On Saturday at about 11:30 a.m., as more than 100 VIP guests were sipping on a “Saison du BUFF” beer and nibbling on the seared scallop and pancetta that sat atop their jalapaeno goat cheese phyllo puff, mushroom ragu, wild spinach, and red lentils, Jobe Yobe of the Ojai Beverage Company proclaimed, “It’s my mission to make everyone in Ventura County drink finely crafted beer.”
Based on the more than 2,000 people that would turn out later that afternoon to take part in the first ever Salute! Celebrating Finely Crafted Beer & Food, Yobe — who developed the affair with event planner Christine Hansen of Thirty Three Productions — is off to quite a start. That the day’s net proceeds went to FOOD Share of Ventura County, which feeds 55,000 people per month, was just extra suds on the ale.
Yobe’s talk was followed by FOOD Share’s Bonnie Weigel — who introduced her volunteers by explaining, “The faces of FOOD Share are you” — and beer expert “Dr.” Bill Sysak, who declared, “Beer can handle any food from anywhere on the planet.” Sysak also explained that the Saison du BUFF — which stands for “Brewers United for Freedom of Flavor” — was a collaborative effort between Stone Brewing, where he works, Delaware’s Dogfish Head brewing, and Pennsylania’s Victory Brewing and included hints of parsley, sage, rosemary, and thyme. The press conference, which concluded with an acoustic song from British guitarist Davy Knowles, proved an fitting start for a day filled with proudly made beer, excellent food, and lots of live music.
Among the hundreds of beers on tap, here is a smattering of highlights:
* Island Brewing Company’s London Porter (thick, austere, and regal, like a Buckingham guard)
* Firestone’s Solace and Velvet Merkin (a zesty summer brew and then their hardcore oatmeal stout)
* North Coast Brewing’s Pranqster (once on sale at the Shoreline Beach Café in S.B.)
* Buckbean’s Tule Duck Red Ale, Original Orange Blossom, and Black Noddy (all sold in eco-friendly cans)
* Dogfish Head’s Peche (a unique, almost undrinkable sour beer; the first of at least three such sour beers on tap that day) and 90 Minute IPA (perfectly balanced hops)
* Sierra Nevada’s Hoptimum IPA (paired with horseradish-spiced beef chip thingy)
* Petrus Aged Pale (another weird sour beer, aged in oak barrels, introduced by a Belgian guy)
* Skyscraper Pilsner (whose sales rep is a former Indy intern)
* Ladyface Ale Companie’s Blind Ambition Belgian Ale and Picture City Porter (perhaps the hottest brewery there, straight outta Agoura Hills)
* Belhaven’s Twisted Thistle IPA (much smoother than a thistle)
* Einhorn’s Doppelbock (impressive work from San Luis Obispo brewery)