By Ezra Johnson-Greenough
For the Oregon Beer Growler
Not many breweries open with the bar set as high as the one Wayfinder Beer found itself facing. The Portland business was launched by Charlie Devereux, who co-founded Double Mountain Brewery, along with his partners Matt Jacobson, owner of the Sizzle Pie empire, and Rodney Muirhead, owner/chef at the acclaimed Podnah’s Pit.
With that kind of pedigree, there is a lot to live up to. Fortunately, they’re joined by the capable hands of head brewer Kevin Davey (Chuckanut Brewery, Gordon Biersch Brewing Company, Firestone Walker Brewing Company) and chef Ryan Day (Podnah’s Pit).
Wayfinder is a brick-and-wood beer hall nestled between warehouses and abandoned buildings huddled along the train tracks in Portland’s inner east waterfront. It’s a place that feels like old Portland holding on for dear life as sleek condos encroach. In the midst of this shifting neighborhood sits fermenting beer and the scent of meat being smoked leading to Wayfinder.
Ryan Day learned the art of smoking meat while working at Podnah’s Pit for four years. And while he’s come to master Texas-style barbecue, his home state of Maryland still influences his cooking. Chesapeake Bay was at his disposal. “I fished, crabbed and went hunting for clams and oysters throughout my younger days.” Those experiences led to jobs in restaurants at age 21. Day hopped around to Idaho and Montana, finally landing in Portland where he rediscovered his love of fresh seafood and found new passion for the city’s world-class beer scene. Now at Wayfinder, his background helps shape the menu.
“We wanted to utilize all the fresh ingredients that the West has to offer and bring things that I loved from the East Coast with me as well, making good simple foods from scratch.” says Day, adding “I love utilizing beer with foods.”
Smart and passionate about the combination of beer and food, Day knows that a “good beer pairing can come to going with the food, but also picking beers that might be a good contrast to the food. Working in the brewery, I am always thinking how I can incorporate or pair beers with food.”
Wayfinder serves a satisfying and healthy Grilled Vegetable Salad that puts to rest the notion that a salad without meat cannot be filling. A pile of crunchy and spicy arugula is tossed with grilled and slightly smoky asparagus, onions, sweet peppers, squash and onions drizzled in a tangy and creamy lemon vinaigrette.
“I wanted to feature the Grilled Vegetable Salad for the summer because it makes me think of barbecues,” says Day. “I love a cold pils on a hot summer day, so I incorporated it in the lemon vinaigrette salad dressing that goes on this salad.”
Day emulsifies mustard in olive oil with vinegar, spices and shallots with Wayfinder’s collaboration with Hopworks Urban Brewery: Tiny Bubbles, a hoppy, dry and crisp pilsner. Brewer Kevin Davey calls the pils “A happy fit of herbal and Noble hops that complement the lemon vinaigrette and keep the palate fresh.”
Tapping into his Maryland fishing background, Day has Dungeness Crab Cakes on the menu with a hybridized vinegar and creamy mayo coleslaw salad. Dungeness crabs are different than the Blue Crabs from Maryland, but rather than try to import them at a higher cost and without the freshness, Day sources local. “The Crab Cakes is a recipe from my grandmother that is pretty typical for Maryland crab cakes: very little filler and using Old Bay Seasoning. The only difference is we are using Dungeness because it comes off the coast of Oregon.”
Day and Davey pair the Crab Cakes with Snufflefluffagus — a take on the Northeastern/New England-style IPA that originated from the same region as the Crab Cakes. The beer is a collaboration with Zoiglhaus Brewing Company, but is a style that Wayfinder intends to continue to play with in their own brewhouse. Alone, the cakes are fishy and buttery, soft but firm. They are intense, but with the creamy and tangy coleslaw they become comfort food. Pairing Crab Cakes with a Northeast IPA was not just a personal East Coast throwback; Day says “It is good to have contrast from the fishiness of the crab and the strong, hoppy flavor from the IPA — more like a palate cleanser.”
For dessert, Day makes a classic English-style Bread Pudding and pairs it with Wayfinder’s dark and malty Bock, which was a collaboration with Ancestry Brewing. Day says the pairing works for “the opposite reasons of the Crab Cakes. The sweetness of the dessert and the more evenness of the Bock go well together. The caramel notes in each are great together.”
The bread used for the dish is a key ingredient. Wayfinder has tried all sorts of leftover bread from the kitchen, but found the hoagie rolls to be best. They stay together, but are not too dense for the mixture of milk, eggs and seasonings they soak in overnight. The soft nutmeg-y, milk-soaked bread is baked in a pan topped with raisins and the housemade Bourbon Creme Anglaise and Salted Caramel sauce they were soaked in. The goal with pairing Bock is to not wash out the caramel flavors but lengthen them, while the carbonation of the beer keeps it from becoming cloying.
Grilled Vegetable Salad
Paired With Wayside Beer/Hopworks Urban Brewery Tiny Bubbles
By Chef Ryan Day
1/2 yellow squash
1 portobello mushroom
4 stalks asparagus
Wild baby arugula
1/4 cup red wine vinegar
1/4 cup Wayfinder Czech Pilsner
1/4 cup Dijon mustard
2 tablespoons fresh oregano
2 fresh garlic cloves
Juice from 2 lemons (1/4 cup juice)
4 tablespoons white sugar
--Half zucchini and squash, long way.
--Toss all vegetables except arugula with oil, salt and pepper and let sit while grill readies.
--Grill vegetables until done. Put in bowl while preparing dressing.
--Chop garlic and oregano very fine.
--Add vinegar, beer, mustard, lemon juice, sugar and whisk well. While whisking, slowly add olive oil to emulsify.
--Add salt and pepper to taste.
--Once dressing is done, put aside. Cut all grilled vegetables into bite-sized pieces.
--Add vegetables and desired amount of arugula into bowl and toss.
--Add desired amount of dressing.
Dungeness Crab Cakes
Paired With Wayfinder Beer/Zoiglhaus Brewing Company Snufflefluffagus
By Chef Ryan Day
1 pound Dungeness crab
1 cup white bread (no crust), torn into small pieces
2 1/2 teaspoons yellow mustard
5 1/2 teaspoons mayonnaise
4 teaspoons Old Bay Seasoning
2 teaspoons chopped fresh parsley
--Drain crab of all excess water.
--Combine bread, mustard, mayonnaise, Old Bay, parsley, egg and mix well until all incorporated.
--Add crab to mixture and mix well. Push mixture into bowl, wrap with plastic wrap and let sit for at least two hours.
--Preheat oven to 425 degrees.
--Patty mixture by hand to desired size.
--Butter pan and place crab cakes inside. Turn the oven to broil.
--Cook cakes under broiler until golden brown.
Paired with Wayfinder Beer/Ancestry Brewing Bock
By Chef Ryan Day
1 1/2 pounds bread cut into 2-inch cubes (9 cups)
4 cups half-and-half
12 tablespoons (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter
1 cup packed light brown sugar
1/2 cup granulated sugar
3 tablespoons pure vanilla extract
5 large eggs, lightly beaten
1 cup raisins
For Bourbon Creme Anglaise:
4 tablespoons unsalted butter
2 tablespoons bourbon
1 cup powdered sugar
1/2 cup heavy cream
For Salted Caramel:
1/2 cup water
1 cup white sugar
1 cup cream
2 tablespoons butter
For Bread Pudding:
--Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Lightly butter a 9-by-13-inch baking dish.
--In medium saucepan, melt butter over medium heat. Remove from heat, add brown sugar, granulated sugar and vanilla. Stir until well combined and smooth.
--In medium bowl, whisk eggs, then add butter-sugar mixture, stirring until well combined and smooth.
--Pour custard mixture over bread, tossing gently to incorporate until well combined.
--Let bread sit in custard until soaked through, at least 20 minutes.
--Pour bread mixture into prepared baking dish and spread evenly. Sprinkle raisins over top and gently work into pudding. Make sure liquid covers bread.
--Cover baking dish with aluminum foil and bake for 55 minutes.
--Remove foil and bake for an additional 10-15 minutes until bread pudding is golden brown.
--Set pudding aside to prepare Salted Caramel and Creme Anglaise.
For Bourbon Creme Anglaise:
--Melt butter in a medium saucepan over medium heat.
--Remove from heat and add bourbon and powdered sugar, stirring until incorporated.
--Add cream and mix until smooth.
For Salted Caramel:
--Combine and warm cream and butter, set aside.
--Combine water and sugar, cook on low-to-medium heat, stirring constantly until amber and right consistency.
--Add warm cream and butter at end.
--Pour Caramel and Creme Anglaise over top of bread pudding before serving.
304 SE Second Ave., Portland
Monthly recipes and pairings from your favorite brewpubs around Oregon.