Thought you might like to learn about the results of the recent epic “Beer vs. Wine Dinner” at the Rancho Bernardo Inn’s highly regarded “El Bizcocho” restaurant. First, a short recap of what the dinner was all about….
- The recent October 16, 2009 dinner was the third in a 3-year series.
- The premise is simple: A multi-course fine-dining dinner served with a specially selected wine to go with each course, as well as a specially selected beer. All the attendees of the dinner get a specially prepared card to mark their preference for each course – either the beer or the wine. At the end of the dinner, the results are tallied and the one winner is announced based on the total number of votes for the evening. "Wine" was represented by Sommelier and Certified Wine Educator Barry Wiss of Napa's Trinchero Family Estates. Barry has flown down from Napa each year to participate in the challenge. Neither I nor Barry had any say in the creation of the menu --- each year it was presented to us with a "Gentlemen, here you go...do your best!"
- In October 2007, “Beer” won. However, it was very close. Beer took three of the courses and wine won three. Yet, beer edged out with more total votes during the evening. This dinner was captured on film and an entertaining documentary was created by our friends at Redtail Media (the same team that created the viral I Am A Craft Brewer video with me). The "Beer vs. Wine 2007" doc is on the promotional Stone DVD. If you haven’t found the opportunity to view it yet, grab the DVD and watch it. I think you’ll find it quite well done and entertaining. If you haven't gotten one yet, it can be obtained at the Stone Store either at the brewery, or online here.
- This clip is a preview of the beginning of that 2007 documentary:
- And this 30-second clip featuring Chef Gavin Kaysen is from the middle of the 2007 documentary:
- In October 2008, “Wine” won. Again, very close with three courses to three courses, with wine winning more total votes in the evening. Again, documentary footage was shot, but it has not yet been edited. This 30-second promo spot was created. Hell, even knowing the results doesn't stop you from wanting to see the whole match after watching this punchy spot:
- Thus, Friday, October 16th, 2009’s dinner was going to determine the “best two out of three” winner. The rubber match. The champion. Once more, our documentary film making friends at Redtail Media captured the action. While it may take several months for them to get the editing done, both the 2008 dinner and Friday’s dinner will be edited into episodes.
OK, so without further ado, I’ll now reveal the results: BEER! Yes, beer won the night. This time, it was so close that they had to recount…twice. Turned out WAY too close for comfort for me, but ultimately it was indeed Beer that won…and just by ONE vote. This is a big deal. The premise of the dinner--the motivation for me to do it--was to prove a point. I intentionally picked a wine-centric fine dining chef-driven restaurant for the Beer vs. Wine Dinner. I wanted to show that even in this "hostile territory" the ability of great craft beer to pair amazingly with great food was equal, or better, to that of fine wine. And we succeeded. We ALL succeeded. This includes YOU because we are all a very important part of the craft brewing movement and we are collectively showing the world how wonderful and amazing the world of great craft beer can be. I’d like to give special thanks to our Head Brewer, Mitch Steele, as he helped pick the selections with me for the beer pairings for each of the dinners. You can view the grueling tasting and selection process in these two "Greg's vBlog" clips (you'll see that we should get a Medal of Valor or something for our willingness to self-sacrifice for the betterment of craft beer):
This year, we were further aided by the Stone Brewing World Bistro & Gardens' Beverage Coordinator, Dr. Bill, and his educated and insightful palate in the decision making process. Ultimately, we succeeded in our mission. We demonstrated that craft beer is to be reckoned with in the culinary world. You and I already knew that, and now even more people will have the opportunity to know it!
Here’s a picture that was shot just moments after the results were announced and I was given the trophy. Standing next to me is Barry Wiss of Trinchero Family Estates, the Napa-based Sommelier challenger who flew down for the event:
All in all we all had a terrific time. I gotta hand it to the wine guys, they were consummate good sports. Barry didn't skip a beat in offering a genuine "Congrats!" when the voting results were announced, and even went on to tell me that the Beer vs. Wine dinners had really opened his eyes to the depth and complexity in the world of great beer. Barry's compatriot at Trinchero, Chris Siconolfi, emailed me the next day writing "Thank you for the competition and the partnership last night, it is like we all agreed, at the end of the day it is about opening the consumers' eyes and educating on the fact that beer and wine pair amazingly well with food." I couldn't have said it better myself! Stay tuned as the Beer vs. Wine saga WILL continue. Barry and Chris have invited me to conduct a soon-to-be-scheduled Beer vs. Wine Dinner in the heart of Napa wine country. I can't wait. And I'm gonna go in swinging.
Hey, just 'cause we're all friendly and everything, and we are, doesn't mean I'm going to pull any punches. When I go, I'll go to win!
Winner Greg Koch with Executive Chef Judd Canepari and Barry Wiss of Napa's Trinchero Family Estates
Cheers, Greg Koch, CEO & co-founder Stone Brewing Co.