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A Salute to the Bitter Brothers Family Dinner Series

Feeding craft beer fans to help Feeding San Diego


Feeding San Diego CEO Vince Hall (right) says thanks to attendees as Bitter Brothers co-founder Bill Warnke looks on. | Photo: Bruce Glassman

It's always nice to support a worthy cause by doing something you enjoy anyway. That's only one of the reasons I love attending the Family Dinner Series hosted by Bitter Brothers Brewing in Bay Ho. Every quarter, the brewery assembles five talented chefs from around the county and has each of them do a course to be paired with a Bitter Brothers brew. The chefs are always outstanding, the food and beer are excellent, and—best of all—the proceeds from all ticket sales go to Feeding San Diego.

As far as I'm aware, this dinner series is the only one in San Diego that's sponsored and hosted on a regular basis by a brewery. There are many other beer-related charity events throughout the year (the San Diego brewery community as a whole is exceptionally generous in supporting charitable causes), but Bitter Brothers is the only brewery I can think of that brings about 65 attendees together in its own brewery four times a year to sit and enjoy a communal meal—it's another reason I love this effort.

Feeding San Diego also loves this effort. According to the organization, 1 in 8 San Diegans are food insecure (including 1 in 5 children) and their charity serves 63,000 children, families, and seniors each week; that winds up being nearly half a million San Diegans each year.

"We are so grateful and inspired by the incredible support from Bitter Brothers," says Vince Hall, CEO of Feeding San Diego. "The more we can make people aware of the problem and have people in the community like Bitter Brothers come together and help spread the word, the more powerful the impact." According to Bitter Brothers co-founder Monica Andresen, she and co-founder Bill Warnke chose Feeding San Diego because Bitter Brothers is a "food-oriented brewery" and they wanted to "bring awareness to the hunger problem in San Diego." So far, the brewery has raised $7,000—enough to provide 28,000 meals.

Many breweries in town work with Feeding San Diego in some capacity to fight hunger. "The San Diego brewery community has been an excellent supporter of hunger-relief with many breweries donating time and funds," CEO Hall says. "We also have several breweries who participate in our spring fundraising event, Pairings with a Purpose, including Bitter Brothers, Karl Strauss, Modern Times, Monkey Paw, Benchmark, Coronado Brewing, Green Flash, Ballast Point, Julian Hard Cider, Mike Hess, Half Door, and many more. We invite everyone to buy tickets to this event, which is happening on April 14, 2018, at the Bobby Riggs Tennis Club & Museum in Encinitas."

In an effort to get you salivating in anticipation of Bitter Brothers's next family dinner (coming on Sunday, April 22), I thought I'd post the photos and some brief descriptions of the most recent menu; a fantastic meal that was served on Sunday, January 21 (which also happened to coincide with the brewery's 2nd Anniversary weekend).


Tyson Blake's Seared Scallop with Chili Mango, Charred Spring Onion, and Rye Brittle | Photo: Bruce Glassman

First Course

Seared Scallop with Chili Mango, Charred Spring Onion, and Rye Brittle

PAIRING: Oh Brother Where Tart Thou (Sour Ale)

Created by Chef Tyson Blake of O'Brien's Pub, this dish expertly combined a few flavor elements with just the right balance to complement the flavors in the beer. The inherent sweetness of the scallop—along with the sweet elements of mango and brittle—were the perfect match for the pleasantly tart, citrus-tinged sour ale.


Kyle Weigand's Jerk Spiced Confit Chicken Thigh with Oak Roasted Plantains, Collard Greens, Sweet Pickled Rhubarb, and Winter Citrus | Photo: Bruce Glassman

Second Course

Jerk Spiced Confit Chicken Thigh with Oak-Roasted Plantains, Collard Greens, Sweet Pickled Rhubarb, and Winter Citrus

PAIRING: Little Miss Sunshine (Sour Wheat Ale)

Chef Kyle Weigand from The Grill at Torrey Pines designed this creatively comforting dish to combine Caribbean-style elements with classic Southern cuisine. Each of the food components cleverly echoed the balance of sweet and savory that also characterizes the beer, which has notes of citrus, banana, and tropical fruit all wrapped up in a crisp, medium-tart package.


Miguel Valdez's Braised Pork Belly with Fried Mushrooms, Grilled Corn Succotash and Butternut Squash Purée | Photo: Bruce Glassman

Third Course

Braised Pork Belly with Fried Mushrooms, Grilled Corn Succotash, and Butternut Squash Al Pastor Purée

PAIRING: Little Brother (Citra IPA)

This homey dish, created by Chef Miguel Valdez (previously of The Red Door) was a wonderful Tex-Mex take on traditional comfort food components. The chili spices in the purée, along with the richness of the pork, were the perfect foil for the acidity and bitterness in the beer, and the fried mushrooms and corn added just the right amount of crispiness and chewiness.


David Waite's Salmon Candy with Cherry Gastrique | Photo: Bruce Glassman

Fourth Course

Salmon Candy with Cherry Gastrique

PAIRING: Little Sister Imperial Russian Stout

If you're the chef at a place called Wrench and Rodent, then your food is bound to be somewhat creative and distinctive. Chef David Waite's plate was just that: It was a skilled mix of sweetness, saltiness, fruitiness, and tartness that made my taste buds sing. The beer—also a wonderful assemblage of maltiness, coffee, chocolate, and vanilla with hints of boozy bourbon—was super delicious in its own right, even if it did vie with the food for attention.


Elizabeth Olson's Toasted Marshmallow Tart with Passion Fruit Ice Cream and Vanilla Blood Orange | Photo: Bruce Glassman

Fifth Course

Toasted Marshmallow Tart with Vanilla Blood Orange and Passion Fruit Ice Cream

PAIRING: El Corazon Family Tart (Blood Orange Berliner Weisse)

Chef Elizabeth Olson from Born and Raised offered this elegant dessert to cap off the evening. I've always been a big fan of pairing IPAs, sours, or saisons with sweet desserts and this lovely pairing only cemented my convictions. Tartness and acidity from the beer cleansed the palate perfectly after each bite of sweet marshmallow and creamy ice cream, and the blood orange component in the beer was echoed by the passion fruit and the sections of fresh citrus.


Attending the Bitter Brothers dinners is one way to help the hungry, but there are a lot of different ways to get involved in hunger-relief in San Diego. Vince Hall suggests that, "people can advocate by sending a letter or making a call to their elected officials to ask them to support hunger-relief legislation. People can also sign up for a volunteer shift at feedingsandiego.org." Feeding San Diego relies on the support of more than 16,000 volunteers annually to help sort, bag, box, and organize food for distribution. If you're electronically inclined, you can raise awareness on social media and join the conversation by following Feeding San Diego on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. Hall says, "We encourage people to get creative and host a fundraiser on Facebook or start a food drive or fund drive in their office or place of business."

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