At the end of 2016, we were invited by The Brewers Association to participate in a beer pairing dinner in Manhattan targeted towards media members outside the typical beer writers. The dinner was by invitation only and had the intent of keeping the mainstream media abreast of the state of small and independent brewers in the US. When they explained that 40 writers would be invited alongside only four breweries who would pair their beers with food created by four guest chefs, we knew this was a great opportunity to showcase Alesong Brewing and Blending to a group that typically would not be interested in someone as new and small as us. So we answered the call and I packed my bags for NYC.
The other brewers that were invited included Rob Todd of Allagash Brewing in Maine, John Mallet of Bells in Michigan and Lynne Weaver of 3 Weavers in California. The chefs, led by the BA's executive chef Adam Duyle, came from New York, Boston, Denver and Boulder. We were paired with Brian Mercury of Boston's Oak and Rowan. I hadn't met Brian, but I sent him out a sampling of beers we could use for the dessert course of the dinner and he chose Saison du Vin '16 as the course pairing. And then he used it to create the most awesome Saison du Vin sorbet on a beautiful plate that included grapefruit, quinoa, apricot, earl grey, and kumquat. It was a great cap to the dinner, as the tropical notes from the Muscat grape addition produced astounding harmony with the tart, fruity citrus in the sorbet and its accoutrements. Delish!
But rewinding a bit, before the dinner I was able to see a little of New York thanks to my friends and beer writers John Holl and Josh Bernstein. Josh is a great writer, but I know now he’s also a fantastic tour guide when looking to visit a few breweries in New York, his home turf. I also got the opportunity to speak on John's podcast, After Two Beers. We'll provide a link to that audio once it’s published (provided of course that I sound good in my comments!).
I was able to check out a few beer bars and breweries while there and had some great beers. The NY beer scene is rapidly expanding, but still seems like it has plenty of room to grow considering the 8 million people that live there. Of course this is coming from a guy who calls Oregon home… No offense East Coasters, but we're spoiled with our volume and variety out here!
Anyway, back to the dinner... During the meal, each brewer had the opportunity to speak for roughly 10 minutes about their brewery, the beer in the dinner and a few comments on what it means to be a small and independent brewery. I touched on what it is like to be a new brewery and open one in today's highly competitive craft beer scene with the main point being that there is room for more breweries to open, despite the fact that there are 5000+ breweries open today. In our view, there’s always more space for newcomers if the new breweries: 1) focus on making the highest quality beer, 2) serve their home market well, 3) differentiate themselves from the crowd, and 4) place an emphasis on a great customer experience. Our industry is healthy and thriving and more and more breweries are going to continue to pop up across the country. We’re thrilled to be a part of it!
While it was a whirlwind of a trip across the country, it is great "seeing how the other half lives" and share our message with the media. And having a world class beer dinner to experience it with is not all bad either.