Earlier this month, I wrote about the series of brewery dinners that Whole Foods is doing at their Pearl District location. Each ticketed dinner event involves working with a brewery every month while Whole Foods prepares food to pair with a beer for four courses for $25 or less.
Last week, I attended the one for August, which was a Whole Foods and Hopworks Urban Brewery Beer Dinner. This one also had a good cause in mind: all proceeds benefit The Whole Kids Foundation, an organization devoted to improving children’s nutrition and wellness with the goal of ending the childhood obesity epidemic. As before, the dinner was held in their Salud Room and beautifully set up.
I am going to recap the dinner for the rest of the post, but I wanted to let you know there is no dinner for September because Whole Foods is going to be pretty busy with Feast!! The next dinner they are thinking of will be October 3, so pretty early in the month, and may be partnering with Merchant du Vin, who imports some pretty fabulous beers. The menu will be Oktoberfest themed, so it all sounds pretty damn exciting! Be sure to keep checking their Events Page to see when it is up!
Whole Foods and Hopworks Beer Dinner Recap
It was such a thrill to get to sit and chat with Owner and Brewmaster Christian Ettinger and his wife as they told us what it was like to at the same time found Hopworks while also having their first child. It is also very clear how extremely proud and dedicated Chris is in truly being an Eco-Brewpub. It started with how they took an existing building and then carefully deconstructed and then reconstructed it to be as green and efficient as possible, including sorting and reclaiming everything they can and using recycled materials. Then, add to that beers and a food menu that leverage organic and fresh, local ingredients and even after you’re done, HUB recycles food waste for animal feed and composting to strive for zero waste.
HUB has big plans in its future- Chris is working with New Deal, which means soon they will be experimenting with oak and whiskey barrels. As a barrel aged beer lover, this is sooooo cool to hear, I can’t wait to see what HUB does!
Also, Chris hopes a wine license will allow him more freedom in using more fruit so he can push even more the levels of flavor that he went right up to the limit for the Organic Belgian Apple Ale. Because these Washington apples for the juice used are sourced locally, Chris admits the beer flavor may vary from year to year- but it is honest and reflects the origin of the ingredients and of that time. The Belgian Apple beer was paired with a Cheese Course by Benjamin which I was delighted I brought F because he turned over his prosciutto and blue cheese to me!
The Belgian Apple beer was a great pairing, as its balance of wheat malt with slight tart fruit flavor line throughout from the apple and effervescence was reminiscent of a sparkling wine. It did a great job of balancing the fat of the cheese and the prosciutto and was fun to contrast the kinds of tartness when biting into one of those little grapes and then a little sip of the beer.
Next course was a refreshing reflection of the current bounty of the Oregon summer with a salad of beets, heirloom tomatoes, beans, and watercress greens in a dijon dressing.
This was paired with HUB’s DOA American Style Strong Ale, one of my favorites of the evening with its balance and caramel finish. No wonder it’s the house beer at esteemed Northwest cuisine restaurant Higgins.
Next up, this main course was an amazeballs grilled flank steak with potatoes, arugula and tomato tarragon dressing paired with Hopworks IPA. Even for F, who is vegetarian, they swapped out the flank steak for portabella mushrooms so he had a wonderful main as well. So if you are vegetarian, you can ask for the menu to accommodate you!
Hopworks IPA is the HUB best-selling beer and takes the West Coast approach of dry and citrus (versus the East Coast IPA that leans more towards sweet and herbaceous)
Dessert started with a honey herb butter custard with lavender, sage, rosemary and thyme (and winner of a Whole Foods department ice cream competition) with house shortbread with many of those same herbs partially dipped in chocolate. Oh yes. This was then paired with Hopworks’ Notorious FIG, a Belgian Dark Strong Ale that uses 30 lbs of organic fig.
See how the berries make a happy face in the reflection of the Notorious Fig? That is how I felt at the end of this marvelous Whole Foods and Hopworks Beer Dinner.