What’s the Beer Equivalent of the World Cup?

Everyone has World Cup fever this week and why not? It is soccer’s world championship. Well earlier this year beer had a similar competition, the World Beer Cup® with 3,330 beers entered from 26 countries.

Every two years, a highly qualified professional panel of beer judges honors the top three beers in nearly 91 categories with gold, silver, and bronze awards. The World Beer Cup, often referred to as “The Olympics of Beer Competitions,” is the most prestigious beer competition in the world.

Final Courses at the Olympics of Beer. Part 3 of 3

I’ve got SAVOR: An American Craft Beer & Food Experience (June 5, 2010 in Washington DC) on the brain, but finally onto the last blog post in the series on the Brewers Association 2010 World Beer Cup and Gala Awards Beer Dinner. This event left such an impression on me I’ve almost enjoyed delaying the completion of this series. (see part 1 , part 2

In April 2010, 1,800 people attended and enjoyed five courses at the world’s largest known beer and food pairing meal ever. During the extravagant affair the 2010 World Beer Cup Awards (see winners list) were announced. The argument for why this dinner is extremely relevant is apparent all across the U.S. right now. Craft beer is helping beer reclaim its place at the dinner table and this affair was the most ambitious menu I have ever been presented. The point that is being made again and again is that craft beer is incredible when paired with food. It both complements and contrasts.

Check out the full menu (pdf). The first and second courses are described in part 2 of 3. Now onto the rest of the dinner. Tip: read slowly for full impact from this amazing encyclopedia of ingredients, plus note the Chicago area craft beer theme.

Third Course

Belgian endive, escarole, arugula, frisée, radicchio greens mixed with hop scented hard boiled eggs, roasted cherry tomatoes, spent grain croutons, dressed with a Three Floyd’s Dread Naught Double IPA vinaigrette made with malt vinegar, a grassy extra virgin olive oil and dusted with cracked grains of paradise. Paired with: 2008 World Beer Cup silver award winner for American-style India Pale Ale, Union Jack IPA, Firestone Walker, Paso Robles, CA

I had to look up frisée (a curly-edged form of Cichorium endivia used in salads – Dictionary.com).  My thoughts…the Union Jack pairing with the salad was a perfect contrast of hops standing up to the vinaigrette and greens and helping make the whole even better than the parts. It was difficult for me to detect the hop scent added to the boiled eggs.

Side note: Matt Brendelson, the brewmaster for Firestone Walker and who I refer to as Mr. Liquid Dynamite, ended up winning Champion Brewery and Brewmaster in the Mid-Size Brewing Company category. during the dinner Matt was seated at the table behind mine. He asked me if our awards announcer had to practice the names of the breweries who win awards from the World Beer Cup. Absolutely I said. This is indeed a global competition with winners from 19 countries (see fact sheet) in 2010.

Fourth Course

Pork belly brined in Upland Brewing Co. Winter Warmer and stuffed with fennel, caramelized onions and a custom Alaskan Smoked Porter sausage atop a pretzel spätzle simmered in stout wort and splashed with an Oskar Blues Gordon & Sierra Nevada Stout Grain Mustard sauce and herb Styrian Golding hop pesto. Paired with: 2008 World Beer Cup bronze award winner Wood-and-Barrel Aged Strong Beer, Allagash Curieux, Allagash, Portland, ME and 2008 World Beer Cup gold award American Style Stout, Terminal Stout, Rock Bottom Brewery, Chicago, IL.

Hello… This course worked so well with the acidity of the Curieux standing up to the salt of the brined pork. Acidity helps to neutralize salt. That’s why wine is so often paired with salty American dishes, but the Curieux brought even more to the table. The sweetness from the malt of the Allagash craft beer linked in so well with the winter warmer sauce, caramelized onions, sausage and stout wort sauce. So much going on here you’d need to taste it to believe it.

Fifth Course

Malted TCHO chocolate bread, caramel malt, TCHO cocoa nibs, Left Hand Brewing Company Milk Stout, cream and vanilla bean infused bread pudding topped with a butter Shoreline Brewery Beltaine Scotch Ale hard sauce and a Fuggles hop infused mascarpone Chantilly cream. Paired with: 2006 World Beer Cup gold award winner for Wood-and-Barrel Aged Beer, Goose Island Bourbon County Stout, Chicago, IL and 2006 World Beer Cup gold award winner, Rye Beer, Piece Brewing, IL

Lok up the history sometime of Barrel Aged Stout and much of it will link back to Goose Island in 1992 (see awesome video). This pairing with the stout was an example of a ‘complement’ with sweet cocoa richness (from the rich, chewy imperial stout) and the sweet caramel dessert. Believe it or not the Fuggles hop infused mascarpone Chantilly cream really helped lift the fat off my tongue to lighten the mouthfeel and rounded out the taste of both the craft beer and dessert. The cream was a brilliant addition to the course for sure. Sorry to say I did not try the Piece Rye beer, although rye beers are a trend these days that I’m noticing.

This was simply an amazing meal of epic proportions and on a grand scale I’ve never seen the likes of before. Cheers.

Beer photos © 2010 Jason E. Kaplan