Beer, cheese, chocolate, and little plates from local restaurants — what more could a food lover ask for? The ninth annual Brewer’s Plate, an epicurean fundraiser for Fair Foods, was held Sunday, March 10 at the National Constitution Center. Fair Food is a nonprofit dedicated to local foods and sustainable agriculture (perhaps you’ve seen their farm stand in Reading Terminal), and the vendors supporting their event reflected this commitment to locavorism. True to the event’s name, brewers from the region — household names and newcomers alike — poured glass after glass of golden ales and malty lagers, paired up with purveyors of fine treats. Jaunty live jazz tunes echoed through the lofty main space of the Constitution Center, while hundreds of guests worked their way through the astounding number and variety of edibles.
In the main space, Victory Brewing Company had their new Swing Session Saison on tap, which was an easy-drinking favorite among our crew. Some notable snacks were a house-roasted ham and broccoli rabe hoagie from the White Dog Café, cheeses from Tria, a pork pate from Southwark, and a pulled portobello, apple slaw, ricotta, and beer caramel sandwich from the yet-to-open Cedar Point (located in Northern Liberties). The Cedar Point team was paired with the folks from Boxcar Brewing, who seemed to having a grand time.
The Fair Food Farmstand had their own table, with literature on the Fair Food cause, as well as a wonderful combo of a fresh robiola and sour cherry jam on a sliver of baguette.
Upstairs in the VIP area (a $70 up-charge to the base ticket price of $70), there was so much delicious cheese and chocolate, it was astounding. In the cheese department, the samples from Farm Fromage, Cherry Grove, and Di Bruno Brothers really stood out in terms of variety and taste.
Brews from relative newcomers Tired Hands Brewing and Forest and Main were amongst the best of the night. Local bartenders and notable food lovers were spotted loitering around their two tables, sneaking a couple refills before moving on.
There were no lack of sweets to be found in the VIP room either, with chocolates from John and Kira's and Éclat, baked goods from Wild Flower Bakery, and incredible beer-flavored ice creams from The Bent Spoon (from Princeton, N.J.), served on the cutest mini cones. We especially loved the chocolate and black pepper flavor, made with Tired Hand’s "A Cold Freezing Night" American stout that was really, really peppery in a cool and unexpected way.
Meanwhile, what was surely a big part of the draw of the VIP room, chef Aimee Olexy, of Talula’s Table & Garden fame, led a "tutored tasting" in a quiet corner of the room. Beautiful baskets of produce and eggs were used as decorations throughout the space which was, understandably, a more relaxed, quiet, and roomy experience than the main space.
Back downstairs, we finished out the night in the "Speakeasy," which featured coffee from Mugshots, cocktails from Philadelphia Distilling Company, Dad’s Hat whiskey and Subarashii Kudamono Asian pear wine. Capogiro scooped gelato, Cookie Confidential had a huge spread of fresh cookies, Donna & Company provided more delectable chocolates, and just when it seemed like there was no way to face even any more food, there was Weckerly’s ice cream tucked off in the corner. Owners Jen and Andrew Satinsky had arguably one of the best beer-inspired bites of the night: rich ice cream made from Dock Street’s "Man Full of Trouble" Porter with little flecks of chocolate and shortbread cookies spun through. That was the perfect sweet ending for an amazing event.
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