Nobody needs an excuse to eat pizza and down beer, but charity is always a nice nudge. On May 17, professor Gev Kazanchyan (CSUN, College of the Canyons) hosted Dionicess IV, pairing Stone beer with Mignon Chocolate, and on September 26, he topped himself by staging Dionicess V at CitySip. The event featured seven beers and five pizzas and raised over $1000 for Real Medicine Foundation (RMF), an organization that provides humanitarian support to people living in disaster, post-war and poverty stricken areas.
Tomato Pie owner Garrett Policastro contributed five different pizza courses and Stone Brewing rep Nate Sellergren brought seven different beers. Leading up the event, Kazanchyan and Sellergren convened at Tomato Pie and tried 12 beers and nine pizzas before choosing the very best options from each category.
During the event, Tomato Pie shuttled pizzas fresh from their Silver Lake oven so the pies were as fresh and hot as possible. Stone is one of SoCal’s most influential craft breweries, not only due to their production, but also due to their distribution power. As a result, we not only tried Stone beers, we also drank some other notable SoCal beers.
Our amuse bouche was a small pour of Stone’s Levitation Ale, a light, dry-hopped American amber ale with citrus notes.
The first official beer was Stone Smoked Porter, a dark 5.9% ABV American Porter that incorporates peat-smoked malt. Pizza #1 was the BREAKFAST pizza, topped with bacon, sausage, spinach, white onion and egg. This was one of the better breakfast pizzas I’ve eaten.
The second beer was The Bruery’s Orchard White, an aromatic 5.7% ABV witbier brewed with coriander, lavender and orange peel.
Sellergren thought the beer’s “floral notes pair well with the basil” in the GRANDMA pizza, a feather-light pie that sported crushed marinated tomato, garlic, basil and Parmesan.
The third beer was The Bruery’s Saison Rue, an 8.5% ABV farmhouse ale that contains a tiny tang from Brettanomyces. Sellergren and Kazanchyan thought this element would play nicely with the balsamic on Tomato Pie’s grilled vegetable pizza. It did.
The GRILLED VEGETABLE pizza involved roasted garlic, soy balsamic, grilled vegetables and crumbled goat cheese. The eggplant was expertly cooked, with no hint of bitterness and maximum tenderness.
Our fourth beer was Stone’s Ruination Ale, a double IPA with real kick that Sellergren has “more alcohol, more hops, more everything.” The name is due to its palate-punishing tendencies, so it needed a pizza with big flavor, and we got it. The PESTO PIE was loaded with garlic pesto, chicken, sun-dried tomato and artichokes. Chicken and pizza don’t mix, but I enjoyed the other elements.
The fifth beer was The Lost Abbey’s Biere de Garde, a French-style beer with yeasty bread-like flavor that Sellergren predicted would pair well with the DESSERT pizza: loaded with an unconventional melange of prosciutto, plantain, pine nut, brown sugar and honey. “We’re not going to do the B.S. Nutella pizza,” said Kazanchyan. Instead, Tomato Pie produced a variation on a South African recipe from one of Kazanchyan’s students. This pizza didn’t work for me because the plantains were so dry, and even the idea of sweet pizza is unsettling, but it was worth trying.
Everybody at our table thought the event was over, but Kazanchyan and Sellergren broke out a bonus pairing: coffee-rich AleSmith Speedway Stout and “Irish Car Bomb” cupcakes, which were inspired by the notorious drink. In this case, the chocolate cupcake was infused with Guinness and contained a core of Jameson-spiked ganache. It was slathered with Bailey’s Irish Cream frosting.
The organizers, volunteers and host included CitySip’s Nicole Daddio, who generously donated her wine bar.
In case you’re interested in learning more about Real Medicine Foundation (RMF), the organization began with Dr. Martina Fuchs establishing a small Sri Lankan children’s clinic after the 2004 tsunami. RMF has since gone on to assist in Myanmar after the cyclone and New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina. RMF has also established clinics in other areas of extreme poverty and disaster, including Peru, Africa, and now Armenia. The assistance isn’t just medical; it’s also psychological and financial. The goal: “friends helping friends helping friends.”
Kazanchyan is already forming a plan for Dionicess VI that will once again incorporate beer. I’ll be sure to share the time and place once he announces the event.