An invite to the Brewers’ Association of America lunch comes with a great flurry of excitement. Where this year? For last year it was at the magnificent Club Gascon, with foie gras and oysters and some potent, decadent beer pairings from the US. This year, though, was with hot young chef Tomos Parry at Kitty Fisher’s, the tiny Mayfair restaurant that uses a wood-powered grill with daintiness and elegance.
The States’ wealth of incredible craft beer should be well known in the UK by now. So many of the new wave of craft beer was inspired by the big, bestial IPAs coming from the US, the boldly-hopped brews that made it to this country and set off a catalyst for beer that was quite unlike that tasted before with our lovely but delicate native hops. So what’s not to like about one of the most talked about new restaurants, and a lazy afternoon of pondering on food, beer and everything in between?
We packed into the tiny bar at Kitty Fisher’s to be met by two delightful, fresh and summery beers, first the Hell or High Watermelon Wheat by 21st Amendment Brewery – with the lightest hint of watermelon the perfect antidote to a muggy tube journey to Green Park. The glorious O’Dell Brewery’s seasonal Blackberry gose was another light and tingly greeting.
And so downstairs to dusty pink, velvet-clad seats. I was heartened to a see a menu that didn’t stick strictly to the beer and food pairing rule of light to dark. Dogfish Head’s Festina Peche was the first to be poured, paired with a sumptuous little smoked scallop roe canapé, which I didn’t get a photo of because I was too busy munching it to remember. The beer was phenomenal, only the slightest, lightest hint of peach, but with no pulpy over-sweetness. It beautifully tempered the creamy, smoky scallop. Brewer’s Association Head Chef Adam Dulye explained that ‘this is what it’s all about’ – Dogfish Head brewed this beer because a neighbouring farm had an excess of peaches, so they took some off their hands and bob’s your uncle – a new beer is born. This, explained Adam, is the spirit of the American craft beer movement, and he should know. With a long career in food and beer pairing, including leading the way at beer and food pairing San Francisco hotspots Monk’s Kettle and Abbot’s Cellar, he was set to share his wisdom on all things food and beer.