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Brouwer's Cafe became a gourmet man-cave last night.
Speaking before a packed house of more than 100 thirsty brew heads last night at


Ten Courses Go Down Smooth and Heady at Brouwer's Home Brew Chef Collaboration Dinner

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Brouwer's Cafe became a gourmet man-cave last night.
Speaking before a packed house of more than 100 thirsty brew heads last night at Brouwer's Cafe in Fremont, Firestone Walker Brewing Company Owner David Walker declared in a European accent that "the beer industry in Europe is dying."

"It's booming," he added, "in the United States, and especially the Pacific Northwest."

Later, after 10 courses of creole- and Northwest-inspired gourmet food and around 15 hand-crafted, delicious beers (none of them from Europe), it seemed that Walker was on to something.

The event, which was dubbed the Home Brew Chef Collaboration Beer Dinner, a partnership between Walker and local beer-crazed chef Sean S. Paxton, fell smack-dab in the middle of Seattle Beer Week.

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The blackened grits with smoked scallop-stuffed squid was savory and colorful.
Brouwer's Cafe (400 N. 35th St., Fremont), where the dinner was held, is a huge Old World European-style beer hall, complete with large wooden banquet tables and rustic stone walls that gives one the sense that Grendel could be slain by Beowulf at any moment.

Ten courses in all were served, with beer pairings for each--often more than one. There were crispy fried Cajun prawns coated in a beer batter made from Firestone's Pale 31 and served with crisp and fruity Solace summer ale. There was encrusted alligator tail served on warm, mealy cornbread and paired with hoppy Hemp Ale. And there was sweet and sticky pecan pie (that's PEE-can, not pe-CAWN) served with a bourbony barley wine called Abacus.

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The waitstaff was serving beers, food, or both for the entire three-and-a-half-hour dinner.
The rest of the food courses--each four to eight mouthfuls--ran the gamut from crawfish, lobster, and pork belly sausage and catfish hush puppies to smoked scallop-stuffed squid with grits and New Orleans-style beignets.

The beers alone could have satisfied as a meal, with most of them being full-bodied ales, stouts, and IPAs--the best being the deliciously oaky Double Barrel Ale.

The crowd was a decidedly girthy mix of mostly men and the women they'd dragged along (although there was a small scattering of true brewmeistresses).

I sat next to a group of plumbers from the Deep South, a beer blogger from Seattle, and a real-estate scouter from north Seattle.

The theme of Pacific Northwest-infused Cajun food and beer seemed odd at first, but worked beautifully in chef Paxton's capable hands.

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The catfish hush puppies sat on a spicy hop-infused remoulade sauce.
And the Firestone beers had an incredible range of flavors from the lightest, fruitiest hefeweizen to the thickest and boldest porter--each paired perfectly with the courses.

All told, it was a thoroughly enjoyable evening from start to finish. Although with that much beer and food flying around, it would have been difficult to have had a bad time.

Whether Walker is right about the European beer industry dying, I'm not sure. But it's certainly alive in well in Washington state.

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