Ah yes, it has come the time to talk about the lovely craft beer and food pairing experiment known as Indulge. First off I would like to give a big thanks to John and all of the others who put their hard work into organizing a beer and food paring event of this stature in our grand city of Minneapolis.Though it was over 80 degrees outside on Saturday I put on some nice pants and a dress shirt and hopped on my bike and pedaled over to Town Hall for a few pint club pints and then over to Stub & Herbs to meet up with a number of friends before the event. Aside from the heat I was a bit concerned about the no bags directive present on the web page (“for security”) though not the tickets interestingly. So I managed to cram my camera in my pocket decided to not bother with the notebook, slapped my lock on my handlebars and found a small nylon backpack to tie to my top tube for transportation of my inevitable tasting glass at the end of the event. Sweat be damned it was going to work out.
This years event was hosted at the Radisson University Hotel and the space was nicely accommodating for the 200-300 people that attended with beer tables around the outside of the room and then two rows back to back in the middle of more brew and two identical food tables spaced evenly between the beer tables with few small tables in between for patrons to stand and further tables in the entrance room to sit and enjoy your pairings if you were to prefer a bit more comfort. Luckily I was with a big group so we were able to quickly squat a table near the head of the food table and went off to fill our plates in turn.
Upon approaching the food table you are greeted with an interesting mix of foods from caramelized bacon to curried nuts, lemon shrimp to bean pate with (andouille or was it chorizo) sausage, rich dark chocolate truffles to homemade moon pies and plenty of cheese. Next to each item was a card suggesting half a dozen plus brews to pair with your various treats. It was nice to see multiple pairings suggested but the format made it a bit difficult as I found myself constantly peering over the shoulders of people in line to confirm what brew I had to grab for next item I intended to consume on my full plate. One thing that I did appreciate is how much room was present in the brochure for food and beer tasting notes, it would have been a great place for them to print the suggested food pairings for quicker reference.
My favorite paring was the cherry tart with Two Brothers Domaine DuPage [review] the sweet and tart cherry flavors combined with the rich toasted malt and fermented fruit flavors was very enjoyable end absolutely enhanced the experience. My roommate really enjoyed Flat Earth’s Xanadu (orange infused Cygnus X-1 Porter) with the chocolate truffle. With all the food and beer choices it was almost a little overwhelming but worked out just right as I had already tried most beers available that night making the paring experience simpler and feeling less of a need to make it through every brew. A few brews I had not sampled before include Lift Bridge’s Minnesota Tan which won best of show and is one interesting Tripel infused with lingonberries that delivers a lovely sweet fruity flavor that is really quite delicious, well balanced and a solid 8.5% ABV. Another delicious ale was Sprecher’s Bourbon-Barrel Dopplebock which was full of incredibly rich malt sweetness and some serious Bourbon notes coming in at 9% ABV. The last beverage that I’ll mention isn’t a beer but is delicious none the less. Crispin’s Honey Crisp Cider brewed with honey that is local to the brewery in California creating a fuller bodied cider with some additional sweetness that is actually really quite enjoyable even though I tend to prefer their drier and less sweet Crispin Brut. Not only is the Honey Crisp tasty but it also steps up the ABV to 7.3%.
Over all Indulge was a really fun event with plenty of brew to go around and probably just about the right amount of food for the number of attendees. Obviously some things can be improved upon and learned from for next year particularly the best logistical way for people to get their food and beer pairings together and have adequate space for their food, drink, note pad, camera and whatever else they may need. I don’t think I’ve ever seen so many well dressed beer geeks in all my life, see you guys there next year.