Beer Bloggers’ Conference: Beer Lunch!

The hot, thirsty work of the morning seminars finished, surely it was  time for lunch (and beer). Yes, in fact the dinner bell did ring –symbolically if not in fact — and we moved to the dining room for a sumptuous four-course lunch, each dish paired to a beer provided by the National Beer Wholesalers Alliance. The lunch was hosted by a Certified Ciccerone (and unfortunately my notes do not include his name.)


First course: Gazpacho with croutons.

Up first was the soup course, a cool gazpacho paired with Rogue Brutal IPA (Oregon). This was the second consecutive beer & food pairing meal that had begun with an American style IPA. The grapefruit of the northwest hops didn’t play well with the  tomato and fresh cucumber of the gazpacho, and the IPA’s bitterness completely hammered the gazpacho’s light spiciness into submission. I thought something considerably lighter, spicier and drier would have married to the gazpacho much better — perhaps a biere de garde or saison.

Meal planners, I plead with you, leave the big IPAs until later in the meal, matched to smelly blue cheeses during an end-of-the-meal cheese plate (or for real fireworks, paired with a spicy hot curry).

second course

Second course: crab cake & fennel salad

The fish course was a crab cake and fennel salad matched to Stillwater Stateside Saison (Maryland). This was a better match than the previous dish, but as I suggested above, I would have paired this beer to the first course. I would have then paired the crab cake with a Belgian wit, looking for the light lemony spiciness the unmalted wheat brings. However, this pairing worked very adequately.


Third course: Rare steak and sweet potato

The meat course was an even better match: barbecue skirt steak with roasted sweet potato paired with Lagunitas Wilco Tango Foxtrot (California). The caramelized sauce of the rare and oh-so-tender steak and the caramel notes of the malty beer were a perfect match, and a good example of how reinforcing a common note made the pairing greater than the sum of its parts.


Dessert: Boston cream pie. OM NOM NOM!

Dessert was — of course — Boston cream pie, which had been paired to Allagash Black, a Belgian style stout. I liked both on their own, but I didn’t think this was a match made in heaven. Although the chocolate notes of the dark malts in the beer complimented the chocolate of the pie, the light dryness of the beer’s finish produced by the Belgian yeast was completely at odds with the heavy sweetness of the custard. Sometimes contrast works, but in this case, I would have either tried matching sweet with sweet, such as a big bourbon-barrel-aged stout, or tried contrasting with a very tart fruit beer.

In the end, even if I felt two of the pairings were less than perfect, the food was excellent, and the beers equally so.

Now my only problem was that I was having trouble finding the necessary gumption to get out of my chair and return to the conference room for the afternoon sessions.

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2 Comments on “Beer Bloggers’ Conference: Beer Lunch!”

  1. Allan Wright Says:

    Alan, I was not able to attend the BBC this year. Yours are the most thorough reports I have seen and I am enjoying it as you take us through each stage of the conference. Thanks!

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