A complimenting cause

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First Posted: 4/8/2014

Try a new brew, nosh on unique eats that compliment it, and all the while know that you’re doing such things while simultaneously aiding a charity that helps meet the humanitarian needs of the very community you live in.

That’s the gist of Beer and Bites for a Cause, a beer and food pairing event hosted by Ruth’s Chris Steak House in conjunction with Susquehanna Brewing Company in order to benefit the Wyoming Valley Chapter of the American Red Cross.

“One of the greatest things about this is that we’re a locally owned company paired with another locally owned company, doing some great fundraising for a charity whose work stays local,” said John Gorrick, the steak house’s executive chef.

And aside from the fact that people attending will be supporting the area so heavily, what they’ll experience that night is pure pleasure for palate.

Gorrick and staff have been working hand-in-hand with SBC to provide a menu where the beer and the food flow together perfectly, while showcasing the talents of both establishments.

SBC, in particular, is excited to be a part of this, as it will allow the brewery to showcase its newest brew, the Southern Rye IPA.

“We had originally brewed it last year for Philly Beer Week, and it was a hit,” said SBC Brewmaster Guy Hagner. “This year we have distributed it much more locally.”

The Southern Rye IPA is what Hagner deems a “pretty interesting beer,” putting a twist on the typical IPA style.

“It’s bigger, hoppier, stronger than our normal Hop Five IPA,” he described. “It’s close to 9 percent alcohol by volume and it incorporates Simcoe hops, which is one of the newer American varieties that has a very pronounced citrus, grapefruit-type flavor and aroma. We also experimented with a new hop from New Zealand, Southern Cross, which is where the name of the beer comes from.”

“I just had a chance to taste it, and I’m actually still playing around with what we’re going to do with because it is such a unique beer,” Gorrick said of the Southern Rye. “For an IPA, it’s kind of mellow; I was surprised by it. We’re going to be pairing it with some seafood dishes, like bacon-wrapped scallops and pan-fried oysters.”

Susquehanna Brewing Company will also be bringing along the aforementioned Hop Five IPA, one of the brewery’s four year-round beers.

“It’s a bit more of a British-style IPA,” Hagner noted. “It doesn’t have the real fruity American, newer West Coast hops in it; it has more of a nice dry, spicy herbal hop character to it. It’s about 5.8 percent alcohol, so it doesn’t clobber you, but it’s got a little more ‘oomph’ to it than our regular beers.”

SBC will also bring about staples Goldencold Lager, a German style golden lager, and Pils Noir, a dark pilsner that Hagner said drinks like a dark lager that finishes like a pilsner.

Gorrick is looking forward to incorporating the Pils Noir itself into various dessert plates. He and the staff at Ruth’s Chris are looking to use not only the beer in the actual dishes when they can, but also parts of the brews.

“We’re doing a cheese and bread display and also serving other breads that will incorporate parts used to brew the beer, as opposed to the beer itself,” Gorrick said. One such dish will be the bread used in the chipotle barbecue short rib sliders, which will be paired with red potato skins with chorizo stuffing to accompany the Hop Five IPA.

Though Gorrick said there are general guidelines as to what beers to pair with what foods that he will go by to make the final menu for Beer and Bites, he also said it’s all about personal taste and going with what each particular beer has to offer.

“We do have two IPAs to work with, but they’re two totally distinct beers,” he said. “It comes down to personal preference and looking at what each beer has to offer. We don’t want the food to overpower the beer, or the beer to overpower the food.”

Working with SBC has certainly made Gorrick’s job interesting in a case like this.

“I really like the different flavor profiles coming out of SBC,” he said. “They’re interesting, and they really do a great job with making very different beers.”