Sammy's Woodfired Pizza and Stone Brewing Co. Put on Excellent Beer Master Dinner

Stone Brewing World Bistro & Gardens Liberty Station
Brewing Master, Kris Ketcham

June 17, 2013

On Thursday, June 13th, Sammy's Woodfired Pizza in Liberty Station teamed up with Stone Brewing Co. for a continuation of its monthly Beer Master Dinner series, featuring 4 courses of Sammy's original dishes paired with selections from Stone's line up of renown brews ($40 with tax and tip include). Although not in attendance, Stone's resident cicerone and affionado of all things beer and food, Dr. Bill Sysak, lined up the pairings, which were presented by Stone Brewing World Bistro & Gardens - Liberty Station Head Brewing Master, Kris Ketcham. The night was filled with surprises, new friends were made, and we all got good and tipsy while stuffing our face with a dance of liquid & solid deliciousness.  Read on!

We arrived a bit tardy (nearly forgot our 2 empty Stone growlers that had been yearning for a Ruination refill!) and were seated at an elongated table with several other guests.  Immediately, a glass of frosty cold Stone IPA was served – a great start to any experience, really.  To accompany the hoppy brew, plates of wok-blistered shishito peppers came topped with sesame seeds and sided with a smooth ginger miso sauce.  We were warned that one in every 5 or so peppers packed a spicy punch, and quickly identified that it was the short and stout peppers of lighter color that scorched (though we disclaim our theory being fool-proof).  The prescription? More Stone IPA. And our hosts were gracious to amply remedy us.

Next course was a burrata and pesto woodfired pizza, topped with house-made tomato sauce, creamy burrata (many asked what this is - its basically a soft mozzarella filled with ricotta), fresh tomatoes and basil pesto.  Sammy's makes a mean pizza and this was no exception.  We noticed during this tasting a unique flavor to Sammy's pizza crust – qualities reminiscent of an authentic Italian breadstick, as opposed to the more bland and taste-supporting role of the typical dough. But the pairing of Stone Imperial Russian Stout was an interesting one, as the addition of coffee and chocolate notes from the stout is not what I'd imagine as ideal along with pizza.  I tried to convince my taste buds that the pros may know better, but they stayed resilient.  Maybe a Ruination or Cali-Belgique would have worked, or to be creative, the habanero-infused Ruination to add the complementary kick typically lent by hot pepper flakes.

Along with Ness and I, my brother, Ryan, joined us for dinner.  Sammy's menu, as well as our personal hosts, were unbelievably accommodating to his voluntary vegan diet, and while his food preferences did grant him to join in on the shishitos, for the remainder of the tasting he was able to select alternatives from the lengthy menu, with vegan options conveniently marked with a circular V icon (also adorning choices where the dishes can be made vegan).  He chose the red quinoa salad, a mixture of golden beets, tomatoes, avocado, red onion, wild arugula, parsley, almonds, mint, scallions, citrus chili vinaigrette and quinoa.  Sammy's has a reputation for offering amazing salads, and this certainly didn't disappoint, as it was heaping and filled with fresh flavors. Though, we may (or may not?!) have made a faux-paux with our hijacking of the shishitos' ginger-miso sauce as a preferred dressing. His veg replacements may not have matched ideally with our beer pairings, but a lush perseveres!

Round three was Sammy's chicken tequila fettucine, a rich combination of spinach pasta, bell peppers, red onion, jalapeno, and tequila lime cream sauce with chunks of chicken. To us, the dish tasted of a clever and delicate infusion of fettucine alfredo and chicken marsala (we mused the addition of mushrooms to really drive it home).  Brewmaster Kris waxed nostalgically with his presentation of the paired beer, Stone's famous Arrogant Bastard Ale, which he explained may have been the beer that inspired him into the industry.  This pairing worked well, and even if it didn't, both parts of this course were delicious on their own.  It's all subjective anyway, right?

For dessert, we received a salted caramel pudding with the best pairing of the night, a glass of 2013 Stone Oak Smoked Old Guardian Barley Wine.  The caramel flavors in each worked as perfect compliments to one another.  And since the pudding contained dairy, Sammy's staff was very conscientious to voluntarily bring my bro a portion of their cocoa topped black cherry cotton candy, which they make in-house using their own machine, and although they said that this was a "small", the grandiose tower of fluff was eagerly and pleasantly shared amongst the table.

After dinner, new friends enjoyed the leftover brews, and a crew of us, along with Brewmaster Kris, headed over to Stone's new Liberty Station World Bistro & Gardens for one more cold brew and a behind-the-scenes tour (with samples!) of the beautiful facilities (as well as to refill our growlers!).  If you haven't been yet, get to it! As if the beer quality isn't enough, the artful design of the interior and landscaping is sure to impress.

Sammy's has been hosting a beer master's dinner once a month for the past three months, and plan on continuing as they secure new beer partners.  The dinners provide a great way for Sammy's to highlight the locally-brewed craft beers they serve while creating a unique experience for guests, encouraging them to try dishes they may not have ordered in the past, and beer choices that may otherwise feel unapproachable.  These dinners are also demonstrative of how craft beer pairs with meals just as well, if not better, than wine.  The dinners offer a refreshingly communal experience, as guests are seated at a long table and food is served majorly family style.

For more information on Sammy's Woodfired Pizza and the Beer Master Dinners, visit Sammy's online at, follow on Facebook and Twitter, and stop by one of their many San Diego locations. For our beer fans and those intrigued, we also highly recommend you become familiar with the lovely folks at Stone Brewing Co.

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