By William Brand
Friday, August 29th, 2008 at 1:06 pm in Uncategorized.
There’s a big weekend ahead in the food world in the San Francisco Bay Area. The occasion’s the first-ever-in -America Slow Food expo, extravaganza. There were dinners all over the Bay Area last night, featuring the ideals of the slow food movement: food lovingly prepared, using local sources for all the hopefully organic ingredients.
Naturally, I chose the beer dinner: Beer Chef Bruce Paton’s dinner at the Cathedral Hill Hotel in San Francisco, featuring Stone Brewing’s beer and using locally sourced ingredients as Bruce always does in his dinners. The dinners have gotten increasingly sophisticated over the years, a mix of simple dishes and culinary expertise. You can see the menu here.
The turnout was small, about 50 people. Bruce explained that because Stone Brewing founder Greg Koch will be involved in the Slow Food expo at Fort Mason on Friday they had to schedule it on Thursday. Too bad. It was an excellent evening and Greg – looking more like a San Diego surfer dude than a brewery owner, short-cut, blond hair, great tan, long Guayabera-style black shirt – provided a running commentary about the beer.
- Stone Pale Ale (paired with hors d’oeuvres like this one in the photo at right – tomato soup in slim cocktail glasses with tiny cornbread cheese sandwiches. Greg talked a bit about the history of Stone Brewing. Stone Pale Ale was their first beer and remains one of their best-sellers. It’s a beer I rarely try because I’m always chasing Stone’s latest uber-beer.
Pale Ale’s excellent, a tawny copper, malty nose, good mouthfeel and an American-style hoppy finish. It’s a modest, drinkable beer.
Greg said Stone has three flagship beers, the Pale Ale, Stone IPA and Arrogant Bastard. All three are neck-to-neck in sales, he said.
- First course, scallops and Dungeness crab, caviar (yes, local, farm-raised) and watermelon gazpacho was paired with one of my favorite, new Stone beers – Stone Epic Ale 08.08.08. This is a Belgian -style golden ale, 8.5 percent. It’s the seventh in an annual series of Stone, strong, bottle-conditioned beers meant to drink now or age. The first came out in February, 2002: 020202.
I asked Greg how this most excellent beer could improve in 10 years. “We”’ have to wait and see,” he said. No way; I’m drinking it now (and maybe putting one bottle away.
- Second course, Berkshire pork tenderloin and Bellwether Farms Pepato Cheese Ravioli in an ancho chile sauce was paired with Stone Ruination IPA. Berkshire is a breed of hogs that is ancient, at least 300 years old and about right for a slow food dinner, Bruce said.
Again, an excellent pairing. Greg Koch called it a “San Diego IPA.” He said Russian River Brewing maestro Vinnie Cilurzo turned San Diego on its ear more than a decade ago when he released Blind Pig IPA from his first brewery, Blind Pig in Temecula.
Stone IPA recalls Blind Pig, he said. “It was our First Anniversary beer. The next year, we produced the same beer with double the hops. Our third anniversary beer had three times the hops and was 6.5 percent,” he said.
Stone’s fourth anniversary beer had even more hops, Greg said, and was 8.5 percent. “Stone Ruination IPA is a hybrid of our third and fourth year beers,” he said. “We gave its name because of the ruinous effect it has on your palate.”
- The best pairing of the night was Stone 12th Anniversaru Bitter Chocolate Oatmeal Stout paired with the dessert: Scharrffen Berger Chocolate Pudding Cake with creme Anglaise and a compote of Honey Crisp Farms Mariposa Plums. The plums were served in tiny cubes and a spoon of plums, a bit of sauce and morsel of cake paired with the dark, chocolate beer. Wowee! Very nice indeed. Gotta try this beer with chocolate.
On to the Slow Food Expo…