Sunday, October 26, 2008

Victory Prima Pils -- Favorite of German Brewery Technicians

A rather blah rainy Saturday was enlivened considerably when S and I decided to go down to Wegmans for the Harvest Season Beer and food Pairing event.

Wegmans chefs, food experts, and brewery representatives from Victory, the Lion Brewery and others, were on hand to display how delightful beer and food can be when paired.

When we arrived around 1:30, hundreds of like-minded beer enthusiasts of all persuasions were already winding their way around the Market Cafe area from station to station sampling various food and beer pairings. The food was presented in bite-sized portions along with a small plastic cup of beer. The pairings were either complimentary or juxtaposed to the dish's dominant flavors.

At the first station Victory Golden Monkey (Belgian style) was paired with a Columbus Finocchiona Salame on Baguette (basically a small hors de vours). To me, the primal strength and creaminess of the Golden Monkey was a nice compliment to the saltiness of the salami.

At the next station, Wegmans mini-pretzels with various condiments like dijon and horseradish mustard were paired with Victory Prima Pils (Pilsner style). Now this was the first time I had ever tasted Prima Pils and I'm here to tell you that it's one excellent beer refreshingly crisp and light with citrus notes prominent. The Victory rep expressed that when the German brewery techs come to work on the equipment in Downingtown, that this is the beer they like and the only beer they drink while there. Coincident with this station, the Lion Brewery rep was providing samples of their Oktoberfest. The maltiness of this beer was exactly a compliment to the bready pretzels.

Moving on to the next station there was a pairing of Troegs Trogenator Double Bock (Bavarian style) paired with brats braised in Bass Ale served on Wegmans chef- developed beer bread with Whole Grain Dijon mustard. I have had the Trogenator before and I love this beer due to its stalwart resolve. I could definitely see myself serving this pairing at a tailgate party.

The next station had Weyerbacher Hops Infusion (IPA style) with smokey, spicy, pulled pork served inside a hollowed-out pretzel, topped with cole-slaw. The punch of the Hops Infusion tasted great along with the pulled-pork sandwich. Something else that would have them raving at my next party. Oh. The hollowed-out pretzel was really a pretzel-dough roll that was baked and scooped out. Also at this station was a cheddar ale soup that has a bottle of dark beer and sharp cheddar as their main ingredients. This was pretty good but the small sample wasn't enough for me!

After that, we took a break and went to the seating area next to the tasting area to finish the pulled pork sandwiches. When we finished we were able to pick up and cut the line (sorry for cutting) when we came back and start afresh at a wine and cheese table. Wait a minute, it wasn't wine and cheese but it was close! This pairing had a crumbly, salty, yellowed, three year aged Gouda paired with Chimay Grand Reserve (the one with the champagne cork-cage on top). I had never tasted this ale and it turned out to be very fizzy, almost wine-like essence that did not have an overpowering bearing. Paired with the delicate cheese, I thought it went well.

Finally, Weyerbacher Pumpkin Ale was served with vanilla ice cream and a spiced wafer. How? Think of root beer float; now think of replacing the root beer with beer; now think pumpkin pie.... Put it all together and taste. Mmm, mmm, good. Now this was something I don't think I'd ever thought of doing myself, but let me tell you, it was excellent!

This was fun and eye-opening for me as I hadn't really thought too much about what can be done when beer and food are paired (and not just with `wings). Everyone involved from Wegman's that I spoke to at each station, was knowledgable about the beer styles and how they mesh with the particular dish or flavors. Thanks Wegmans.

Footnote: I was surprised by the turnout and how much people seemed to be enjoying themselves. Overall I believe a few more eyes were opened to the wide-world of beer we live in.

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