Beers, Burgers, Desserts chef-owner Ralph Perrazzo, left, and columnist Jeff Baker. Baker writes about a charity Vermont beer dinner Perrazzo is helping to organize on Long Island.COURTESY
Some people in the beer community want to exploit Vermont’s sterling beer reputation for personal gain. But others want to spread Vermont brewed goodness and build new relationships all while benefiting a charity.
Our story starts when I first met BBD’s (that’s “Beers, Burgers, Desserts”) chef-owner Ralph Perrazzo through my buddies at Citizen Cider. Late one night while I was bar-tending I received a text photo of the BBDs guys with the caption “You need to talk to these guys about beer and metal [music].” In that moment I knew that this was a good connection to make.
Soon after, I hung out with Ralph, Tim Irvin, his sous chef, and Tommy Beiner, BBDs beer buyer. We ate a bunch of tacos, drank many a beer while chatting about music and the Vermont beer scene — basically my favorite activities. I left our initial meeting thinking two things: these guys are solid dudes and they’re really, really into Vermont beer.
Over the next few months, I ran into Ralph and his crew at various industry events in Vermont and even one in Connecticut. While we sipped on beers, they told me of their plan to host a Vermont beer dinner at their restaurant in Rocky Point, Long Island on June 10.
The idea initially gave me some pause. Vermont-themed beer dinners are starting to pop up around the country, as other states discover the cornucopia of award-winning breweries that call Vermont home. Most of these dinners seem to be focused on bringing Vermont’s hottest trending beers into a bar for bragging rights: cherry-picking, if you will. They only want the crown jewels. But this BBDs dinner struck me as something different entirely.
I could tell from the very beginning that this dinner wasn’t about cherry picking. It was about forming lasting relationships between Long Islanders and Vermonters. And it was also about helping out those who help others, specifically Hope House Ministries (Port Jefferson, Long Island), a charity who seeks to “provide compassionate, comprehensive and competent care for the poor, the marginal and the wounded amount us.”
Ralph, Tim and Tommy are very personable guys, engaging to talk with. They make it a point to remember names, ask how your travel plans worked out, follow up on beers they left for you to try. They really engage people in an honest way that seems to be rarer and rarer in the craft beer world. Don’t get me wrong, there’s tons of nice, friendly people out there. But it’s so easy to become jaded as the industry experiences the growing pains of increasing competition, market crowding and consolidation, and I’ve met more than my fair share of craft beer curmudgeons.
The BBDs guys have criss-crossed the Green Mountain State, making friends with brewers from Middlebury to Morrisville and gifting their house-made sausages and some Long Island-brewed beers along the way. They’ve locked in kegs from Zero Gravity, The Alchemist, Citizen Cider, Lost Nation, Hill Farmstead, Fiddlehead, 14th Star, Switchback and one very special keg of a collaboration brew between BBDs and Otter Creek for their Vermont beer dinner.
The 10-course dinner will be prepared by an onslaught of well-known guest chefs and each course will be paired with some of Vermont’s finest beers and ciders. Ralph will be cooking up the first course and will be joined by 10 other chefs including Josh Eden of August (Upper East Side, Manhattan), Reuge of Mirabelle (Stony Brook, Long Island) and Joe Murphy, executive pastry chef for Jean-Georges (New York City).
Besides just tasting great, this dinner is poised to enrich BBDs local community and create new friendships between the Green Mountain State and Long Island. Here’s hoping that some of Long Island’s tasty brews make it north some day!
More information about the June 10 dinner in Rocky Point, N.Y. is available at www.eatbbds.com/cbd. Tickets are expected to sell out.
Jeff Baker is the bar manager at The Farmhouse Tap & Grill in Burlington. His column, Hops & Barley, appears every other week. Follow him on Twitter at www.twitter.com/aPhilosophyOf .