/ House Basil/ Simple Syrup/ Fresh Cucumber/ Lime

I know when I see a cucumber drink on the menu, I just can’t resist. Cucumber cocktails are the epitome of refreshing: light, summery and hydrating. What’s a gimlet? Gimlets are composed of gin, lime juice and a touch of simple syrup. When these basic ingredients are shake with ice and strained into a martini glass, something magical happens.

 

Blackberry Whiskey Smash

Redemption Rye/ Blackberries/ Gingerale/ Lemon/ Simple Syrup

The Blackberry Whiskey Smash is the whiskey drinker’s mojito! This is the perfect drink for those who are whiskey drinkers at heart but have a soft spot for a refreshing mojito. The cocktail is crisp, refreshing and versatile enough for any time of year.

 

Even if you aren’t a big whiskey drinker, it never hurts to try something new! Lucky for you, all these enchanting summer cocktails are on the menu at Valley Smoke. Come visit us in Ponte Vedra, Florida for some tasty craft cocktails, delicious BBQ and an intercoastal view that can’t be beat.

BBQ season is here! For many of us, this is the wonderful time of the year we get to gather around with family and friends and enjoy some delicious BBQ. So, whether you’re eating at Valley Smoke or grilling out in the backyard, you have to try these drink and BBQ pairings. It’s going to change the way you enjoy a real southern BBQ meal. From grilled chicken to marinated beef brisket, we’ve got the perfect drink for you: (more…)