It is certainly true that beer goes with food. In this day and age, wine no longer dominates the forefront of people’s mind when it comes to pairing food and drink. Even the average beer consumer can certainly see that there is no better brother to cheese or fish, in the liquid family, than that of beer. In the Willamette Valley, we can certainly see that truth in the form of The Mid-Valley Pairing Event held on June 24th at the Willamette Heritage Center.
From four local craft breweries, three local food venues, and one cidery came 11 food and beverage pairings that have a substantial impact on the local culture. There came within the crowd a mix of both old and young alike. If they came for the atmosphere of the historic location, the varying bands of high skill, or the brewer and chef resolve… who can say? It is certainly true though, that a good time was had by all.
I was privileged enough to partake in four of these pairings; choosing one such pairing from each local brewery. These breweries were Seven Brides (Silverton), Oakshire (Eugene), Gilgamesh (Turner), and Pale Horse (Salem). For the providers of food I had Venti’s Taphouse, Continental Delight, and Loustic Catering.
The first pairing I had was Oakshire’s Line Dry Rye, pale ale, paired with a braised pork masala over fried pita from Venti’s. First off, this was a fantastic pairing. The citrus from the hops and from the fruit in the masala complimented each other. The slight bitterness from the hops gave the slight heat from the food a good kick-up and vice versa. The bitterness also helped to cut through any of the sweetness of the sauce. There was a solid golden body within the brew here and this accentuated the pita bread and the breadiness of the noodles.
The second and third pairings I had were the Gilgamesh’s flagship Mamba with the shrimp Madagascar from Continental and the Pale Horse Hopyard Dog with Loustic’s Cassoulet. The Mamba is a hopless brew with tangerine peel, honey, and black tea beer. It was paired with a creamy dish cooked with wine. The Hopyard Dog was paired with a Cassoulet made with kidney beans, bacon, and spiced sausage was made popular in France.
The last pairing I partook in was a true and iconic classic. The Seven Brides Weizenator dopplebock put together with a skewered pearl onion and bratwurst dish from Venti’s. The dopplebock gave great notes of raisins and a rich dark fruit flavor. The saltiness of the meat put off a fantastic compliment to the fruit. The saltiness of the mean, the spiciness of the onion, and the sweetness of the brew came together to form a perfect union to be etched in the history books. I was reminded of the autumn leaves and threatening snow.
For those who love a multi-course dinner of food and beer pairing, there could be no greater joy than choosing your own path in consumption. This being the first year that this event has been hosted I can only hope that we will see many more of its kind, and many more brew dishes to come.
Posted by Will Oberst-Cairns, Oregon Beer Champion
Posted by Gail Oberst
Lisa Morrison, AKA The Beer Goddess, occasionally becomes impatient with mere mortals, and for good reason. They need beer to function. Morrison just needs beer to make events come to life.
“It takes a lot of beer to tap a keg,” she sighed, resident dimples creasing her cherubic face. She pointed to the empty bottles lining the landing steps of the refrigerated truck trailers that housed the dozens of kegs and taps for the North American Organic Beer Festival, the event for which she was acting tour guide for a gaggle of goofy media types, like myself. Workers hammered and clanked in the background, fueled by whatever was in those bottle. We were all sampling the beer that had made it to the taps, not much minding that about half of the taps were not online until just minutes before the public hoards stormed the gates.
Having managed a few shows in my lifetime (I was the stage manager of my 5th-grade spring concert, handing out paper flowers to fellow performers), I imparted my wisdom: The audience won’t see the glitches in the show. They’ll all be drinking, I said. I wasn’t referring to my 5th grade audience, of course, whose members were super critical and the cause of several psychoses I maintain today, albeit, privately. I sort of wish that audience had been drinking a bit more.
But I digress.
NAOBF 2012 was fabulous and fun. No thanks to the media pre-event, which got me started on good beer very early in the day, by 3 p.m. I was laying rope lasso traps in the grass near my seat, trying to snag passersby, without much success. What’s really weird though is that several people sitting near me joined in the fun, baiting the trap with beer cups and drink tokens and urging people to step in the trap. Probably the highlight of that whole trapping business was that I actually caught Otis Heat, one of a line-up of great musicians at the NAOBF, but then had no idea what to do with him and in fact was totally surprised at his willingness to be caught. I needed time to think! Meanwhile, he wandered off in search of a guitar.
I was too easily distracted. So much to drink, taste and do!
I breezed through my 10 token tastes with the greatest of ease, and then dipped into my son’s and husband’s stash.
Alphabetically, the Oregon beers I loved included Alameda’s Yellow Wolves of Thailand, Captured by Porches Invasive Species, The Commons Haver Bier/Oat Saison Deschutes Green Lakes Amber, Fort George’s Spruce Budd Ale, Hopworks Rise-Up Red, Lompoc’s Cluster Fuggles, Laurelwood’s Deranger Red Ale, Logsdon’s Seizoen, McMenamins Oak Hills Altbier, Mt. Emily’s Heifer-Weizen and Red Ale, Natian’s AAA Amber Ale and Summer Ale, Oakshire’s Farmhouse Ale, Terminal Gravity’s Organic Rye, and Two Kilts Imperial IPA and maybe some others from Oregon and other states. No dogs in that list!
It was a good day, and one that ended with a designated driver dropping us off at a hotel where, eventually, the beautiful day became part of my dreams.
Meanwhile Lisa and the other staff and volunteers of the NAOBF including Chris Crabb and founder Craig Nicholls were doing the more serious work of exposing beer drinkers to sustainable practices in beer-production, forcing the eternal question: will my corn-based compostable cup dissolve if the IBUs are too high? Or better yet, is a beer with a 95-99 percent organic classification 50 percent more likely to taste awful? I know the answer to that: 100 percent NOT likely.
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