Food | Beer : Seattle Beer Week-Recap
Seattle is a beer mecca, an absolutely outstanding city to sample the very best of America’s more recent explosion in craft beer. For the past 6yrs we’ve been fortunate enough to experience and sample the Northwest’s finest IPAs, porters, stouts and sours, some of which you may have read about in this blog (beer). This past week Robin and I explored beer, in an intense night-after-night adventure, through the vehicle of Seattle Beer Week 2010. We tasted so many fabulous beers to write about each in detail here, but I will try to highlight the events, and the beers that we thought stood above the rest.
Chuckanut Beer Dinner at Delancey: Chuckanut is a brewery out of Bellingham Washington and they paired up with arguably Seattle’s best pizza joint Delancey, to bring forth a beer dinner to be remembered. We shared the fun evening with our friends Dawn and Eric (WrightAngle). The dinner was hosted by Kevin Davey of Chuckanut, who described the philosophy, history, and beers from the brewery as the evening progressed. Basically, the concept for most of the beers was that they are heavily inspired by the travels of the owners and brew master throughout Germany and Eastern Europe. The beers we had that evening, with the exception of the Stout, were all in the classic German style brewed with German style yeasts, and local German hops. The Kolsch and the Pilsner were both crisp and delicate, slightly fruity with a mild accent of hops. The pairing of the Kolsch with Kumomoto oysters and beer-vinegar with shallots was my favorite pairing of the evening, although the Pils was the favorite beer. All the dishes were well crafted and seasoned perfectly, especially the duck fat roasted potatoes. The pizzas at Delancey are always the show stopper and we all agreed that the classic Brooklyn, essentially a margherita sans the basil, was the best, with its tangy sauce, beautiful texture, and well seasoned crust. The final beers of the evening were the Helles, a Munich style beer with crisp finish and slightly sweeter aspect, the Stout which was toasted with hints of coffee and bitter cacao, and an Alt- or fruity German ale, with very malty character. These beers were all great in their style, but their pairing with the pizza and soup didn’t seem come out as a strength. In any case, the event was quite fun, and we were exposed to a series of delicious local Northwest brews outside of the tradition of local Northwest IPAs, porters, or stouts.
1415 NW 70th St.
Seattle, WA 98117
Art of the Table open house with Pike Brewing and Dog Fish Head: We’ve been to beer events at Art of the Table before, which have been simply fantastic. Dustin Ronspies and Matt Younts take their food and beer passions both very seriously, and they pair food nearly perfectly with beer. Having access to the breadth of excellent choices from Dog Fish Head and Pike Brewery made leaving work early in the mid-afternoon really very worthwhile. First of all it was a great chance to meet and chat with several players in the beer industry. We had the great opportunity to talk with Rose Ann and Charles Finkel, owners of Pike Brewing as well as Sam Castiglione of Dog Fish Head, and Matt Younts. It was a small group so we had the chance to ask questions and get the stories behind these 2 brewery’s excellent beers. The event offered 6 small plates along with 3 beers from each brewery. The highlights were as follows: The Midas Touch, a spiced beer (DogFish) brewed with a 2700 yr old recipe was Robin’s favorite (I also enjoyed it). Hard to describe, but the best I can do is- it is like drinking saffron infused honey with a hint of malty beer flavor. It was paired well with saffron caulifower, carmelized onion, and hummus flatbread. We also enjoyed the 90 minute DogFish Head IPA, brewed by injecting hops into a closed kettle each minute for 90 minutes. This IPA is perfectly balanced and well rounded, even the hop fearing folk are likely to enjoy it. It was paired with an Albacore Tuna Poke, Spicy Jicama, Nori, top on a fried wonton.
Pike Brewing brought forth their Double IPA, which first debuted last year during Seattle Beer week. This beer has a more chewy hops flavor, a bit more heat, but still has nice malt balance in the finish. It was paired with a shooter of cumin-corriander carrot soup, topped with cilantro-preserved Lemon-yogurt which contrasted the bitterness of the hops well. We were told that Pike downtown has lots of great seasonals on tap including a dry wit beer, which sounded fabulous for this time of year.
Sour Beer Fest at Brouwers Cafe: This event was at the top of my list for the Seattle Beer Week’s events. The food at Brouwers isn’t particularly stunning, although quite solid in most respects. This event was timely as “Sour beer” is the newest wave in craft beers. The concept of a sour beer has a long history…one that is actually fascinating to read in more detail. Briefly, the brewers (Monk’s in some cases) typically aged beers in unlined wooden vessels as opposed to the more modern stainless varieties. In doing so, the wild yeasts and microflora that live in the wood take action and create divergent effects from the more standard beer yeasts. Some sour beers are undesirable, but others are carefully crafted with specific woods and time tables. The original American sour varieties were to pay homage to the Belgian style lambics with their acidity and funkified barnyard character. There were numerous outstanding selections from the evening. Brouwers managed to get 40+ local and Belgian Sour Beers on tap for the event, and unfortunately we didn’t have the time or capacity to try them all. We did try about 10 total, here’s a few of the highlights:
The Cantillon Lou Pepe Kriek 04 ,A bright red, sweet and sour ale with hints of tingly menthol aftertaste on the tongue
The New Belgian Tart Lychee (picture above right). Was a thicker, juicy fruit, less sour variety, although brilliant in balanced style
The Odin Sour Stout (pictured left), which I finished the evening with…was unbelievably complex. Imagine drinking a classic dry stout, coffee, and a slightly roasted stout and then dipping in super sour cherries into it.
The beers at this event re-excited my passion for that “Sour” beer at the table. I see this beer like IPA was of the years back. Brewers are going to strive for that ridiculously sour beer, just to say they can, while others will strive to achieve balance. Sour beer is to stay, and the food pairings are endless…
Lips of Faith [New Belgium] Beer dinner at the Corson Building: The final major event to cap off our Seattle Beer Week adventure. When we heard about this we immediately decided to go, and take our friend Julia for the first time, to one of our very favorite Seattle restaurants, the Corson building (Exec Chef/Owner Matt Dillon). The event was hosted by New Belgium Brewing, these are the guys that brew “Fat Tire” & “1554″, which most of you are likely to be familiar with.
More recently, the brewing team at New Belgian has been making special batches of sours, lambics, and belgian style ales for larger bottles and cellar storage. This new line of beers, called “Lips of Faith” was the feature of the event.
The Corson Building greeted us with a glass of Le Fleur Misseur Ale, it had a hint of pineapple, clove and honey, and a flowery aroma. A nice way to open the palette for the evening ahead. The first course shared family style was my favorite: pickled fiddlehead ferns and radish, served alongside Estrella cheddar rarebit, creamy fondue like cheese sauce which with the pickled bite made for great contrast. They also passed a smoked trout w/ hard cooked egg, capers, and walnuts alongside a housemade salmon lox w/ asparagus and cured pork belly. This course paired quite well with the dry sour Eric’s Ale, which is aged for about 3 years in oak foeders, and re-fermented with peach juice. It has a semi-sweet-sour base with peach tones and a hint of spice. (If you can find this in the store, I’d highly recommend giving it a taste). The second course was also quite good, beer steamed mussels w/ spring onions and spicy romesco. This was served with the Trip IV, a special collaborative beer between Elysian (local and from Seattle) and New Belgian. They poured it from small label-less bottles and it was by far the most unique beer that evening. They described it as a Finland style “sahti” beer brewed with birch log and bread yeast (the log nearly ruined the kettle). It had a very chewy fruity nose, and an amazingly complex mouth feel, with woodiness, earth, nuts, and vegetal components. The next beer was the Belgian Style Blonde Ale paired with a bitter Watercress soup w/ and rich chicken liver pate. The final entree course consisted of a beautiful house made sausage (pic at right), and wood fired young chicken served w/ potatoes, mustard greens, house made sourkraut and mustard chicory salad. This entree was paired with the 2010 La Folie Sour Brown Ale which is another wood-conditioned ale, which rests in French Oak barrels. It has a sour apple taste, with dry earthy components reminiscent of some of those from Belgian’s, Rodenbach Brouwerij. The final beer, served with a rhubarbd crisp was the Kriek Transatlantique, and it left us all quite dissappointed as it seemed flat in the mouth, with little by way of robust flavor, perhaps because so many of the others beers at the event brought more complete flavor profiles. On a more disappointing note, for the last few beers the brewers/representatives from New Belgium didn’t leave their chairs to discuss the beers in detail or the food pairings , something I always enjoy and expect at such events.
In the end the event was a load of fun, we had a great conversation with our dinner guests at the communal table, tasted some excellent beers many of which are available here in Seattle. [I even noticed the La Folie Sour Brown was at QFC the other day]. The Corson Building is a unique spot, and always a fun experience. Robin and I really love to go to Matt’s brunches there on Sundays, where you get a full spread for ~$18.
5609 Corson Ave. South
Seattle, WA 98108