Ventura, California hosts first annual Salute! Festival to Celebrate Finely Crafted Beer and Food

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.
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Free Beer Tastings: Beaver River Station, NY

Ready for an adventure in beer tasting? Two chances! August 21st and September 4th: 2010; 2pm

How do I get to Beaver River for the FREE beer tastings???

Important: for further information call Ken at 315 376 6625 or Millie at 615 255 4848. For reservoir transportation/reservations/accommodations: 315 376 6200 and speak with Ginger or Scott, or 315 376 7035 and speak with George.

There are NO roads to Beaver River. But you CAN get there for this year’s free beer tastings hosted by two BJCP judges. Millie and Ken Carman’s 6th annual beer tastings are scheduled for August 21st and September 4th: both at 2pm. A special warm invite to the Saratoga Throughbrews this year, with the hope by next year we can have a competition and a homebrew demonstration in the Old Forge/Beaver River area. All those 21 and older are welcome.

How do I get there?

Route 28 to Eagle Bay, NY. Take the Big Moose Road all the way until it turns into dirt. When you reach a “T” in the road, take a right. Stop at BIG lake, unless you have an amphicar. (If you need to ask then you obviously don’t.)

But NOW what do I do?

At Beaver River Station the adventure is getting there. Imagine yourself of a River Boat floating 7 miles down a scenic reservoir, or riding a barge, or traveling by railcar…
You can take the barge (The only way to drive into Beaver River… 315 376 6200), meet the River Boat (same number) or call ahead for a boat taxi. (There are two boat taxis: use the same number or call George at 315 376 7035, who also has a railcar and can pick you up in Big Moose.)

What Kind of Beer?

Stouts, Porters, Barley Wines, Fruit Beer, Wheat, Weird Beer of ALL Kinds, Homebrew and maybe even some wine and some Peycer. (Find out at the tasting!) Ken and Millie gather beer from all over the country all year long.

Just get there by 2!

Where do I stay?

Accommodations are available at Noridgewock (315 376 6200) or The Beaver River Hotel (315 376 3010) And Millie and Ken have limited free room for members of Saratoga Thoroughbrews (315 376 6625 or 615 255 4848). We may be able to make one trip each way to pick up members of Saratoga Thoroughbrews with our boat, if we all come up with a mutual time. It’s quite the trip down Stillwater!

The free tasting on the 21st will be at Norridgewock, the tasting on September 4th will be in front of the hotel.

Don’t forget… 2pm. August 21st, 2010 and September 21st 2010

This year’s tastings are sponsored by Professor Good Ales and hosted by Millie and Ken Carman, Beaver River Hotel and Norridgewock. Thanks in advance for another successful year!