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The Beermonger: Brave New World

Posted on May 06,2008
Filed Under Food And Wine , Local Tastes,
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By Nick Anderson

It’s a brave new world.

This is yet another of the things that I might say too often when I’m at work. It seems like just yesterday when I was jumping up and down trying to spread the world about then-unknown breweries like Dogfish Head and Stone. I remember the looks I used to get when someone would come into the wine store looking for a pairing recommendation for dinner and I’d hand them beer. The indignation I’d get at suggesting someone spend $9-$10 for a six-pack of beer. Now it seems like more and more people are joining the club everyday.

This is all by way of saying that if you’re a new member of the beer brigade, an old-school beer advocate or just curious about the scene you should check out Savor. Savor is a craft beer and food symposium coming to D.C. May 16 and 17. Representatives from 48 craft breweries from all over the U.S. will be in attendance, each one pairing great food with their beer. There will be speakers including Garret Oliver of the Brooklyn Brewery discussing cheese and beer pairing, Hugh Sisson of Baltimore’s Clipper City Brewery showing beer and seafood pairings and Sam Calagione of Dogfish Head with wine writer (and Director of Wine Studies for the French Culinary Institute in New York) Marnie Old with a presentation based on their new book “He Said Beer, She Said Wine”. Savor is a great opportunity for those of us who are very into beer to try stuff from breweries not available to us here in Virginia. Breweries like Russian River, Port Brewery/The Lost Abbey, Great Lakes, New Belgium, Deschutes and others will all be represented, so if you’ve always been curious to try them out this is your chance.

There are so many people today with so many great ideas and mindsets about beer and food. All you need is a healthy thirst and an open mind and you can find great beer/food matches as plentiful as you can find wine/food pairings. I’ve always had an affinity for cooking with beer, myself, and often find that beer is a great solution for my wine pairing ‘problems’. There are so many palates in the world that it seems silly for beer to have been ignored in this way for so long and relegated to a ‘second-class citizen’ status. The truth is that beer reached across all cultures and demographics; it touches all of our lives and palates at some point. Why deny beer its standing as an artisinal beverage or its potential as a fine dining option?

Every week I meet new people, beer-lovers old and young, long-time and recently minted, and they are looking for something. More and more folks come to me and ask the same questions I get from my wine customers. Questions like “I’m having (insert dish here) tonight, what should I pair with that?” or “What foods do you think (insert beer here) will go with?” Increasingly, breweries are creating and modifying recipes with food in mind.

Like I said, it’s a brave new world.

My advice for those looking to pair beer and food is the same as those who pair wine with food: If you don’t enjoy something, don’t buy it for the sake of pairing. Follow your palate. The whole point of being a Beer Geek or a Wine Snob is finding what flavors and styles appeal to you. In the end, what matters is that you have a glass in your hand that you can look at, taste and smile.

Savor is at the Mellon Auditorium May 16-17. You can get tickets online at www.beertown.org/events/savor. I’ll be around for the Friday night session, so if you’re there stop me and say hello. Until next week.

Cheers,

Nick Anderson, the Beermonger

Nick Anderson is the Beer Manager (or Beermonger) at Rick's Wine & Gourmet (www.rickswine.com) in Alexandria. He also writes a blog at www.beermonger.net.



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