Beer and food pairings abound during SF Beer Week. Either throw a dart at the schedule or pick your artery clogging poison. Chocolate, cheese and cupcakes are a delectable option or you can vie for a seat at an elaborate dinner. Bay Area Craft Beer decided to venture into the East Bay this week for a more down home-style event at Drake’s Brewing. It’s their first year as a major sponsor and they hosted a Sau & Brau party to celebrate at the brewery in San Leandro.

The event took place on a chilly Wednesday night thanks to a winter storm that blew in just in time for beer week. Before the doors opened at 6:00pm, attendees huddled around glowing embers roasting the special guest. The Chop Bar in Oakland prepped and cooked the pig along with several sides and desserts that were on the menu. Drake’s offered a selection of their flagship beer during happy hour and paired 6 barrel-aged beers with the food. Everything cost a mere $40.

The industrial space managed to be a warm and cozy respite from the cold. Guests were greeted with festive lights and long dinner tables stretched between aging barrels. During the first hour three taps poured Drakes IPA, 1500 and the seasonal Imperial IPA called Hopocalyspe, while patrons chatted and perused the tall stacks of packaged beer and brewing equipment.

After a brief introduction from a member of Drake’s sales staff, dinner was served at 7:00pm in an orderly fashion. Guests gathered in a short line where the Chop Bar staff dolled out a spoonful of salad, potatoes, grilled flat bread and a portion of the succulent hog that beautifully dressed the table. The ferocious clatter of the cleaver slicing through meat and bone into the butchers block was not for the faint of heart.

Once the food was portioned out a selection of barrel-aged beer complimented the roasted flavor depending on your preference. You could pick just one or try them all. The list included:

  • Hooked on Drakonics, a 2009 Imperial Stout aged in bourbon barrels (10.5% ABV).
  • Barrel Droop, a 2008 Barleywine also aged in bourbon Barrels (11.5% ABV).
  • Aged Barrel Droop, which spent two years in steel barrels (10.5% ABV).

If guests didn’t have their fill with a second serving of the main course, dessert finished off their appetite at 8:00pm when two different cakes were paired with two sour beers. BACB chose the Red Velvet cake and sampled the following beers inoculated with brettanomyces.

  • Brett Butler, a Belgian Triple aged 14 months in Pinot Noir barrels.
  • Sauer Brauer, a blend of Belgian blonde and Drake’s Amber aged in Merlot barrels.

Following the wonderful meal everyone mingled and compared notes. Judging by the comments, its safe to say everyone left full and happy. If your taste buds are chomping at the bit, unfortunately you’ll have to wait for Sau & Brau to occur again next year during SF Beer Week.

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