The Animal Protective Association (APA) of Missouri is pulling a off a remarkable feat: combining man's best friend with man's favorite beverage. Thursday, August 8, from 7 to 10 p.m. at Scape (48 Maryland Plaza; 314-361-7227) in the Central West End, the APA90 Fancy Feast, a celebration of the organization's 90th anniversary, will offer a four-course dinner with beer pairings, all in the name of a nonprofit organization dedicated to "bringing people and pets together, advancing humane education and creating programs beneficial to the human/animal bond."
The meal itself will be prepared by Scape chef Eric Kelly and paired with beers hand-selected by Neil Witte, a Master Cicerone -- one of only seven in the world! Gut Check was so impressed with such a lofty title, we decided to talk with Witte about beer, of course, and also the upcoming dinner.
First of all, what is a Master Cicerone, and how does one become one? Basically, it's a beer genius, full of knowledge and expertise. Witte had to go through a rigorous two-day exam, including ten hours of written questions, two hours of oral questions and two hours of beer tasting and evaluation -- OK, the last part doesn't sound too bad. In order to face this challenge, Witte took on four years of study and immersion in the beer world. Thus, we bow before him.
The fact that beer is starting to receive more sophisticated treatment and analysis suggests a new level of appreciation on par with wine. "Full beer, craft beer is still in its infancy in this country," Witte says. "People are rediscovering styles of beer that have been around for centuries and realizing that beer has a place at the dinner table." And the upcoming APA90 will be an excellent example of how beer can be far more than a generic light lager. The explosion of craft beer over the last two decades has allowed beer across a vast spectrum to be appreciated. "This is not just a passing fad. Craft beer has been growing solidly for several years now," says Witte. Thank goodness.
Continue for Neil's dinner picks.