My inner control freak avoided the piss-beer phase of college drunkenness, from which most budding beverage aficionados graduated and advanced into the realm of craft beers. Between buying into the antioxidant powers of grapes and discovering the flavor merits of bourbon barrels, I came to associate with the wine and cocktail side of menus. Beer escaped me.
Explaining these missing leaps in my life to beer drinkers usually garners many a volunteer. Some of you are probably even mentally volunteering as you read this. “Oh, I will teach you to love beer,” says the self-nominated hero of hops. However, somewhere between volunteering and beer drinking, these heroes usually fall to the wayside, and I continue to sip with purple lips. That is until Brooklyn Brewery came to Pittsburgh!
Despite an increase in national attention, Pittsburgh is still like a nerdy kid in gym class, waiting awkwardly while Philly and Chicago easily make the cut. When the Brooklyn Brewery put Pittsburgh on its Mash Tour, it was the equivalent of the coordinated captain picking the gangly nerd to be on his team while other jocks were still available.
Beyond recognition for Pittsburgh as a growing scene for food and culture, this dinner was a milestone for me for a couple of reasons:
1. My styling partner and I had the opportunity to design the event, from the menu illustrations all the way to the suspended floral installation. This was a big step for our venture, Harvest & Gather.
2. Yours truly drank more than a few baby bird sips of beer and thoroughly enjoyed it. With their bourbon barrels and notes of chocolate and orange peel, those Brooklynites might be the first to really push me in the beer direction. Good thing I walked away with some bottles for the sake of drinking practice.
After a live band and a Mulberry Shandy in the parking lot, garage doors of the historical warehouse opened to expose guests to their dinner table. The setting was the J. Heineman company, a wholesale food distribution warehouse, where Civil War ammunitions were once stored. A century and some years later, the high wooden ceilings, natural light, steel beams and concrete floors made the perfect backdrop for the Slow Supper: Big Table.
The menu was a collaboration between Brooklyn Brewery Chef Andrew Gerson and local Chef Kate Romane. Each course featured a different beer variety, as featured on the pallet pedestals with an array of foraged florals.
Cuvée Noire was the high note of the night for this novice drinker. Its description boasts coffee, chocolate and citrus, and unlike many pretentious promises of flavor notes, these three winners are legitimately present. Dessert beer might be this baby bird’s wings to the great big sky of craft beer!
Snap peas, Pea Puree, Pea Tendrils, Slow Cooked Egg, Mint Oil
Brooklyn Wild Streak (10% ABV): A Belgian-inspired golden ale aged for several months in second-use bourbon barrels, giving it a soft, round character infused with a balanced oak flavors. 100% bottle re-ferment with a blend of priming sugar, Champagne yeast and the wild yeast strain Brettanomyces providing a wonderfully complex earthy funk.
Scallop and Apple Crudo, Roasted Sour Cherries, Apple Jus, Brown Butter Gel
Brooklyn Sorachi Ace (7.6% ABV): A classic saison, cracklingly dry, hoppy unfiltered golden farmhouse ale featuring the rare Sorachi Ace hop. It tastes like sunshine in a glass. 100% bottle re-fermented.
Grilled Lamb Chops, Braised Turnips, Radish, Rhubarb and Carrot Puree, Citrus Pickled Onions, Charred Onion Emulsion with Family Style Farmer Greens, Champagne Vinaigrette
Brooklyn Local 2 (9.0% ABV): Combines European malt and hops, Belgian dark sugar, and raw wildflower honey from a New York family farm. The beer emerges with a mahogany color, dry fruity palate and complex aromatics. 100% bottle re-fermented.
Ginger Sugar Doughnuts, Spiced Cherries, Apple Caramel
Brooklyn Cuvée Noire (10.6% ABV): A Belgian Stout brewed with Mauritius sugar and orange peel, aged for six months in bourbon barrels, and then 100% bottle re-fermented.
Here’s to transforming industrial spaces for one evening only!
Here’s to suspended florals and flickering candles!
Here’s to Brooklyn and Pittsburgh, their bridges, beers and chefs!
Here’s to some serious sips of beer and more to come!
P.S: Check out my other post about Brooklyn Brewery’s Pittsburgh stop on the Mash Tour.