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Brewer's Plate 2011 - Beer & Food in Support of a Sustainable Philadelphia


The seventh annual Brewer’s Plate fundraiser occurred Sunday at the Penn Museum in Brewer's Plate 2011University City. Presented by Fair Food every March, the event brings together local businesses, craft breweries, farmers and artisan producers to raise awareness of and proceeds for sustainable business practices.

Judy Wicks, original owner of White Dog Cafe, and Ann Karlen, Executive Director, founded Fair Food to promote a local food economy, one in which chefs and farms could connect, thereby producing strong relationships that benefitted both the growers and restaurants.

Brewer’s Plate was an outgrowth of this strategy. Conceived by Bill Covaleski of Downingtown’s Victory Brewing Company in 2005, the collaborative effort brought brewers to the “plate” and the Philly food community and consumer have profited.


This year’s event sold out a week ahead of time, a testament to Fair Food’s strong message and integration of amazing food and craft beers in a beautiful venue that showcased each participant’s offerings among Egyptian relics. Over 20 breweries and more than 50 restaurants and producers provided savory and sweet samplings, a majority of them collaborating on unique dishes that incorporated beer into their recipes. The result was truly special.

Chefs and brewers plated and poured side-by-side, demonstrating the co-existence preached by Fair Food’s mission. Dogfish Head’s Indian Brown Ale paired beautifully with Rembrandt’s outstanding hand-rolled gnocchi in a braised Jameson Farm lamb ragu. Troeg’s hard-to-find seasonal imperial amber Brewer's Plate 2011Nugget Nectar was poured adjacent to Varga Bar’s tasty Nectar-infused chili. Éclat Chocolate from Westchester offered a specially-made lucious Victory Hop Beer truffle.

A VIP ticket granted access to the event an hour earlier than General Admission, as well as access to a canopied Warden Garden that featured exclusive artisanal offerings, live music by the Hoppin’ John Orchestra, and demonstrations by Philadelphia’s food, beer and wine celebrities.

Beer writer Lew Bryson and wine author Marnie Old talked hops, while chef du jour Marcie Turney provided a cooking demonstration that showed everyone why her latest restaurant Barbuzzo continues to impress critics and diners alike. Attendees tapped their feet while enjoying spoonfuls of chèvre cheese from Shellbark Hollow Farm, incredible breads from Bobolink Dairy & Bakehouse, and freshly shucked oysters and clams from Sansom Oyster House.



A special addition to Brewer’s Plate this year was the inaugural Speakeasy setupBrewer's Plate 2011 in the lower Egypt Gallery. Some playfully dressed the part in Prohibition-era garb, looking like they stepped out of a Roaring 20s photo album.

While a live jazz band played, specialty cocktails and locally distilled spirits were served from producers like Philadelphia Distilling and Art in the Age’s Root and Snap.

By 7PM, the museum was packed and lined with foodies and beer aficionados who were clearly enjoying the evening’s offerings.

Rachel Alvarez from Chestnut Hill, PA works at Food for all Market in Mount Airy, so events like Brewer’s Plate hit close to home for all the right reasons.

“I think it’s great that we can walk around, taste everything and test everything out. It’s really good to see people interested in local food, where it comes from, and how to eat healthy,” says Alvarez.  “I have a child, and I think that’s something that more people are taking an interest in.”

Kathryn Snyder from South Philadelphia, came to the very first event Brewer's Plate 2011almost ten years ago, and admits the festivities have come a long way.

“To see the amount of people and vendors combined with all this food, it’s incredible. Just amazing.”

Memorable samples of the night included Rembrandt’s gnocchi, JG Domestic’s Hudson Valley potted duck with foie gras mousse and orange gelée, Khyber’s bacon grease popcorn (the ultimate bar snack), Fork’s steamed bass over fried lentils, Barbuzzo’s braised pork topped with fried pork rinds, and the beer-infused ice cream from The Bent Spoon of Princeton, NJ.

GPTMC Philly Homegrown was this year’s VIP Sponsor. Over 70 volunteers roamed the   grounds and museum with recognizable Fair Food tee-shirts assisting in whatever capacity. VIP ticket-holders walked away with special gift bags that contained a bottle of Victory Headwaters Pale Ale, a special Victory pint glass, a jar of Summer in the City honey, and a copy of the Philadelphia Local Food Guide presented by Fair Food and Grid Magazine.

Next year’s event will be held in March, so visit www.fairfoodphilly.org early in 2012 for ticket and participant information.

Philly Food Dude Darren DeBlasi is a former management consultant with a big passion for food. Having lived outside of Philadelphia his entire life, he has followed the city's restaurant scene for years. He has always had a relationship with food, whether dining out, cooking it, or traveling somewhere in the world to find it. Darren has worked a harvest at a Napa Valley winery, studied in France, and eaten his way through several countries. Darren has also had an affection for writing since childhood. He believes it is the optimum vehicle for expression, especially when sharing ideas and observations with fellow foodies. Now a Freelance Food Writer, he is a frequent diner, lover of travel, avid runner, brave hiker, wine geek, beer hound, and home chef. 

Contact Darren at ddeblasi1974@yahoo.com

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