Craft beer talk hops up Slow Food potluck

Sumner Silverman enjoys a sample of Offshore Ale at the Slow Food annual meeting and potluck.
Photo by Ralph Stewart

Sumner Silverman enjoys a sample of Offshore Ale at the Slow Food annual meeting and potluck.

On Thursday, April 17, dozens gathered in the spacious Ag Hall in West Tisbury for Slow Food Martha’s Vineyard’s combination annual meeting and potluck.

Neil Atkins, head brewer at Offshore Ale Co., discussed the craft beer brewing process.

Photo by Ralph Stewart

Neil Atkins, head brewer at Offshore Ale Co., discussed the craft beer brewing process.

The highlight of the evening was a talk about craft beer by Offshore Ale’s head brewer Neil Atkins. As Mr. Atkins spoke, Slow Food Martha’s Vineyard members passed out several samples of his beer, starting with an unfiltered saison. Mr. Atkins discussed the process of beer making, including how water chemistry is important to beer type and quality. For example, hard or more acidic water was generally best for ales, while soft or more alkaline water was generally best for lagers. Mr. Atkins said if Oak Bluffs, hometown of Offshore Ale, decided to chlorinate municipal water, it would be “absolutely horrible” for Offshore brewing operations. When asked by an attendee what his favorite type of beer to brew was, Mr. Atkins said “India Pale Ale, because I really like hops.”

Before the talk, attendees dined in the ambience of tea candles glowing from mason jars. Slow Food M.V. vice president Suzan Bellincampi took the podium to receive votes for new board members. Oak Bluffs resident Roxanne Kapitan was voted in to the board.

Billie Shephard enjoyed a plate full of dishes made with local ingredients.

Billie Shephard enjoyed a plate full of dishes made with local ingredients.

Ms. Kapitan admits her involvement with Slow Food Martha’s Vineyard came swiftly and simply. “I attended a Slow Food pot luck and was amazed to find not one tuna casserole type dish. I was impressed how each dish contained at least one local ingredient. I decided this was my tribe, and joined.” When pressed for favorite dishes of the night, Ms. Kapitan’s response also came swiftly and simply. “The curried mango chutney cheesecake, and the watercress rolls” she said.

One of Ms. Bellincampi’s favorite dishes came from home: “My husband’s quiche, made with eggs from our chickens.”

Ms. Bellincampi also touched upon her involvement in Slow Food M.V. “Slow Food is important to me because it aligns with my values and way of living. I try to be aware of my place in the world and my effects on it. I strive to live a deliberate life, making choices that benefit my community, along with myself, and tread lightly. I have been a member of Slow Food for about 15 years and believe that folks need to be involved in things that they believe in. It is an opportunity to educate others, enjoy good food with community, and open people’s eyes to something I think is very important.”