I’m on location in Portland this week. Ah…the land of beautiful landscapes, local eating, and the hipster, hippie-dippie set. Love it out here. The main purpose of my visit is to attend the annual conference of the International Association of Culinary Professionals, which kicks off today. Over the next four days I’ll be listening to the likes of Kim Severson, food editor for The New York Times, and Ruth Reichl, former executive editor of Gourmet magazine, wax on about food and cooking. I’ll also be attending sessions with topics like “The Death of Recipes” with Michael Ruhlman, “Career Strategies for Food Writers” and “Culinary Medicine: Eating Something You Believe In.” You can imagine my excitement.
The Pacific Northwest is famous for their hoppy beers, so we did a sampler of several of them, so I could taste the differences. Until recently, I thought I wasn’t a fan of pale ales and their signature hoppiness. But as I’m learning, that’s like saying I didn’t like something as vast and varied as bread or pasta. There are a zillion different kinds of pale ales and India Pale Ales (IPAs). In fact, I’ve long-considered Bass to be one of my favorite beers, not realizing that it was a pale ale, too. Guess I needed to get my facts straight, and Ninkasi helped me do that. PK Nice was one of my favorites of the five we tried. It’s a pale ale with more corn than barley so the malt is smoother. It also had notes of vanilla, which complemented the malt well. And the hops somehow squeezed their way into all of that for a round, refreshing beer. My second favorite beer was Tricerahops…a double IPA! Can you believe that? Double the hops of a regular IPA. Somehow it was citrusy and refreshing without any of that “bite” I thought I didn’t like in hops. My mind was blown.
To read more about IPAs and pale ales and their differences, including an interesting fact about how India pale ales got their name, check out this article published in Seattle Weekly a few years back. It gives a great overview of the two styles.
More to come from this conference and Portland, I’m sure. Stay tuned!