When Brewer’s Plate started, most people in Philly probably thought “locavore” was a newly dug-up dinosaur. Just over a decade later, the annual “buy fresh, buy local” festival has grown from a small gathering of in-the-know industry types at Reading Terminal Market to 1,400 people paying up to $99 for tickets (which are well on their way to selling out).
“It’s a pretty proud moment — it shows the way Philadelphia has embraced foods of integrity,” says Bill Covaleski, president of Victory Brewing Co. in Downingtown and founder of Brewer’s Plate. “Eleven years ago, it was an odd concept, but now it’s not an odd thing to see people here prioritizing the ethical raising and local sourcing of their food.”
Brewer’s Plate connects brewers, distillers and winemakers with chefs, restaurateurs and farmers to create innovative pairings in the sustainable, farm-to-table tradition — pairings attendees get to sample.
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The event, guided by Covaleski, is put on by nonprofit Fair Food. Like Brewer’s Plate, the organization had a jump on the trend: It has been connecting farmers with chefs and promoting locally sourced food since 2000.
“In the beginning, we would have to play matchmaker,” Covaleski says. “Now many of the brewers and the restaurants have great relationships throughout the year.
“It’s an opportunity to position your restaurant or your brewery differently for a more culinary-minded crowd,” he adds.
In addition to the food and drink pairings, Victory teamed up with Michigan’s small, LEED-certified Brewery Vivant to create Bon Vivant, a saison-style ale making its debut at Brewer’s Plate. It won’t be distributed in this market.
“If we have extra kegs [of Bon Vivant], we’ll likely have them at our brewpub in Downingtown, but that’s it,” Covaleski says. “I don’t want be dramatic, but Brewer’s Plate might be your only time to try it in Philadelphia.”
What to expect
Brewer’s Plate will get crowded, so Covaleski recommends forging your own path: Stroll around and look for open spots instead of queuing up in the nearest line. And while the brewers and chefs are happy to chat about their products, don’t linger too long and hold up service.
Here are just a few of the participants whose tables we’re excited to stop by:
• Alla Spina
• Bar Ferdinand
• Eclat Chocolate
• Village Whiskey
• Angry Orchard
• Brewery Vivant
• Dogfish Head Brewery
• Round Guys Brewing
6:30 p.m. (VIP tickets for 5:30 p.m. entry are sold out)
300 S. Broad St.
Remaining tickets are $69 to $79