Beer and food pairings hit a home run at Field of Beers
By ED ROBERTS, Correspondent
“Pour it and they will come” could have been the mantra for the third annual Field of Beers event at Roger Dean Stadium in Jupiter, Florida on Friday night, January 28, 2011. It was a beautiful 55 degree evening under the lights inside the spring training baseball home of the St. Louis Cardinals and the Florida Marlins.
Three hundred craft beer and food lovers attended this sold out event. Sixteen stations were spread around home plate, inside the dugouts, and down the first and third base lines. As each attendee entered they were given an eight-ounce glass adorned with the Field of Beers logo. This glass was used throughout the evening and was also intended to be taken home as a souvenir.
Each station had one or two food staff folks dressed in typical chef outfits. There were also one or two people pouring the beer selection, typically including a local representative of the brewery. A sign was hung next to or behind each station telling you what the beer and food were and information about each.
About every third station was a rinsing station for your glass. There were no instructions, and most people had to be trained on how to use it. Essentially it was a large trashcan with water in it. A hole was cut in the top. You would place your glass upside down on a metal bar and push downwards shooting a stream of water into your glass and rinsing it. It was a nice touch instead of the standard pitcher of water at most beer events.
Due to the limited nature of the ticket sales, lines stayed short throughout the evening. The longest lines may have been at the dugout restroom as the evening wore on. Attendees were well dressed and friendly. Strangers became friends throughout the evening as great craft beer and food brought attendees together.
One interesting note was the singing of the National Anthem near the beginning of the event. I must admit that this is the first time I had seen this done at a beer event, although it seemed appropriate given the setting. Everyone stopped and paid the proper respect. I would not mind seeing this done more often.
When the event ended there was no rush to get everyone out, which was nice. Many attendees headed over to Tequesta Brewing Company, which opened recently nearby.
This event served as an excellent precursor to the fifth annual Jupiter Craft Beer Festival held the next day outside the stadium.
Tickets for the Field of Beers event ran $75, which is a premium but a reasonable amount all things considered. I recommend attending this annual event at least once. Be warned that it does sell out early each year.
I am not a seafood fan and I was apprehensive when I saw the menu which I perceived as seafood heavy but I was pleasantly surprised with the pairings.
Here are the food and beer pairings for the event and any thoughts I had on them. Overall, I was happy with everything I had. I only had one thing I considered a failure.
Topped with crispy pancetta, spinach and Pernod cream with a hint of garlic and anise.
Paired with: Stone Smoked Porter (San Diego, California)
A smooth, deep-mahogany colored ale with chocolate and coffee-like flavors balanced with the subtle smoky quality of peat-smoked malt.
Me: Each was fine on its own. I didn’t feel that the pairing necessarily added much. This was a seafood item I thought I would hate but it was fine.
Creamy imported limburger, pickled carrot and beets on a caraway, rye “Bretzel.”
Paired with: Brewzzi Darkhouse (West Palm Beach/Boca Raton, Florida)
American take on a traditional Belgian classic. Full-bodied, slightly tart brown ale well balanced with fresh American hops.
Me: These were both excellent on their own and complemented each other. The fondue was amazing.
Presented on a soft potato slider roll with horseradish cream sauce.
Paired with: Inlet Brewing Monk in the Trunk (Jupiter, Florida)
A copper-colored ale with a fruity, slightly spicy aroma and subtle nutty/malty sweet flavor brewed with fresh organic hops.
Me: This worked well. I love Monk in the Trunk and the slider was phenomenal. Picture a gourmet White Castle burger.
In shiitake mushroom ragu, prosciutto, roasted garlic cream and sprinkled with basil and fresh parmigiano reggiano.
Paired with: Gordon Biersch Brewery Sticke Alt (Miami, Florida).
A bigger version of the traditional Northern Altbier made with all German malt. Sticke Alt means “Secret Ale” made in appreciation of loyal local brewery patrons.
Me: I was distracted at this table figuring out what Gnocchi was and how to pronounce it. Sadly, I don’t remember anything else about this.
Florida grouper, crab, spicy chorizo (sausage) and fresh cilantro in saffron rice.
Paired with: Florida Beer Company Swamp Ape IPA (Melbourne, Florida).
Intense beast of a beer with potent aroma and bite! 10 percent alcohol IPA brewed with five distinct varieties of hops.
Me: The food was not bad but I found that there was too much going on – nothing stood out about it. The Swamp Ape is by far the best beer made by Florida Beer Company, and hopefully it does well once it gets into full release. It seemed to be well received.
Served with smoky chipotle aioli in a paper cone.
Paired with: Tequesta Brewing Company English IPA (Tequesta, Florida).
Golden colored, medium body IPA, subtly balanced with floor malted Maris Otter and English Challenger and East Kent Golding Hops.
Me: The English IPA is not my favorite style but this one was solid and paired really well with the spicy sauce on the fish. My only criticism would be that I felt was the fish was overly breaded.
Spiced with rosemary and sage and served with savory minted anjou pear and beer reduction compote.
Paired with: Widmer Brothers Brewing Company, Brothers’ Reserve Barrel Aged Brrrbon. (Portland, Oregon)
Aged in Kentucky bourbon barrels. Soft oak flavor transitions to a sweet, slightly dry finish with hints of vanilla and caramel.
Me: The lamb sausage was fine. The beer was the biggest pleasant surprise for me of the night. Great balance and nice barrel influence. Best Widmer Bros. beer I have ever had!
Made with sharp aged cheddar, fresh chervil and green parsley.
Paired with: Left Hand Brewery Polestar Pilsner (Longmont, Colorado)
Light, crisp, elegant pilsner. Brewed with American hops yet delivering a true European Pilsner flavor.
Me: The mac and cheese was a disaster. I would enjoy Kraft mac and cheese from a box over this one. The lobster piece was paltry and tasteless. The Polestar Pils was a solid gateway beer.
Crusted with pasilla pepper and toasted coriander and slow roasted with a veal demi-glace. Carved to order with white cheddar grits.
Paired with: Big Bear Imperial Stout (Coral Springs, Florida).
Big and bold, rich, dark and roasty with a hint of smokiness. Balanced by a slight malt and toffee sweetness with a smooth and creamy mouth feel from the nitrogen tap.
Me: The beef was excellent. The grits were lost here with the beef and the awesomeness that is Big Bear’s Imperial Stout. Located in Coral Springs, Florida, this restaurant that makes its own beers is worth a road trip itself.
Local Loxahatchee, Florida, goat cheese and fresh fig compote on toasted whole grain flatbread with fresh basil.
Paired with: Saint Somewhere Brewery Lectio Divina (Tarpon Springs, Florida).
Unfiltered amber colored ale combining elements of fruity sweetness and a pleasant tartness along with classic Belgian spiciness.
Me: This was a homerun. The goat cheese was amazing. I didn’t even realize I liked goat cheese. It was complemented by the Belgian goodness known as Lectio Divina, which was being served by Saint Somewhere brewer Bob Sylvester himself.
Served over a white cheddar and jalapeno biscuit with fresh oregano, tomatillo, green pepper and garlic with
Paired with: Victory Brewing Company Helios Ale (Downingtown, Pennsylvania).
Starts with an earthy flavor and aromatic hop aroma, and turns to hints of lemon peel and pepper in the invigorating and quenching finish.
Me: This was my second favorite pairing of the night. Both the food and the beer were great and complemented each other. The chili had a nice lingering spicy note that was quenched by the Helios saison.
Served with longan berries, basil and yuzu jelly.
Served with: Brooklyn Brewery Local One (Brooklyn, New York).
Golden colored ale brewed with raw sugar, as well as German malt and hops. Refermented in the bottle with a dusting of Belgian yeast producing complex aroma and flavors.
Me: My favorite pairing of the evening. I didn’t have high hopes for the salmon as I don’t normally go for seafood and this appeared to be downright raw. Apparently it was smoked. Well, it was delicious! It was nicely complemented by the complexities of the Local One. A grand slam here!
Marinated, roasted whole pig with “Rincon Heat” gourmet hot sauce.
Paired with: Cigar City Brewing Jai Alai White Oak Aged IPA (Tampa, Florida).
Amber colored American IPA brewed with six varieties of Northwestern hops with notes of macaroon, vanilla and dill.
Me: I can’t comment on the pig. I couldn’t eat it after I tried the hot sauce, which turned out to be way too hot for me. The White Oak IPA was amazing. This offering along with their Humidor Series IPA continue to be some of the best wood-aged IPA offerings you will find anywhere.
Marinated gator tail with sweet and spicy Florida citrus (beer infused) dipping sauce.
Paired with: Blue Point Brewing Company RastafaRye Ale (Patchogue, New York)
A hearty, deep copper ale with just the right amount of rye flavor to offset the spicy, floral characteristics of the hops.
Me: I was shocked by the gator wonton. It was excellent. I would have never guessed it was from such an unusual meat source. The RastafaRye, poured by their local representative Zack, was a nice complement.
Homemade vanilla bean ice cream …
Paired with: Terrapin Brewing Company Wake n’ Bake Coffee Oatmeal Imperial Stout (Athens, Georgia).
Black as night, this stout is thick, rich and full of real coffee flavor. Brewed with flaked oats, flaked barley and balanced with Chinook and Northern Brewer hops.
Me: Holy cow! This was amazing! Dessert and beer is just not fair. This was high quality vanilla bean ice cream paired with a world class oatmeal imperial stout.
Cocoa and red velvet devil’s food doughnut with salted caramel dipping sauce.
Paired with: Swamp Head Brewery Catherine’s Passion Imperial Russian Stout (Gainesville, Florida).
Big flavored, dark ale infused with organic cocoa nibs and Fair Trade coffee with a noticeable (9.75 abv) alcohol presence.
Me: This was an amazing pairing as well. I never would have thought of salt as a complementary flavor to donuts and chocolate but it works! The beer had a nice coffee influence and not so much hop presence. I thought it was a nice take on an imperial stout.
Photos by Vanessa Heine and Katerina Plushko, used with permission.
Disclaimer: Field of Beers organizers provided complimentary admission to Road Trips for Beer. All opinions expressed are our own.