Homemade hummus: an unprocessed food that goes great with Dry Dock's Wee Heavy

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"You would not have bought this book and read this far into it if your food culture was intact and healthy." Michael Pollan

I'm just about finished with Michael Pollan's In Defense of Food, a great read that's as fascinating as it is depressing. It's the kind of book that can make you somewhat distraught while pondering the poignant questions he raises about the Western diet.

I'd like to think I'm a conscious eater -- and shopper -- but an objective tour of my kitchen proves otherwise. Save for a few singular purchases from places like In Season and Marczyk's, the majority of food items in my house are surprisingly stamped with long lists of unrecognizable, unpronounceable ingredients. It's fairly safe to say that a good portion of what we consider to be food these days is definitively less than the sum of its parts.

The book has inspired me to step up my eating efforts, though, and to start purchasing -- and eating -- more real food, within reason and budget, of course. And that got me thinking about one of my favorite snack foods: hummus.

I've never made it myself, but I know enough about hummus to know that it consists of far fewer ingredients than the store-bought stuff currently sitting in my fridge (which numbers eleven, for the record), most of which I usually keep in stock. I needed some chickpeas, though, but before I could make it to the store, my buddy called me up to see if I wanted to grab a beer, an offer I rarely turn down.

I can't believe I'm writing this, seeing as how it's one of the best breweries in the country, but I've never been to Dry Dock Brewing Co. My reason? Its distance from Five Points. I hate driving, and I've happily adapted a lifestyle that requires as little time in the car as possible.

My buddy, on the other hand, happens to be a performance-car enthusiast and recently purchased a Subaru wrx STI. Apparently, it can eat a Porsche alive. The car is his sensible and Colorado-esque man toy, and the perfect excuse to take a ride. (I'm not normally one to be impressed by cars, but, man, this thing is really impressive.)

So we hopped in "the sled," as he calls it, and raced out to Aurora, where the folks at Dry Dock have been brewing award-winning beers in a nondescript strip mall since 2005. The tap room was cool (I especially dug the empty grain bags hanging from the ceiling by binder clips to deafen the noise), and the beer was even better (I love a good ESB). I picked up a bomber of their winter seasonal, a "wee heavy" weighing in hugely at 9.5 percent alcohol by volume that I had yet to try.

As for my righteous attempt at hummus, I still needed chickpeas. Sadly, most of the specialty markets near my 'hood were closed by the time I got home, but most of the major supermarkets carry an increasingly comprehensive variety of organic products. So I stopped by one and grabbed a couple of cans, checking the labels, of course -- water, organic beans and sea salt; I'm cool with that list.

It goes without saying that hummus is easy and cheap to make. All you need to do is blend everything up in a food processor and season it to taste. It's easily personalized as well, and extremely versatile, to boot. That night, it served as the perfect dip for some carrots I'd bought from Marczyk Fine Foods, and I've been using it as a spread for sandwiches ever since.

And the Scotch ale was absolutely wonderful alongside my original snack. In fact, it's an impeccable food beer. Like a good wine, it possesses the complexity, body and strength that could complement many a meal. Its sweet warmth nicely punctuated the creamy, garlicky dip and made the Broncos game I had recorded on DVR that much more exhilarating.

Here's the recipe (courtesy of my girlfriend's mom, who's celebrating her birthday today)

2 cans chickpeas (also known as garbanzo beans), drained, one cup liquid reserved 2 large cloves garlic, minced Juice of one lemon Dash of hot sauce, or more, depending on taste 1/4 cup olive oil salt and pepper

1. In a food processor, blend chickpeas, garlic, lemon and bean juice until creamy. 2. Continue to blend while drizzling about one quarter cup olive oil into the mixture, until it reaches desired creaminess. 3. Season with salt, pepper and hot sauce to taste.

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