Brewer’s Plate 2013: How Much Pork Can YOU Eat?
It was with a distinct sense of Christmas morning that we awoke on Sunday, March 10. We rushed through our Sunday chores, giving up our leisurely stroll through the grocery store for a Supermarket Sweep-style dash in order to get home, get cleaned up, and get ready for our favorite beer and food pairing event of the year: The Brewer’s Plate. Now in its ninth year, the event always promises great beer, amazing food, and anyone who even remotely enjoys Philadelphia’s flourishing food and drink scene.
On the food front, the event overflowed with every porcine platter imaginable. Whether it was smoked pork belly sliders (El Camino Real), pork rillettes (South Philly Tap Room), el pastor tacos (Iron Hill), cochon de lait po-boys (Khyber Pass Pub), smoked pork meatballs (Guerilla Ultima BBQ), scrapple, bacon and egg sliders (White Dog Café) or an entire roasted pig (McCrossen’s Tavern), the pig in all its glorious food forms was well-represented. There were, however, plenty of excellent dishes not featuring pork, such as London Grill’s duck confit/foie gras bahn mi, Bar Ferdinand’s beer-cured salmon, and our winner for best dish of the night with Cedar Point Bar & Kitchen’s “pulled portabella” BBQ sandwich with apple slaw. The sandwich was everything you could want: sweet, savory, crunchy, juicy—and vegetarian friendly, as well!
There were plenty of beer highlights as usual, with a surprisingly flavorful Mason’s Porter from Prism. Bullfrog Brewery’s Flanders-style brown ale, Jong Bruin, was a crowd favorite, as was the VIP-only Gentleman Gone Wild from Naked Brewing—a sour imperial stout that was way too easy-drinking for its 11.5% ABV. Also in the VIP section was Victory’s new White Monkey, their Golden Monkey aged in white wine oak barrels, which was another delicious standout. Kudos also goes to Ambler’s Forest & Main, the only brewery that embraced cask ale at the event, to much crowd appreciation.
The VIP section of the event seemed to be focused on the latter edges of dinner: the cheese course, followed by dessert. There was a guided cheese pairing from the Aimee Olexy of Talula’s Table/Garden fame, who may be one of the few people in the area to rival Madame Fromage’s cheese knowledge. Along with the short cheese class, four newer breweries were paired with farms to match cheese to beer (Farm Fromage with Free Will Brewing, Birchrun Hills with Tired Hands, Cherry Grove with Naked Brewing and Yellow Springs Farm with Forest & Main). Elsewhere in the VIP area, guests could come down from their pig-infused grazing with later courses from the likes of DiBruno Bros., Eclat Chocolate, and beer-infused ice cream from Bent Spoon, who received oohs and aahs from the crowd for the second year in a row.
Overall, the event lived up to its favorite status, offering a plethora of local beer to pair with amazing food from some of the city’s favorite gastropubs and restaurants. With very little to complain about—water was harder to come by than it should have been, and the VIP section didn’t seem to live up to the hefty ticket price—the event will continue to be looked forward to for the next year by anyone who loves well-crafted local food and drink. The fact that it also acts as the main fund raiser for Fair Food is the ultimate bonus, allowing attendees to feel good about enjoying the supreme buffet offered here, and the seemingly endless amount of pork. If you still haven’t been to Brewer’s Plate, you are truly doing yourself a disservice. Do not miss the 10th anniversary next year—we’re already in line for tickets.
Photos are courtesy of LeeAnne Mullins.