Thursday, October 20, 2016

Volunteering at the 2016 GABF

GABF week has come and gone but it has built many memories. I, for one had a terrific time while volunteering for the paired event at GABF. It is for AHA and BA members only. It cost quite a bit of cash, $145 but it includes the pairings of chef to brewery plus entrance to the main GABF event.
Through a friend of mine who has volunteered at the Paired event for a couple of years I decided to volunteer too. There is a process of submitting an application along with a recommendation from a previous volunteer. There is also emails going back and forth with information and instructions about being a GABF volunteer.

Fellow Paired volunteers, Kirsten,
Deborah, and Jeff. 

The day of the first session was on Thursday, we arrive early to check in. We get a t-shirt which we have to wear while volunteering and a plastic tasting container for beer. Yes, we are allowed to taste beer on our break but getting wasted is very discouraged. We met up with our team lead, Laura Lodge who gives us a tour of the paired venue and off we go to our station.
Matt Lincecum
Jared Barker and Mike Friedman.

There were 22 tables that had 7 local chefs and 4 local breweries from metro Denver and Boulder. Lost Abbey, The Bruery, Oskar Blues, Ninkasi Brewing, Grand Teton and Bear Republic to name drop a few breweries that were there.

Gnoochi alla Romana.

Chicken Liver mousse.

 My station was with Fremont Brewing from Seattle and Mike Friedman, head chef of Red Hen from Washington DC. The concept is the breweries bring 2 beers and the chefs will create 2 small plates that pair with the beer. Fremont Brewing brought Field to Ferment, a fresh hop pale ale that Chef Friedman paired with a gnocchi alla romana with smoked salmon, cucumber, creme fraiche and trout roe. The second pairing was with The Lamb, a  Saison aged in oak wine barrels with a touch of Brettanomyces Lambicus, with chicken liver mousse, fig jam, fresh thyme, and hazelnuts, sandwiched between rye bread. The first day was boring standing there waiting for something to do like get water, or pass the plates to the front table. By the end of the day, I was very tired but the brewery and the chef congratulating me on a good job. The Fremont founder Matt Lincecum was there with a few of the breweries crew. They were very nice so was Mike Friedman and Jared Barker, General manager of Red Hen. They were very friendly and didn’t mind me being there drinking their beers and eating some of the small plates of food. I have to say both did a great job with the pairings. The Fremont Brewing and the Red Hen crew made the experience more enjoyable.

I took a few 10 minute breaks to taste from the other tables of paired small plates and beer. It is amazing how full you can get eating the small plates that each chef brought for their pairing of beer. I saw many people I know there at the pairing event and some famous people in the brewing industry, Eric Wallace, founder of Left Hand Brewing,  who I have been acquainted to for many years stopped by and said hello, while tasting the small dish. Our table was right in front of the entrance so most people stop there first. Jeremy Teiber, who I have written about in a previous post, was there with his wife, Allison and their year old daughter. I saw, Tomme Arthur, Lost Abbey founder wandering through the event and I praised the founder of Dry Dock Brewing, Kevin DeLange on his incredible beers that they are brewing these days.

The second day of pairings went faster because I got to help more with plating both dishes. The press were allowed in an hour early that day so there was more of a rush of plating to do. For both days the Fremont Brewing crew had also brought three flavors of chocolate from Theo Chocolate in Seattle with a case of the brewery's Rusted Nail, a bourbon barrel aged Imperial Stout with cinnamon, licorice, and smoked barley. That beer went fast and it paired well with the chocolate.

Theo Chocolate in three flavors,
dark chocolate, dark chocolate
with orange, and dark chocolate
with coconut.
One of the Fremont Brewing's crew
pouring Rusted Nail.

It was a very nice experience volunteering at the GABF. So if you're interested in Paired at GABF make sure you are a member of the American Home brewers Association or the Brewers Association. See you next year!

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