Sunday, January 31, 2010

BEERflections ~ Field of Beers 2010

A personal promise for the New Year is getting out and about to as many beer related activities and locations as possible: beer fests, tastings, dinners, release parties, bars, brewpubs, restaurants, gastropubs, and more. The wallet is the limit and I plan on stretching it to the point of breaking. Helping me along the way are friends of a similar feather. For example, just last Friday, January 29th 2010, I had the extreme pleasure of accompanying Tim and Ryan to the Field of Beers at the Roger Dean Stadium in Jupiter, FL. Over a dozen different breweries, local and national, took over the stadium from 1st Base to Third, dugouts included. Each brewery featured one beer from their star-studded portfolio which was in-turn paired with one culinary masterpiece prepared right before your eyes. I was officially in beer geek foodie paradise.

I hooked up with Ryan at Tim’s man-pad before we hooked up with I95 in Ryan’s pimpin’ black mustang, windows down, cigars in hand, and beer in sight. Parking was easy thanks to two generous multi-level garages while getting into the stadium involved two simple beeps of approval as our tickets were scanned. Passing through the wrought-iron gates, I could see the light…but first a moment with the facilities. That business taken care of (no thanks to Nozzle Nolen), I climbed those concrete steps gilded in promise to find a table of empty glasses and three solid hours of beervana.

A few highlights come to mind.

First and foremost, Matt of Corner CafĂ© and Brewery was there along with the ever delightful Lisa. Brewed just for the Field of Beers 2010, Matt delighted my tastebuds with his expertly balanced Bourbon-Barrel Milk Stout. Each flavor melted into the next in sensuous harmony. Accompanying his Bourbon-Barrel Milk Stout was an Ancho and Chocolate Rubbed and “Slow-Roasted” Beef Brisket. Equally melt-in-the-mouth, both were heavenly.

Being the seafood loving tiki bar lounging Caribbean-styled beer geek foodie extraordinaire that I am, the Pan Seared Diver Scallops paired with the Humming Ale from Anchor Brewing was a must taste destination. I’ve savored many Anchor beers, but the Humming Ale was a welcome surprise. Delightfully playful, citrusy, and bright, she was a perfect partner to the gargantuan scallops seared to buttery perfection, set atop sesame seed flatbread, and garnished with fresh mango salsa. Ohmygawd. I think polar bears in Alaska heard my moans of indulgence.

The loveable Rich Nowak of Brooklyn Brewery was there, Greg assisting, as every ear-pleasing pop of the cork sent goose bumps crawling up my arms. Right now you are envisioning the Local 1…and you are wrong. The equally tasty and far too underappreciated Local 2 was flowing profusely into eager glasses such as mine, Ryan’s, and Tim’s. Our gourmet accompaniment was the finger-licking Grilled Lollipop Lamb Chops. Marinated in chimichurri and topped with Local 2 glazed onions, caramelized brown sugar sweetness met succulent and spicy for a chart-topping flavor explosion.

Saint Somewhere of Tarpon Springs, FL presented their Saison Athene, a beautiful lass fresh and with age, divine inspiration. Spicy, yeasty, and tropical with a heavy breath of floral and herbal esters, her intense palate was a hearty match for the Seared Florida Snapper Mini Tacos. Layers of snapper, chipotle aioli, roasted vegetables relish, and cilantro battled it out atop my tongue with the Saison Athene for a tasty draw. Sometimes it is not about who wins, but how the game is played.

In terms of over-the-top cannibalism, Stone Brewing wins hands-down with the La Caja China – Pig Roasting Box and their Smoked Porter. As a rauche beer fanatic, I would have enjoyed more smoke in my beer to pair with the smoke in my pig which was carved to order and served on a crunchy potato pancake. Rauche fetish aside, it is my humbly righteous opinion that more food events need to involve the whole package with all the bits and nibbles. As for the pig in question, he ended up in a happier place: my stomach.

There were two instances where I skipped the beer and went straight for the food: the Venison Slider and the Poached Oyster Shooter. In the grand scheme of things, did I get to taste all the beers and all the food? No. Did I have a fanfreakingtastic evening? Yes.

Beer fests are all well and good, but these beer and food celebrations share a special place in my heart. I’ve never met a good beer that didn’t like good food, and I’ve never met good food that didn’t like a good beer. The company was equally smashing, and I loved the thoughtful addition of glass rinsing stations scattered generously throughout the event. Truly a diverse night which further proves there are no beer stereotypes. Woman and man, young and old, geeks, amateurs, and lots of good old fashioned fun filled the night air.

My very own personal highlight was thanks to Tim who introduced me to the man behind the table pouring the illustrious Bell’s Hopslam. Yes folks, Kristyn Lier got to shake hands with and tell Mr. Larry Bell himself how much I love his beers. Rock on and Peace out.

(an original written work by Kristyn Lier. plagiarism is not tolerated)

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