Robyn is the Beer Education Manager at the Vintage Brewing Company and coincidentally, has been a good friend of mine since freshman year of college. We sat down to lunch a few weeks ago to talk beer, the Vintage, and what people should be drinking over the Holiday season.
Vintage Brewing Company Beers
As the name suggests, Vintage Brewing Company does, in fact, brew its own beers. Head Brewer, Scott Manning manages the brewing process. They keep a wide selection of beers on tap, usually ten to fourteen different kinds. Recently, their Wee Heavy Scotch Ale won a silver medal at the Great American Beer Festival (the largest beer festival in the United States).
If you want to sample a couple of different beers, you can do a sampler platter where you get to choose the beers (five at a time) or you can do pre-chosen flight.
Beer Appreciation Classes
As Beer Education Manager, Robyn is in charge of the beer appreciation classes. There are two types of classes. One is a general beer appreciation class open to all. This is done once a month, but there is no set week. The cost of the class is $12 ahead of time and $15 at the door. This includes the cost of the beer. Check the website or the Vintage Brewing Company Facebook page to get more information.
The second beer appreciation class they offer is near and dear to my heart. FEMs, Females Enjoying Microbrews, kicked off this November. I am super excited about these classes. Robyn will lead women through beer tasting and teach them about beer without any guys around. There is no set price for the class but you do need to pay for the beer that you drink during the class.
On top of the beer appreciation classes (and organizing festivals), Robyn also orchestrates the monthly beer dinners. Chef AJ Hurst works with Robyn and Scott (the head brewer) to plan a four to seven course dinner with beer pairings. These dinners are unbelievable. For only $60 including tax and tips, it’s a great night out without too much dent to your pocketbook.
Unlike the classes, the beer dinners do have a set schedule. Mark off the first Tuesday and Wednesday on your calendars for each month, and also make a note that you will need to call in for a reservation. Due to their popularity, the beer dinners sell out fast.
Holiday Beer Pairings
Turkey: Bock, Double Bock, Ambers, and Browns. Robyn also suggested that you could roast the turkey in beer to make it pair even better, and taste even better. You could do this with the previously mentioned beers or you could also try a Stout.
How do you roast a turkey in beer? I had to ask exactly how you roast a turkey with beer. Robyn said to dump the beer in the pan and also suggested substituting beer for water when making the stuffing. Beer stuffing? I’m in.
Robyn also suggested this great book on cooking with beer by Wisconsin’s own Lucy Saunders.
Apple Pie: Pumpkin beer. Robyn pointed out that a pumpkin beer would be a great complement to an apple pie. When I asked about some pumpkin on pumpkin action, she made a face. The spices in the beer would overpower the spices in the pie. So what should you drink with pumpkin pie?
Pumpkin Pie: Bock.
As my close friends know, I have an annual cookie baking party in December so I had to find out from Robyn what beers I should serve.
Snickerdoodles: Holiday Spiced Beers (Robyn recommends the Christmas Ale from Great Lakes Brewing Company) or Pale Ale.
Sugar: German Kolsch
Gingerbread: Stout or Porter. It will be like dunking your gingerbread cookie in coffee.
General Beer Pairing Tips
Beer pairing has a lot of the same rules as wine pairing. If you are eating something light, like fish or seafood, you want a lighter, easier drinking beer like a Belgian or Pilsner.
If you are going with bigger meats, you need a bigger beer to go with it. Try a Bock, Porter, or Stout.
For spicy foods, you either want to with a light beer to calm the spice or a hoppy beer to cut through the spice.
Robyn spoke passionately about beer pairings. Her and I don’t always agree on the beer versus wine debate (and I think I may be throwing down a challenge here) but she does bring up some good points. There are so many variables in making beer that are not always in the wine making process. She argues that you have so many more flavor options than with wine and a full spectrum of colors in beer from lightest straw color to ambers, browns, oranges, and finally to the blackest stout. And because you have more ingredients and flavors to work with, she argues that beer generally pairs better than wine. I think a future beer versus wine party may be in order…
The Beer Guru’s Favorite Beer
Robyn’s current favorite beer is the Vintage’s Pumpkin Disorderly. The base of the beer is a Brown Abbey (a Belgian beer). Because the yeast in the Belgian beers lends a lot of natural spice notes, Scott didn’t have to add as many spices to the beer. Compared to a normal pumpkin spice beer, he added half of the spices (cinnamon and nutmeg) and that makes the beer more rich and less cloyingly sweet.
And in my humble opinion, I like it because you get to drink it in a cool glass. I am purposefully leaving out a picture so you will just have to go to the Vintage to try it!