So many great craft beer and food pairings at the Craft Beer + Food festival, it was hard to pick a winner. A People’s choice winner was announced but it was so close, the second place team was announced as well but I want to talk about some of the other great pairings first.
The longest line of the night was for Watershed Pub & Kitchen butternut squash, gorgonzola cheese pizza paired with Charging Hippo Brewing Imperial Pumpkin Porter. The rich and and slight sweetness of the squash, the saltiness of the cheese and the nuttiness of the pizza was a great compliment to the rich maltiness of the Charging Hippo Pumpkin Porter. Personally, it was one of my favorite pairings of the night and with the long line, I expected that pizza beer pairing to be announced the winner of the night, but votes were counted by dollars in the tip jar at each table. All votes/tips went to the non profit Watershed Alliance.
Some people call it cheating to use some of your beer or wine in your dish to help the pairing. I have no problem with the practice, I think it can be very smart or in the case of the dish prepared by Ravish to be paired with Georgetown Brewery Chopper Red Ale, it is inspired. Chef Monica Seward prepared a duck pastrami brined with the Georgetown Chopper Red Ale, served with a cherry mustard on spent grain cracker. From the beer brine to the use of spent grain in the crackers, the integration of beer into the dish deepens but never overshadows the richness of the duck. The thin slices of rich duck alternating with the sweet tart cherry mustard are paired with the exceptionally well balanced red ale. It has just the right amount of hop bitterness on the finish to get you ready for the next bite of rich duck. Back me in a corner and make me pick just one favorite dish this would be my favorite dish. I would have a hard time choosing this pairing over the Watershed and Charging Hippo pairing. So delicious and so different!
The Ravish duck pastrami was outstanding but further down the line, my plus 1 decided he had a new favorite dish. Schooner Exact Brewery was one of only two establishments that paired their own food and beer. I give Schooner Exact Amarillo fresh hop beer the best nose in the house, it was pretty damn glorious. It was just everything you want a fresh hop pairing beer to be. They showed a restrained hand with the bittering so the hops didn’t hold your palate hostage and you could really enjoy their corned beef. It was their corned beef that Lenny thought was the best dish of the night. Amazingly tender, not over-seasoned, the corned beef was succulent and something you really wanted to savor.
Other highlighted dishes was the pate from Luc. Luc made a delicious pate topped with a sweet-sour watermelon rind pickle and a dollop of spicy mustard paired with a tasty IPA from Two Beers Brewing. The pate had great complexity in flavor and texture. Smooth and rich pate accentuated with the crunch of the pistachios and the watermelon rind. Again the richness of the pate is cut by the spice in the mustard and the sweet-sour pickle. This complex appetizer is an excellent foil to the assertive hoppiness of the Two Beer IPA.
Another really succulent dish came from Tom Douglas newest venture, a new Mexican Cantina. Paired with the Fremont Brewing Cowiche Canyon Fresh Hopped Ale. The Fresh hopped ale is paired with luscious roasted pork served with sour orange, aji amarillo and tamal colodo. Great blend of flavors, I am looking forward to that cantina opening!
Like I had some favorite pairings, and favorite dishes. I had a favorite beer too. Black Raven Brewing was pouring the only sour beer in the room and I am a huge sour beer fan. The Black Raven Brewing King Dandy Pit Fruit Sour was a lip smacking plum sour beer. Sweet and sour and totally delicious the beer was brewed by “Shiney”, who recently returned to his home state of Louisiana to try his hand brewing there, much to our loss. (sniffle, sniffle, I remember when Shiney was a keg washer, I am getting old!)
And the Craft Beer + Food Pairing Winner is…
Beardslee Public House was the second establishment to pair their own beer and food, and they won the People’s Choice Award. Head Brewmaster Drew Cluley brewed Widowmaker Wit to pair with Chef John Howie’s house made citrus thyme sausage with pretzel bread and roasted garlic citrus aoili. The Widowmaker Wit is a delightful session beer and the first official beer of Beardslee Public House!
Beardslee Public House will open in Bothell in early January 2015, serving their award winning distilled spirits, chef inspired pub foods and of course their own beer!
Second place went to the only dessert pairing of the evening. Dahlia Lounge paired mango ice ice cream and spicy rice crackers with Rueben’s Brews Crikey IPA.
So much great food and beer to try. We were full. Most of the pairings were really good. it was definitely a great way to spend a Wednesday evening and for a great cause: Washington Wild and the Watershed Alliance
The 2014 Craft Beer + Food sold out in just 3 days. Don’t miss out on next year’s event!