Every year we get together with a group of friends and brew beer at the Brew Kettle in Strongsville. We split up into teams of two couples (four people) and each team chooses a beer and brews a keg. We end up with 5 kegs and approximately 850 bottles of beer. The friends who host the party every year titled it “Iron Chef”.

This annual brewing is not just for fun, it’s a competition. The teams are different every year and this year they were chosen randomly. We finished brewing our beer in early March and the party was scheduled for July 10th. (I got to drink a good amount of our brew before knowing I was pregnant)

After the brewing is completed a party is scheduled. At the party each team is responsible for bringing six bottles of their brewed beer, making a food that includes their beer as an ingredient, presenting their food in a creative way and of course naming and creating a custom label for the bottles. The judges are friends and family members who did not participate in the brewing. Every judge is responsible for voting on the taste of the beer, the label, the taste of the food and the presentation of the beer and food.

Last year my team won first place. We brewed an Imperial IPA and called it the Angry Penguin. It was a fantastic beer! Whoever is on my team usually gets stuck brewing an IPA. I try to be convincing that it’s the best choice. We also made an arrangement of food that included mini donuts.

This year our team was not so lucky. Unfortunately we came in fourth place. We brewed an ESB (Extra Special Bitter) and called it Gertrude Pennywise ESB. We made beer battered chicken and homemade pretzels (made by a teammate, not me) which included a homemade mustard sauce. The pretzels were a huge hit but not enough to help keep my title of first place. I think one of our problems was that our beer was a little heavy. The beer that won was a lighter beer and more appropriate for summer. Even though I drink dark beers all year long, I guess some people only enjoy them when it’s cold outside.

The winning team with the lighter beer presented a mexican theme. They cooked pork quesadillas and mexican ice cream with a homemade carmel sauce which had the beer as an ingredient. Some other dishes by the other teams included beer can chicken, grilled pizza, biscuits and gravy, muffins, donut balls with bacon, yogurt with fruit and granola, and beer cookies. There was so much good food. The judges were very impressed.

The party was fun and I did my fair share of eating. Maybe next year I can reclaim first place!