Shoot, that was fun!

David | Blog | January, 23 2012 | No Comment

The Chicago Beer Society, working in concert with local craft brewers, hosted the 14th annual Brew Pub Shootout Saturday at the Zhou B Arts Center in the Bridgeport neighborhood. Each winter around 15 brewpubs and craft breweries participate. They serve a beer or two while their chefs or chef partners heat up portable burners and prepare top-notch, beer-partnered dishes for a few hundred guests who also serve as judges.

Attendees sample a bit of everything and choose a favorite food, a favorite beer and a favorite specified paring.  The annual offerings include some pretty serious beer cuisine that’s a far cry from the pedestrian pub grub that was long ago associated with brewpubs.

Since 1977, Chicago Beer Society has been organizing beer events for its members.

I was able to attend again this year and enjoyed it immensely.

I kicked things off with a sour soup and a steak and mushroom slider on a pretzel bun. This came from the combined team of the Chicago area Rock Bottom franchises.  The soup reminded me of a traditional Polish white borscht (sausage and boiled egg bits included), but the sour and pepper was totally amped up. The slider was just perfect. Two Brothers served an outstanding short rib dish cooked in a reduction of its Northwind Imperial Stout. It included manchego horseradish mashed potato, which was about as close as we got to a cheese and beer pairing at this year’s event.  Northwind was the pairing beer and it all came together very nicely.  I also got a huge kick from the mustard braised pork belly/chorizo  served by Haymarket Brewpub. That Fuji apple-carrot-jalapeno slaw made the whole thing.  I was also digging one of Haymarket’s bonus beers—the Hogbutcher Belgian IPA.

Speaking of bonus beers, Revolution Brewing poured Weegene London Porter, a second-runnings small beer  made from the mash of the Huegene Porter, which is itself a bigger spin on the brewery’s standard Eugene Porter.  With perfect body, a full roasted flavor, and a 4.7% ABV this was a delicious quaffer. I will give it a special Cheese and Cheers session beer nod. Wish I had a growler of it right now…hmm… a trip to the brewpub today, maybe? Also very much enjoyed the Juliet and the Grapefruit Sofie from Goose Island Beer Co.

Three Floyds Brewing, a Chicago brewery with a geographical issue, is a perennial fave at the Shoot Out. Since opening its pub around 4 or 5 years ago, the Castleburgers are a distant (but fond) memory. Floyds chef Mike Sheerin whipped up a bacon-infused lamb belly garnished with a wonderful sauce, bits of caramelized sweetness and cilantro. It played beautifully with Floyds’ Moloko Stout.

The award winner for the pairing went to an entry that had my attention as soon as I saw the program.  Revolution’s pastry chef Courtney Baldy brought ice cream. An ice cream pop on a stick, laced with Cherry Black Power stout and coated in malt chocolate. It was paired with that big, sweet barrel-aged stout, and together it was a symphony of sweetness roast, and bitterness.

The Zhou B was a fine place for the event, while I have a sentimental attachment, and a better proximity to the former home at the Irish American Heritage Center, I would have nothing against a return to Bridgeport.

Several fellow CBSers remarked later in the evening that they were left yearning for another of those ice cream pops.  Certainly many of us were also left looking forward to next January. Or at least to the next Beer Society event, the Day of the Living Ales, scheduled for early March.

If you like this post please share it with others
Digg Delicious Stumbleupon Technorati Facebook Twitter

© Copyright Reserved Cheese And Cheers 2010. | Site Admin | Log out
Design by: Yoshz