For those who may not have had the pleasure of attending a craft beer festival, please allow me to share some insights. If you’re attending a festival during extreme heat, do what the pros above do and sign up for a beer academy class (where available) that’s going to offer you: shade, a breeze, food, and drink. As expected, yesterday’s Omaha Beer Fest reached over 100 degrees and we were able to successfully stay out of the heat and direct sun for two hours by taking advantage of the first two beer academy classes of the day.
AN EXPLORATION OF PAIRING FOOD WITH BEER: presented by Jeff Collins, Chef de Cuisine and Tony Thomas, Brewer/Owner at Farnam House Brewing Co.
Unfortunately, I missed getting pictures of the first two pairings because this first class had several issues with sound and a bit of chaos with the flow of the food and beer. I can tell you, however, the first pairing was the Keller German Lager paired with a pretzel bite marinating in a beer cheese soup. If I understood what the presenter was trying to tell us over the small, misplaced speaker, the soup was also made from the Keller beer. The second pairing was a new wet-hopped sour beer (can’t recall the name, just that is was produced with Crystal hops) that they just made and paired with salad greens with bleu cheese crumbles, bacon, and a vinaigrette dressing.
This is their Oud Bruin paired with pork butt, mashed potatoes, and gravy. The sourness helped cut down the fat flavor from the pork. This was a great match.
This is the FH12, a Belgian quad aged in Bourbon barrels and it was paired with a chocolate glazed brownie bite that came a little late. This was also a terrific pair as the chocolate helped draw out the vanilla notes in the beer. That concluded the first class, which brings us to…
SERIOUS EATS: BEER + CUPCAKE PAIRING: presented by Luke Johnson of Oskar Blues Brewery and Bill Jones of Jones Bros Cupcakes. Our mega-popular beer and cupcakes mash up is back for its fourth consecutive year.
Oskar Blues’ Pinner Throwback IPA paired with a strawberry lemonade cupcake with strawberry drizzle. I used to be adamantly against having a beer with my cake and couldn’t understand how my brother could tolerate it. Now I understand he knew more than I – at least with regard that the two could blend, but less so about proper pairing.
Does this cupcake look like it’s a junkie? This is a jalapeno cornbread cupcake with cream cheese frosting. The injector is filled with Oskar Blues’ Beerito – a Mexican/Vienna lager – which is also the beer in the tasting glass. Rather than inject the beer into the cupcake and serve it later, the idea is to inject it right before consumption so the cupcake doesn’t become too soggy and unstable. This was an interesting blend of bready, sweet, and spicy.
The final cupcake had all sorts goodness going on. First, the beer in the injector and glass was Old Chub – a Wee Heavy Scotch Ale. Second, the chocolate cupcake had an Old Chub ganache filling with buttercream frosting. The malt of the Old Chub really accentuated the richness of the chocolate. I know a couple ladies who are probably wishing right now that they could’ve attended this class just to taste this one.
I was pretty full after those two beer academy classes, but there was still a majority of the beer fest to go. The rest of the time was spent trying to stay hydrated and cool, but we ultimately waved the white flag and got out of the heat somewhere near 4:30PM. Questions? Comments? You know where to leave ’em.