Beer Bloggers’ Conference: Pre-conference dinner

If you are just joining this adventure, our two beer geek heroes, Alan & Elaine, have travelled across Ontario (several times) and New England to take part in a Beer Bloggers’ Conference. Just remember that the following tale, although awash in good beer, merely describes a “pre-conference” event — we still have some miles to go, and beers to drink, before we get to the main conference.

Back to our story: Having met everyone at the pre-conference beer & cheese mixer, it was time for dinner. A short two-block walk took us from Cabot Creamery to Sebago Brewpub, a bright modern restaurant on the ground floor of a bright, modern hotel. Our host for the evening was Sebago’s humourous and out-going “Minister of Enablement”, Kai Adams.

Elaine and I found ourselves seated at a table with two young men. One, who worked for a beer distributor, was clearly ambitious and intelligent, only 22, but I predict he is going places. Unfortunately his name has disappeared into the general haze of the evening. (More about the haze later.) The other personable young man was David Ackley of Asheville, North Carolina, author of the Local Beer Blog.

The pre-dinner aperitif was a glass of Sebago’s flagship beer, Frye’s Leap IPA. (Frye’s Leap refers to a cliff beside nearby Sebago Lake. Local daredevils apparently climb the cliff and then leap off it into the lake.)

Now, when I am menu planning, I often use a tart or sour beer such as a Belgian wit or perhaps a gueuze as an aperitif — something that has a noticeable taste but merely prepares your taste buds for what is to follow. I would hesitate to serve an IPA at the start of the evening, worried that it knock out your taste buds before dinner. However, the Frye’s Leap had an appealing nose of citrussy pink grapefruit, and a wonderful juicy bitterness — maybe protecting the taste buds is overrated.

appetizer

Appetizer: Brie, apple & onion flatbread accompanied by Sebago Patersbier

A word here about portions. Despite the fact that Frye’s Leap is a 7% abv beer, this wasn’t a small sampler-sized glass, but a full 12-oz (341 mL) serving.

Now that our taste buds were warmed up, the appetizer appeared: a brie, apple and caramelized onion flatbread, accompanied by Sebago Patersbier, a modest (5.4% abv) Belgian table beer with nice light spicy aromas of stone fruit, and a dry, peppery finish. This is actually the beer I would have served as an aperitif. However, it also went well with the flatbread — the light effervescence cut through the creaminess of the cheese, and the spiciness melded well with the cooked apple.

(By the way, look at the photo: another full serving of beer.)

shooter

Hefeweizen, seafood sauce and shrimp shooter. Bottoms up!

The palate cleanser was my personal favourite: a hefeweizen, seafood sauce and shrimp shooter. Yep, they were all piled into one glass, and the idea was to drink/eat it in one go — or, as they say, “shoot it down the hole!” Well, I confess, I took three swallows to finish it. I can’t comment too much on the hefeweizen, since it was mixed with spicy seafood sauce and my mouth was also full of shrimp. However, the combination of all three was outstanding, and even better, was something I would never have thought of putting together — but just wait till our next dinner party!

Next up was a creamy sweet Maine Lobster roll with tarragon  mayo and wonderful thick house potato chips. The accompanying beer — another full glass — was a special one-off “sessionable IPA” (4.9% abv) called Citra Saaz Down, brewed up at Sebago by the three local Maine beer bloggers: Benjamin Moore (“Active Beer Geek“), Carla Companion (“The Beer Babe“) and Chad Lothian (“If My Coaster Could Talk“).

It was at this point, after three glasses and one shooter of beer, that things started to get hazy; hence the reason I have churlishly forgotten one of our companions’ names.

main course

Pork wing with a BBQ sauce stout reduction, and Bonfire Rye Ale

Finally it was time for the main (Maine?) course, a tender wing of pork covered with a barbecue glaze reduction made from Sebago’s “Lake Trout Stout”, accompanied by a chipotle cole slaw. (The chipotle slaw was HOT — hot enough that it momentarily cut through the haze.) The beer that came along for the ride was Sebago’s just released Bonfire Rye. Rye ales tend to be more malt-driven to allow the spicy dryness of the rye to come forward. Sebago’s rye ale is much more bitter than usual, but the rye seems to hold its own, and the whole thing finishes on a dry spicy note rather than with the usual long bitter finish of most IPAs. (Note in the photo that the glasses of Bonfire Rye were full pints. Oh my.)

The end of dinner arrived — but not the end of the evening. Nay,  apparently it was time to walk to The Thirsty Pig, a local craft beer bar, for a party hosted by beer distributor Patriot Craft Alliance. However, as tempting as the offerings were, the bar was already crowded when we arrived, the noise was well above 100 decibels, it had been a long day since breakfast back in Vermont, there had already been much beer consumed, and we had to drive to Boston the next morning. So reluctantly we took our leave and wearily fell into bed.

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One Comment on “Beer Bloggers’ Conference: Pre-conference dinner”


  1. Sounds like a ton of fun


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