What Up, Craft Beer and Chocolate for Charity?!?!??

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(Panoramic photo of the Armory before the event)

Friday night at the Armory in Somerville, 330 people were treated to an evening of quality craft beer paired with delicious chocolate, and amazing food inspired by the chocolate, all to help those who go hungry on a regular basis.

In its third year, the Drink Craft Beer founders Jeff and Devon made their fundraiser for the Greater Boston Food Bank bigger and better than ever. Last year, the event was held at the Taza Chocolate Factory, and attendees donated a suggested $5 at the door and were treated to craft beer from local breweries paired with chocolate from Taza. While it was really fun, because the factory is a factory and store and not really an event venue, the 700 attendees had to wait outside in February while people made it through the space, which was a cold wait for many. So this year, they held the event at the Armory, limited it to 330 guests, and then invited local restaurants to create small bites created with Taza chocolate as the theme. It was basically like a mini-beer fest with chocolate. 10 breweries (Notch, Backlash, Rising Tide, Foolproof, Bantam Cider, Newburyport, Baxter, Lost Nation, Boulevard, and Slumbrew) as well as six restaurants (Union Square Donuts, Puritan & Co., Highland Kitchen, PARK Cambridge, Roxy’s Grilled Cheese, and Mei Mei) donated their time and goods, Taza donated their delicious chocolate, and the fine folks at Mass Beverage Alliance and Burke Distributing Co. generously helped cover logistical costs and venue fees.

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(A little into the evening, everyone is enjoying some good themselves)

So, let’s talk about the event, because it was awesome. Each brewery had one beer that was paired with a Taza chocolate. Jeff and Devon did a great job curating that, and the flavors complimented really well for each pairing. One of my favorites was Backlash‘s Convergence with Taza’s Orange Chocolate Mexicano. Slumbrew had their delicious Porter Square Porter, which is brewed with Taza cacao nibs so it was especially pertinent (I will be honest, I was hoping for My Other Half, which paired nicely with the orange chocolate at last year’s event). I was also introduced to the Lost Nation Brewery from Vermont, and their hoppy amber was delicious.

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(Notch Saison paired with Salt & Pepper chocolate; Highland Kitchen; PARK Cambridge)
And the food – well, there’s really nothing to say except that it was all so delicious. You would think that because Taza chocolate was the theme, you would get a lot of really sweet dishes or desserts – well, in fact the opposite was true. Maybe because Taza chocolate tends to be more on the savory side to begin with (or maybe I just think that because it’s stone ground so it has a more gritty texture than what most people are used to, but I love it), there was only one dessert in the bunch, and the rest were really creative and varied dishes that incorporated the chocolate. (Sorry, I’ve been obsessed with The Taste, so food has been on my mind more than usual). From a wheatberry salad to chili to chocolate sourdough bread, to chocolate beer balls, everything was so good.

There was definitely a different tone to this event than other events – because each brewery only had one (or two) beers, it was not a race to try all the beers before the end of the evening. Rather, it was a chance to explore food+beer pairings, to discover local restaurants and give them a chance to display their creativity, and connect with the brewers and other craft beer enthusiasts. Basically, the best way to spend a Friday evening.

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(Dani’s masterpiece – she can draw hops like no other!)

I was really honored to be asked to volunteer for this event. Dani and I worked the raffle counter. Generous people, who already donated by purchasing a ticket to the event, donated even more for a chance to win either 2 tickets to DCB’s Springfest in April, or for half of the pot for the other raffle.

The best part about all of this is that DCB raised $10,000 for the Greater Boston Food Bank!! That means about 30,000 meals for people who go hungry on a regular basis! This was only possible with the generosity of everyone, attendees included. The winner of the 50/50 raffle took what he paid for his raffle and then donated the rest back to the Greater Boston Food Bank! He didn’t have to, but it’s people like him that make me convinced that Drink Craft Beer has really tapped into the best people in the local craft beer community.

Hopefully I’ll see some of you at Springfest at Space 57 in Boston on April 11th and 12th! Definitely worth checking out, especially if you like hops!

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Also, remember my quest to explore more coffee stouts? Well, Devon, as if he wasn’t already generous enough, brought some beers he picked up while in NC to share with the volunteers! One of them was the Terrapin Beer Company‘s Wake ‘N’ Bake Coffee Oatmeal Imperial Stout and oh my goodness it was so frickin good.

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