Dinner with Schell’s President Ted Marti
Posted on March 11, 2010 by mike
“The main ingredient of a sound mind, body and soul…is beer”, Ted Marti, President of Schell,
proclaims to a room full of about 50 people at the Fireside Inn on Detriot Lake in Detriot Lakes, MN. Ted was kicking the evening off at the “Brewmaster’s Dinner with Schell” with the the history of the Schell Brewery. As he described the origins of August Schell and his escape from Germany to come to America, my friends and I enjoyed a cool, crisp Schell’s Pilsner while we waited for our meal. Tonight’s Brewmaster Dinner was going to consist of a five course meal with five brews paired with each meal. I have personally never been to one of these and was anxious to try some new beers with new food pairings. Plus, a fifth generation owner of a company that is the second oldest family owned brewery in America, was telling us a 150 year old story as we enjoyed beer and food. How else could it get better?
Schell’s Pilsner and Seafood
The first course was paired with Schell’s Pilsner, a very clean, refreshing, golden pilsner. The pils is a little maltier than I’m accustomed to for a pils, but it has great hop aroma and flavor in it. The plate put in front of me consists of a Pan-Seared Scallop with a Pilsner Vinaigrette sauce. Along side that was a sliced Granny Smith Apple and Jicama Salad wrapped in a poppy seed crepe. I love seafood and having the tart apples mixed with the red onions of the salad was pretty good. The meal was paired well with the hop character and crisp taste of the pils really cutting the sting of the onions.
Sitting at the table is a few members of my homebrewing group the Traveling Wortbury’s. I can’t express how cool it is being in this homebrew group. It is just a group of people that met by chance and hit it off instantly. From there it is entertaining and exciting every time we meet up. I suppose the saying is true, good food, good beer, good people and good fun can really sooth the soul. Ted was partly right about beer soothing the soul, but then again, he was hosting the whole event, which included food, friends, and beer…
Schell’s Firebrick and Skewered Duck
Ted continued to tell us about how Schell’s survived the Great Depression and Prohibition by selling off a bunch of taverns they owned, producing candy, soft drinks and did pretty much whatever it would take to keep the doors of the brewery open. During this story, a Schell’s Firebrick and some Skewered Duck with a Firebrick glaze sauce was placed in front of me. There was a side of blood oranges…have you ever tried these? Very interesting flavor and tartness. I had never tried the Firebrick before and while tasting it Ted mentioned that this is a very mild beer that makes a great cross over beer for people who are used to mass produced beers. I would agree with this 100%. The flavor was very mild. There wasn’t anything that really jumped out at me. The hop flavor was very subtle along the sweetness of the malts. There was definitely more caramel flavor than anything else in the beer. For me, it didn’t have enough flavor and really pulled up short, but I can see myself recommending this brew to people as a cross over beer, like Ted suggests.
During Prohibition Schell’s had a license to produce “near beer” or beer that had half a percent of one percent alcohol in it. Basically they made beer just like we know it today, but after complete fermentation they would boil off the alcohol and mix in some more wort. At one point, Ted explains, the Feds came in to do a check on their brewery and found some beer in the cellar that was beyond the .5 percent. Schell’s was taken to court and fought for their lives as a brewery. Through some miracle and a little bit of convincing, Schell’s was let go. “That could have been the end of us,” Ted says. If they hadn’t gotten off, they wouldn’t be celebrating their 150th Anniversary this year.
Schell’s Hopfenmalz and Pork
In honor of the 150th Anniversary they brought back some of their old German recipes, brewed them up, and put them in select markets. Those markets were then encouraged to vote on the internet for their favorites. Winner would be the 150th Anniversary Brew. The winner was their Hopfenmalz. This was my wife’s favorite of the night and seemed to be one of the more complex beers served for the evening. A Pork Tenderloin with a Hopfenmalz glaze sauce over Dirty Rice was paired with this brew. I wasn’t a big fan of the pork and it could have very well been the rice. It was a bit dry and difficult to eat. However, the Hopfenmalz was pretty good. What makes this beer interesting is that its style calls for an ale yeast, but this beer is a lager. Jay had an interesting way of describing the flavor of this brew though. He loves hops and I believe his hopes were set a little higher for this beer. He explains that the beer has a very bitter/tart/fruity flavor that is best described as a sour grapefruit that you find in the middle of December. It took a couple of drinks and I could taste what he was explaining, but it could have been because he planted the seed, because my wife didn’t taste that at all. Regardless, I thought it was good and would recommend everyone trying it, more so than the pork…
Schell’s Bock and Beef Chuck
We jumped from the most bitter to the most sweet in the Schell’s Bock. While munching on what I believe to be the best meal of the night, Bock Marinated Beef Chuck Tender with Shiitake & Oyster mushrooms, Ted filled us in on how during the 1960′s and 1970′s mass advertising came into play and really changed the game for the craft brewer. Things became increasingly difficult and all of a sudden the amount of brewers in America dropped to around 31…The Bock was very sweet and I normally not a big fan of Bocks and malty beers. However, it was paired really well with the beef so where I would normally say no to a style of beer, I found myself enjoying it.
Schell’s Stout and Vanilla Bread Pudding
Finally on to the desert. I was excited for desert because we finally got to the Stout. For those of you that don’t know me, I’m a stout and porter lover and I was excited to try this beer. They paired Schell’s Stout with a Vanilla Bread Pudding, a beer cookie and a scoop of chocolate ice cream. This was a wonderful pairing because the bitter coffee flavor of the stout was completely accentuated with the sweetness and chocolatiness of the ice cream and cookie. What was even more amazing and what made it completely worth the $50 we spent to attend was the fact that I witnessed my wife drinking almost 2 glasses of stout and telling me…”This is really good!”
I feel that is exactly what this is all about. It is about introducing new foods and new brews to your personal culture. My wife probably won’t drink another stout just to drink a stout, but to hear her appreciate it for what it is because of good food, was really cool to see. The beer nerd in me really enjoyed the history of the brewery and the opportunity to try beers with foods. I don’t always pay attention to that, I’m always so wrapped up in the new beer taste test.
After the dinner, Ted came over to our table and we all got a chance to take a picture with him and talk beer. Ted and I discussed the Craft Beer Alliance and the increasing difficulty some craft brewers are having to find space in a distributors warehouse. It was like a scene out of Beer Wars. If your curious about the movie I did a Review of Beer Wars. I do recommend watching it regardless of your beer knowledge. We exchanged information and hopefully you’ll see more of Schell’s on Mike’s Brew Review in the future.
If you get the opportunity to go to a Brewmaster’s Dinner I would highly recommend attending. I paid to go, but I felt like an honored guest. The chef and the president of the brewery addressed everyone each time we had a new course. It was like being a guest on an episode of Iron Chef. It was nice taking my wife because she isn’t a beer nerd like I am, but she really likes trying new beers and new foods, mix that with great friends, and you have a night I will never forget. Thanks Ted from Schell Brewery, the Fireside Restaurant and Bergseth Bros for making this happen. I had a great time!
Has anyone else attended something like this? Who did you meet, how was the beer, food and overall experience?