Pizza and Beer

July 21, 2010

I spent last night at a BBQ/Food and Beer pairing. The Co-op teamed with a rep from Sierra Nevada to present awesome food and beer combos for us to taste. Chef Dio showed us how to make the food and Molly presented the beers. Molly also brought us some cool swag. You can never have enough pint glasses or bottle openers.

I’ll be posting all 4 recipes/pairings this week. First up was one of my favorites – the pizza crust was amazing and I loved the pairing.

Kellerweis and Pizza with Sausage and Caramelized Onions

Sierra Nevada Kellerweis is one of the only American Hefeweizens made using the traditional Bavarian style of open fermentation. It’s a difficult and labor-intensive technique, but it adds uncommon depth and flavor complexity – So Molly says… The hazy-golden hefeweizen is deeply flavorful, refreshing and perfect for a sun-filled day. Molly said that their brewmasters went to Germany and brought the yeast back with them. Someone asked why people put citrus – lemons, orange wedges, etc. in hefeweizen beers and the look of horror on Molly’s face was enough information to know that Sierra Nevada doesn’t recommend doing that. She further went on to actually explain that she knows why people do it and enjoy it… it’s like a mini food pairing. The hefeweizen is a maltier (is that even a word?) beer – so the sweeter taste would work well paired with citrus. I definitely got more of a clove taste from the sample. I thought it went really well with the fabulous pizza.

Pizza and Caramelized Onions and Sausage

Semolina Pizza Dough – (makes two 10-12 inch pizzas)

1 Cup Warm Water – 100 degrees F
1 Package Dry Active Yeast – 2 teaspoons
A Pinch of Sugar
2 1/4 Cups Unbleached White Flour
1/2 Cup Semolina Flour
2 Tablespoons Olive Oil – makes the dough crispy
1 Tablespoon Milk – adds sweetness to the dough
1/2 Teaspoon Sea Salt
1/4 Cup Olive Oil for Brushing on Pizza

Dissolve yeast in water with sugar – give it a good mixing until it’s cloudy. Add white flour and mix well to make a sticky batter. Add semolina flour, 2 Tablespoons olive oil and sea salt. Mix well. Knead dough until it forms a smooth ball (by hand – 15 minutes – by mixer with a dough hook – 8 minutes – it will pull away from the sides and stick to the hook). Place dough in an oil bowl (just give the bowl a good coating of olive oil), cover with plastic and allow to double in size – about 60 minutes. When dough has risen to desired level, take dough out and portion into 2 balls for 10-12 inch pizza or more portions if making smaller pizzas. Let rest for 5 minutes before rolling out.

Chef Dio said that 1 rise is enough. In hotter weather it could take as little as 35-45 minutes.  He also said that the dough freezes well. Just take it out 1-2 hours before you want to make your pizza. He sometimes lets the dough rise overnight in the fridge.

Pizza Toppings
8 oz. Hot Italian Turkey Sausage Links – cooked on the grill and sliced thinly
3 Large Onions, thinly sliced – 1/4 to 1/8 inch
2 Tablespoons Olive Oil
1 lb. Shredded Mozzarella Cheese
1 lb. Fresh Tomato – remove core and dice
1/2 Cup Grated Parmigiano Reggiano
Extra Virgin Olive Oil for Drizzling – about 2-3 tablespoons
2 Tablespoons Italian Parsley – finely chopped
Sea Salt and Fresh Ground Black Pepper – to taste

In a sauté pan – heat the olive oil and caramelize the onions over medium-low heat, stirring periodically. Season with salt and fresh ground pepper to taste.

Caramelizing side note: Chef Dio takes an hour or more to do his onions. They were SUPER sweet… yum! I definitely tend to rush mine – like 25-35 minutes total. He says to take your time on the caramelizing for best results. He does a bunch at a time and freezes them. He said that the salt helps draw out the moisture and they soften quicker.

Preheat oven to 450 degrees. Roll out dough to desired shape and size. Transfer to an oiled pizza pan or onto a pizza peel (wooden paddle) dusted with semolina. He uses a pizza peel because he then transfers it to a pizza stone or the BBQ. Use a brush to coat the top of the rolled out dough with olive oil. Spread the mozzarella onto each pizza. Top with caramelized onions, grilled sausage slices and tomatoes. Drizzle pizzas with more olive oil and sprinkle on the Parmigiano Reggiano. Season with a bit of sea salt and pepper.

Transfer pizza to oven and bake for 10-12 minutes or until crust is golden brown, crispy and cheese is bubbly. Remove from oven and cool for a few minutes before you slice and serve. Garnish the pizza with more Parmigiano Reggiano and Italian parsley – he also added a little more salt.

The vibe of the class was so different from past classes. Probably because the majority of the people there were very thirsty guys. At one point, the class went out on the back patio to watch a grilling demo and I actually think the guys started grunting. My cooking class buddy Kristen and I were all about the girl power. Could also have been the 4 beer tastings – with refills for people who wanted them.

Such a fun time – I have 3 more beers and recipes to share later this week.



  1. That is one delicious looking pizza! I love Hefeweizen, us Germans definitely know how to make beer LOL And I agree with Molly, it would be sacrilege to add fruit to a perfectly good beer ;o)

  2. Pizza is one of those things that sounds good 24/7! My mouth drools looking at it and thinking about how good it tasted. Your pics definitely capture the yumminess of it all! 🙂

    • Mmmm Pizza… it was so good. Glad we signed up for that class, super fun!

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