2012 National Homebrewers Conference: Grand Banquet

Last month, I attended the 34th Annual National Homebrewers Conference in Seattle.  While the events of the weekend are now a fond but distant memory, I wanted to share a few details and pictures from the Conference Grand Banquet. Beer pairs beautifully with food. Just a few months ago, I experienced my first beer pairing dinner at The Oregon Garden Brewfest

The theme for the conference banquet was “Taste of the Northwest” and it was created by Sean Paxton, otherwise known as The Homebrew Chef. The dinner was sponsored by Rogue Brewing, who provided the beer that paired with each course, as the beer used in the preparation of each dish. Here are the delicious details, course by course.  My comments are in bold italics.

First Course
Wild Mushroom Ale Bisque
Local mushroom stewed in Shakespeare Oatmeal Stout, roasted Walla Walla onion stock and a touch of cream, topped with amber malt candied bacon, Rogue Smokey Blue Cheese and mixed herbs.  
Paired with Rogue Ales Mocha Porter

I loved this soup! It was rich, creamy, and the mushroom melded with the salty bacon and blue cheese. The bique itself paired seamlessly with the Mocha Porter—they were made for each other. This was a great start to the dinner and my favorite pairing overall.

Second Course
Pacific Northwest Salmon
Brined in Cap’n Sig’s Northwestern Ale, brown sugar and thyme, grilled and served with a roasted root vegetable (celeriac, parsnips, carrots, and potatoes) mash infused with Hazelnut Brown Nectar, garnished with an orange hazelnut parsley gremolata and a side of seasonal vegetables sautéed with a Centennial hop butter.  Paired with Chateau Rogue OREgasmic Ale

The salmon itself was cooked well and wasn’t dry. Normally when salmon is served in banquets in such large quantities, it's usually overcooked—not in this case. I’m not a fan of mashed potatoes, but I loved the root vegetable mash, which had loads of flavor. The orange zest in the gremolata added a sharp, but bright citrus bitterness. Another great course. I also liked the Chatoe Rogue OREgasmic Ale, but in my opinion, it didn’t pair well with the salmon.

Third Course
Coffee & Doughnuts Trifle
Seattle Coffee 80L crystal infused mousse, layered with a XS Russian Imperial Stout cake doughnut, smoked salt, American Amber Ale caramel and chocolate malt whipping cream, garnished with Theo Chocolate cocoa nibs.
Paired with Rogue Ales XS Russian Imperial Stout

This little package packed a lot of flavor! Each layer was unique and stood out on its own as I took each bite. All of the elements listed in the description were present in each spoonful of sweetness. The 2011 XS Russian Imperial Stout was sweet, but had a sharp bitterness which cut through the sweetness of the trifle, and made for a nice pairing.

Kudos to Sean Paxton, Rogue Ales, and the kitchen staff at the Hyatt Regency Bellevue for creating an excellent dinner worthy of a great conference! This banquet was a perfect example of how beer and food can be used to elevate each other. I can’t help but wonder what will be served at the Banquet for the 35th Annual Homebrewers Conference in Boston. 

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