This week’s entry in the Brewer’s Blog comes to us courtesy of Wes Alexander at Marshall Brewing. Wes writes in about the successful International IPA Day celebration held earlier this month at Tapwerks. Take it away, Wes.
International IPA Day was held Aug. 4 as the spawn of beer bloggers and social media gurus. They cleverly crafted a campaign to promote craft beer and one of its most popular styles, India Pale Ale. As a result, our friends at Tapwerks Ale House in Oklahoma City organized their own celebration. The event included IPA firkins from Choc Beer, COOP Ale Works and Marshall Brewing.
For those not familiar, a firkin is an old English unit of measure referring to a quarter barrel. Its significance in terms of modern craft beer is that brewers offer cask-conditioned ale often with special embellishments. In this case, Choc created a Dubbel black IPA, COOP dry-hopped their F5 with millennium hops, and Marshall used a blend of El Dorado and bravo to dry hop Atlas IPA.
In addition to the special beer offering was an inventive tasting menu featuring dishes prepared with IPA as an ingredient. Atlas IPA was featured in the beer battered fish and chips. The malty nature and hop bitterness of Atlas were a nice mate for the delicate, moist white fish. Featuring the wonderfully hop forward COOP F5 was a mango salsa. The citrus aroma and flavors in the F5 were complimented well in the salsa. And finally, my personal favorite was a coleslaw made with Moylan’s Hopsickle topping a bratwurst. Never would I have imagined the hoppy bitterness would improve the flavor profile of a creamy coleslaw. Indeed it was delicious and interesting in that same way that caraway improves sauerkraut. The hoppy coleslaw was the perfect foil atop the rich bratwurst. Cheers to Tapwerks for their culinary creativity.
As good as the beer and food were, my favorite part of the evening was the camaraderie. Craft beer draws passionate people and spirited conversation. Indeed the best part of my job is engaging in conversation with both the seasoned craft beer fan and those new to the culture. Fascinating is the fact that no longer are we having conversations about what a firkin is but rather what the firkin contains.
Without a doubt, my favorite conversation of the evening was with a couple that had chosen to spend their anniversary celebrating IPA Day. They sampled each dish and tasted each beer and truly shared a special evening. I interviewed both man and wife to learn if one was a craft beer fan and the other simply amusing their spouse. This was not the case. In fact, the husband told an amazing story.
While he had an excellent present for his wife, he was seeking that something extra special to add to his gift. His wife had tried Marshall’s Arrowhead Pale Ale and fallen in love with citrus aroma and flavor. Unfortunately, Arrowhead Pale Ale was in short supply. The husband called more than 40 liquor stores in the Oklahoma City area before finding a sole case of Arrowhead. In his words, “As I presented my wife with her gift she smiled and was gracious. When I then presented the Arrowhead Pale Ale, she screamed in excitement!” What an amazing story. Thank you craft beer fans for your enthusiasm for our trade. You are a true inspiration.