Brewers gather in La Jolla to close San Diego Beer Week

By Ashley Mackin

San Diego Beer Week ended at The Lodge at Torrey Pines on Nov. 11 with its annual Beer Garden, a food-and-beer pairing afternoon. The sold-out event brought 10 local chefs and 20 San Diego brewers together to demonstrate how beer and food go together.

The upswing of food and beer pairing is a trend noticed by the Brewers Guild.

“The beauty of beer is we can do so many different styles and (there are) so many different flavor profiles that we can pair a wider range of food with beer than you can with wine,” said Brian Scott, vice president of the San Diego Brewers Guild. “At each station, we have two different beers paired with food, and those two beers can be widely different from each other and still pair well with the food.”

The Shores Restaurant Chef Amy DiBiase paired her dish, a smoked salmon with beet relish and horseradish crème, with either a Thunderweizen (a light hefeweizen) from Lightning Brewing Company or a Rauch Bier (a smokey beer) from Monkey Paw brewing.

She said when it came to pairing beer to her dish, she was glad to have the brewers that she did. The chefs get their choice of brewers, who work with them to decide which beers would pair best with their menus.

“I had an idea for a dish, they came in and brought a bunch of beer and we just sat down and tried the dish with the different beers and (had a) back and forth,” she said. In the end, “it’s a great pairing.”

Scott added, “There is not just one style that’s popular, it’s a little bit of everything for everyone. That’s the beauty of beer, there’s a lot of different styles that fit everything from mood to what you’re eating to where you are.”

In addition to Beer Week engaging the San Diego beer community, the Beer Garden brought in visitors from out of state. The Brewers Guild conducted surveys on behalf of the City of San Diego to see event’s impact on tourism. Past years indicated 20 percent of people come from out of town — Pennsylvania, Texas, Arizona and New Mexico.

The reasons for the attraction involve the attitude and the availability of “beer people.”

“I like the beer scene,” said DiBiase. “It’s a little more relaxed and everyone is a little more calm, and you have a good time and everyone appreciates everything that’s going on, that’s why I like to be a part of this event.”

Lyndon Walker, a brewer with Karl Strauss in La Jolla, suggested that when pairing, look for taste similarities.

Some beers known as Amber Ales have caramel malts in them. These go well with caramelized meats and caramelized onions. Stouts are sweeter and richer, so they pair well with desserts. India Pale Ales (IPAs) often have a bitter finish that acts as a palate cleanser, so IPAs pair well with spicy foods.

Seasonal beers may have pumpkin flavoring or pumpkin pie spices. A winter beer to be released in December will have the “Christmas-y” flavors of orange peel, cherries, cloves, cinnamon and vanilla.