Monday, February 6, 2012

Belgianfest 2012 & Superbowl Sunday Eats

This past Saturday, I attended Seattle's 3rd Annual Belgianfest down at Pier 66.  It was my first time attending this event, and I had a lot of fun.  The following day, Superbowl Sunday, I broke out my smoker for the first time this year and made some great BBQ.


Belgianfest is done in two sessions: Noon - 4:00PM and 5:30PM - 9:30PM.  I attended the Noon - 4:00PM session.  While sampling the various Belgian-styled offerings from several Seattle area breweries, I was also busy clicking away, getting lots of photos.  You can view all the photos I got HERE.  If you spot yourself, tag yourself!

For those unfamiliar with this event, Belgianfest is one of the best ways to experience all the various Belgian beer styles offered by local breweries.  All beers at the festival were Washington beers done in the Belgian style - rather than beers actually from Belgium.  Here were my selections for the day.  There are several I didn't try at the festival because I've had them before and I wanted to limit myself to mostly new offerings:

-The Lamb - Fremont
This was a Belgian Saison aged in French Oak wine barrels and the lambic yeast strain brettanomyces lambicus.  The aroma promised more than the flavor delivered on this one.  The oak/Saison flavor was somewhat apparent upon my first sip, but the flavor seemed to weak/subdued.  A decent beer, but I was hoping for more. 

-Bourbon Barrel Aged La Petite Mort - Black Raven
This one may have been the star of the festival.  Even if it doesn't garner the highest praise of all the offerings there, its popularity speaks for itself.  The line for this one went halfway across the festival hall!

A Belgian strong abbey brown, I've had this one before, but had to have some again.  The complex combination of oak, bourbon, complex malt character and Belgian abbey style yeast is amazing and quite pleasant to drink.  Hopefully they saved some for the afternoon session, because the keg they had out for the noon - 4:00PM session was gone before I left for the day.  This was definitely one of my favorites of the day.  The picture above shows the long line leading to Black Raven's booth. 

-Hale's Bourbon Barrel Aged Belgian Gold
I'm a sucker for anything bourbon-barrel aged, so I had to give this one a go.  The extended oak aging (it was aged in oak for "most of 2011"), was pleasantly apparent in the flavor and aroma.  Combine that oak/whiskey flavor with a wonderful Belgian yeast, and this one was a pleasure to drink.  Another one of my favorites of the day. 

-Hilliard's Saison
Known for being the first year-round available canned Saison, this was my first time having a Hilliard's beer (I've been meaing to get down to their tap room, but keep somehow not doing it).  It's a solid Saison, but I'm still not too partial to cans and the off-taste they can sometimes impart and, unfortunately, Hilliard's was pouring their Saison out of cans instead of from a tap.  They did have a tap there - an ESB (Extra Special Belgian), but I didn't have the chance to try it. 

-Thor's Equinox - Odin
Belgian Dark Strong style, this one was pretty decent.  A mix of the Belgian style along with an attempt to please porter and stout lovers as well, it drank decently, but it didn't totally blow me away. 

-Brandy-barrel-aged Fuerte Strong Ale - Elliott Bay
This one came across much sweeter than I was expecting.  I was also, unfortunately, a bit on the flat side.  The Brandy-barrel-aging was apparent, but the rest of the character of this beer seemed lost in the lack of carbonation. 

-Bourbon Saison - Engine House 9
I've only been to Engine House 9 once.  It was a couple of years ago, and I was disappointed by an overly-sweet IPA and a thin/lacking stout.  I decided to give them another try at this festival, and hoped the bourbon barrel aging on this beer would win me over.  No such luck.  This one seemed like it wasn't sure what style it was supposed to be.  Not enough oak, a bit too sour and a few other just off flavors I couldn't quite place.  This may have been my least favorite of the day. 

-Paradise Hoe - Paradise Creek
A Belgian Wit that seemed a bit off to me.  I could sense some subdued notes of clove and banana, but the mouthfeel was rather flat and the flavor almost a bit watery.  One of my least favorites of the day. 

-Abbaye de Schooner Dubbel - Schooner Exact
I'm really starting to appreciate Abbey style Belgian ales more and this offering from Schooner Exact didn't disappoint. It had a complex malt character with toasty caramel malt tones and subtle hoppiness with a good Belgian yeast flavor.  It's too bad they don't have this one on tap at their taproom. 

-The Giant Made of Shadows - Silver City
Another Belgian Dark Strong ale, this one had some interesting character, likely from extended aging in Tempranillo wine barrels.  It finished a bit sweet with some alcohol warming. 

I was never a big Belgian beer drinker until about the past year or so.  I need to keep trying different Belgian beers & expanding my experience.  So far, I'm really enjoying the exploration of all the various Belgian styles. 

Superbowl XLIV Food:

Personally, I was rooting for the commercials.  lol  After the 49ers lost their last playoff game, there were no more West-coast teams in the Superbowl.  It became an entirely Midwest & East coast affair.  NY vs. New England?  Meh.  So I decided to concentrate on what good food I'd be making to go along with Commercialbowl 2012. 

The Stars of the Show: Pork Shoulder Roast & The Baby Back Ribs:

5.5lb Bone-In Pork Shoulder Roast

Baby Back Rib Rack 1

Baby Back Rib Rack 2

The roast and the ribs were all given an apple-cider vinegar wash and then dry-rubbed with my own dry rub seasoning blend before being loaded into the smoker:

The Smoker - Loaded Up & Ready To Go

After loading up the smoker, I set the temperature and then went back inside to make the mop sauce for the roast; a combination of beef broth, apple cider vinegar, Worcestershire sauce, water and several different spices.  I also mop the ribs every hour or so with regular apple juice.  It keeps them nice & moist. 

While waiting, I needed something to much on and something to drink, so I made some fresh guacamole, straight from the avocados, and cracked a growler of 3 Grid IPA from Schooner Exact brewing, which I'd picked up on my way home from Belgianfest the previous evening.

Chips, Fresh Made Guac. & 3 Grid IPA

After 4-5 hours in the smoker (two of those hours wrapped in foil), here's how the ribs turned out - in plenty of time for kickoff:

One Rack Was Sauced With My Homemade, Sweet & Spicy BBQ Sauce

The Other Rack Was Left Un-Sauced

The pork shoulder roast took a bit longer, since it was a bigger/thcker cut of meat.  Here's how it turned out:

Roasted To Perfection & Ready To Pull

Beautiful, Fresh-Pulled Pork - Sandwich Time!

My Halftime Pulled Pork Sandwich

Between the chips & guacamole, the ribs, both sauced & unsauced, and the great pulled pork sandwich (one of many different styles of pulled pork sandwiches I make), I was quite stuffed.  My gastronomic weekend of Belgianfest followed by a great Superbowl BBQ was complete! 

Now it's time to start thinking about the Barleywine Bacchanal at Beveridge Place Pub and the Hard Liver Festival at Brouwer's Cafe (A partial list for Hard Liver 10 is up on Brouwer's Website).  Of course, that's after I judge for the Sasquatch Homebrew Competition this coming weekend. 

Drink responsibly and stay safe out there!  

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