Last night's Indulge was the advent of a new beer experience in Minneapolis; beer and food pairing on a beer fest scale. The event was highly anticipated around this household and amongst our group of beer friends. The beers primarily consisted of familiar offerings, so there weren't too many to be had that one hadn't tasted before. But that's okay given that this was a pairing event. I think it was probably easier for folks to do their own pairings with mostly familiar beers. Here's our take on the event:
- Our friend Cal had a spot-on observation that there appeared to be a lot of beer education going on. We don't know if this was intentional or if it was a by-product of having an event not crammed wall-to-wall with people. Nonetheless, I took notice of many brewers, distributors and reps offering up unsolicited information about the beer they were serving and beer in general. I thought that was great and this seemed like an appropriate forum for doing so. I was annoyed a few times by chatty-cathys preventing me from getting a beer by blocking the station, but this the exception for the evening and not the norm.
- Thanks Diana for pointing out the Magic Hat #9 paired with the the blueberry stilton. That was, by far, my favorite pairing of the evening. Kris was very happy with the cheese pairings overall (Lefthand's JuJu Ginger with the mango cheese and Goose Island's Matilda with brie) well as with the moonpie-thingy (cake cookies with cream) pairings. Based on my conversations with folks, I'd say that damn moonpie-thingy and its beer pairings were very well received.
- There was ample food, ample beer, water for rinsing at each beer station, plenty of room to move around, etc. AND, there was no music (live or otherwise). I loved that. I had no problems conversing with folks throughout the evening, except for having to compete with the hubub of the crowd. I'd rather be able to chat with folks than have to listen to overly-loud music that I don't care for.
- Lots-o-cleavage! It was everywhere and it was great!!! Unfortunately, I couldn't get anyone to pair their cleavage with the caramelized bacon. Meh, next time.
- Each food item had a card by it listing what beers would work well with it and each beer station had a sheet of paper stating what food was paired with it. That was great, but I don't think it was enough. The problem was that after getting some food, you really couldn't remember what beer pairings were suggested. It worked if you only took an item or a beer at a time and sought out one of its suggested pairings. And with already holding a book, a plate and a tasting glass, it wasn't feasible to jot down the pairings to seek out. Maybe a piece of paper or two with the pairings would have worked, but maybe not. I guess there probably isn't an ideal way to address this problem unless humans begin growing a third arm or something.
- Kris was a little disappointed in the food and, most especially, how it was set up. There were two rows of food situated between three rows of beer stations. Kris felt that having the food placed by the breweries would have been better from a pairing perspective, but I think that would have been a logistical challenge (although it would have helped with the issue in the previous bullet). In her opinion, the simpler food items (cheese, bacon, etc.) were good and worked well with the pairings but the more complex dishes were a bit lacking. But when you're trying to serve food to 500 people, I can see the challenge. My big issue with the food was the black been pate and the scallop dish served in these little plastic spoon deals. I couldn't get the pate out of the damn spoon without going at like a dog with a bone (lots of licking, gnawing and ass sniffing).
- It might have been better to have had more of the tall tables scattered throughout. It was very hard juggling a plate, a beer, a book, a pencil, a camera and cleavage at the same time. Heck, Kris' hand is a bit sore this morning from juggling these items. My hands aren't sore, but I guess I've got a bit more practice in juggling stuff.