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Craftsmen, Beer, and Guerrillas

Craftsmen, Beer, and Guerrillas
Text by Kristina Held. Photography by Cameron Colcolough Reynolds


I’m a big beer fan. Always have been and (I anticipate) always will be. It’s refreshing, smooth, and scratches the itch perfectly after a long, hot day. I sometimes wish beer would be as kind to me as I am to it, but that sort of pondering must be left to another day. Today, we need to talk about the 100th Guerrilla Cuisine Dinner held at Westbrook Brewing Co. last Sunday. It was a sensational beer pairing dinner—brews from Westbrook and food from the soon-to-open Craftsmen Kitchen & Tap House. Personally, I think a Sunday night is a great choice for a pairing dinner. Most people attending such an event usually don’t want the weekend to end. This lends a certain palpable excitement to the evening and only enhances the dinner. Close to one hundred of these suspects turned out to the celebratory feast, hosted by jimihatt, an exceptional character and master of ceremony. As we all gathered around the gigantic table we were ready for jimihatt and Chef Todd Garrigan of Craftsmen to lead us on this culinary extravaganza.

The first course was a great introduction to Craftsmen’s rustic feel. A trio of appetizers was presented: one hot pink deviled egg, two rye pretzel bites, and spicy, peppery jerky. This sampler was paired with the super light and refreshing single-hopped Amarillo pale ale. This starter set the tone perfectly for the kicky second course: lightly salted edamame with General Tso’s-inspired chicken wings. On my notes I had three exclamation points next to these wings because I wanted to remind myself when I came out of my beer haze just how delicious they were. There was just enough spice to make me really feel it by the time I got to the third and final wing. It made me grateful for the lemongrass and ginger-infused White Thai with which to wash it all down. DE-lish.

The third set had us tasting a beer that was certainly new to my palate: Gose (GOH-zay), a salty, sour, coriander-fueled brew. This nearly-extinct beer worked perfectly with the pork belly that was cooked for whatseemed like forever—sautéed once with its juices reserved, and cooked again in its own juices, only to sit in a low oven for several hours. Finally, the pork belly was cut up into chunks with spoons (yes, spoons – that’s how tender it was) and served with Raclette cheese toast and preserved sour cherries.From here we dappled in a bit of seafood. Salmon cured in pastrami spices: coriander, caraway, paprika, and black pepper. This was served on a rye crouton with cream cheese and “deli style” pickled vegetables. The brew of choice was a Grätzer and proved to be many attendants’ favorite pairing. The Covert Hops, a black IPA, was “just asking to be served with a big piece of meat,” according to Chef Todd. And a big piece of meat it was! Smoked brisket with a butter-soft layer of fat sat atop roasted carrots, radishes, Brussels sprouts, and shallots. This hunk of meat was roasted for a grand total of 23 hours. If you just looked at it, it fell apart. As such it was probably my favorite course. One should never forget about dessert. One praline, one dollop of fudge, and one block of sheep’s milk blue cheese completed our meal. The accompanying suds belonged to Vanilla Tree Dubbel. We were instructed to take a bite of all three components and follow it up with a sip of the Dubbel. My, was it good. Overall, as a beer-lover, I was pleased with the evening. Everyone was glistening by the end, but that could have been a result of the typically warm Southern evening. Craftsmen Kitchen faced a few obstacles with the heat, the lack of a full kitchen and the very large, very full room of tasters, but I think they adjusted quite well. I couldn’t have been more pleased with their choice of Westbrook as a partner and look forward to matching these two together later this summer when Craftsmen opens its doors.

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