The craft beer industry is booming, the U.S. brewery count recently topped 3,000 (3,040 to be exact, according to the Brewers Association) for the first time since the 1870s. And these brewery-filled cities are catering to local tastes with regional cuisine.
There’s been a paradigm shift in the way and what we pair with elevated cuisine and happily for us, it includes craft beer. And because there are more ingredients to play with in beer than wine, there’s more room for flavor and experimentation. When pairing complementary flavors in the food and beer, a pleasing echo can evoke a similar orchestra of flavors.
Chefs and highfalutin restaurants are no stranger to this “revolution” and are offering sublime pairings with locally sourced ingredients. The marriage of craft beer and food is a symbiotic relationship that not only just makes sense, but has a romantic, feel-good side that is pucker-inducing and moan worthy.
A new craft beer and food reality show may be airing very soon to fit this bill, but this is no typical reality show.
Bru Appetit takes viewers on a journey through the entire dining experience in an Iron Chef meets No Reservations meets Brew Dogs sort of reality show.
Meeting with chefs and brewmasters in various American locations, together, they collect local ingredients.
The show begins with an introduction to the city or town and moves to a local brewery.
To highlight the adventure aspects of the show, the Bru Appetit team engages in wild game hunting, deep sea fishing, foraging and falconry to source these craft ingredients. Yeah, falconry.
They return to the brewpub or kitchen with a chef’s challenge, where the Bru Appetit host and the chosen local chef create regional cuisine based on the ingredients gathered earlier. After the culinary ‘throwdown’, the cuisine is paired with local craft beer, with the aforementioned chef and brewmaster.
And one of the ingredients in each dish must include the beer from the episode’s brewery or brewpub.
So, who is Bru Appetit?
Carlo Overhulser is the founder, producer and creator, with 15 years of A/V experience in major recording studios and television and is an avid homebrewer. He also founded the The Beer Channel.
Jason Horn is the host, award winning chef and guide. Horn is also the executive producer, creator and host of The Dive Whisperer. With a background in the culinary arts, he has also worked as a contract chef. Horn is also a homebrewer and mixologist.
The two met through Facebook last November, when Carlo watched a pilot that Jason made. Carlo was impressed with his drive, ambition and passion. And having merged their talents and passions into a show they truly believe in, a great friendship has formed.
Horn and Overhulser have filmed the pilot episodes in Birmingham, Alabama and Atlanta, Georgia. They filmed two different pilots to show networks what they could do in 30 and 60 minute formats.
Their first visit in April, brought Horn and crew to Back Forty Beer Company in Gadsden, Alabama, meeting brewmaster, Tim Blevins. Their Truck Stop Honey Brown Ale is brewed with Alabama wildflower honey, roasted malts and Apollo and Willamette hops.
Horn joined Alabama Hog Control to source their first local meat, the old fashioned way: hunting. When in Prattville, Alabama, do as the locals do, and hunt for hogs.
Horn also visits Hokes Bluff and his noggin’ is soon covered in approximately 10,000 bees while cautiously sipping their popular beer. It’s an awesome site. And coincidentally, the current craft beer reality show, Brew Dogs, filmed a bee keeper segment the very same day for their Dogfish Head Delaware episode. The main difference? The Brew Dogs had protective clothing on.
Horn took some sound advice from the bee keeper: “If you respect them and don’t swat at ‘em or try to act a fool, they won’t mess with ya.”
He laughed over the phone, that he was saying to himself, “Suck it up and just do it.”
They move onto the chef’s challenge with Charles Ryan Nichols at J. Clyde’s in Birmingham’s Southside district, a central figure in the state’s craft beer movement. This tavern and alehouse is also known for their seasonal dinners and southern, beer inspired desserts, like their granny smith apple and cranberry oatmeal crisp and Young’s double chocolate stout brownie.
For this meal, they hauled in hog and honey.
Horn seared a two-inch-thick wild boar chop and topped it with a mixture of roasted garlic and sweet onion preserve topping, which was cooked in Truck Stop Honey Brown and Cold Creek’s wildflower honey. Nichols on the other hand, soaked cutlets of the pork overnight in buttermilk and Truck Stop Honey Brown Ale. The following morning, he pounded and pan-fried the cutlets before finishing them in creole-style gravy. Alongside was a biscuit coated in a mouthwatering reduction of Cold Creek honey.
The judging was done by Danner Kline, a specialty beer rep for a local distributing company and founder of Free The Hops, Carla Jean Whitley, managing editor of Birmingham Magazine and Eric Velasco, freelance writer with a passion for brewing and cooking.
The craft beer sales recently has grown drastically in the Southeast alone. A staple in the Southern craft beer scene since 1997, SweetWater Brewing Company was named one of the top 25 US craft breweries by the Brewers Association in 2013 according to beer sales volume.
For the second episode, the crew visited Sweetwater and chatted with brand ambassador, Zak Schroerlucke. This informative and action packed episode also features Red Brick Brewing, the oldest brewery in Georgia. The crew visited Decimal Place Farms, an award winning, 18 acre dairy goat farm located in Conley, Georgia. Here, the white Saanen goats milk produce soft chèvre, feta and tuma cheeses.
Horn then discovered exactly how being a falconer can come in handy when capturing some tasty game pigeon.
Brick Store Pub also got some Bru Appetit praise, when they visited their gastropub restaurant. It’s one of the highest rated pubs in America, according to Beer Advocate. Here, you can find fine draught ales like Allagash Confluence and Orpheus Atalanta.
The chef’s competition at the 5 Seasons Brewing Westside in Atlanta, included the captured pigeon and the amazing aforementioned cheese. Chef Dave Larkworthy was the competitor. Larkworthy is famous in the area for having a thriving relationship with farmers, using local and quality ingredients in high volume, a perfect complement to the show.
The completely adlibbed show is a culinary, craft beer, adventure that will inspire you to know more about your local restaurants, breweries, brewpub and farms. And you’ll get thirsty…and hungry for local flavor.
Overhulser says, “It’s like the host is talking to you…it’s everybody’s show. You’re a part of this. It’s really regional and local…”
The primary networks the duo is negotiating with are Food Network, Bravo, Esquire Network and Spike TV. June 14th was their first day of submitting, and there is big interest.
So when should the craft beer drinker and foodie expect to see it? If all goes well, and signatures are signed, they hope for an airing in the Fall of this year.
Who knows, maybe they’ll come to the Coachella Valley to taste what our sunny desert valley has to offer!
After all, Palm Springs is known for its amazing chefs. The farms in the valley are numerous, offering delicious dates, flavorful bell peppers and an abundant supply of citrus fruits. And our three local breweries are making waves; for example, Coachella Valley Brewing Co. brews farm-to-table beers on a H.E.B.S. (high efficiency brewing system), one of only nine in operation on the planet.
Keep a lookout for Bru Appetit where foodies, beer aficionados, adventure enthusiasts and travelers can uncover different regions, cuisines and of course, amazing craft beer. Check out the sizzle reel and outtakes of the show here.