The Fourth Annual Chef & Brewer Battle – How It All Went Down
Four judges. Five teams. A packed Jimmy LaPanza Lounge. It all went down on May 2nd, when we welcomed nearly 70 guests to the 4th annual Chef & Brewer Battle at The Portsmouth Brewery.
Chefs and brewers from the Smuttynose and Portsmouth Brewery family were paired up and assigned randomly-drawn ingredients with one goal: create the best original beer and food pairing using only the ingredients provided. On the line were bragging rights, respect, and a year’s worth of smack talk (at minimum). We can confirm that boxing gloves were spotted that night, but we can neither confirm nor deny if they were used behind the kitchen door.
Here is a recap of the teams and the ingredients they each used:
Team 1: Chef Spencer (Hayseed, Sous Chef) & Matt (PBrew, Head Brewer): Carolina Shrimp Ceviche, passion fruit, citrus, habanero, roasted corn, burst tomato and venere rice crisps.
Meatless: substitute Avacado Ceviche
Pairing: Passion Fruit Saison
Team 2: Chef Jon (PBrew, Head Chef) & Charlie (Smuttlabs, Head Brewer): Noodle Bowl of oyster braised pork belly, house-made ramen noodles, pickled rutabaga, fresh Thai basil and tempura fried oyster.
Meatless: Vegetarian oyster sauce braised portabella ramen bowl.
Pairing: Thai Basil Pale Ale
Team 3: Chef Dez (Hayseed, Head Chef) & Dan (Smuttynose, Head Brewer): Cod Cheeks poached in olive oil with wheat berries, parsnip and citrus.
Meatless: “Dez will have an exciting preparation of these ingredients ready for all you non-meat eaters too!” (who said this? Think he had avocado?)
Pairing: Citrus Session IPA
Team 4: Chef Steve (PBrew, Sous Chef) & Aaron (PBrew, Brewer): Smoked Turkey Roulade, sweet potato flan and caraway cabbage.
Meatless: substitute Smoked Tofu
Pairing: Dark Gose
Team 5: Chef Nick (PBrew, Sous Chef) & Maxine (PBrew, Brewer): Banana Bread griddled and served with a cardamom crème anglaise, chocolate gelato and a sprinkle of pistachio brittle.
Pairing: Oatmeal Stout
I chatted with some of the brewers to learn more about their assigned hops and malts and how their beers came out.
Aaron – Dark Gose
“Gose are traditionally on the lighter side, and also salty. The town where it was originally brewed had a lot of salt in their water. So traditionally you put sault in the kettle and it ends up keeping you drinking more! But I’ve never had a dark Gose before, so we used chocolate wheat, which is a darker roasted wheat for our malt. We also used acidulated malt which adds acidity to it. So I’m hoping to get some roasty, dark notes from the malt and also have that salt.”
Maxine – Oatmeal Stout
“I thought [Chef Nick’s ingredients] would lend really well to a dark and roasty beer, kind of give it that filling mouth feel and body. We hadn’t decided if we were doing a dessert yet for an entry, so I didn’t initially know if I was going to be doing a stout. Dark, roasty, chocolaty, coffee, definitely says dessert.”
Matt – Passion Fruit Saison
“So Spencer [sous chef at Hayseed] got shrimp, habanero peppers, passion fruit and rice. That’s what we had to work with. We all got the same malt; our beer judge chose flaked oats because he thought that was a really interesting ingredient. We all got a different hop that we had to use. I got Willamette hops. It’s like an English-born hop that’s grown in America in the Willamette valley. But this beer wasn’t about the hops, so I just put them in a very late kettle. The habanero thing kind of threw me for a loop, and I figured that maybe 20 percent of the crowd would like spicy stuff. I don’t know how spicy our dish is going to be, but I didn’t want to enhance the spice, I wanted my beer to have a cooling effect. So I did a passion fruit Saison. I fermented it really hot to bring out the esters in the Saison yeast instead of the clove-y feed ales if you fermented a little bit cooler. So it’s going to be a little sweet; there’s definitely a big passion fruit aroma on the nose. I used the flaked oats as a sort of silky mouth feel, like body builder, because it’s a proteinaceious malt. It kind of adds this full body mouth feel, without adding any sweetness.”
Charlie – Thai Basil Pale Ale
“Oats, cascades, and Thai basil. I’m pretty comfortable with it, I’ve brewed with Thai basil before.”
After five courses and much revelry, the people’s vote belonged to Nick and Maxine for their delectable banana bread dessert and oatmeal stout. As for the judge’s vote, Jon and Charlie walked away victorious for the pork belly that stole hearts and the perfectly paired Thai Basil Pale Ale.
“As much trash talk as we do back there, we all love each other,” said Jon, the guy who just won. As of this publication, Matt was still wearing the boxing gloves and muttering about “next year…”