Earlier this month I was invited to a dinner hosted by the Brewers Association (BA). You know the BA, they’re the trade association dedicated to small and independent American craft brewers (and they actually have a definition of craft can you believe!) and their beers. They’ve also been pretty high profile recently thanks to their independent craft brewer seal ; a symbol for the discerning consumer that differentiates beers by small and independent craft brewers.
The dinner, held at Sager & Wilde (right next to Bethnal Green favourite Mother Kelly’s) was a showcase for some beautiful American beers, most unavailable in the UK, and a demonstration that beer can be food’s best friend rather than the wine pairings we’re all used to. Adam Dulye, the BA’s Executive Chef, commented: “Within the last few years there has been a major shift in how beer is perceived with food. The so called rules that used to be in place, whether it be building a menu by weight of ABV or richness of style, are no longer needed. A well written menu, a beautifully executed dish, a thought-out pairing can now take the palate back and forth from big roasty flavors to light crisp notes or from tart, funky and sour notes to big hoppy flavors. When we started pairings a few years ago it was about what beer can do with food. Now it has evolved into what beer and food can do together.”
On arrival we were treated to 2 aperitifs: Tropical Torpedo, a deliciously tropical take on Sierra Nevada’s well known IPA, and Panic IPA from Track 7 Brewing Co.
The five-course menu, devised by Adam and Sager & Wilde Head Chef, Chris Leach, concentrated on using beer (2 per course) to highlight the magnificent seasonal and local ingredients and, of course, to demonstrate how diverse and complimentary the range of flavours found in beers can be. Needless to say, the food was outstanding.
Grilled Peach Salad
Seacoast Pilsner, Coronado Brewing Co.
Pils, Hardywood Park Craft Brewery
Crab with Gazpacho & Chilli
Colette, Great Divide Brewing Co
pFriem Saison, pFriem Family Brewers
Tagliarini with Summer Truffles
Big Swell IPA, Maui Brewing Co.
Singapore IPA, Saugatuck Brewing Co.
Smoked Middlewhite Pork, Fennel & Baby Turnips
Melange à Trois, Nebraska Brewing Co.
Optimal Wit, Port City Brewing Co.
Blonde Cougar, Wormtown Brewery
For me the clear highlight of the evening was Melange à Trois, from Nebraska Brewing Co., a Belgian style blonde ale, matured for 6 months in French Oak Chardonnay barrels. It was beautifully balanced, sweet with a bubbly hint of barely there bitterness. Almost like a dessert wine, this versatile beer could have been paired with a range of dishes and held its own.
If you fancy learning a bit more about pairing beer with food to create a few of your own scrumptiously gastronomic experiences, the Brewers Association have a range of materials for both professionals, keen amateurs and general beeros at Craftbeer.com