Peter's Blog
The Big Reveal, Part Three
Peter Reinhart

Note: Blog text by Peter Reinhart; Photos and captions by Brad English

Okay, so we were already full of great Denver pizza from both Marco's Coal-Fired Pizzeria, and also Brava Pizzeria della Strada. Now it was our turn to make pizza, out on the sidewalk of 19th St., by the stage door of The Summit Beer Garden, a music hall that was hosting number of bands and events in the shadows of The Great American Beer Festival. As Brad English and our Director of Photography, David Wilson were running around figuring out how to shoot the event at this dark, noisy music hall, Kelly and Erika Whitaker, along with Alan Henkin and Kelly's young pizza protege named Ben, pulled up with their mobile wood-fired oven hooked to the back of their car (yes, another beauty from The Fire Within). Within minutes, the wood went in and the oven began its 90 minute fire-up. Joseph Pergolizzi, the owner of The Fire Within, offered to pick up and bring us the Challenge pizza dough, mixed and balled for us the previous day at The Whole Foods Bake House in Aurora (near the Denver airport). We wanted to bake the first couple of pizzas, the test pies, at around 5 PM, as the official party and "Big Reveal" was to begin at 6. But as 5 PM approached, I got a call from Joseph, who had gotten caught in a major construction jam near the bake house. By this time the day had already been so magical and full of unexpected delights that we all felt kind of protected and unworried (well, maybe not Brad since he is the producer of Pizza Quest which makes him the designated worrier, so I just told him the doughs were on their way).

Fortunately, the pressurized keg of Birra Basta was waiting in the VIP Lounge of The Summit Beer Garden. The Bruery folks had not yet arrived, but Brad "produced" us into tapping the keg and got the cameras rolling. Besides, we decided we couldn't wait for Patrick and just had to try it, so someone turned the key, released the pressure, and a few seconds later we each had a creamy mug of rich golden ale, cloudy with foam (normal for the first pull, soon to clarify as we watched it settle-out in the glass). I took a swig and, really, it was the most unusual beer I've ever tasted, but I wasn't sure if it was just me, a relatively unsophisticated drinker, or whether the others were equally stunned. Alan, who knows his stuff (he's the sommelier and beverage director at Pizzeria Basta), finally broke the ice and said, "This is amazing -- I love it!"

I said, "It tastes thick, almost like soup, like pea soup with a ham bone in it, but yet it's refreshing--my mind is sort of boggled by the complexity."  Usually, when I think of complexity in a beer I ascribe it to the hops and, to a lesser degree, to the malts, but this time there was only an undertone of hoppiness, very subtle, and the five malts (refer to my previous post last week about their names) were totally smooth and in support of some other flavor I've never experienced in a beer before. It was the fire roasted zucchini, I'm sure, with just a hint of lemon peel and fennel seed, and maybe a mist of cedar chips breathing through it. No, it was definitely the zucchini, for sure, a flavor I've never associated with beer (this was, of course, a biere de garde, a Belgian-style farmhouse ale, so why not some roasted zukes?), that, for me, evoked the split pea/ham bone image. No one else used that analogy so maybe it was just my own associations, but it made me feel quenched and fed at the same time -- this beer was a meal unto itself. The more I drank, the more I wanted. I couldn't wait to try it with our pizza.

Just then, Patrick Rue showed up and joined us, and we all tapped glasses in a toast and, pretty soon, the cameras were rolling again and we caught a lot of the ensuing conversation on tape, which you will eventually see. I think all of us (though maybe not Patrick, since he's tasted more types of beer than most people who ever lived) were still trying to find the right words, the language, to place this flavor within the context of our taste memories, but we all agreed that we loved it. So we went outside to the oven and, as if on cue, Joseph pulled up with the boxes of dough balls, having sweated bullets and dodged traffic to get it to us. Yes, the day was still magic.

The dough was made for us, to the specs of the same recipe that we used at The Bruery when we issued the original challenge three and a half months earlier, by Safa Hamze and his baking team at Whole Foods under the direction of head baker Andy Clark (a founding member of "Boulder's Secret Pizza Society" and an experienced appreciator of serious beer who was, regrettably, out of town at a Bread Baker's Guild of America Board meeting -- I know he would have totally flipped out at what was about to happen and, naturally, I'll never let him forget that he missed this night). The dough had a pleasant light caramel tone, maybe cafe au lais-ish, because it was infused with barley malt crystal (4% ratio to the flour; the recipe is in an earlier posting). The Germania flour from Central Milling, with its touch of pumpernickel, was the perfect choice, an American flour blend that performed like a cross between the Italian Double Zero flour we'd had earlier that day at Marco's, and the Colorado grown high-protein flour we'd had in the pizzas that morning at Brava Pizzeria della Strada. We were ready to roll.

Kelly started assembling the first pizza, the "hero" as it's called in photo sessions, the one for the camera, and for our first combined taste with the Birra Basta. The dough was then baked in the now 800 degree owood-fired oven, with freshly made, super creamy burrata cheese from the legendary Gioia Cheese Company in Los Angeles, and also with beautiful yellow squash blossoms, sliced chiffonnade style into slivers. Ninety seconds later, when it emerged from the oven, Kelly finished it off with a topping of baby arugula, sweet and tangy silver anchovies, lemon preserves (slow cooked in Kelly's sous vide water bath cooker), and a dusting of fennel pollen salt.  We brought the pizza to a table just inside the stage door of the Beer Garden because we were told the Denver police would arrest us if we drank our beers out on the sidewalk (probably a necessary law in beer-crazed Denver). There, Patrick, Alan, Kelly, me, and eventually our whole crew and growing entourage, with cameras rolling, put the birra and the pizza together for the first time.

I hate to do this to you, but I'll pick up the story tomorrow and do my best to describe how the flavors took on a whole new direction when they all came together....

 
The Big Reveal, Part Two
Peter Reinhart

In my last post I wrote of our visits to Brava Pizzeria Della Strada, and also to Marco's Coal-Fired Pizzeria, both very near to where The Big Reveal took place. Even without the Big Reveal, though, the trip would have been successful because of these other two places. We were able to capture some great footage at both and will, eventually, be able to post it here as webisodes but, for now, I'll give a thumbnail sketch of how it went:

Dave Bravdica is another one of those guys -- we all seem to know such people now -- who left a successful professional career to pursue his true passion, feeding people. He became a caterer for a few years and then, having fallen under the magic spell of fire, became a pizzaiolo and also a wood-fired oven maestro. Somehow, he nailed down a primo spot on Denver's hip 16th St. Mall, parking his mobile oven on a terrace just above an underground cabaret. His pizzas are Napoletana inspired but tweaked with his own touches: Colorado grown and milled flour, locally sourced mushrooms, chili peppers, greens, and herbs. His meats are all cured or prepared within a few miles of the oven, exemplifying all the green values we've been learning to honor and love.

His own passion and ethic was fired in Italy, in much the same way Kelly Whitaker and, as we've all read, Mario Batali, found their culinary voices. The pizzas, he told us as we filmed away while tasting his Sonny Pizza (with Mondo Vecchia Sausage), his Fun Guy (yes, pun intended, laden with local shiitake mushrooms), and his Queen (of course, a Margherita), were just the beginning of his long range plans for the oven. For example, we got to taste his very popular porchetta sandwich on folded pizza dough, made with long, slow roasted tender as butter pork shoulder served with a couple of fun sauces. I'd like to go into more detail but we'll revisit all of this in a few months when we run the webisodes. Needless to say, by 11 AM, when Dave opened to the public, to whom he typically sells about 100 pizzas for lunch and then many more throughout the day, he had fed our whole crew and, so sated, we headed off to our next stop.

 

 

 

 

 

 

After an eight block walk, which included a stop at the Summit Beer Garden to see if we could get an early start setting up for the Big Reveal (the place was locked up tight and someone said to come back around 3 PM), we soon found ourselves at Marco's Coal-Fired Pizza at 21st and Larimer St. I'd heard about this place recently but wasn't prepared for how good it was, and how dedicated they were to authentic, VPN (Vera Pizza Napoletana) pizza. They actually have two ovens, one fired with coal and used to bake their wonderful lemoncello chicken wings as well as a quite decent gluten-free pizza (!!). The other oven is fired with local hard wood, and dedicated to the VPN pizzas, their pizzaiolos trained by the brilliant Roberto Caporuscio of New York City's Keste Pizzeria. I guess the locals have discovered Marco's because Marco Dym, the owner, has recently opened a second location in Englewood, Colorado, leaving the Larimer location in the capable hands of his daughter Samantha Monterosso, who served as our host when we pulled out the cameras and hung out with the pizza team. Again, we'll go deeper into this when we put up the videos, but I have to say, Marco's is the real deal and, along with some of the other Denver places that we didn't get to that are on my list, such as The Buenos Aires Pizzeria, which has an equally fanatical following, it looks like Denver is starting to make its case for becoming a great pizza city.

But this was all fun and delicious bonus material, a prelude to our real purpose for being in Denver. So, stuffed to the gills, we returned to The Summit Beer Garden, whose doors were now opened, bands starting to set up, and prepared to bake our own, original Challenge Pizzas and experience, for the first time, the Birra Basta created for us by The Bruery. How did that go? I'll focus on this in tomorrow's post….

 
The Big Reveal, Part One
Peter Reinhart

 

We'd been building up to this moment for so long it seemed surreal when it actually all came together. It all started when a flash went off in Brad's head a year ago while we were filming a segment with Kelly Whitaker in Boulder, at his Pizzeria Basta, and Alan Henkin, Kelly's business partner and the beverage director at Basta, turned us on to some amazing beer from a place called The Bruery. I thought it was ironic that they'd be serving beer from Southern California since Boulder, and the Denver area, is one of the true beer centers of the world, but that's how impressed they were with it. Brad, who lives only about thirty minutes from The Bruery, decided to follow-up when he got home and developed his own relationship with the brewery/Bruery. Then, we heard that Basta was going to do a beer and food pairing in May built totally around The Bruery's brews and it coincided with a Denver trip I was already planning and, voila, Brad got the Pizza Quest team assembled and back "on the bus" and there we were, at Pizzeria Basta, sitting at a table with Patrick Rue, the owner of The Bruery, issuing a challenge. We reversed the typical beer/food pairing, where the chef has to create a menu to match the beer (or more typically, wine), and instead asked Patrick if he could create a beer to match a pizza that Kelly, Alan, and I would create. He accepted the throw-down and we were off and running. For those who have been following this from the beginning, I won't recap it all and, for all newcomers to this saga I refer you back to my various Peter's Blogs as well as Brad's gallery to catch up.

So now, to bring it to the present, I must first address one question that keeps getting asked of me: when will we show the videos of this months long Quest? The answer is, I don't know, but it will take a while, which is why I'm writing about it now, while it's still fresh in my mind and the flavors are still tingling my palate.  It takes months of careful editing to get any of our webisodes ready to show because, as many of you know, we are preparing them to eventually be part of a television series; the webisodes are shorter versions of thirty minute television episodes.  So it isn't easy, especially on our budget, to get all the editing and post-filming work done quickly (much of which is done by our wonderful editor, Annette Aryanpour).  So, yes, eventually you will get to see the whole thing on screen, but we have other things to show first and there is a lot of footage that has to be sorted, culled, and cut into a cohesive series of webisodes.  But it will happen.  In the meantime, I'll spend the next few days writing about it here on the Peter's Blog section of Pizza Quest, and Brad will add some of the photos he took.

The culmination of the pizza/beer challenge occurred on Friday, September 30th, a few blocks from the annual Great American Beer Festival in Denver. We started out calling it the Challenge but, as we neared the finish line, I've taken to calling it The Big Reveal, since none of us had any idea how the new Challenge beer would taste and how it would pair with the Challenge pizza. One thing we did know is that, in anticipation of the beer being fabulous, and already knowing how tasty the pizza was, The Bruery folks created a very cool label for the beer and gave it a great name, Birra Basta.  Kelly's wife, Erika, had terrific tee-shirts made and I proudly wore mine when we filmed.

But now I have to back up yet again and tell you about a couple of special Quests we squeezed in earlier that day, prior to the Big Reveal. Denver has become, like many cities, quite the foodie mecca. Personally, I think in Denver's case it all starts with the local micro breweries, of which there are so many, all of mind blowing quality, as well as having access to great locally grown and produced foods, and, of course, a "green" ethic that is inspiring and, in some respects, leads the national sustainability stampede. Every time I go there I become more of a fan and consider it almost my second home now (by Denver, I mean the whole area including Boulder, Colorado Springs, and all the other surrounding towns, red rock formations, mountains, crisp clean air, tasty water -- the whole Rocky Mountain high ethic).

So, our good friend Joseph Pergolizzi (creator of The Fire Within, whose mobile oven rigs are featured here in many of our Instructional videos) told us about a friend of his, David Bravdica, who has a very popular street pizza business in the bustling 16th Street Pedestrian Mall, and, being the ardent pizza questers that we are, we decided to start the day there, at Brava Pizzeria Della Strada. The weather was perfect, not a cloud in the sky, temperature in the high '70's, and a beautiful mobile oven (yes, one of Joseph's, naturally) parked under the iconic D & F Clock Tower on the corner of 16th Street and Arapahoe. I'll write more details about this tomorrow, as well as of our second stop, lunch at Marco's Coal-Fired Pizzeria on Larimer St.  All of this was prior to our main event, the Big Reveal, held at the Summit Beer Garden on 19th St. at Blake -- all of these places are within a few block's walk of each other which, when you think of it, makes this part of Denver (near the Rockies baseball park, Coors Stadium, and dozens of brew pubs and also the wonderful Cook Street Culinary School) a kind of Gastro area not unlike the one we showed in San Francisco in the Pizzeria Delfina webisode series.  Maybe one of the new definitions of what makes a city a great city is that it must have a Gastro.

More about all of this as well as my post-Big Reveal adventures at The Vine Street Pub and also at one of my favorite places, Pizzeria Rustica in Colorado Springs, as The Big Reveal continues tomorrow and throughout the week.

 

 
Peter's Blog, Sept. 27th, 2011
Peter Reinhart

As I prepare to head out to Denver for what I referred to last week as "The Big Reveal," I want to share this week's Peter's Blog with our correspondent, Nick Birkby, a baker and beer maker in South Africa. The timing is perfect, as Nick has been doing a lot of experimentation lately with beer malts in pizza dough, which is one of the keys to our Challenge Pizza (the recipe for this dough was posted last week). Nick has pushed the envelope even further, as you will see below. For those who have been writing in asking for more details for how to work with malt in dough, Nick's report will be invaluable and, hopefully, spur you on. If so, please write to me at This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it to share your own adventures. As Nick points out, it's all part of the quest.

Here's Nick:

Every good quest should include a few exciting detours. Beer, much like pizza, rewards the passion of it’s creator.  It allows the brewer experimentation, and is capable, at times, of layers of dizzying complexity. Beer and  pizza are similar in that, in skilled hands, they can both be crafted with subtle simplicity or audacious bravado. They make for perfect partners, not just at the table, but in spirit. Both are capable of inspiring.

This contribution to the Quest takes us into some exotic  territory.  It’s been fantastic keeping up each week with the developments in the beer and pizza pairing saga, and my offering is simply another slice to add to the already exciting picture,  .

What caught my imagination as a home brewer was the adding of brewing malt flavors,  as well as  colors, to a pizza dough intended to be paired with beer. I had been occasionally adding malt in small quantities to my loaves for some time with good results but, what i wanted to see was if I could get some of the colors of these tasty complex roasted malts into a pizza base. I love the beautiful rich colors that some beers have – golden copper through to amber and on to dark chocolate black. I envisioned a dark brown deep roasted malt pizza base to pair with an Irish Stout, and a reddish base for an Amber Ale.

Before I carry on, I should explain what role these specialty malts play in brewing.  A brewer works with a recipe that uses pale or ’base’ malt as the largest proportion of the brew. It is, quite literally, the basis. Then, the ‘specialty’ malts are added in smaller amounts for their flavoring and coloring quantities. These malts are roasted and kilned for a longer time under different conditions by the Maltster, to produce different qualities and flavors that will allow the brewer to craft, say, a deep caramel Amber Ale or a coffee-like dry and roasty Stout. There are many types of specialty malts and most brewers love to experiment with them!  Flavors can range from "bready" and toasty through to caramel, toffee and even fruity plum and raisin. Think of the base malt as the canvas, and the specialty malts (and hops of course ) as the paint!

Getting hold of these malts is very easy, as brewing is such a huge hobby and any home brewing shop will be able to help.

Using the fantastic Neo-Neapolitan dough  (listed on this site ) as my recipe, what I did was quite simple. I steeped the coarsely ground up malt in some hot water until it had completely infused and cooled and then, once I sieved it off from the spent grain, substituted that for the water in the recipe. Because these malts are so good at releasing their flavors and colors through infusion, it wasn’t necessary to add actual ground malt to the dough.  The results were quite exciting!  From a flavor point of view it made a huge difference.  Roasted malts add a lot of complexity, roundness and an unusually delicious flavor to the dough. It definitely augments the dough, but does not overpower it and, paired with the appropriate beers and toppings, it was really memorable!

Due to time constraints, I have not been able to pursue this ingredient and pairing concept as far as I would have liked, but perhaps that makes it all the more exciting. The idea is here, and now it’s up to the bold to venture forward!

The Neo-Neapolitan recipe was halved for these experiments. Simply double up it for more.

For the ‘Stout’ dough I used 30 grams of dark ‘chocolate’ malt to 300 mls of very hot water, infused and allowed to cool. Use it in place of the water in the recipe. The topping was brown mushrooms and bacon. I paired it with a sweetish English Stout

For the Amber dough, I used 50 grams of ‘Caramel 50’ ( Cara 50 ) with the same amount of water as above. The amber color was not as pronounced as I hoped but here is where I will experiment again.  The topping was a mild chorizo, which happened to be at hand, and also happened to be amber! I paired it with one of my own malty Amber Ales!

Thanks very much to Peter for the invitation to contribute. All the Best, Nick.

Thank you Nick -- this is fabulous information!  I can't wait to hear from our other brewer/baker/pizza makers out there. Meanwhile, anyone who will be in Denver this weekend for the Great American Beer Festival, or for any other reason, look for us at the Summit Beer Garden, 1902 Blake St., on Friday, from 6 PM till the coals die out (or till they throw us out). I'll try to post a follow-up on Saturday. Here we go.....

 

 

 

 
The Big Reveal: Part One
Peter Reinhart

The following is an article I wrote, with Brad's help, to be sent to various beer blogs to alert them to the big event next week in Denver. We've been writing about here for a number of weeks, and on Thursday I'll post the Challenge Pizza dough recipe, but I thought I'd share the article with all you as a way of recapping the past few posts and to give you the info as to where to find us if you happen to be in Denver next week. The location is given toward the end of the article. Hope to see you there and we'll be telling you all about it and, eventually, sharing the videos as well. Feel free to send this post to anyone you think might be interested, or to beer blogs that you may know. So, here's the article which I call...

The Big Reveal:

I'm a bread baker, not a brewer, but in a way, that's just a matter of thickness, viscosity, and a different approach to manipulating the three major points of the food triangle: time, temperature, and ingredients.  Bread is solid beer and it's a whole lot more tolerant of human imprecision than beer, which is probably why I took the bread path when choosing careers.  Pizza is an extension of bread -- it's dough with something on it, whatever name you call it by, and it's been called by a lot of other names than pizza (focaccia, schiacciatta, sfingiuni, naan, American flatbread, quesadilla, and grilled cheese all come to mind for starters).  So, when the folks at our website, PizzaQuest.com discovered the unusually complex beers from Orange County's The Bruery, at the equally dynamic Pizzeria Basta in Boulder, it seemed like the time had come to meld the beer/bread tributaries into one seamless river.

After visiting The Bruery in person, Brad English and Jeff Michael saw the same passion for making great beer that we’ve seen at so many great pizzerias and other food establishments. So, we challenged Patrick Rue, owner of The Bruery, to make a beer inspired by a pizza, and not just an ordinary pizza but one that we would create for them, a very special Challenge Pizza.  This would be a pizza and beer pairing but, instead of the more conventional pairing of food to an existing beer or wine, we created the food first and challenged the brewers to create the perfect beer to pair with that pizza! 

Patrick and his team accepted the “throw-down” and then Kelly Whitaker and Alan Henkin, owners of Pizzeria Basta, went to work on some topping ideas for the Challenge Pizza and I focused on the dough.  Basta is using a new line of flour from Central Milling, a mill that I know well, as the owner, Keith Giusto, has been supplying me with flour for over twenty years.  Lately, he's developed four new specialty pizza flour blends designed to compete with the famous Italian Double Zero brands such as Caputo and San Felice.  One of the blends contains three different types of flour, including some coarse pumpernickel rye. I zeroed in on this one for The Bruery Challenge Pizza because of that rye, but also wanted to turn my pizza dough into something even more like solid beer so, after some experimentation, added in a fair amount of amber malt crystal to evoke a hint of the alehouse brew that Patrick’s team was creating.

Kelly and Alan came up with two distinct pizza topping concepts, one red and one white, and we assembled and baked them in a 900 degree mobile wood-fired oven that a friend of ours, Tim Gonzalez, drove to The Bruery.  We asked Patrick and his head brewer, Tyler King, to taste and choose the pizza that they would use as the inspiration for their beer as it’s perfect pairing partner.  They went for the white pizza, which we thought they might, since it was a thing of beauty (the red pizza wasn't too shabby either, loaded with organic tomatoes, fresh mozzarella, and killer guanciale bacon -- made from the jowl, not the belly of the beast -- kind of the Rolls Royce of bacon).  But the white pizza was really out of the box, just the way The Bruery makes their beers.  It was topped with fresh burrata cheese (a blend of fresh mozzarella wrapped around creme fraiche -- what an oozey delight!), sweet white sardines, preserved lemon, squash blossoms, fresh arugula sprouts, and a sprinkle of fennel salt at the end.  It was a wowzer!

The Bruery team then went to work.  They fashioned a brew inspired by the flavors of the pizza, and Birra Basta was born.  This was a Biere de Garde style ale using six malts (Pilsner, Six-Row, Munich, Biscuit, Kiln Amber, Aromatic), two types of hops (Columbus, Strisselspalt) and a variety of other spices and flavorings (roasted zucchini used in the mash, and fennel seeds, lemon peel, and Spanish cedar in the fermentor), and finally they fermented it with their proprietary Belgian House Yeast.  Biere de Garde is translated as “a beer for keeping” and is similar in style to a Saison, or farmhouse ale although it is less hoppy and has similar malty and earthy flavors.

Pizza Quest Creator/Producer Brad English, who is the guy that put this whole Pizza/Beer Challenge in motion, and who lives near The Bruery, got a call to come down and taste the early, unfermented “soup.”  He was suitably impressed, to put it mildly, and has been hard at work ever since coordinating what I'm calling "The Big Reveal" on Friday, September 30th, at the Summit Beer Garden (www.summitbeergarden.com), which is an event open to the public, put together by Rueben’s Burger Bistro of Boulder and Denver’s Summit Music Hall, not far from where the Great American Beer Festival is taking place.  Kelly, Alan, and I will be cranking out the Challenge Pizzas in Kelly's mobile wood-fired oven, while Patrick and his team will pull pints of their original, hand crafted ale – Birra Basta.  Once and for all we'll find out if we've made a heavenly, synergistic match – a perfect pairing - with the sums even greater than the already wonderful parts.  Based on the players involved, I'm pretty jazzed about the moment when it all comes together.   After the event, Birra Basta will only be found at Pizzeria Basta, until it runs out.

Come join us at “The Big Reveal” at 6 PM on September 30th.

 
Peter's Blog, Sept. 13, 2011
Peter Reinhart

Thanks to our intrepid producer, Brad English, we're about to get a sneak peek at the Challenge Beer created by our friends at The Bruery. Brad only got to taste the unfermented wort, as the finished beer won't be ready till it's unveiled at the Great American Beer Festival (GABF) on Sept. 30th. We'll all be there, making the Challenge Pizza created by Kelly Whitaker and Alan Henin of Pizzeria Basta with a crust created by me and the Pizza Quest team, and drinking the new, finished beer.  Can't wait to find out what they call it.

Meanwhile, as those of you who have been following these blogs know, I've been captivated by the use of beer malts in the dough -- we'll be using a light malt crystal in the Challenge Pizza but our friend Nick Birkby, in South Africa, is playing with all sorts of colors and intensities and plans to write a special guest column for us to share his findings. We'd love to hear from others, as well, if you've done any of this kind of experimentation with malts. Write to me at This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it and maybe we can get your thoughts out to all of our followers.

So, let's get to the beer. Here is Brad's report after his trip to The Bruery for the first taste. In the coffee world they call this stage a "cupping" so I wonder if they call it a "mugging" in the beer world. If so, Brad got "mugged" and here he is to tell us all about it:

 

A Biere De Garde is born…

Biere de Garde translated means "beer that has been kept or lagered", or, "a beer for keeping."  It is a style of beer similar to a Saison, or the Farmhouse Ales of Northern France and French speaking Belgium. These beers were brewed in the winter months to take advantage of the cool weather, but brewed to be enjoyed throughout the year, which means they needed to be flavorful, but refreshing enough for the summer months. They are characterized by their malt flavors, with varying colors based on the malts added: Blond, Brune (Brown), and Ambree (Amber). They are less hoppy and show fruity, earthy or rustic cellar-like flavors.  Yes, I becoming a beer wonk!

Interestingly, I was originally drawn to The Bruery through one of their Saisons that Kelly had on tap at Pizzeria Basta last fall, a farmhouse ale with many of the characteristics as described above. And now, as time has passed, we have created a pizza, and The Bruery has created a beer in the style of a Biere de Garde. Can I call it a Biere de Pizza?

I went down to The Bruery to meet with Patrick, Ben, and Tyler a few weeks ago because they were about to start brewing the final full batch of the Pizza Challenge beer. I hadn't heard what the beer would be, but knew I would get to taste the test brew and see them get started brewing the final beer. When I arrived I sat with Ben for a while at the bar while we waited for Patrick to arrive. There were a few ingredients sitting there waiting to go into the brew: a few bags of Dried Lemon Peel, Fennel Seeds, and even a case of Zucchini. I could see right away what Patrick and the brewers were up to.

Our Challenge Pizza was made with a beer dough in which Peter included some whole rye flour and malt crystal to play up this beer connection. Then Kelly Whitaker and Alan Henkin pulled some wildly fresh ingredients together including: fresh burrata, squash blossoms, white sardines, fresh arugula sprouts and flours, preserved lemon, and a sprinkling of fennel salt along the crust edge.

We had made another pizza, with a red sauce and cured pork jowl (guanciale).  But, when we presented the two, I could see that Kelly was hoping that Patrick would choose this one because he wanted to challenge Patrick. And, I noticed that Patrick could see what Kelly was up to, and without words, their two grins connected and Patrick took that challenge. He was now answering it by bringing in some of those same flavors that Peter's malty dough and Kelly's eclectic mix of fresh ingredients brought, to pair with his beer.

Patrick poured some of the non-carbonated test brew for us. It was a rich amber color, with an almost orange glow to it. It was slightly hazy and you could instantly smell the malty, earthy, and fruity aromas. I had a grin from ear to ear. I didn't brew this, or design it, but with a few ideas, some conversations and lots of emails and phone calls, I was standing in one of America's most unique craft breweries and I had a glass of beer that I was a part of. You can't imagine how good that felt and how good that pre-beer tasted to me.

Patrick and Tyler were interested in this test brew for it's flavors; how they would work when finished, what they wanted to add or change. I was interested in this beer and what it was saying to me right then. It wasn't finished, the carbonation was still to come; it was warm, probably cellar temperature, but that allowed those flavors to be at their fullest.

It's been an interesting quest for me. I know Peter will expand more on the connections between bread and beer on the technical side, but I feel there has been a permanent connection made in my brain on an experiential level. I now seem to sense a deep similarity in the aromas and experiences I am having with good beer and good bread, or pizza dough, since this challenge began. Kelly mentioned that drinking a beer in the brewery where it was made is something special. I will add to that and say that drinking a beer and eating a pizza in the brewery where both were made is spectacular! I swear I can smell and taste the yeasty, malty sweetness if I just close my eyes and think about all of this.

I'm looking forward to the final pairing which is coming up in only a few short weeks. We will definitely, keep you posted!
Brad

Thanks Brad--I'm loving how your world has been rocked, and thanks also for setting up this whole challenge. Next week I'll post the recipe for the pizza dough and we'll talk more about the toppings on the Challenge Pizza. We're only two weeks from the big weekend and it's getting exciting for all of us.

 

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Vision Statement

Pizza Quest is a site dedicated to the exploration of artisanship in all forms, wherever we find it, but especially through the literal and metaphorical image of pizza. As we share our own quest for the perfect pizza we invite all of you to join us and share your journeys too. We have discovered that you never know what engaging roads and side paths will reveal themselves on this quest, but we do know that there are many kindred spirits out there, passionate artisans, doing all sorts of amazing things. These are the stories we want to discover, and we invite you to jump on the proverbial bus and join us on this, our never ending pizza quest.

Peter's Books

American Pie Artisan Breads Every Day Bread Baker's Apprentice Brother Juniper's Bread Book Crust and Crumb Whole Grain Breads

… and other books by Peter Reinhart, available on Amazon.com

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