Eager to drive home a connection with fine wine and haute cuisine, craft brewers are exploiting a new venue for their beer tastings: art galleries.
On Oct. 3, Widmer Brothers Brewing Co. commandeered the Long View Gallery for Explore Your Craft, an evening featuring a dozen beers paired with small plates in a format similar to the annual SAVOR festival. While attendees sipped and nibbled (best pairing: Old Embalmer ’12 Barleywine Ale with an aged gouda cheese), guitarist Justin Trawick entertained the crowd with his urban folk-rock and chalk artist Patrick Owens sketched a whimsical portrait of a hop cone with antlers.
“Beer is an art itself,” commented Billy Smith, brewing manager for the Craft Brew Alliance, Widmer’s parent company. “When you put all those different arts together, you plug into all your senses. It’s just a full experience.”
Smith took some time to inform us of the weirdness to come: Early next year, the CBA’s New Hampshire brewery will release a draft-only Lobster Lager, a German-style schwarzbier with actual crustaceans plunged into the boil to add a touch of brininess, similar to the one that oysters add to oyster stout.
Meanwhile, Victory Brewing Co. in Downingtown, Pa., and Dogfish Head Craft Brewery in Milton, Del., are teaming up to stage a non-traditional art show dubbed Amber Waves during next year’s Craft Brewers Conference in Washington.
Amber Waves will take place March 28 at the District Architectural Center and will feature 25 American breweries dispensing their beer alongside paintings, sculptures and other forms of visual art that the participants feel somehow represent their brand. The brewers will be encouraged to donate their art to a silent auction for the Intrepid Fallen Heroes Fund, an organization benefiting wounded military personnel.
“Every beer will be amber in color, but hopefully we’ll have a wide variety of flavors,” said Victory spokeswoman Karen Noonan, who added that the event will be open to both lagers and ales.
Asked if Victory is brewing a special beer for the event, she answered, “Probably not, we’re at capacity now!” She noted that Victory already markets several widely divergent beers (the IPA HopDevil, the malty Festbier) in the correct hue.