There was a time when chefs bought their ingredientsbeets, precut pork loins, artisanal bread. But these days, chefs are doing the farming, butchering and baking themselves. And now they're collaborating with brewers to tailor-make beers to pair with their food.
Last year, Chicago's Goose Island Brewery began inviting local chefs into its two brewpubs to work alongside head brewer Jared Rouben. Some chefs come with a clear idea of what they want to make, such as a light, citrusy beer to go with ceviche or a smoky beer to drink with chocolate chipbacon cookies; others arrive with an open mind. All of them brainstorm with Rouben, a former chef who brews single-batch beers with whatever's freshest at the farmers' market every week it's openfrom rhubarb in the spring to bell peppers in the summer. "I love showing chefs that what we do at the brewery is really not very different from what they do in their kitchens," he says. "We both deal with raw ingredients, we both try to enhance the aromatics and flavors, we're both based in time and temperature. The only difference is that making beer is a three-week process."
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Chefs work side by side with Rouben to make their beers, stirring the mash, adding hops ("I always relate hops to spices," Rouben says) and tasting as they go. Most chefs even stick around to help shovel the grain out of the tanks after brewing is completed. "They're there to scrub," Rouben says. "Ninety percent of brewing is cleaning and if you don't have people willing to do that, then they're not really brewing."