The Lumberyard Tavern’s Laurie Delk on pairing food with beer

I’ll admit up front that I’m a bit of a latecomer to the whole craft beer thing. If it were not for my son and his insistence that I expand my horizons beyond “yellow fizzy beer” as the people at Stone call it, I probably would still be calling my occasional forays into Sam Adams and Guinness adventurous.
I’ll always stick to my rule that if it tastes good to you, drink it. That goes for beer and wine as there is a time and place for a crisp cold light beer and even a chilled white zinfandel on a hot summer afternoon. Wait, did I just say that? Yes I did. You get my point; drink what tastes good to you. That said, if you limit yourself to the beer of the masses, you are really depriving yourself of a wonderful experience.
I recently met Laurie Delk, an emerging expert and chronicler of the craft beer movement. Laurie tends bar at The Lumberyard Tavern & Grill in Encinitas and I became aware of her blog , when I Licked the Plate there a few months ago. The blog has become a bible for beer enthusiasts internationally and I would highly suggest it to both rookies and veterans alike.
Here are some highlights from a recent conversation with her.

Lick The Plate: Let’s start with your background and what lead you to be such a beer aficionado.
Laurie Delk: My background is actually in wine. I was general manager of a wine shop in New Orleans for several years. I taught classes, helped customers organize their cellars, and conducted tastings. I have taken classes from UC Davis and lived in Italy where I worked a harvest with a prestigious Piedmont winery. I honestly thought wine was what I would do for the rest of my life! Then about a year ago, I discovered the wonderful world of craft beer and I haven’t turned back. Wine will always have an important place in my life, but the craft beer movement is incredibly exciting right now.

LTP: Do you recall the first time you had beer paired with food, was there an ah-ha moment where you realized that beer could compliment food as well as wine?
LD: The first time I had beer paired with food purposefully was a tasting in the wine shop with various cheeses and wine versus beer. With each cheese, one wine and one beer was selected as a pairing to uncover which was the better match. We did six pairings, and amazingly beer won five out of six times! It was a tremendous revelation for me. It wasn’t long after that I had my idea for my blog.

LTP: San Diego is
officially on the map as a craft brew powerhouse. What is your take on the local craft beer scene?
LD: I think the craft beer scene here is brilliant. I am literally in beer heaven here. I am consistently blown away by the marvelous offerings of breweries like Lost Abbey, Alesmith, and Ballast Point. I also love Pizza Port, Green Flash and Stone.

LTP: You have obviously paired a lot of food and beer. Can you run through an example of a multi-course meal and describe the beer pairing with each dish?
LD: Given the season, start with a gazpacho or a light summer salad with grapefruit wedges and light citrus vinaigrette pair beautifully with a Saison such as Goose Island Sophie. For a main course a Maple Glazed Salmon, paired with a delicious Ommegang Abbey Ale. For dessert go with a Dark Chocolate Lava Cake with Raspberry Coulis paired with a big, rich stout like yummy Green Flash Double Stout. If you like coffee with your dessert, skip it and try the Nils Oscar Coffee Stout. It’s amazing.

LTP: Have you worked with Chef Ryan at the Lumberyard Tavern to develop beer pairings with menu items?
LD: So far, I have been pairing our specials on Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays with both a wine and beer to give our customers a range. Ryan and I have definitely discussed working together on menu items, so I look forward to working with him in the future on more pairings.
Per Laurie’s suggestion, I recently paired a Humboldt brown ale with pulled pork sandwich and sweet potato fries at the Lumberyard Tavern. Consider me a convert.
Follow Laurie and her blog at http://100beers 30days.wordpress.com/

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