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Wet your whistle at PDX Beer Week

Portland's tribute to all things beer related starts today.

My husband Mark and I attended a CHAP's (Children's Healing Art Project) fundraiser at the Mellow Mushroom in the Pearl District recently and, because it was a packed house, shared a table with two men. I wasn't meaning to eavesdrop but couldn't help being drawn in by the topic of their conversation: beer. They were discussing a coming beer festival, which I knew you, dear readers, would want to know more about.

I introduced myself to Ezra Johnson-Greenough with Burnside Brewing Co., who is organizing the Portland Fruit Beer Festival, to be held June 9 and 10. The Fruit Beer Festival is one of the festivals planned for the second annual PDX Beer Week, which begins today.

PDX Beer Week aims to entertain and educate with a series of beer-related seminars that explore a variety of topics, including how to taste and evaluate beer, pairing food with beer, barrel-aging beer, sour beers and blending and making wild and farmhouse-style ales. In addition to the Fruit Beer Festival, a Rye Beer Fest is planned for June 8 from 4 to 8 p.m. and an Olympics-style Brewers Summer Games will be held June 16.

Deschutes Brewery and Hopworks Urban Brewery have collaborated to create the official beer of the event, a dry-hopped India red lager that will be available in bottles and on draft throughout the 10-day event. I did say it was PDX Beer Week - but this is a 10-day week!

Some of the highlights of what's on the agenda include:

• Interurban Publican's Table owners chef John Gorham and tap master Dan Hart will present a series of three guest brewer dinners featuring several course pairing menus with exclusive beers. Here is their line up:

June 10, 6 p.m. - Charlie Devereux of Double Mountain in Hood River.

June 12, 6:30 p.m. - Mitch Steel of Stone Brewing in San Diego, Calif.

June 13, 6 p.m. - Dick Cantrell of Elysian Brewery in Seattle.

• A trivia and blind taste test.

• A progressive beer dinner with the folks from Beervana.

• Upright Brewers dinner at Wildwood.

According to the website, 'The Portland Fruit Beer Festival is the only festival of its kind and celebrates the wonderful, creative and uniquely crafted fruit beers of the Pacific Northwest and beyond. Once fruit beers were a staple of every brewery but when quality products became harder and harder to obtain at cheap prices, many breweries stopped making them or turned to cheap extract flavorings, which in turn helped to give fruit beers a bad name in the craft beer community.

The Portland Fruit Beer Festival is bringing back the tradition with an outstanding lineup of the best fruit beers the world has to offer, many of them brewed specifically for this festival by local brewers. Twenty-five different breweries are sending entries in to this year's festival with another 20 to 30 special, rare, one-of-a-kind kegs for our rotating taps that will change throughout the festival.'

Nothing wets a whistle better than a good cold brew. Take advantage of this opportunity to learn more about the beverage and those who make it during PDX Beer Week. To view the entire lineup, visit pdxbeerweek.com. To learn more about the Interurban dinners, visit interurbanpdx.com and to learn about the Portland Fruit Beer Festival, visit portlandfruitbeerfest.com.

Now, does anything go better with beer than pizza? Not in my opinion.

Mellow Mushroom Pizza Bakers is new to Oregon, thanks to owners Jim and Cindy Waters. They offer 13 specialty pizzas with inventive, fun names, such as Kosmic Karma, Funky Q. Chicken, Magical Mystery Tour and Philosopher's Pie, or you can dream up your own combination. Cindy and I think the dough is 'really yummy' and Mark, one of the bakers, tells me that is because it is made of springwater dough and baked directly on stoneware.

Mellow Mushroom's beer list is long, long, long - it has 51 different beers on tap and more than 50 in bottles and cans. You could, in fact, have your own beer festival at Mellow Mushroom.

Stop by at 1411 N.W. Flanders St. in Portland. The restaurant is open Sunday through Thursday from 11 a.m. to 10 p.m., and Friday and Saturday from 11 a.m. to 11 p.m.

Not only is beer delicious to drink, it is good to cook with too, as the recipes featured today illustrate. Both are simple to prepare and could become your new go-to favorites for entertaining this summer. Try them this weekend.

Bon appetite! Eat something wonderful!

Beer and Coffee Steaks

Yields 4 big steaks

12 ounces dark beer, such as Negra Modelo

¼ cup Worcestershire sauce

1 tablespoon Tabasco

4 boneless strip steaks (1½ to 2 pounds) trimmed of fat

3 tablespoons finely ground espresso or dark roast coffee

1 tablespoon chile powder (such as ancho)

1 teaspoons ground cumin

1 teaspoon sugar

½ teaspoon cayenne, or more to taste

1 teaspoon salt

½ teaspoon ground black pepper

The night before you plan to serve the steaks, mix beer, Worcestershire sauce and Tabasco in large Ziplock bag. Put steaks in bag, seal and refrigerate overnight. The next morning, mix coffee, chile powder, cumin, sugar, cayenne, salt and pepper in a small bowl. Remove steaks from marinade and discard marinade. Pat steaks dry with paper towels and sprinkle spices over steaks, patting the spices into the meat with your fingers. Slip into clean Ziplock bag, seal and refrigerate until about 20 minutes before you plan to grill them.

Heat grill to high. Brush rack with oil then grill steaks until darkly crusted and done the way you like, about 3 minutes per side for medium-rare (about 145º F on an instant read thermometer), or 4 to 5 minutes per side for medium (about 160º F). Let meat rest off heat for 5 minutes to redistribute juices.

Adapted from The Tailgater's Cookbook

Steamers in Beer

Serves 2

2 pounds steamer clams

1 shallot

¼ cup unsalted butter

1 cup beer

1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley

¼ teaspoon salt

Scrub clams well. Finely chop shallot. In a large saucepan, cook shallot in 1 tablespoon of butter over moderate heat, stirring, until softened, for 2 to 3 minutes. Add beer and clams and steam clams, covered, until opened, about 4 to 5 minutes. Transfer opened clams with a slotted spoon to a bowl. Discard any unopened clams and reserve cooking liquid. Keep clams warm.

To make dipping sauce, pour reserved cooking liquid through a paper-towel lined sieve into a small saucepan. Heat cooking liquid over moderate heat until hot and whisk in remaining 3 tablespoons butter. Remove from heat and stir in parsley and salt.

Serve clams with dipping sauce.

Adapted from Gourmet Magazine, Aug. 1999

Randall welcomes your food questions and research suggestions. She can be reached at 503-636-1281, ext. 101, or by email at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. .




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