A few weeks before the highly anticipated “Kate Day” I got an email from fellow beer bloggers 2beerguys. They told me they were working to create an entire weekend around the day where beer enthusiasts make their annual pilgramage to Portsmouth for a chance at snagginging the prized Portsmouth Brewery’s Kate the Great. They reasoned, why should Kate get all the glory? And I’d have to agree. Working with local restuarants and other local breweries, they were able to put together some interesting events, and I was able to get in on one in particular – the Long Trail Craft Beer Dinner & Beer Wars.

The Portsmouth Gaslight is a popular restaurant who’s menu features specialty pizzas, and they’re well known for their outside tables and decks in the summer when the sound of live bands can be heard echoing throughout the streets of Portsmouth. Honestly, I haven’t been to this venue a whole lot, mostly because I always end up at the Coat of Arms. But I digress. What makes the Gaslight interesting is that its a three part place – there’s the ground floor, the second floor, and then some kind of a nightclub on the top of it. I’ve walked by many a night to see the glimmering lights of a disco ball flickering out the windows.

The beer dinner was structured around four courses and a dessert – each of the coureses (and dessert, actually) were pizza based, and they were paired with Long Trail brews at each course all for the unbelivably inexpensive price of $25.

The atmosphere of the third floor was very Portsmouth – lots of brick and windows so that you could look at the town. There was a giant disco ball on the ceiling, but thankfully, it was still and un-lit.

The 2BeerGuys gave us an intro and told us that each beer could be retrieved at the bar, and the pizzas would come out for each course. Interestingly, I watched my friends recieve the first course’s beer poured into the top of a pint glass! I worried that if I drank five pints of beer throughout the course of the dinner I’d be toast, so I asked for a half glass.

First Course – 4-tree island with Long Trail Ale, Fresh tomato slices, sauteed spinach, caramelized onions, and garlic topped with feta and mozzarellla cheese.

This pairing worked the best for me – the carmelized onions went with the malts in the ale, and neither overwhelmed each other. This is a pairing I would do myself over and over again if I could order it at the Gaslight on a regular basis. Delicious.

Second Course – Frank Jones with IPA, Hot Italian sausage, hot cherry peppers, pizza sauce and mozzarella cheese.

The Long Trail IPA, though tasty, is not nearly strong enough to hold up to italian sausage, hot cherry peppers and a whole lotta heat from this pizza. I felt like the pizza stole the show, and sucked all of the taste right out of the beer.

Third Course – Prescott Park with Belgian White, veggie pizza with onions, broccoli, mushrooms, and green peppers.

This one was interesting – I think the onions, again, helped a lot with this pairing. The Belgian Wheat was an interesting beer to pair with pizza – but the citrus notes were enough to keep it interesting.

Fourth Course – Pirates Cove with Double Bag, Grilled chicken and onions on a base of mixed tomato and bbq sauces, and topped with mozzarella cheese.

Double Bag is one of my favorites from Long Trail, and the barbeque sauce went very well here. I didn’t like it as much as the first pairing, but I would definitely try sweet pizza with another Altbeir, or even a brown ale.

Dessert – A dessert pizza with Brewmaster’s Coffee Stout.

Truthfully, I was too engrossed in my second watching of Beer Wars to try this pairing before it went away. I hear, from my friends, though, that it was a smashing success.

After sitting discussing the pairings with friends (both craft beer geeks and novices alike) I realized that regardless of how successful a pairing was, it still generated a lot of great conversation. A friend of mine even one a bottle of ’09 Kate the Great in a raffle, and I think the event was a success. I hope that towns like Portsmouth can follow this example and learn to embrace the growing beer culture in a similar manner.

Kudos for making this a successful Craft Beer Weekend event.