Oh, how getting your MBA sometimes leads to the inability to go out and enjoy life. Thankfully I have an awesome roomie that will jump at the opportunity to go for me (or with me if I can make it out.) Kristina (@kklausser on twitter!) was up for the challenge when I asked her to check out an event with me and she supplied all kinds of info to make your mouth water… So check it out and tweet her up to let you know what you think.
Recently Jax Restaurant Reviews put together a great pizza and beer dinner at Your Pie. Unfortunately, Daisy couldn’t attend (damn adult responsibilities!) but I took one for the team and dug into some pizza to write this little guest blog.
The evening kicked off with Jerry (of Jax Restaurant Reviews) who explained a little about the event and introduced us to David Rigdon, a certified cicerone (more on that in a second) and the owner of this Your Pie location, whose name I unfortunately cannot remember (I took a bunch of notes but managed to skip that detail! whoops!). David explained to us what a cicerone is (who knew there was a beer equivalent of a sommelier?) and gave us some great tips on beer pairing. As he explained, the best pairings are meant to enhance the taste of booth the beer and the food being eaten. I’m not a huge beer drinker and honestly, I’ve never given much thought to what type of beer I eat with certain food. David told us that an easy way to pair beer and food is to just think regionally. German food? Probably goes great with a German beer. Mexican food? Mexican beer. Seems so obvious but I’m not sure I would have thought of it that way.
We kicked off the meal with Your Pie’s cheese bread sticks with dipping sauce, salad, and a choice of their craft beers on tap. I went with a Blue Moon, always a winner in my book. The bread sticks were super cheesey and tasty but I was making some effort to pace myself so I didn’t indulge in them too much. I had some of the caprese salad and again, perfect flavors and super fresh.
Our first pizza was the barbecue chicken pizza paired with “Not Your Father’s Root Beer.” David informed us that this beer (yes, it’s root beer beer) is brand new and was chosen for a sort of barbecue theme for this first pizza course. I really enjoyed the pizza, it’s not something I would never have ordered before this but would not hesitate to order now (this happened a few times throughout the dinner). I have never liked root beer so this beer wasn’t something I enjoyed but everyone else at the table loved it.
Next up was the ischia pizza (evoo, fresh mozzarella, Roma tomatoes, basil, & garlic) and an orange blossom pilsner from Orange Blossom Brewing Co in Orlando. Based on a quick check of the menu, I expected to like this pizza the best and it did not disappoint. I love mozzarella and tomato together in basically any form so this was a home run for me. I also really enjoyed this beer. It had a taste reminiscent of Blue Moon but with a tiny hint of honey. Super refreshing and, as David said, brought out all the fresh ingredients in the pizza perfectly.
The lineage is basically Your Pie’s version of a supreme pizza with a little bit of everything (bell peppers, olives, onions, mushrooms, pepperoni, and sausage). David paired it with Jon Boat from Intuition. Not a pizza I’d necessarily order on my own but I was glad to get a taste. I love Your Pie’s variety of fresh veggies and tend to stick to them and just skip the meat but the pepperoni and sausage both had lots of flavor. As for the Jon Boat, this was the one of the few beers of the night that I’d had previously. David described Jon Boat as bread-y and toast-y with less of a hop-y taste and it went well with the spices in the pepperoni and sausage.
The Nat was next and this was another great surprise for me. Basil pesto sauce, mozzarella, feta, spinach, sun-dried tomatoes, & grilled chicken worked together nicely on this pizza and made for a very filling but not too heavy slice of pizza. The beer pairing with this course was Jon Adams’ Summer Ale, a beer I’d managed to never have until this night. This was easily my favorite beer we tried. It wasn’t heavy at all and was actually super refreshing. David actually compared it to champagne because of the light, refreshing feel. The pizza and beer combo was my favorite.
Trust me when I say that our next pizza, the southern heat, was no joke. This pizza has hot sauce, mozzarella, fresh jalapenos, red onions, and grilled chicken. At our table we attempted to pick off all the jalapenos but the pizza still had us all fanning ourselves and chugging down any and all drinks in front of us. The beer pairing here was a fat tire by New Belgium. Not my favorite but not bad.
We finished up the pizzas with the Trevor’s Pie. Trevor, the creator of this one, actually delivered it to our table himself and I couldn’t even tell you everything that it included. Veggies and fruit and meats and cheeses and guess what? It works really nicely. I would never have guessed that some of those items would go together (corn and cranberries?!) but it was really great. Our last beer was a dogfish head IPA. This one was served in a very unique glass with an interesting shape. David explained that this particular style of glass is made specifically to enhance the taste of the beer. In part, the glass is designed to make sure the beer will spread across your tongue and insure you get the full flavor. Our lovely hosts at Your Pie even let us take the glasses home!
We wrapped up the night with the s’mores pie and some gelato. The s’mores pie was phenomenal. I was a little suspicious of a dessert pizza but they hit this one out of the park.Just sweet enough and really fantastic. By the time the gelato came out I was beyond stuffed but I did have a few bites of the caramel gelato but it was creamy with tons of flavor.
Overall this dinner was a great experience. Jerry, David, and the Your Pie staff was awesome. So informative and friendly. I’ve been to a handful of these type of events and a lot of places seem to struggle with getting the food out fast enough to avoid big lulls in the meal. Your Pie had no such issue. The food was timed really nicely. We had enough time to enjoy each course but not so much that we felt like we were sitting around waiting awkwardly. This dinner gave me a much better feel for so many items on the Your Pie menu and many ideas of how to pair beer with various foods.