Chunky Pig missed the boat on San Francisco Beer Week 2014. It's always a fun event, featuring hundreds of the best local craft breweries and beers. It's kind of a big deal for all of our beer-loving friends! But we didn't get involved.
As chief Candied Bacon Caramel Corn Hustler, I wasn't going to let that happen this time around, so I started approaching breweries and event coordinators to start planning a 2015 event in September of last year. And let me tell you, the Bay Area's beer scene is a tough and formidable crowd, parallel to a freshman flute player trying to score an invite to a house party hosted by the senior prom queen! Essentially, you need someone to vouch for you or you need an existing relationship--I chose to make hay with the latter.
San Francisco's City Beer Store has been carrying Chunky Pig on their snack menu for about 6 months and they definitely move some units, so I knew it would be a slam dunk for a SFBW collaboration.
Slam dunk, yes. Simple, no. Collaborations are welcome; however, only if it is something custom and specific to City Beer Store for SFBW...ah, the golden ticket...customization. Now I know.
Full disclosure, I don't drink beer. That's right, I said it. In fact, I hate beer. This didn't score me any street cred last week either, but I am a seasoned pastry chef and I don't necessarily need to taste something in order to match it's flavor profile. Beth, co-owner of City Beer Store, described the notes of one of Alesmith Brewing Company's limited edition stouts, Vietnamese Coffee, and we came up with a blend that would be well-paired.
I worked with our designer/printer to draw up private label branding to highlight City Beer Store as well as the SFBW organization to give credit where credit was due. And two days prior to SFBW, I added freshly ground Saigon Cinnamon and Cordillera Single Origin Cocoa Nibs to our original recipe of Candied Bacon Caramel Corn. The result was smokey, earthy, salty with a finish of sweet heat that is very likely to be added to the Chunky Pig roster in the future. I can't wait to show it off!
The event itself was a blast. I definitely felt like the new kid at school because I don't spend time immersed in Bay Area Beer Culture, but people were so damn excited! Excited for SFBW. Excited to be elbow deep in craft beer on a Wednesday night. Excited to meet the makers of AlesSmith and ChunkyPig. And excited to shell out 8 bucks to taste our custom, one-night-only pairing for AleSmith's Stout. My take away from the week was this: get out of your comfort zone, continue to never say "no," and people love Chunky Pig!