The last day of the conference began with seminars. The first seminar I attended was presented by Dick Cantwell of Elysian and was about opening you own brewery. The title was “Come One, Come All – Wait a Minute: Assessing the Elastic Limits of Opportunity.” I think this might have been a good wake up call to all the aspiring brewery owners in the crowd. The market is becoming crowded and craft beer is taking more and more market share, but at some point we will reach critical mass in terms of taps, shelf space and ingredient availability. I hope everyone in the audience was paying attention.
Next was from Mitch Steele at Stone who presented, “Current Techniques and Recent Developments Used For Brewing Great IPAs.” It was a great talk, I think he may be really sensitive to garlic and onion characteristics in hops, but still a wonderful speaker and topic. What really kinda bothered me was a dude on my row who when I made a comment about Amarillo having an aroma of cat urine who said he had never perceived that, nor heard it before. Dude, use Google and it has a plethora of references to the truth I speak. Geez Louise!
Next up was a real treat. It was “Hops vs Matl: A Smackdown with Cheese” and was presented by the author of Cheese & Beer, Janet Fletcher. The cheeses were magnificent and we decided which the cheese paired better with IPA or RIS. Of course it varied by cheese and varied by person, but what was interesting is our table almost always picked the same cheese and beer pairing as best even when others found the opposite to work. Here’s a photo of the cheese mat.
Next up was a seminar presented by John Mallet of Bell’s. His talks are always interesting and his title was “Blame the Maltster: An Overview of Malting Operations and How They Influence Your Beer.” It was a great talk and I always learn something from his presentations.
The BJCP members meeting was in the afternoon and it primarily revolved around discussions of the exam and exam changes and other items such as the Cider Exam which will be coming next year and upcoming revisions of the guidelines. There was good questions from the judges in attendance, but I am constantly amazed people don’t know how to navigate the BJCP website and are unaware the BJCP has forums and a Facebook page.
The Banquet came next and is always sponsored by Rogue. Sean Paxton created the menu which began with Malt Vinegar Pickled Vegetables. To me these were not pickled enough, they barely had any character from the vinegar to shine through. Next was a Soft Pretzel Panzanella Salad which had great flavor, but the pretzels just didn’t fit in. They were too tough and needed more a soak to have less tooth. The dressing was a hit, overall this was just good. It is the dish in the photo below. The main course was Roasted Pork Stromboli and it could not have been more disappointing. If I had made this at home I would have thrown it out. The dough was overworked and the rye pizza crust was tough and dry. Had I not been hungry I might have gotten up and walked back to Strangelove’s. The dessert was truly phenomenal. It was a Belgian Stout Cheesecake and was heavenly. Had I known how good this was, I would have just eaten it and skipped the rest and went to Strangelove’s (do you sense a theme). Cheers to Sean for the meal, but the only standout was that cheesecake which can be seen below.
Now all that is left is the trek home and perhaps more adventures along the way!