Craft beer and food pairings are becoming a monthly tradition at Farmers Fishers Bakers restaurant, a part of the Founding Farmers restaurant group, located in the Washington Harbour in the nation’s capital. Its latest event, developed by chief mixologist and beverage director Jon Arroyo, is on Feb. 18, and spotlights craft brews from Sierra Nevada Brewing paired with a special five-course menu created by the restaurant’s executive chef Joe Goetze.

Past pairings were held with Devils Backbone Brewing, Long Trail Brewing, Lancaster Brewing, and Atlas Brew Works. Last August, the restaurant held an inaugural local beer debate dinner with Flying Dog, 3 Stars, and Devils Backbone. Each of Goetze’s five farm-inspired dishes was paired with three beers—one from each brewery.

Going forward, the restaurant plans to have a beer pairing dinner on the third Tuesday of every month. For the next beer dinner on March 18, Arroyo has secured Finch's Brewery out of Chicago.

Goetze, Arroyo, and their team kick off the pairing menu process with their own beer tasting. “Our goal is to start out light with amazing aromatics and finish big and bold, which gives guests a full ride through the eyes of whatever brewery we're working with,” Goetze explains. “From there, I develop the menu with special consideration to seasonality and the weather. I can do this because it is a one-time event each time we do a beer dinner.” 

The weather plays a key role during the initial go-around of what will be on the menu. Otherwise, Goetze says, the restaurant concocts food pairings people might not understand. “For example, a beer might pair well with a Green Chili Tomato Gazpacho with Warm Buttered Poached Snapper, but if it's 35 degrees outside it doesn't really make sense,” he notes. “People like to eat and drink to match how their body feels and in a way that fits with the season, so it's an important factor to consider.”

Goetze looks to pair big beers with big flavors, and lighter beers with lighter flavors. Once that is established, he can decide if the food or the beer is going to be the star of the pairing. 

“I take a simpler approach to the food by not adding too much to the dish, but just enough to complement the beer,” Goetze says. “If a beer is light with a one-dimensional flavor profile, I would pair it with a dish that has many layers of flavor to try to hit all the senses and brighten up the beer.”

The menu for Feb. 18 beer-food pairing is:

  • Starter: Ham Hock Rillete with Sweet & Sour Green Tomatoes and Buttered Toast Deep Fried Deviled Eggs, served with Bigfoot Barleywine Style Ale First course: Fisherman Stew with Buttered Poached Swordfish, served with Sierra Nevada Pale Ale
  • Second course: Black Pepper Steen's Syrup Glazed Pork Belly, served with Ruthless Rye IPA
  • Third course: Chicken Fried Boneless Quail with Roasted Butternut Squash and Andouille Sausage Clam Chowder Sauce, served with Weizenbock beer
  • Dessert: Bananas Foster Funnel Cake, served with Ovila Abbey Quad with Plums

Representatives from Sierra Nevada will be onhand to provide tasting notes and insight into the brewing company's operation. The $65 ticket fee includes tax, gratuity, and a gift bag.

By Joann Whitcher

Beverage, Industry News, Bob Evans