Written by Tom Becham
Photos courtesy of Kristin Rea Photography
On Saturday, June 19, 2010, the City of Ventura saw its first (and thankfully not last) Salute! Beer Festival. Salute! was hosted by Joby Yobe and the Ojai Beverage Company, an outlet for fine beer which will have its own article in coming weeks. (I also gather that Joby intended this festival as a sort of reward to his regular customers.)
The festival was held at the Ventura State Beach Park, an ideal location with perfect weather on the day of the event and it drew about 2,500 people.
All proceeds from the festival were donated to FOOD Share, an organization that provides meals to over 50,000 people per month in Ventura County. So, it was not just an event to promote and enjoy great beer and food, but one to help the increasing numbers of the less fortunate in our own community.
Naturally, as can be gleaned from the title of the festival itself, the focus was not just on good beer, but how it complements good food, as well. So, this was not just an Oktoberfest style event with beer and sausages and pretzels (nothing wrong with that, but beer can be so much more.).
Indeed, VIP tickets to the event (as well as press passes, which I was lucky enough to obtain) entitled the bearer to enjoy food and beer pairings of gourmet quality. The very first pairing featured a beer called Saison du Buff, a collaborative effort from Stone Brewing, Victory Brewing and Dogfish Head. A fairly typical Belgian farmhouse-style saison, but spiced with parsley, sage, rosemary and thyme (insert your own Scarborough Fair joke here). It had the somewhat funky nose of most saisons, but the taste was somewhat like drinking in mouths full of garden herbs, in a good way. The dish paired with this beer was prepared by Ojai Beverage Company’s own chef, Jerret Gilden, and consisted of a seared sea scallop topped with pancetta, and a mushroom ragout in filo dough with feta cheese and spinach, all served over a bed of garlic and basil-spiced red lentils and tomato. Paired with that particular dish, the spices in the beer POPPED, and the beer became spectacular.
Further hammering home the point of joining quality beer with tasty food was the inclusion of Stone Brewing’s Cicerone “Dr.” Bill Sysak as a guest speaker at the event. Mr. Sysak coordinates all the taps and the cellar at the Stone World Garden and Bistro in Escondido, California, and has some renown in the West Coast beer world. I will also be featuring an interview with “Dr.” Bill in coming weeks.
Indeed, many other excellent area restaurants provided samples of some of their signature dishes at the festival. But Professor Good Ales is primarily about beer, so let me tell you about the beer at this festival.
Continue reading “Ventura, California hosts first annual Salute! Festival to Celebrate Finely Crafted Beer and Food”