Carolina Brewery // Brooklyn Brewery Beer & Food Experience

Carolina Brewery in Chapel Hill, N.C. and Brooklyn Brewery in Brooklyn, N.Y. teamed up with All About Beer Magazine to create an amazing roving beer dinner. I was invited to attend the event in Chapel Hill. All guests (who purchased tickets) meandered through to sample Carolina Brewery and Brooklyn Brewery beers that expertly paired with small plate food samples.

Chef Andrew Gerson of Brooklyn Brewery and Chef Alex Stewart of Carolina Brewery carefully crafted all of the beer and food pairings and were mixing and mingling with guests, answering questions, taking photos, and having a good time just like I was. Brooklyn is doing a little tour of the South and traveling around making things happen (making things happen = giving beer & food to us hungry and thirsty North Carolinians).

All About Beer Magazine representatives were also on-site offering educational information and free magazine trial subscriptions, too.

Craft beer collaborations are becoming trendy. Foothills Brewing in Winston-Salem and Wicked Weed Brewing in Asheville recently had a collaboration to make Batch 69. New Belgium and NoDa Brewing combined to make something called Funkaversary. What is better than a beer collaboration?

A food collaboration.

First, Seafood Nachos: Fried flour tortillas topped with crab, shrimp and scallops with melted sharp cheddar, pickled jalapeno and salsa.

The best item on the menu, I know I ate more than a half dozen of these. After the first hour, the shrimp and scallops on each chip turned into just crab and the salsa turned into pickled carrots, but that didn't matter. Each chip was more delicious than the one before it.

So new it doesn't even have a real name yet, the nachos were paired with Brooklyn’s Scorcher #366, a hoppy, dry pale ale that’s minerally and fruity on the palate, snappy in the center, and bursting with citrusy, piney notes making it an ideal seafood accompaniment.

Curried Chicken Sushi Roll was paired with Carolina Brewery’s Flagship IPA. The menu boasted,"The bitterness of the Chinook and Cascade hops accentuate the heat of the curry creating the perfect spicy bite.

This was my least favorite pairing. I loved the Flagship, as I really enjoy IPAs, but the sushi was not very good. The curried chicken was great: sweet and spicy, but the texture left much to be desired. As did the presentation.

Next, a crostini topped with goat cheese spread, lox and fried capers paired with Brooklyn Brewery’s Fiat Lux “With a hint of lime peel, a dash of Indian coriander, a blend of Pacific Northwest hops, combined with a heavy dose of unmalted wheat, this Belgian inspired witbier balances the salty sweetness of lox and the tang of local goat cheese.”

I did not enjoy the beer when paired with this offering, but it was great on its own. The light, crisp, crunchy crostini held up the smoky, thin petals of lox perfectly. The soft texture and the tang of the goat cheese matched perfectly with the little crispy capers. 

Chicken Satay with peanut sauce was paired with Carolina Brewery’s Super Saaz Imperial Pilsner. The menu stated:“The bite of the peppery Saaz hops pick up the heat of the peanut sauce while highlighting the floral notes of this beer.”

I did not have peanut sauce due to my allergy, but the chicken still packed a punch. Marinated in what seemed to be a vinaigrette, perhaps homemade Italian, the satay was juicy and flavorful. The pilsner was I'm going to be honest and tell you that I don't remember what the Saaz tasted like with the chicken, but I do remember it being very floral and bright.

My second favorite pairing of the night:
A panzanella bread salad with cherry tomatoes, cucumbers, and feta cheese. Paired with Brooklyn Brewery’s Summer Ale the menu was spot on when it said: “Light and refreshing with a sturdy malt backbone and gentle hopping, this summer favorite utilizes premium English barley malt, which gives this light-bodied golden beer a fresh bready flavor. This combined with mild citrus undertones makes Summer Ale an ideal partner for a summer bread salad.”

Yes. Sir. I need not go on to describe it more.

Next up, Eastern-style NC pulled pork and collards in a fresh corn tamale was paired with Carolina Brewery’s Copperline Amber Ale.
“The malty sweetness of Copperline Amber Ale competes with the vinegar twang of classic NC barbeque creating our twist on a delicious Southern comfort meal.”

The tamale was very difficult to photograph in low light, but trust me--it was a gem. Inside the tiny tamale not only was the pulled pork and a chiffonade of greens inside the corn masa filling, but there were little raisins! Little tiny bursts of sweetness to foil the two sauces available: a red pepper flake-filled vinegar sauce and a smooth tomato salsa. Both together really made the tamale sing. The ale tamped down the heat and added a miniscule bit of sweet to finish.

There were also Stilton stuffed figs wrapped in prosciutto Paired with Carolina Brewery’s Old Familiar Barley Wine but at this point of the evening, I was too busy talking and drinking to photograph the little salty packages of joy. The menu said “the sweetness of the figs offset the sweetness of this potent brew. Salty prosciutto and funky Stilton stand up strong next to the complex and robust flavors of the Barley Wine.”

I agree. The figs were whole and had the stem still attached, as sort of a natural toothpick to hold on. The proscuitto, salty and thin, melted into the Stilton that was stuffed inside each seed-filled fruit bomb. This was also my first time having barley wine and it will probably go down as one of my last. VERY strong (or robust, if you will) it matched the assertive flavors of the fig.

Last but not least, we had Gorgonzola Dolce Cheesecake. It was sprinkled with toasted hazelnuts (none for me, course) and paired with Brooklyn Brewery’s 2012 Black Chocolate Stout
The menu boasted: “Our version of imperial stout is a prefect dessert accompaniment with smooth chocolate undertones, a rich, dark body, and a surprisingly dry finish. A Perfect pairing for the toasted complexity of hazelnuts, and sharp bite of gorgonzola dolce.”

I chose to stop imbibing because I had to drive back to Winston-Salem, but I did have a bite or two of the cake and it was not as dolce as I thought it was going to be. This could very well be served as an appetizer, paired with a steak tartare, because the gorgonzola was not masked at all. The caramelly top, edges and bottom of the cheesecake reminded you that this was a dessert.

They say nothing can follow cheese, but I followed up the cheesecake with small sips of surprise specialty brews: Carolina Brewery's Super Charged Firecracker Pale Ale Cask and... the reason why I stopped drinking. I don't remember the second brew! Ha!

No matter--it was a lovely event with some great beer and even better food. I can't wait to make a trip up to Brooklyn and see what collaborations they're doing up there!

Me with Brooklyn Brewery's chef and Carolina Brewery owner, Robert Poitras

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About the author

Nikki Miller-Ka

Nikki Miller-Ka

Ms. Miller-Ka is a classically trained chef with a BA in English from East Carolina University and a Culinary Arts Associate Degree from Le Cordon Bleu-Miami.

Formerly, she’s worked as a researcher, an editorial assistant, reporter and guest blogger for various publications and outlets in the Southeast. She has also worked as a catering chef, a pastry chef, a butcher, a baker, and a biscuit-maker. Presently, she is a food editor, freelance food writer, and a tour guide for Taste Carolina Gourmet Food Tours.

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