Brewer's Plate 2017 Highlights
Six exceptional tastes from last Sunday’s event
The Brewer’s Plate is Fair Food Philly’s annual benefit event where chefs, brewers and artisans team up to provide their best pairings in the name of good food and beer. This year, nearly 100 of our region’s breweries, restaurants, bakeries and cheese makers assembled in the Kimmel Center, providing 1,500 attendees with a staggering number of samples to choose from.
“Our offerings have expanded as the Philly beverage scene has expanded,” Fair Food founder and director Ann Karlen says. Distillers, cider makers, and kombucha fermenters joined the brewers this year.
Brewer’s Plate provides an opportunity to talk to chefs and brewers in person while scoping out the best new beers and restaurants. The spots below hooked me with a stellar sample, and I’ll be making trips to their brick and mortar locations and looking out for them in bottle shops around the city.
The roasted sweet onion soup was one of my first bites of the night, and one of the best. “It’s our take on French onion soup,” says owner Kate Hartman. The familiar, deeply savory flavor is captured in Good Spoon’s silky, pureed version. They add Gruyere and top it with baguette croutons, fresh chives, and balsamic reduction. And unlike most onion soups, it’s vegetarian – they use their house-made veggie stock rather than the beef. This spring, I’ll be taking a trip to their Soupery in Fishtown for Hartman’s favorite – asparagus soup with tarragon.
1400 N. Front St., 267.239.5787
Three Springs Fruit Farms has a new offshoot – Ploughman Cider – and they brought their already well-loved Stark (German for ‘strong’) and Lupulin Lummox (brewed with citra hops) to the Brewer’s Plate. But the real treat was getting a chance to taste their sour peach/cider experiments, Haterade and Gatorade. They’re still in the R&D phase, but I imagine Philly bars will clamor for the crisp, peachy fizz as soon as it’s released.
The chorizo chili tostada with goat cheese and chipotle lime crema won the peoples’ choice award for best dish. (No, there wasn’t an official vote, but “Revolution Taco” was the most popular answer when I polled the crowd for favorites.) Revolution Taco is the fast-casual iteration of Taco Mondo that co-owners Carolyn Nguyen and Michael Sultan opened in Rittenhouse. The restaurant celebrated its one-year anniversary this winter — if you still haven’t been, we think it’s about time.
2015 Walnut St., 267.639.5681
This Huntingdon Valley brewery’s tart, seasonal Black Currant Rising caught my attention. It’s a wheat beer, and just a tad sweet – perfectly refreshing for summertime drinking. Co-owner Brian Sucevic recommends getting up to Bucks County and taking a brewery tour – hitting Crooked Eye, Neshaminy Creek, and Broken Goblet as well as Naked Brewing.
51 Buck Rd., Huntingdon Valley, PA, 267.355.9561
Even though the vast number of samples was entirely overwhelming, Bobolink’s cheese was so good, I ended up circling back for a second plate. The Jean-Louise (after chef Jean-Louise Palladin) was the stinky star of the three cheeses they served. Co-owner Jonathan White hoisted half a wheel from under the table and peeled back the wrapping so I could smell the funk. “It’s named after Chef Jean-Louise Palladin,” he says, who inspired its bold and fruity flavor. The cheese is seasonal – made in the Spring and Fall when Bobolink’s grass-fed cows’ milk is most flavorful. It was particularly divine washed down with their pairing partner Levante’s Double IPA (South Pacific Hop Cartel).
369 Stamets Rd., Milford, NJ
At 11% ABV, I wouldn’t again end my night with this beer, but in the moment I just couldn’t resist (and I’m glad I didn’t). Wild Elf is based on the sweet, spiced recipe for Mad Elf, but it goes through a second ferment with wild yeast and Balaton cherries from Peters Orchards in Adams County, PA. Its deep, but tart and refreshing flavor is well suited for warm weather drinking.
200 E. Hersheypark Dr., Hershey, PA, 717.534.1297