A real craft: finding the perfect pair

MARSHALL – In what seems destined to become a local tradition, 80 people attended the United Way Beer Pairing Dinner at the American Legion on Friday evening, up from 50 who attended the first dinner last year.

“Last year it kind of stemmed off the wine tasting event,” said Jeremy Gossen, United Way president. “The Brau Brothers have been awesome about this.”

What brewer Dustin Brau brought to the event was four of the Brau Brothers brewery’s craft beers, each chosen to complement a specific dish.

“With craft beers there’s a lot of flavor to the different beers and they go well with certain foods in the same way as wine,” Brau said. “It’s not as if beer will go poorly with any food, it just enhances the taste of certain food.”

The event was held to raise money for a United Way literacy project, Imagination Library.

“The purpose of this is to put books in kids hands,” said Ruth Ascher, United Way executive director. “We sponsor about 2,300 children from birth to age 5 who get a book in the mail every month.”

Guests dined on five courses, from appetizer to dessert, each complemented by beers of varying taste and texture.

“You’re trying to pair intensity so you might pair an extremely hoppy bear with a strong flavor,” Brau said. “In the same way you take a lighter beer with something on the lighter side like a salad.”

The Brau family is planning to move their brewery operation to Marshall this year and expand production, part of a growing craft beer movement in America that is well represented in Minnesota.

“I always try to stay local,” Brau said. “I drink a lot of Minnesota beers. There’s a close fraternity of Minnesota brewers, it’s exploding. At least 10 breweries a year are opening in the state.”