Imperial Session New England Beer Pairing Dinner

This quarterly dinner series by Imperial Session duo Advanced Cicerone Ryan Spencer (Bailey’s Taproom) with dishes from Chef Spencer Watari (Clyde Common) pairs beers and food. Unlike many beer and food dinners, this pop up concept does not beholden itself to any particular breweries or restaurant so they can select any beer or dish to make an interesting pairing without worrying about representing or promoting any business. The last dinner focus was on beers from New England.
Imperial Session New England Beer Dinner Imperial Session New England Beer Dinner Imperial Session New England Beer Dinner, Ryan pouring beerse for one of the courses Imperial Session New England Beer Dinner

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Beer for Breakfast

Beer is the perfect accompaniment to dinner or lunch. But it also goes great with breakfast! Especially when the beers themselves taste like some of our favorite breakfast treats.

The Beer for Breakfast special event on September 25th brought together beer and food pairing in a meal many not think to pair with beer. With two seatings available at 9AM and then 11AM at Great Notion Brewing, the event offered for $50 a grand 3 courses with literally a dozen beers – 4 beers with each course!
Beer for Breakfast at Great Notion Brewing on September 25, 2016 with 3 courses (omnivore or vegan) along with 12 beers with beers from GNB as well as guest breweries

Great Notion is not usually open for brunch, though I hope they might consider doing so after tasting how great these dishes were and how well they paired with beer. I also greatly appreciated that there was an omnivore option as well as a vegan option, which allows the meatless eaters out there to also be able to enjoy the deliciousness.

Course 1

Parfait (either dairy or vegan yogurt) with marionberry and ginger compote and pulverized hazelnut brittle and Random Order blueberry muffin or a vegan blueberry fig bar.
Beer for Breakfast at Great Notion Brewing on September 25, 2016: Course 1 Parfait (either dairy or vegan yogurt) with marionberry and ginger compote and pulverized hazelnut brittle and Random Order blueberry muffin or a vegan blueberry fig bar. Beer Pairings of Great Notion Brewing Barrel Aged Apricot Mimosa, Reverend Nat's Tepache with Prosecco, Culmination/Ruse Breakfast in Paradise Imperial Wit with Pineapple, Great Notion Brewing Blueberry Pancakes Beer for Breakfast at Great Notion Brewing on September 25, 2016: Course 1 Parfait (either dairy or vegan yogurt) with marionberry and ginger compote and pulverized hazelnut brittle and Random Order blueberry muffin or a vegan blueberry fig bar. Beer Pairings of Great Notion Brewing Barrel Aged Apricot Mimosa, Reverend Nat's Tepache with Prosecco, Culmination/Ruse Breakfast in Paradise Imperial Wit with Pineapple, Great Notion Brewing Blueberry Pancakes Beer for Breakfast at Great Notion Brewing on September 25, 2016: Course 1 Parfait (either dairy or vegan yogurt) with marionberry and ginger compote and pulverized hazelnut brittle and Random Order blueberry muffin or a vegan blueberry fig bar. Beer Pairings of Great Notion Brewing Barrel Aged Apricot Mimosa, Reverend Nat's Tepache with Prosecco, Culmination/Ruse Breakfast in Paradise Imperial Wit with Pineapple, Great Notion Brewing Blueberry Pancakes

Beer Pairings

  • Great Notion Brewing Barrel Aged Apricot Mimosa
  • Reverend Nat’s Tepache with Prosecco
  • Culmination/Ruse Breakfast in Paradise, an Imperial Wit with Pineapple
  • Great Notion Brewing Blueberry Pancakes

By itself, I liked the hint of spicy of the Tepache with Prosecco with its effervescence. But, it seemed a bit much with the yogurt unless you made sure you got a spoonful of the ginger with your bite. The Blueberry Pancakes, the stout of these four, went best with the blueberry muffin, no surprise there not only for its hint of blueberry but because it’s stronger sweet maple syrup could then be balanced by the crumb of muffin.

Meanwhile I liked how the Imperial Wit with Pineapple highlighted the berry and the yogurt with its fruit and bit of funkiness in the flavors of the beer. I’ve always like the Tepache, but since it’s not a beer even though I adore it it won’t make my list of best beers of the brunch, though it is a fantastic mixer for many a beer.

Of all four beers, my favorite of them all in this pairing since it went with everything was the Barred Aged Apricot Mimosa that was tart and refreshing with a fruitiness that went well both with marionberry and with blueberry. This beer also makes the top 2 faves of the whole meal.

Course 2

Oatmeal Brulee with grilled peaches, caramelized brown sugar, Double Stack Stout reduction and either housemade sausage or vegan sausage
Beer for Breakfast at Great Notion Brewing on September 25, 2016: Course 2 Oatmeal Brulee with grilled peaches, caramelized brown sugar, Double Stack Stout reduction and either housemade sausage or vegan sausage. Beer Pairings of Great Notion Brewing Bellini, Double Mountain Lyle Rider Bloody Mary Red Ale, Scout Beer Porridge Oatmeal Pale with Vanilla and Raisin, and Great Notion Brewing Double Stack Imperial Breakfast Stout Beer for Breakfast at Great Notion Brewing on September 25, 2016: Course 2 Oatmeal Brulee with grilled peaches, caramelized brown sugar, Double Stack Stout reduction and either housemade sausage or vegan sausage. Beer Pairings of Great Notion Brewing Bellini, Double Mountain Lyle Rider Bloody Mary Red Ale, Scout Beer Porridge Oatmeal Pale with Vanilla and Raisin, and Great Notion Brewing Double Stack Imperial Breakfast Stout

Beer Pairings

  • Great Notion Brewing Bellini
  • Double Mountain Lyle Rider Bloody Mary Red Ale
  • Scout Beer Porridge Oatmeal Pale with Vanilla and Raisin
  • Great Notion Brewing Double Stack Imperial Breakfast Stout

My #1 favorite beer of the entire Beer for Breakfast event is definitely the Double Mountain Lyle Rider Bloody Mary Red Ale which perfectly mimicked a bloody mary. I found the Bellini to carry peach flavors well, but also had a slightly harsh finish as if it was a Bellini made with a cheap prosecco? Ha ha I still finished it though. The Oatmeal Pale had a great texture, but I was hoping for more vanilla and raisin then I got than just porridge.

The best pairing of the four was the Double Stack Imperial Breakfast stout with its sweet maple and roasty coffee – since the oatmeal has reduced Double Stack reduction the fact these two were complimentary – with the reduction being sweeter and thinner so you could detect more body and coffee (including natural coffee bitterness) in the beer – was intriguing for me.

Course 3

House Empanada stuffed with pepper bacon, sharp cheddar, home fries with scrambled cage free eggs, or alternatively for vegans the empanada was stuffed with marinated tempeh, Daiya cheddar, and home fries with scrambled Ota tofu
Beer for Breakfast at Great Notion Brewing on September 25, 2016: Course 3 House Empanada stuffed with pepper bacon, sharp cheddar, home fries with scrambled cage free eggs, or alternatively for vegans the empanada was stuffed with marinated tempeh, Daiya cheddar, and home fries with scrambled Ota tofu. Beer Pairings of Great Notion Brewing Blueberry Muffin Berliner Weiss, Great Notion Brewing Orange Creamsicle, Cellarmaker Coffee and Cigarettes Coffee Porter and Modern Times City of the Dead Barrel Aged Coffee Stout Beer for Breakfast at Great Notion Brewing on September 25, 2016: Course 3 House Empanada stuffed with pepper bacon, sharp cheddar, home fries with scrambled cage free eggs, or alternatively for vegans the empanada was stuffed with marinated tempeh, Daiya cheddar, and home fries with scrambled Ota tofu. Beer Pairings of Great Notion Brewing Blueberry Muffin Berliner Weiss, Great Notion Brewing Orange Creamsicle, Cellarmaker Coffee and Cigarettes Coffee Porter and Modern Times City of the Dead Barrel Aged Coffee Stout Beer for Breakfast at Great Notion Brewing on September 25, 2016: Course 3 House Empanada stuffed with pepper bacon, sharp cheddar, home fries with scrambled cage free eggs, or alternatively for vegans the empanada was stuffed with marinated tempeh, Daiya cheddar, and home fries with scrambled Ota tofu. Beer Pairings of Great Notion Brewing Blueberry Muffin Berliner Weiss, Great Notion Brewing Orange Creamsicle, Cellarmaker Coffee and Cigarettes Coffee Porter and Modern Times City of the Dead Barrel Aged Coffee Stout

Beer Pairings

  • Great Notion Brewing Blueberry Muffin Berliner Weiss
  • Great Notion Brewing Orange Creamsicle
  • Cellarmaker Coffee and Cigarettes Coffee Porter
  • Modern Times City of the Dead Barrel Aged Coffee Stout

The Orange Creamsicle here boasts strong orange flavor, but a hint of bitterness like from the rind ratehr then vanilla creaminess like I was expecting – still an enjoyable beer, but I was mislead by the name of the beer.

The Barrel Aged Coffee Stout had the most coffee of all the coffee beers this day, but it does have the extra advantage of using barrel aged coffee beans and that extra depth from bourbon. Of all the coffee beers though I still preferred of all of them the Coffee and Cigarettes Coffee Porter because I liked the strong smokiness and I thought the mouthfeel was so smooth with a nice body.

I was surprised to see the Blueberry Muffin here as really does taste like a muffin, but with extra tartness from the Berliner Weiss – perhaps juxtaposing it with the actual blueberry muffin in Course 1 was too on the nose. I really like the beer – but was a little confused on how it went with eggs or an empanada. I might have swapped the Tepache with Prosecco of course 1 with this one.

Beer for Breakfast at Great Notion Brewing on September 25, 2016 with 3 courses (omnivore or vegan) along with 12 beers with beers from GNB as well as guest breweries

Overall, a fantastic event. One thing I wish had been clear is that although the ticket purchase via Mercury Tickets had described the price as all inclusive, we were asked at the end to drop some cash tip to show appreciation for the staff – fine to ask for, but wish we had known before hand so we could have been better prepared.

The other wish is that it would have been nice to hear a little extra about the beer or the food on why they were chosen or why the particular food preparation based on the beer. On one hand it is nice to taste everything on your own to see what you experience without being told what to look for, but on the other hand it can be educational since some might have finer palates to hear on what they might pick up on.

Ok, maybe one more wish. I wish this event, or the ability to at least have Great Notion Brunch, would be available again, not just this one event – maybe even if it’s just the last Sunday of a month, or quarterly, I would so love to experience this again and not have to wait a year. Particularly many of the GNB beers as you saw from this list are so perfect for a brunch pairing!

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Imperial Session Beer Dinner Pop Up Series

A new pop up is starting up in Portland this time focused on food with another PDX famous love, beer! Advanced Cicerone Ryan Spencer (you may have seen him at Bailey’s Taproom) and Chef Spencer Watari (Clyde Common, Pok Pok) are collaborating together under the name Imperial Session to launch a quarterly dinner series focused on beer and food pairing. The first Imperial Session Beer Dinner will be a five course dinner with pairings for each course on Sunday September 18th at Shift Drinks’ Makeshift Room (former home of Nomad PDX). The dinner seating starts at 7 PM with reservations via tickets available now on EventBrite, with a suggested cash donation of $55 paid at the end of the meal.
Imperial Session Beer Dinner Series, this pop up offers guests the ability to experience a wide range of beer and food interactions without boundaries of a single brewery or single restaurant

Ryan and Spencer are working together to break down the biases and commitments of a typical beer dinner, with the goal of offering guests the ability to experience a wide range of beer and food interactions without boundaries. For instance, usually beer dinner events feature a single restaurant working with a single brewery.

“The problems we found with these dinners were that they all felt more promotional than genuine. Brewer’s wanted to showcase their flagship beers and restaurants wanted to promote their establishments. Both parties seemed to be looking out for their own best interests with little collaboration taking place. We wanted to create a dining experience where we could pour whatever we wanted and serve food that created the ultimate pairing.” Ryan and Spencer explained.

Imperial Session Beer Dinner Series, this pop up offers guests the ability to experience a wide range of beer and food interactions without boundaries of a single brewery or single restaurant

Meanwhile, Imperial Session has intentionally selected beers that are a little outside of the norm. For instance, for this initial dinner, 2 of the 5 beers are unavailable in Oregon, 2 are vintages which are no longer available, and 1 is a small batch brewery only release.

The dinners are intentionally small in order to have guests easily interact with Ryan and Spencer as well as with other guests and allow for smaller batch sourcing of quality ingredients, including rare beers.

Down the road Imperial Session hopes to feature different local chefs to create unique tasting menus for the dinner series, where Spencer operates as the permanent chef and assists the guest chef in formatting their menu into their constraints while also working with Ryan to create pairings.

They have also discussed the opposite situation where they bring in someone from the beer industry to curate a selection of beers to pair with one of Spencer’s menus. Imperial Session could be a venue and opportunity to work out some creative ideas with people whose formal positions in the food and drink industry don’t currently allow that chance.
Imperial Session Beer Dinner Series, this pop up offers guests the ability to experience a wide range of beer and food interactions without boundaries of a single brewery or single restaurant

Background on Imperial Session

Ryan and Spencer have known each other for the majority of their lives, both having grown up in the Portland Metro area and first meeting in third grade and then attending University of Oregon where they home brewed together. Growing up in The Pacific Northwest, surrounded by a wide range of food and beverage,  they said it seemed pretty natural to both of them to pursue careers in those two fields.

Ryan got his start as a dishwasher position at Hopworks before expanding to jobs at Deschutes, Gigantic, and his current position at Bailey’s Taproom where he also has been getting cicerone certifications (the equivalent of a wine sommelier, it requires various levels of examinations). Meanwhile, after college, Spencer moved around for a bit until he settled at Pok Pok for two years before he transitioned to Clyde Common to continue to develop his skills with a more diverse range of cuisines.

For years they have both talked about going into some type of venture together. The specific idea for joining forces to do beer and food pairing dinners came from attending several “Brewer’s Dinners” throughout Portland when Ryan was studying to take the Master Cicerone exam and trying to gain experience with beer and food pairing. Imperial Session is finally those talks, their history, experience, and their expertise coming together for them.

Menu for Upcoming Beer and Food Pairing Dinner

Here’s a look at the menu for this first Imperial Session beer and food pairing dinner. For this particular menu, a few of the dishes were dishes Spencer was really excited about, they tasted through them, and Ryan tried to find beers that might work. On the other hand, a few of the pairings started with a beer that Ryan felt would be really interesting and food friendly, then they designed a dish around the beer. They hope to impart some of the knowledge they acquired from the beer and food pairing process to guests as part of the dinner.

This is the omnivore menu, a vegetarian version is available by advanced notice at their discretion.

Course One:

Grilled corn, kewpie mayo, togarashi cracklin, and avocado puree
Paired with Trillium Pier (a hopped American Pale Wheat Ale from Massachusetts)

Course Two:

Radish and turnip salad, caramel egg dressing, carbonated citruses
Paired with Breakside Carte Blanche (American Wild Ale with Brett, gin and hops)

Course Three:

Lamb pierogies, mint chimichurri sour cream, peas, spring allium
Paired with De Garde/Heater Allen Doppelbock (Eichenbock, an oak barrel-aged Doppelbock)

Course Four:

Sai oua sausage, fingerling potatoes, charred green onions, mushroom demi-glace
Paired with Holy Mountain The Goat (Saison / Farmhouse style ale from Washington)

Dessert:

TBA
Paired with Block 15 2015 Kriek (Kriek is a cherry sour /wild ale style)

 

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Snackdown 2016 Recap

This past Sunday, I attended the closing event of Portland Beer Week, and here is my Snackdown 2016 Recap! Taking place 12 – 4 PM at The Evergreen event space above Loyal Legion, Snackdown was a food and beer pairing event where 10 of Portland Chefs and 10 Oregon Brewers are paired into 10 Brewer/Chef teams to make snack and beer pairing. The atmosphere is styled like a WWF style Smackdown with brewers and chefs hyping their pairing on the mic – possibly while sporting wrestling themed costume – while in the background a large screen played old matches from the days of Hulk – I guess in the mid 80s.
Snackdown Portland Beer Week 2016 Closing Party

DJ Rev Shines was playing fun music to keep everyone grooving while snacking. Everyone seemed to be having fun and in a great playful mood.
DJ Rev Shines was super cool at playing fun music to keep everyone grooving while snacking at Snackdown 2016 P.R.E.A.M. / Ecliptic Brewing was another favorite pairing of mine, see my Snackdown 2016 Recap for more details

Herb of Loyal Legion served as MC and got all the brewer/chef teams to take turns doing a little smack talking throughout the event
Herb of Loyal Legion served as MC and got all the brewer/chef teams to take turns doing a little smack talking throughout the Snackdown event Herb of Loyal Legion served as MC and got all the brewer/chef teams to take turns doing a little smack talking throughout the Snackdown 2016 event

Guests got to vote on their favorite pairing and the winning team will be awarded the Snackdown Belt – which is apparently a wristlet version for the brewery and restaurant,  here being modeled by Co-organizer of the event, Ben Love of Gigantic Brewing.
Guests at Snackdown 2016 got to vote on their favorite pairing and the winning team will be awarded the Snackdown Belt - which is apparently a wristlet version for the brewery and restaurant. Guests at Snackdown 2016 got to vote on their favorite pairing and the winning team will be awarded the Snackdown Belt - which is apparently a wristlet version for the brewery and restaurant.

The 10 Brewer/Chef teams for 2016 were:

  • Loyal Legion / Portland Brewing & Double Mountain showcased the official 2016 Portland Beer Week beer by pouring a Sub-Continental IPA, a collaboration between Portland Brewing and Double Mountain to create a ~7% ABV northwest IPA brewed with Indian spices like pepper, cardamom, clove, cumin and saffron. Meanwhile Loyal Legion used the Sub-Continental IPA to braise their homemade sauerkraut which they then fried into a krokotten and served along with a spicy beer mustard that also had Sub-Contental IPA in the mustard.
    Snackdown 2016 Loyal Legion / Portland Brewing & Double Mountain showcased the Portland Beer week beer by pouring a Sub-Continental IPA, a collaboration between Portland Brewing and Double Mountain to create a ~7% ABV northwest IPA brewed with Indian spices like pepper, cardamom, clove, cumin and saffron. Meanwhile Loyal Legion used the Sub-Continental IPA to braise their homemade sauerkraut which they then fried into a krokotten and served along with a spicy beer mustard that also had Sub-Contental IPA in the mustard Snackdown 2016 Loyal Legion / Portland Brewing & Double Mountain showcased the Portland Beer week beer by pouring a Sub-Continental IPA, a collaboration between Portland Brewing and Double Mountain to create a ~7% ABV northwest IPA brewed with Indian spices like pepper, cardamom, clove, cumin and saffron. Meanwhile Loyal Legion used the Sub-Continental IPA to braise their homemade sauerkraut which they then fried into a krokotten and served along with a spicy beer mustard that also had Sub-Contental IPA in the mustard
  • Bollywood Theater / The Commons Brewery also combined beer right into the food by pairing the Commons Fleur de Blanc, a Rose and Elderflower White Farmhouse Ale, with Bollywood Theater creating an Indian curry with mussels cooked in the Commons Fleur de Blanc with Indian spices, coconut milk, and rose petals. It was a little hard to eat in such a small little bowl to get the mussels out, but the mussels dish added a little heat while bringing out some of the funky and floral notes in the beer, which I thought made an excellent combo.
    Snackdown 2016 Bollywood Theater / The Commons Brewery combined beer right into the food by pairing the Commons Fleur de Blanc, a Rose and Elderflower White Farmhouse Ale, with Bollywood Theater creating mussels cooked in the Commons Fleur de Blanc with Indian spices, coconut milk, and rose petals. Snackdown 2016 Bollywood Theater / The Commons Brewery combined beer right into the food by pairing the Commons Fleur de Blanc, a Rose and Elderflower White Farmhouse Ale, with Bollywood Theater creating mussels cooked in the Commons Fleur de Blanc with Indian spices, coconut milk, and rose petals.
  • Lardo / Heater Allen Brewing I always love seeing Chef Rick Gencarelli at an event – he’s always excited about what he’s doing which I miss seeing when he gave up the Lardo cart for the multiple successful businesses of his current brick and mortars, but you get a glimpse of how fun he is and what a good hearted guy every time he’s at one of these food events in front of the people again.
    I always love seeing Chef Rick Gencarelli at an event - he's always excited about what he's doing which I miss seeing when he gave up the Lardo cart for the multiple successful businesses of his current brick and mortars, but you get a glimpse of how fun he is every time he's at one of these food events. Here at Snackdown 2016 he somehow kept that awesome wrestling mask on while doling out the most precious and super delicious mini lobster roll to pair with Heater Allen's Das Bier Kolsch I always love seeing Chef Rick Gencarelli at an event - he's always excited about what he's doing which I miss seeing when he gave up the Lardo cart for the multiple successful businesses of his current brick and mortars, but you get a glimpse of how fun he is every time he's at one of these food events. Here at Snackdown 2016 he somehow kept that awesome wrestling mask on while doling out the most precious and super delicious mini lobster roll to pair with Heater Allen's Das Bier Kolsch
    Here he somehow kept that awesome wrestling mask on while doling out the most precious and super delicious mini lobster roll to pair with Heater Allen’s Das Bier Kolsch.
    Snackdown 2016 Lardo created the most precious and super delicious mini lobster roll to pair with Heater Allen's Das Bier Kolsch Snackdown 2016 Lardo created the most precious and super delicious mini lobster roll to pair with Heater Allen's Das Bier Kolsch
  • The Bent Brick which just officially went to a tipless system and is one of six gratuity free restaurants in Portland, presented what they called a Pig Picnic with porky picnicky vibes in a pork and beans stew / Block 15 Brewing brought their Sticky Hands IPA
    Snackdown 2016 The Bent Brick presented what they called a Pig Picnic with porky picnicky vibes in a pork and beans stew / Block 15 Brewing brought their Sticky Hands IPA The Bent Brick presented what they called a Pig Picnic with porky picnicky vibes in a pork and beans stew / Block 15 Brewing brought their Sticky Hands IPA Snackdown 2016 The Bent Brick presented what they called a Pig Picnic with porky picnicky vibes in a pork and beans stew / Block 15 Brewing brought their Sticky Hands IPA
  • Old Salt Marketplace created “Last Year’s Succotash” with alubias gigantes beans, pickled corn, fermented pepper vinagrette, shaved country ham and arugula on a pork rind – sadly I found the pork rind to be old and chewy rather than crispy / Ex Novo Brewing with their Thick as Thieves Dry Hoppped Belgo-American Sour Pale, a collaboration beer they created with Solemn Oath Brewery in Chicago which they just released during Portland Beer week
    Snackdown 2016 Old Salt Marketplace created 'Last Year's Succotash' with alubias gigantes beans, pickled corn, fermented pepper vinagrette, shaved country ham and arugula on a pork rind to pair with Ex Novo Brewing with their Thick as Thieves Dry Hoppped Belgo-American Sour Pale, a collaboration beer they created with Solemn Oath Brewery in Chicago Snackdown 2016 Old Salt Marketplace created 'Last Year's Succotash' with alubias gigantes beans, pickled corn, fermented pepper vinagrette, shaved country ham and arugula on a pork rind to pair with Ex Novo Brewing with their Thick as Thieves Dry Hoppped Belgo-American Sour Pale, a collaboration beer they created with Solemn Oath Brewery in Chicago
  • Toro Bravo / Hopworks Urban Brewery was the winner of Snackdown with their rich Baller Grilled Cheese and “Tomato Soup”, a rich three cheese (truffle cheese, manchego, and mahone on Grand Central brioche) and modernist tomato soup sphere with the HUB Xocolatal Xake Up Belgian Style Spiced Quad to wash it down with.
    Toro Bravo / Hopworks Urban Brewery was the winner of Snackdown 2016 with their rich Baller Grilled Cheese and 'Tomato Soup', a rich three cheese (truffle cheese, manchego, and mahone on Grand Central brioche) and modernist tomato soup sphere with the HUB Xocolatal Xake Up Belgian Style Spiced Quad to wash it down Toro Bravo / Hopworks Urban Brewery was the winner of Snackdown 2016 with their rich Baller Grilled Cheese and 'Tomato Soup', a rich three cheese (truffle cheese, manchego, and mahone on Grand Central brioche) and modernist tomato soup sphere with the HUB Xocolatal Xake Up Belgian Style Spiced Quad to wash it down Toro Bravo / Hopworks Urban Brewery was the winner of Snackdown 2016 with their rich Baller Grilled Cheese and 'Tomato Soup', a rich three cheese (truffle cheese, manchego, and mahone on Grand Central brioche) and modernist tomato soup sphere with the HUB Xocolatal Xake Up Belgian Style Spiced Quad to wash it down
  • Kim Jong Grillin brought the spice with smoked bo ssäm made with smoked pork, a braised pork in Breakside beer Rye Curious, an apple kimchee, ssämjang sauce made with Breakside Rainbow & Unicorns beer, jalapeno, and green leaf lettuce/ Breakside Brewery cooled it down with Rainbows & Unicorns, their session IPA which also seemed appropriate given that it was Pride Festival weekend in Portland.
    Snackdown 2016 Kim Jong Grillin brought the spice with pork ssam/ Breakside Brewery cooled it down with Rainbows & Unicorns, their session IPA Snackdown 2016 Kim Jong Grillin brought the spice with pork ssam/ Breakside Brewery cooled it down with Rainbows & Unicorns, their session IPA
  • P.R.E.A.M. / Ecliptic Brewing was another favorite pairing of mine, starring a Beef Tartare with flavors of cheeseburger with Ecliptic’s chocolatey and malty Capella Porter
    John Harris brewer of Ecliptic dressed in wrestling costume The Snackdown 2016 P.R.E.A.M. / Ecliptic Brewing was another favorite pairing of mine, staring a Beef Tartare with flavors of cheeseburger with Ecliptic's chocolatey and malty Capella Porter John Harris brewer of Ecliptic dressed in wrestling costume The Snackdown 2016 P.R.E.A.M. / Ecliptic Brewing was another favorite pairing of mine, staring a Beef Tartare with flavors of cheeseburger with Ecliptic's chocolatey and malty Capella Porter Snackdown 2016 P.R.E.A.M. / Ecliptic Brewing was another favorite pairing of mine, staring a Beef Tartare with flavors of cheeseburger with Ecliptic's chocolatey and malty Capella Porter Snackdown 2016 P.R.E.A.M. / Ecliptic Brewing was another favorite pairing of mine, staring a Beef Tartare with flavors of cheeseburger with Ecliptic's chocolatey and malty Capella Porter
  • Biwa gave a special nod toward’s Buoy’s coastal origins by creating Clam Chowder Croquettes while chef Gabe Rosen hilariously posed as Bernie / Buoy Beer poured Rice Rice Baby, a wild rice blond ale using wild rice from Minnesota with rye malt to make a nutty blond that is reminiscent of a saison, a special one off beer for this event and only in limited quantities at their tasting room
    Snackdown 2016 Biwa gave a special nod toward's Buoy's coastal origins by creating Clam Chowder Croquettes / Buoy Beer poured Rice Rice Baby, a wild rice blond ale using wild rice from Minnesota with rye malt to make a nutty blond that is reminiscent of a saison Snackdown 2016 Biwa gave a special nod toward's Buoy's coastal origins by creating Clam Chowder Croquettes / Buoy Beer poured Rice Rice Baby, a wild rice blond ale using wild rice from Minnesota with rye malt to make a nutty blond that is reminiscent of a saison Snackdown 2016 Biwa gave a special nod toward's Buoy's coastal origins by creating Clam Chowder Croquettes / Buoy Beer poured Rice Rice Baby, a wild rice blond ale using wild rice from Minnesota with rye malt to make a nutty blond that is reminiscent of a saison Snackdown 2016 Biwa gave a special nod toward's Buoy's coastal origins by creating Clam Chowder Croquettes while chef Gabe Rosen hilariously posed as Bernie / Buoy Beer poured Rice Rice Baby, a wild rice blond ale using wild rice from Minnesota with rye malt to make a nutty blond that is reminiscent of a saison Snackdown 2016 Biwa gave a special nod toward's Buoy's coastal origins by creating Clam Chowder Croquettes while chef Gabe Rosen hilariously posed as Bernie / Buoy Beer poured Rice Rice Baby, a wild rice blond ale using wild rice from Minnesota with rye malt to make a nutty blond that is reminiscent of a saison
  • Nomad with a frozen barley mousse, anise custard, strawberry, and fennel frond/ Gigantic Brewing with their Holy Oak Whisky Sour beer rounded up snackdown with dessert
    Snackdown 2016 Nomad with a frozen barley mousse, anise custard, strawberry, and fennel frond/ Gigantic Brewing with their Holy Oak Whisky Sour beer rounded up snackdown with dessert Snackdown 2016 Nomad with a frozen barley mousse, anise custard, strawberry, and fennel frond/ Gigantic Brewing with their Holy Oak Whisky Sour beer rounded up snackdown with dessert Snackdown 2016 Nomad with a frozen barley mousse, anise custard, strawberry, and fennel frond/ Gigantic Brewing with their Holy Oak Whisky Sour beer rounded up snackdown with dessert Snackdown 2016 Nomad with a frozen barley mousse, anise custard, strawberry, and fennel frond/ Gigantic Brewing with their Holy Oak Whisky Sour beer rounded up snackdown with dessert

I really hope they bring this Snackdown event back for next year – it was a great value I think since for the price with 10 small dishes from high quality restaurants (some which are harder to get into like Nomad). Also, receiving 10 five ounce pours of beers is a lot – after a while I realized I had to start cutting back on my sipping. Congratulations to Toro Bravo and Hopworks on their win this year!

It was a little haphazard trying to find a place to put a plate and glass down in order to be able to eat – just a few more cocktail tables, even along the side wall by the DJ, could have helped as I saw some people take a gamble by placing glasses on the floor to eat. But, there never seemed to be a line of more than a handful of people to get a pour – a combination of the number of people who came this year I think at a manageble size and each of the stations was well prepared with food plates ready. A checklist sheet listing all the beer and food pairings made it easy to know ahead of time who you wanted to visit in what order and track that you enjoyed all ten teams.

It’s also unfortunate there was no award for best dressed brewer –  Gigantic’s Ben Love went all out, Ecliptic’s John Harris and those fly arm bands and velvet cape, and the cozy PJs with hand drawn hop crest of Ryan Pappe of Portland Brewing were all outstanding and committed to a whole wrestler hero vibe experience. And Herb was perfect as an announcer – everyone was so much fun. The friendly tongue I’m cheek smack talking and friendship between the Brewers and various food crafters I think perfectly embodies the Portland spirit in the food and drink community.

What would have been your vote for best beer and food pairing based on this Snackdown 2016 Recap?

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PDX Beer Week 2015 and other Drink Festivals of June

This year, PDX Beer Week 2015 falls upon this coming Thursday June 11 – Sunday June 21. Yes, it’s more than an actual week/7 days, but I have forgiven that long ago. You can see the full event list here, but I wanted to point my personal top picks. And, not all of them even involve drinking beer – there is for instance, also beer food.

Beer and Food

  • My favorite event of PDX Beer Week is always the Portland Beer and Cheese Festival. I always go to this event, and you can see my previous recaps from the Portland Beer and Cheese Fest 2014, then 2013, then 2012. As usual, it falls on Father’s Day (Sunday June 21st) from 12 – 5 PM. This year it takes place at the new The Commons Brewery location on 7th and East Belmont. For $35, you get to try 10 paired craft beers and cheeses: the 4 ounce samples of beers come from 10 different breweries and your cheesemaster for the pairings is the famous Steve Jones of Cheese Bar and Chizu.
    Portland Beer and Cheese Festival 2014, a pairing of beer and cheese, here Pfriem Family Brewers Saison with Satori – Pastorale – cow and sheep – Wisconsin Portland Beer and Cheese Festival 2014, a pairing of beer and cheese, here Double Mountain Brewery Carrie Ladd beer with Isle of Mull – Cheddar – cow – Scotland Portland Beer and Cheese Festival 2014, a pairing of beer and cheese, here Lompoc Brewing Bourbon Barrel Aged Dark Side Porter with Cascadia Creamery – Glacier Blue – cow – Washington
    As in the previous year, you can enjoy complimentary free charcuterie from Olympia Provisions. And new this year you can also nosh on complimentary chocolate from local makers Woodblock Chocolate.
    Olympic Provisions was on hand with a meatastic display of charcuterie for participants to graze on to balance out the beer and cheese tastings Olympic Provisions was on hand with a meatastic display of charcuterie for participants to graze on to balance out the beer and cheese tastings Portland Beer and Cheese Festival 2014, an event pairing beer and cheese, and you can graze on Olympic Provisions charcuterie
    This is a 21 + only event. Tickets are on sale now and they usually sell out so buy ahead of time.
    Portland Beer and Cheese Festival 2015
  • For an alternate Father’s Day celebration where you can bring the whole family, consider the Father’s Day Brewgrass and BBQ. On Sunday June 21st Portland Brewing is celebrating dads with live Bluegrass music from 1 – 4 PM, BBQ Specials all day, and kids eat for free from their kids menu with each paying adult.
    This entire month of July 2014, Portland Brewing is donating a portion from every case or growler of ZigZag River Lager (growlers must be purchased at the Portland Brewing Co Taproom, cases must be purchased in the state of Oregon) sold back to our Northwest waters via Sandy River Basin Watershed Council. This entire month of July 2014, Portland Brewing is donating a portion from every case or growler of ZigZag River Lager (growlers must be purchased at the Portland Brewing Co Taproom, cases must be purchased in the state of Oregon) sold back to our Northwest waters via Sandy River Basin Watershed Council.
  • There are two Food Cart + Beer events on the calendar for PDX Beer Week. These events will be hosted by Steven Shomler, author of the book Portland Food Cart Stories and the new book Portland Beer Stories, as well as the host of Tasty Tuesday Radio Show on Portland Radio Project. Steve is a great guy who really goes into the stories behind food and beer, aka the people, the idea, the passion and hard work. He has invited other Portland culinary authors to these events, and the Food Carts at these respective Food Cart Pods are working on special dishes to go with the beer.
    • June 17th 6-10 PM the Food Carts and Beer event is at the Carts on Foster Food Cart (52nd and Foster) featuring beer from Sasquatch Brewing Company with additional watering hole beverages by Pod Bar, fantastic breakfast and brunch food from Egg Carton, the crazy good burgers from Angry Unicorn, and desserts and sweets by the food cart Sugar Shop.
      The Angry Unicorn food truck's Unicorn Burger, made with Unicorn meat a magical meat with ground bacon, strips of bacon, cheddar on a  Krispy Kreme glazed doughnut
      The Angry Unicorn food truck’s Unicorn Burger, made with “Unicorn meat” a magical meat with ground bacon, strips of bacon, cheddar on a Krispy Kreme glazed doughnut
    • Then, June 18th 6-10 PM the Food Carts and Beer event takes place at Pod 28 (28th and Ankeny, just off of Burnside) featuring the beer of Coalition Brewing and Pod 28 participants like the outdoor beer garden with Captured Beer Bus, the tortas of Guero Food Cart, grilled pizza from Pulehu Pizza, and vegetarian and Middle Eastern food from Wolf and Bear.
      Pizza and breadstick from Pulehu Pizza along with beer from The Drinking Lot
      Pizza and breadstick from Pulehu Pizza
  • Throughout June 11 – June 21, Bunk Sandwiches is offering 2 sandwiches, with Bunk Bar Wonder serving both and Bunk Bar SE Water only serving the official Portland Beer Week Sandwich. Check out pics of the sandwich (as well as the ice cream and donut I mention below) at the beer blog Portland Craft Beer article Portland Beer Week Special Creations Preview
    • Official Portland Beer Week Sandwich: Beer Braised Brisket & Gravy Po Boy with Bitter Green Slaw and Herb Salad (made with Good Life Pass Stout) – $11 (Available at Bunk Bar Water and Wonder)
    • Extra Credit Beer Sandwich: Deluxe Queso Dip with Beer Braised Brisket (mMade with Good Life Pass Stout) – $8.50 (Available only at Bunk Bar Wonder)
  • The Portland Beer Week Ice Cream comes Salt & Straw and is a Citra Hop Ice Cream made from Breakside Tall Guy single hop Citra IPA and specked with actual Citra hop flakes. Available at special Portland Beer Week parties only, such as the Portland Beer Week & Fruit Beer Fest Kickoff Party & Pig Roast at Eastburn on Thursday June 11 6-9 PM or the Fremont Brewing & Breakside Brewery: Beer, Ice Cream, Donut Party on Saturday June 13 5-8 PM at Belmont Station.
  • The Portland Beer Week donut is the Blue Star Donuts Hopworks IPA cake donut with crumbled salty pretzels and is available starting June 11.

  • If you are looking for more sweetness than the donuts, consider pFriem Beer & Dessert Pairing Flight . All PDX Beer Week from June 11 – June 21 you can visit Bar Vivant/Pix Patisserie to try a flight of Pfriem Family Brewers beers paired with three bite-sized Pix desserts. Available all week for $20.
  • The 3rd Annual Mussels from Brussels at Bazi Bierbrasserie on Wednesday June 15 5 – 9 PM features 4 Oregon breweries each creating their own secret sauces to be used with 1 pound of mussels served with fries, and paired with their Belgian-inspired beer. Who will win the title of “Mussels from Brussels”? The previous two times this event was held, Upright Brewing won – will it be a three-peat? Tickets will be sold for one of the multiple seatings, which are in shifts.
  • If you are looking for a beer pairing dinner, The Lion’s Supper features Firestone Walker beer and David Walker, co-founder/owner of Firestone Walker Brewing and is hosted by Old Salt Marketplace with food by Chef Greg Smith from Grain and Gristle. Reserve your seat for Thursday June 11 6:30 pm ($75 per person for 5 courses and beer pairings) by emailing alex at oldsaltpdx.com
  • Sounds like a very nice Father’s Day gift: a reservation for the Lompoc Beer Whiskey Cigar Dinner at Radio Room on Tuesday June 16, 2015 7:30 PM The price of $69 you get a four course meal with Lompoc beer and High West Premium Whiskey pairings and at the end of the night a handcrafted cigar. Tickets available at 503-287-2346 or info at radioroompdx.com.

Beer Festivals

  • Rye Beer Fest at Eastburn from Friday June 12, 2015 4 PM – Saturday June 13, 2015 2 AM. The Festival is a benefit for Dawn to Dusk paddle fund for the Children’s Cancer Association. This festival, as expected from the name, feature more than 20 rye beers as well as rye cocktails, rye themed food and live music. The $10 admission fee includes a commemorative rye beer fest pint glass and eight beer tickets.
  • Portland Fruit Beer Festival in the lot of Burnside Brewing Co. featuring fruit beers, so it’s really one of a kind already, and add to that nearly every beer or cider featured at the festival have been brewed specifically for the Fruit Beer Festival, so a lot of one-off unique beers you may only see here this one time and that’s it. This festival is all ages and includes on-site food vendors though you could also choose to dine at Burnside Brewing’s restaurant. The festival runs in the evening on Friday June 12 4 PM – 9 PM and then opens at 11 AM – 9 PM on Saturday June 13th 11 AM – 9 PM, then on Sunday June 14th 11 AM – 6 PM. Cost is $20 for 12 tickets and a glass, tickets are on sale now. This years festival is 40% larger in space as they have expanded to an additional lot. I will have a post on Wed with some highlights from the Fruit Beer Fest list.
  • This free event (pay for the beer you drink) is The New School presenting their annual New Breweries Showcase at Bailey’s Taproom and The Upper Lip. Featuring 10 breweries that have opened within the last year from all over the state of Oregon with two beers featured from each one of the new breweries. The event runs all day but you can meet-the-brewers and The New School team from 5-8pm at Bailey’s.
  • I am pretty excited about the free event (pay for the beer you drink) of The Weird Beer Bonanza at Imperial Bottle Shop & Taproom on Wednesday June 17 5 – 10 PM. The event promises to offer beers that have interesting combinations, such as
    • Upright Orange Dream – farmhouse ale with an addition of Townshend’s No.72 herbal tea
    • Breakside Cedarbaumbier – amber wheat ale made with foraged Western red cedar tips and fresh ginger
    • Fort George Spruce Budd – a hopless brew made with nothing more than organic two-row malt and Spruce tips for ingredients
    • Ninkasi Ground Control Imperial Stout – brewed with yeast that’s been to space and back, hazelnuts, coca nibs and star anise
    • Payette/Ninkasi Magic Gardens Asian Pear and Lemongrass IPA
    • SixPoint Ever Upward Fuji Apple Wheat
    • Coalition Dill Dose Sour Pickle Ale
    • Oakshire Raspberry Ginger Berliner Weisse
    • 13 Virtues Morocco Mole Dunkel
    • Burnside Silence of the Lambs Irish Stout brewed w/ Grilled Lamb Hearts

    Imperial Bottle Shop and Taproom presents The Bruery and Coquine Beer Pairing Dinner.  Here for course 4, Bruery Geriatric Hipster Club - beer equivalent of an Old-Fashioned; oak, bitters, orange peel

  • Then a few days later, on Saturday June 20 12:00 noon to Sunday June 21 10 PM Imperial Bottle Shop & Taproom is at it again with the Sour Solstice Berliner Weisse & Gose Festival. Taste 10 tart and refreshing, German-style sour wheat beers brewed by breweries across the States. They promise to have a selection of syrups for use in Berliner Weisses, including woodruff, Oregon berry, peach and others. Tickets will be $20 and include entry, commemorative glass, and 5 drink tickets.

Not PDX Beer Week… but also other Beer Events coming up…

There are two other events that are coming up, as long as I’m talking about beer.

  • The Oregon Garden Brewfest falls upon June 19 – June 21 this year, though given the location of the Oregon Garden in Silverton it’s not really part of PDX Beer Week. The festival is held indoors, but you can also explore the 80-acre botanical garden with your beer, so it’s lovely. The Oregon Garden Brewfest boasts 68 breweries, and live music, and on Sunday only since it’s Father’s Day, minors will be allowed (not allowed Fri or Sat).
  • The Portland International Beerfest at Holladay Park by the Lloyd Center on June 26 – 28, 2015. As previously the 3-day beer festival specializes in 200 world-class beers, several which are rare, hard-to-find, exotic beers. The beer festival is free to enter, has free parking, AND is across from the Max. You have to pay for any beer you drink, and the festival proceeds benefit Pet Cross and includes live music and some games (real darts, ping pong, croquet, cornhole, various other pub games etc.). A chance to try some rare beers and bid on baskets/snuggle puppies for charity? I’m there.
    "International International Beer Fest
    There are usually copies of the beer list at various bars (you will probably come across it at establishments you visit during PDX Beer Week in fact) – it is printed almost like a newspaper – so you can peruse the list and see what interests you.

Not Beer… but also other Delicious Liquid Celebrations of Portland coming up…

There are two other events for June that are not beer, but still full of delicious liquid celebrations.

  • Cider Summit on Friday June 19 and Saturday June 20 at the Field Neighborhood Park in the Pearl district. This year’s event will feature over 150 ciders from producers around the country and around the world to sample in 4 ounce pours.
    Reverend Nat's  Hard Cider booth Atlas Cider Co ciders in bottles
    There will also be entertainment via live music, a special Fruit Cider Challenge that you can vote on ciders brewed specifically for Cider Summit, and the DoveLewis/Unleashed by Petco Dog Lounge. The event is 21+ only, but dogs of all ages will be allowed on event grounds.  Tickets are $30 in advance and $35 (cash only) at the door and are available online via Stranger tickets – admission includes a 5th anniversary souvenir tasting glass, 8 tasting tickets, and a $1 donation to the event beneficiary pool.  Cider Summit Portland benefits the Northwest Cider Association, The Institute for Myeloma & Bone Cancer ResearchDoveLewis Emergency Animal Hospital, and the Cascade Blues Association.
    Attending Cider Summit with a sample of cider to try. The event is 21+ only, but dogs of all ages will be allowed
  • On Thursday June 25, is the return of Saké Fest Portland. This classy celebration of sake takes place inside the Sentinel Hotel in Downtown Portland in The Governor Ballroom. Admission includes all food and all saké sampling stations (24 producers, and over 130 samples of saké, plum wine and beer varieties) as you learn how to pair the traditional Japanese drink with a wide variety of food, including cheese, desserts, chocolate and a wide range of fusion, Asian and continental cuisines.
    Sake flowing from Sake Fest 2014. Image courtesy of 750 Media Sake flowing from barrels at Sake Fest 2014. Image courtesy of 750 Media
    Photos by Hung Q Phan
    There are two tiers of tickets (both on sale now), Regular and the limited Early Admission. Some of the amazing participating restaurants include biwa and Noraneko, Chizu, Smallwares, Yakuza Lounge, American Local, Hokusei Sushi and more, as well as craft artisans representatives from Batch PDX, Yume Confections, The Meadow, Uwajimaya, and others to offer 19 different tables of food pairings. Saké is not a beverage you often get to sample so many varieties at once, so this Saké Fest is really a unique opportunity to learn what is out there and start to decode the mysterious types and labels to better pair with your sushi and more!

 

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