Pies-n-Pints: Cathy Erway Reports on the 2nd Annual

Editor’s Note: For the past few months author Cathy Erway (The Art of Eating In) has been cooking lunch for the brewers at Brooklyn’s Sixpoint Craft Ales, where she also helps tend their rooftop gardens (now complete with an ultra-fresh-egg-producing flock of chickens). This weekend the Sixpoint crew finally made her lunch for a change, sort of, with help from bread-man extraordinaire Jim Lahey and the annual pizza and pint lunch at Manhattan’s fancy pizza joint called Co. Craft beer and pizza are things totally New York City and thus totally up our alley, naturally, so we asked Erway, whose pretty damn handy with a digital camera, if you hadn’t noticed, to file some pizza porn and a pairing report.

What could go together better than pizza and beer? Whether you’re hosting your own pizza party with plenty of growlers or sharing your homebrew over a stack of take-out pies, it’s a combo that never fails to crowd-please. This past Sunday, it certainly did that when Sullivan Street Bread founder Jim Lahey’s pizza outpost, Co. held its second annual paired lunch with Sixpoint Craft Ales brewery. The masters of each trade teamed up for five daring courses with seasonal flavors that raise the bar on this genre of nosh.

The first course was actually a salad, with roasted pumpkin that melted in your mouth. Pumpkin seeds and crisp bib lettuce coated in a light, lemony vinaigrette provided crunchy contrast, and it all went down perfectly with a glass of Sixpoint’s first-ever Pumpkin Brewster saison, just released this month.

Next up, a classic margarita was surprisingly paired with the Sixpoint Brownstone Ale. The sweet, malty character of the beer complements the yeasty crust, and light flavors of the tomatoes and cheese, Sixpoint’s Craig Frymark explained. “It’s like red wine with red sauce,” Jeff Gorlechen added.

Our next pie was Co.’s take on “ham and cheese”: a mozzarella, pecorino and gruyere-topped crust wrapped with translucent pink sheets of prosciutto. There’s a touch of caraway seeds in the pie, too, and the brewers at Sixpoint thought it would pair perfectly with the spicy Righteous Rye ale.

Some might say that all pizza goes best with a light, bubbly beer and Sixpoint brought along Sehr Crisp to demonstrate. The recently released German-style pilsner was paired with a very Oktoberfest-appropriate pie from Co. Featuring big chunks of bratwurst, knockwurst and lardons over sauerkraut and squiggles of mustard, the seasonal “Charcuterie” pie was a crowd favorite.

My favorite pairing was still yet to come. When a hot, steaming pie topped with sliced mushrooms came out of the kitchen, it seemed like any old thing. But it was scattered with fresh jalapenos, dill and garlic confit in a cheesy béchamel sauce for an intriguingly delicious topping that didn’t overpower the just-barely cooked and juicy wild mushrooms. That pie was paired with the most interesting brew of the day, too: the Sweet Reaction. A bit of Sixpoint memorabilia, this is a limited-time batch made the way their Sweet Action was first brewed. It originally had a Belgian Abbey yeast strain, and some bitter orange peel, Frymarck described, which are both featured in the nostalgic re-run. It tastes absolutely nothing like Sweet Action, actually, but it’s really good with a slice!

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Cathy Erway is a home cook, local/sustainable foodie, author of The Art of Eating In: How I Learned to Stop Spending and Love the Stove and www.lunchatsixpoint.com.