PHILADELPHIA, March 18, 2011 — Since the event’s first opening in 2005, The Brewer’s Plate has remained steadfast in its mission: to showcase local breweries and restaurants within 150 miles of Philadelphia.
Victory Brewing Company from suburban Downingtown is one of the headlining organizations as it was owner Bill Covaleski who initially conceived the event. Together with the White Dog Foundation and Fair Food, they constructed an event that continues to bring together farmers, producers, purveyors, and consumers as they celebrate the best of regional food cuisine.
The annual event demonstrates the amount of thoughtful preparation that goes in to each table’s presentation. Each table combination of one restaurant and one brewery serves up to two beers paired with food intended to showcase complimentary flavors in both the food and the beer.
The University of Pennsylvania’s Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology has been used as the host for the past three years and feels quite appropriate given beer’s role throughout history. Local brewers and chefs served up their modern takes on food and beverage while surrounded by the museum’s sphinxes and ancient artifacts from some of the earliest civilizations.
As attendees sipped and munched on delectable treats, their admission granted them a partial museum pass to mix and mingle throughout the soaring Chinese Rotunda and intimate galleries amongst exhibits from China, the Middle East, and India.
This year’s event featured more than 75 producers of beer and food, along with a few specialty wines and spirits. Live music was being performed in each room as well as by roaming accordionists.
The magnificent scope that this event has taken on over the years makes the first two years — when the event was held at the City’s landmark Reading Terminal Market — seem like an intimate gathering of foodies and craft beer lovers ahead of their time.
The VIP tickets treated attendees to an extra hour and a larger-than-ever private and comfortable space. The price did not come cheap, though, at roughly twice the cost of a general admission ticket. However, a share of proceeds benefit the Fair Food organization and was yet another draw for the crowds that came out to enjoy and support the best of local foods and beers.
The outdoor VIP pavilion tents provided music from Hoppin’ John Orchestra, presentations from renowned drinks experts Marnie Old and Lew Bryson, and acclaimed chef Marcie Turney, and still more food and beer than inside the museum.
In the early years of The Brewer’s Plate, it was nearly possible to eat and drink from all of the participanting restaurants and breweries. Seven years later, to do so has become nearly impossible.
Savory meat plates, particularly pork, were as prevelant as ever and sweet dessert items were more numerous. Where once tiramisu or brownies might have been the only dessert items at The Brewer’s Plate, this year sweet morsels of food could be found on nearly every other table.
Ice cream was certainly a hit of the show as The Bent Spoon from Princeton, N.J. showed off three flavors whose recipes prominently feature regional beers. From Humprhey Slocumbe in San Francisco to Princeton, artisanal ice cream makers have certainly stepped up and incorporated beer more than ever on to their ice cream menus.
Many beers were magnificent, most food offerings creatively tasty. From this one writer’s perspective, though, two pairings stood out head-and-shoulders above the numerous outstanding choices from all of the vendors.
Meat, as mentioned earlier, was certainly a star of the show. This was no more evident than when Royal Tavern’s “sliders” — more like small sandwiches — of broccoli rabe and roast pork were paired with Dogfish Head’s Indian Brown Ale. The oft-maligned brown ale style of beer is done right at Dogfish Head and with its extra hop bitterness was the perfect choice to showcase at The Brewer’s Plate, particularly with the roast pork sandwiches.
For dessert, the espresso-roasty — and award-winning — Java Head Stout from Harrisburg’s Tröegs Brewery scored a win when paired with fudgy brownies from Varga Bar.
The Brewer’s Plate has grown to one of the region’s premier events for showcasing beer and food. Just one question remained as attendees looked for the after party — How can anyone still be hungry?
More pictures can be found at The Brew Lounge via this link.
–Read more of Bryan’s work at After Hours in the Communities at the Washington Times.
- The Bent Spoon from Princeton, N.J. incorporates beer into its ice cream and provided three favorites at The Brewer's Plate in Philadelphia.
- Bobolink Dairy and Bakehouse, Milford N.J., provided one of beers most natural pairings: cheese and bread.
- The Brothers Olson: Gerard Olson (left), current assistant brewer at McKenzie Brew House and future brewpub owner at Forest and Main, has plenty of support from his three brothers.
- The Hoppin' John Orchestra entertained attendees under the VIP pavilion tent of The Brewer's Plate in Philadelphia.
- Casey Hughes, Flying Fish head brewer, pours one his newest beers from the Exit Series, a Hoppy Scarlet Red Ale.
- Beer and food lovers mingle in the shadow of the sphinx at The Brewer's Plate in Philadelphia.
- Modern music played amongst centuries-old statues and artifacts at The Brewer's Plate in Philadelphia.
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