EAST SACRAMENTO - Ask anyone in East Sacramento where to find the area's greatestselection of craft beerand they'll probably point you to The Shack. Offering a multinational array of artisan brews fromBelgium to Boulder, and a menu choc full of food to complement most bottles and taps, The Shack is a beer pairer'sparadise.
On Saturday, the East Sacramento gastropub is closing out Sacramento Beer Weekwith their Shackfest 2012 event. The five-hour food and beer bonanza runs from 4 p.m. through 9 p.m. and will featurelocally brewedbeers, Shack food, and live music.
News10 spoke with Shack owner Gary Sleppy on Thursday to get a little more information on Shackfest 2012, see how Beer Week has gone for The Shack, and get his take onSacramento's beer scene.
What is Shackfest?
Oh man Shackfest is gonna be iconic! We're gonna have five beer stations, with five tables of food for pairing, and three live bands.
What brewers will be there?
It'll feature the new generation of neighborhood brewers from the Bay Area to Winters to Lincoln. Some of the best brewers in the neighborhood. Jeremy Warren from Knee Deep will be there with histriple IPA that just beat out Russian River's Pliny the Younger. Chris from Berryessa Brewing will be there, Drakes Brewing, Jamil [Zainasheff] from Heretic in Pittsburg, California, and Triple Voodoo.
What were your goals going into beer week?
Educating people and helping them understand why they like what they like. We wanted to bring diversity to people's palates and expand their ways of interpreting beer.
How has beer week gone so far?
We're killing it. Been hugely successful. Twice as good as last year. More people are aware of it. More businesses are selling good beer. It's been a great chance for local businesses to shine. It's really cool to see the amount of businesses getting into good beer. Lucca had a Berryessa Brewing nigh the other night. I mean, Lucca and Berryessa! That's awesome!
What have been your personal highlights from Beer Week?
We did a pub crawl from Hot City Pizza to Morgan's and it was great to see all the camaraderie among the businesses. It really shows how businesses are becoming less competitive and working together.
The Art of Beer was a great event too - a great starter. I think that will be a great starter for Beer Weeks in the future.
What have been the Shack's highlights of Beer Week?
The Sierra Nevada event at the beginning of the week was huge. I don't know what it is. People around here go crazy for Sierra. Not crazy like out of hand. It was a great crowd. A really fun group of people.
And Lagunitas is another one people love. We had Lagunitas Night on Wednesday night and it was great. The Lagunitas owner came out and played his guitar for us. It felt like a house party.
What impressed you the most about this Beer Week so far?
The work they did on the beer app was a great development to help people find places locally that have the beers they want to drink.
Also, Sacramento beer drinkers in general. They're much more knowledgeable about beer. When we first poured Green Flash IPA a few years back, nobody really even knew what a West Coast IPA was.When I tried to get peopleto taste it, they were like, "no way man, what are you trying to do poison me?" But now people come in and they talk to us about the specific hops in a beer and the IBU's (International Bittering Units).
How does this event compare with previous Beer Weeks?
It's way bigger now and a lot more people know about it. Last year you had a few people who knew about it. It was more like a cult thing. But now everywhere you go people are talking about it. This year people are planning out all the events they're going to. It's great to see.
Are you making a concerted effort to push local beer?
That's my goal for the year. Try to keep everything more local. Whether it's Loomis, Track 7, Knee Deep, Berryessa, whatever, I always make sure we have a local beer on tap. We were the first outside of their brewery to pour Track 7.
What do you see for the Sac beer scene moving forward?
I think it's going to be good. I was talking to Chris from Berryessa Brewing about the Sacramento beer scene and said to him, "New brewers have to get together and build a beer community, which will hopefully have a positive affect on existing brewers. And some of the existing brewers are really picking up there game, like Hoppy Brewing Company, Rubicon and others.
Beer pairing is really coming into prominence in Sacramento. What should people look for when pairing food and beer?
The first thing is to find a beer with a beginning, middle and end. In other words it should give you a reason to keep drinking when you first taste it, taste delicious throughout and leave you with a great taste in your mouth that makes you want more.
As far as pairing with food, you can really either pair beer and food that complement or contrast each other. Fatty foods tend to go well with higher acid beers too.
What food pairing would you recommend at The Shack?
The Grimbergen BelgianDubbel with pastrami - The saltiness of the pastrami works perfectly with the sweetness of the Belgian dubbel.
What is your favorite beer / food pairing?
Houblon Chouffe Dobbelen Belgian IPA with chili. The sweetness of the beer complements the spiciness of chili, and the hops make the beer taste better, the chili taste better, everything taste better.
If you were stuck on an island for the rest of your life and could only have one beer, what would it be?
That's easy. Fantome Saison. It's got perfect body, great complexity, and the eight-percent alcohol is just right. Each bottle is different. You never know what you're gonna get. He's one of the most creative brewers In the world. I think he's going to become iconic in terms of brewing. I think California brewers are going to mimic his style in the future.
Do you home brew?
When I can. When I have time
Visit the Shack's websitefor directions and information on Shackfest 2012.