Pairing Review: WA: 11/15 Explore your Craft: A treat for omnivores everywhere

If you're reading this then chances are high that this writer fouled up and didn't tell anyone about Widmer Brothers' / DRAFT Magazine's Explore Your Craft food & beer event.

So what the hell was Explorer Your Craft?

DRAFT has partnered with Widmer Brothers Brewing to create Explore Your Craft, an evening celebrating the artistry of brewing, cooking, visual art and musical performance. Centered around the Widmer Brothers’ collection, a chef-designed menu features dishes made specifically for and with Widmer beer, served at pairing stations throughout the space. A visual and musical feast fills the room, with a live performance artist and unique soundscapes from some of the area’s most celebrated musicians. Once inspired by pints and plates, patrons can pick up a paintbrush and join our artist in creating a special, one-of-a-kind work of art.

Sip, bite, listen, paint and enjoy: Explore Your Craft!

Answer given let's get down to discussing the food & beer options presented at this years' event.

This year's Explore Your Craft returned to Seattle’s South Downtown neighborhood, to feature over 10 Widmer Beers paired with dishes like grilled chicken, or brie, or Italian salami.

Station 1 - Artisanal Cheese

Sweet Balsamic Onion & Roasted Garlic Jelly on Crostini with Brie and paired with Drifter Pale Ale

Station 1 Thoughts

Although I enjoyed the pairing of the Drifter Pale Ale, it was the Mosaic Ale (featured in limited quantities) which wowed me. Honestly I was more amazed by the cheeses, courtesy The Cheese Cellar, that paired best with the beers at the table.

Station 2 - Refreshing Foams

Crying Tiger Endive Leaf Spoons with Spicy Grilled Chicken, Carrots & Green Onions and paired with Hefeweizen

Our Signature Sweet Potato & Dungeness Crab Cakes with Chipotle Remoulade & Minced Chives and paired with Falconer’s IPA

Station 2 Thoughts

Regrettably the “Signature Sweet Potato & Dungeness Crab Cakes” was noticeably absent during repeat visits. Instead I tried out the “Crying Tiger Endive Leaf Spoons with Spicy Grilled Chicken” with the familiar Hefeweizen and found it worked well.

Curiously there was a lack of alternative (non-meat) options. Which unfortunately demonstrated a lack of awareness to those curious about pairing their beer with a meat-free dish.

Station 3 - Full Bodied, Full Bellies

Black & Blue Beef Slider Served with Picnic Fries and paired with Pitch Black IPA

Mole Chicken Tostada with Black Beans and Fresh Cabbage Salad and paired with paired with SXNW Dark Ale

Station 3 Thoughts

No arguments regarding that the Black & Blue Beef Slider paired well with the Pitch Black India Pale Ale. Although I was confused if the bowl of sticks was part of the Slider pairing or not. However, I did find the Mole Chicken Tostada with the SXNW Dark Ale exciting.

The inclusion of sliced meats from The Swinery was welcome, since it provided challenges to ones personal taste, when pairing against the featured beers. Although it (the sliced meats) did create a bit of a bottleneck, as people made their way to receive either the tostada or slider.

As with the Refreshing Foams station I found the lack of vegetarian suggestions to be unfortunate.

Station 4 - Sweet and Stout

Banana Chocolate Bread Pudding Bite with Brrrbon Caramel Sauce and paired with paired with Barrel Aged Brrrbon ‘12

Station 4 Thoughts

A good overall pairing with both the Barrel-aged Brrrbon ‘12 Winter Ale or even with their Milk Stout.

Final Thoughts

Service. I can honestly say that each ‘beertender’ was helpful by educating on what made the featured food items pair well with the beers.

Unfortunately at least one station featured absent food. While in another station the food was inconsistently available. Admittedly I can’t entirely fault the kitchen staff for lack of attentiveness, as many guests took the term ‘enjoy’ a bit too far by grabbing 2-4 items at a time.

Menu. As stated in my review thought that went into the menu was definitely appreciated. But I stand by my belief that one cannot simply exclude a those who would rather kill a mushroom than something that might be found at a petting zoo or aquarium.

Walking out the door I took away from this years’ event the same impressions that I had with the previous years’, lack of options for vegetarians. Although my appetite is adaptable based on what is presented to me, there are some that do no have this option. Whether it’s aversion to poultry, beef, pork, or seafood there should always be another option so that one can Explore their Craft.


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