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A Nice Pair

This post is part of the ongoing coverage of the 2011 Beer Blogger’s Conference. For more information on the conference itself, visit The Beer Blogger’s Conference Webpage.

There was a lot of talk about beer pairing at the conference – that is, the art/science of attempting to find foods and beer that work better together than alone. The first of these events – a “beer brunch” at the Spirt of 77 was a total hit.

Spirit of 77 Beer Brunch

The first, which happened on Saturday of the conference, was a beer pairing brunch held at the Spirit of 77 (@spiritof77bar) restaurant in Downtown Portland as part of PDX Beer week (which was conveniently concurrent to the conference).

Of a menu that included everything from sweetbreads to bacon to squid, I ordered two pairings:

1. Double Mountain Vaporizer (IPA), paired with battered squid and pickled peppers.

Beer description:
“THE VAPORIZER” is a golden-hued Pale Ale that features a beautifully hoppy aroma and flavor. The malt is 100% Gambrinus Pilsner, our sweet and supple house malt from Gambrinus Malting in British Columbia. The hops are primarily of the Challenger variety, grown on a single farm in the Yakima Valley. We dry-hop “THE VAPORIZER” to pump up the hoppy goodness. It’s an appetizingly dry, clean and pure-tasting take on a hoppy Pale Ale.

Of the beers that we tried (3 from Double Mountain and 3 from Hub Brewing) the Vaporizer was my favorite. It was very clean finishing, but still very hoppy, which I must attribute to the dry hopping, but was impressed with none the less.

The pairing itself? Okay. The squid and the pickled peppers were drizzled with a spicy cream sauce that was very delicious. But the beer wasn’t quite aggressive enough to be on par with the spicy sauce, so I found myself eating the squid and not really paying much attention to the beer. Good, but not great as far as a pairing goes.

2. Hopworks Urban Brewery – Batch 1000, paired with cured Salmon, potato pancake, Creme Fraiche, Roe.

Beer description:
Our 1000th batch of beer! Brewed with 1000 pounds of incredible Organic Pilsner, Caramel and Munich malts. Hopped with locally grown Cascade, Mt. Hood, and Palisade hops. A beautiful balance of hops and malt await in our American Bitter.

The pairing? The pairing was great. For some reason, the dryness of the beer kept up very well with the richness of the salmon and the creme freche. The dish was perfectly balanced, and all the flavors played in my mouth in delicious harmony, which is what a paring is supposed to evoke. Brilliant match.

While I sampled and dabbled at others’ plates, I had to sit back and appreciate that here, in Portland, OR, this type of event is normal, expected, and well executed. I do long for the day when beer pairing is just as accepted universally as wine pairing is, and I can already see that day on the horizon.