The Beefsteak

For the last several years, I’ve bee an active member of The Upper Valley Beer Society, which is primarily a homebrew club, although we also have visiting brewers, go on the occasional brewery/cidery tours, and host the occssional special event, such as last March’s St Patricks Corned Beef dinner in conjuction with Umpleby’s Bakery in Hanover.

Back in April, Charles, the owner of Umpleby’s, distributed an essay about the history of the Beefsteak (you can read a NYTimes article on it here as well), a New York area traditional that is a lengthy food event featuring profound quantities of beef (and a few other meats), beer, and little else (tradition also mandates that one wear their “second best suit”).  We found the tradition compelling, and given our easy access to amazing local beef and beer up here, decided to throw one of our own.

So on August 28th, approximately 18 people gathered at Umpleby’s with a half barrel of Victory Prima Pils, 100 pounds of beef (and other guest meats, including pork and bratwurst), and their appetites.  The beef was provided by Back Beyond Farm in Chelsea, VT.  Read more about them here:  The goal was to see how much of a dent we could make before everyone was satiated, or 10pm, hit.

We ended up hitting both at about the same point.  Kicking off with the tapping of the keg at 4:30, the first round of meat came out shortly thereafter, with fresh grilled and sliced flank steak, pork, and bratwurst bring delivered out on a plate of bread (one of the principles of the Beefsteak is “no utensils”, so the meat is served up on slices of bread, which generally serve as a service vehicle, being stacked upon your plate as the meat is consumed, occasionally eating some of the slices as they accumulate drippings).  Five more such meat platters arrived periodically from the grill, including sirloin, skirt steak, hangar steak, tenderloin, and delmonico steaks delivered in wave after wave of meat.  Around 7pm we took an intermission, standing up and hanging around the keg for a while, before resuming the meat courses.  In the end, we ended up consuming 75 lbs of beef (as well as additional quantities of pork and sausage), and most of the beer (some being transferred to growlers for taking home).  We also had a nice session of meat education, referring to Charles’ copy of Larousse Gastronomique.

All in all, it was an outstanding success, and one that really allowed us to showcase the quality of our local meat, and enjoy some friendship over some pints. I’m looking forward to a repeat of the Upper Valley Beefsteak, albeit after having some months to recover from this one.

Full pictures can be seen here

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