Springing forward at the Chaos Cook Off

On Sunday, March 13th, 100 people gathered at Naked City Brewery and Taphouse for the Daylight Savings Chaos Cook Off, a sold out event that will hopefully become an annual ritual. What a perfect way to spend a dark and rainy Sunday afternoon: drinking beer and eating chili. The Chaos Cook Off featured beer and chili from nine local breweries.

Attendees sampled the offerings in three separate rounds and voted for a favorite beer, a favorite chili, and the most chaotic combo. The winners received trophies and bragging rights.

The combatants in the Chaos Cook Off included: 7 Seas Brewing, Big Al Brewing, Big Time Brewery, Black Raven Brewing, Fremont Brewing, Naked City Brewing, Pike Brewing, Redhook Ale Brewery, and Two Beers Brewing. The participating breweries each brought a batch of chili and a beer to serve with it.

The Beers

My personal favorites: Fremont’s Dark Star Imperial Oatmeal Stout, Big Time’s Holy Mole Chocolate-Chili Ale, and Black Raven’s La Petite Mort.

Of all the beers poured yesterday, the 7 Seas Santa’s Smokin’ Ale was the only one with which I was unacquainted. This winter seasonal beer is a slightly tweaked variation of 7 Seas’ Smoked Porter. It did not disappoint.

The hosts, Naked City, pulled out one of my personal favorites for the event: the Big Lebrewski Imperial Cream Stout. Pike poured its Tandem, which provided some nice coriander notes to accompany the chili. Redhook’s Big Ballard paired exceedingly well with a chorizo chili which included Big Ballard in the recipe. Two Beers Brewing poured a Bourbon-oaked version of its Espresso Stout and Big Al poured its Amber ale.

Pairing Beer with Chili

When contemplating which beers to pair with which foods, I always consider a couple of different approaches. First, you can try to match flavor profiles. A beer with hints of coriander might compliment a dish seasoned with coriander, for example. Another approach is to match flavor intensity. An aggressively hopped IPA or a complex Imperial Stout might pair nicely with very spicy, rich foods. That is, intense beers pair nicely with intense foods. Of course there are no official rules: it is an inexact science that is all about what appeals to your palate.

The chili served at the Chaos Cook Off ranged from bright, tangy white bean chicken chili to a rich, spicy chorizo chili. When making a chili there are a lot of different directions you can go. Likewise, there are a lot of different directions you can go when pairing beer with chili. A very spicy chili might pair well with a Pilsner (to put out the fire) or it might pair well with a Belgian Tripel (to match the intensity).

While the Big Time Holy Mole Chocolate-Chile Ale paired very well with a mole-based chili, it might not have paired so well with any other style of chili. Conversely, Big Al’s Amber Ale would pair deliciously with pretty much any chili. Perhaps Big Al Amber has an unfair advantage: Alejandro Brown (Big Al) and Tutta Bella Executive Chef Brian Gojdics designed this beer with food pairing in mind.

Leave it to Black Raven Brewing to pull off something that was brilliant, hilarious and a wee bit disgusting. That’s the best I can do to describe the way they dumped a small load of secret sauce onto each serving of chili. I’m not exactly sure what constituted the sauce—likely, sour cream infused with something–but it was pumped directly onto your chili from the business-end of a raven. (Pictured below is our friend, and blog contributor, North Seattle Sarah squeezing some sauce out of the bird.)

The Winners

Best Chili: 7 Seas Brewing’s White Bean Chicken Chili. We’re working on getting the recipe. It was delicious.

Best Beer: Black Raven La Petite Mort. I don’t know what to say. Nobody should be surprised. It’s an amazing beer.

Best Chaotic Combo: Big Time Brewery’s Holy Mole Chocolate-Chili Ale paired with Big Time Mole Chili. This pairing won by a long shot. I heard one person say that they thought the flavors were too similar, but other than that everyone was raving about the way the beer and the chili complimented each other. It really was quite amazing: the beer made the flavors of the chili explode on your tongue. Maybe it was the other way around

There’s Always Next Year

We look forward to Naked City making this a regular part of springing forward each year. The Daylight Savings Chaos Cook Off was a blast. We heard rumors that the next time around it will not involve chili but will challenge the brewers to cook up something else. Hmmm. Pie, perhaps?

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