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Mash Files: A Fish in the Hand

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While he’s on the road with The Brooklyn Brewery Mash Tour, our Chef Andrew Gerson is constantly thinking about how to create innovative experiences that take people beyond the simple pairing (and, as seen above, how to best use dramatic lighting.) Check out some of Chef’s thoughts from the DC and Boston Mash stops, both of which featured his celebrated “hand bite” at Beer Mansion.

Beer culture to us is so much more than enjoying flavorful beer. It’s about celebration, exploration and the pleasures we find when beer is shared with good people. The same folks that love craft beer tend to be the artists, musicians, craftsmen, entrepreneurs, bartenders, chefs, and folks that keep a community vibrant. When we’re on the road with The Brooklyn Brewery Mash Tour, Beer Mansion is our way of bringing together all of these paths. We take over a space in each city, bring in tons of beer from ourselves and local breweries, and create interactive experiences combining all of these cultural touchpoints to produce a beer festival like no other.

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The scene at Beer Mansion in DC, hosted at Blind Whino.

This year, I have been experimenting with ways to expand the culinary and beer experience into a multisensory approach focusing on tactile sensations. Beer and food should be enjoyed through all of our senses, not just smell and taste. To explore this multisensory idea, I developed a hand bite concept that challenges the way we interact with our food in a fun and interesting way. This concept stemmed from a dinner I did with food design artist and dear friend Emilie Baltz called Traces. By delving deeper into our sensory experiences around food and beer, we can develop a greater understanding and appreciation of the nuances of our food and drink and the pleasures they provide.

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For Beer Mansion, I collaborated with Moma O’s Kimchi to design a tuna kimchi crudo bite that pairs with our farmhouse saison Sorachi Ace. The crisp, clean, and dry flavors and citrus-forward aromas of Sorachi Ace blends perfectly with the subtle notes of a seafood crudo, and balance the tart and slightly spicy bite of kimchi. This bite would be great served in a small bowl, but I wanted to push people outside of their comfort zone and allow them to approach food in a new way by making the hand the serving vessel.

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For me this bite is all about childhood fascination with food and the wonder it can inspire. We all begin interacting with food through our hands, but as we grow we are told not to play with our food and begin to use different utensils that in a way disconnects us from our food. This bite is also about the sensual nature of food: licking, sucking, the enlivening sensation of cold raw fish on your hand. Some people are hesitant, approaching our bite station with skepticism. “You want to serve that where?” “Raw fish at a beer festival?”

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Watching the wonder and satisfaction as people slurp this bite off their hand, cheers-ing their friends, along with the look of bliss they get once they have tried it is pretty amazing. I get to sit behind my table and watch people giggle and get over their insecurities as they let go and embrace this experience. For me, that’s what it’s all about. I think folks are looking for diverse and engaging experiences around food and drink and we are trying to provide that in a novel way. I hope that this experience makes people think about our food, the beer in our glass and how they add up to a full sensory experience that is so much more than just flavor and aroma. And hopefully, that experience is downright delicious.

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