Food at Brooklyn's Beer Mansion

The most interesting thing at the beer festival taking over the mansion at the Woodlands Cemetery on the Schuylkill River next weekend is not the liquid you’ll drink. Though there will be plenty of that, from host Brooklyn Brewery and a quintet of local makers. There’s also an “extreme” build-your-own Bloody Mary bar.

But most intriguing is what Brooklyn chef Andrew Gerson is planning: Spin art ceviche.

Yes, spin art like what you saw on the boardwalk or county fairs when you were a kid, with the hypnotic, color-splashed wheels that stopped short to display a psychedelic patterned frisbee or artboard. Except instead of dripping paint on the rotating surface — in this case, a plate — Gerson will be using sauce. Once his various dressings and coulis are spattered artistically around, he’ll top the design with marinated fish and hand it over for eating (and viewing) enjoyment.

If you think you’ve never seen this before, you’re probably right. It wasn’t easy to get his hands on the right spin art machines to begin with, noted Gerson, who was born and raised in Philly (right on the border of Mt. Airy and Germantown) but now lives and works in NYC.

“I went online and bought all the ones I could find, Hasbro ones, I got like seven or eight,” the chef explained. “I stained a ton of aprons trying to use them. So then I found these semi-professional ones, with a splashguard.”

The unorthodox dish was inspired by the centrifuges that are used to filter Brooklyn’s beer, Gerson said, “Oh, and childhood curiosity.” It’s a perfect headliner for the crossover and connections between beer, food, art, entertainment and technology that form the underlying mission of the Brooklyn Brewery Mash.

Brooklyn Brewery, which was founded back in 1988 and is considered a seminal craft beer pioneer, has been hosting a traveling festival called the Mash for five years now, but this year’s is different. Instead of a weeklong mish-mosh of various concerts, samplings, dinners and parties, the whole shebang has been condensed into a two-day event called Beer Mansion.

Philly is the fourth stop on the tour, after touchdowns in London and Paris and before other US cities like Chicago, Boston and DC. (Brooklyn brewmaster Garrett Oliver considers Philadelphia a great beer town — and even thinks of it as one of his local markets.)

Tickets to either Friday (August 11) or Saturday (August 12) go for $60 per person (heads up: that jumps to $65 on Sun., August 7), and include all you can eat, drink and take in from 6 to 10 p.m.

Other than spin art ceviche, the food will come from:

  • Revolution Taco
  • Local 215
  • Bar Amis
  • Lawless Jerky
  • Di Bruno Bros.
  • McClure’s Pickles
  • A wall of Garden of Eatin’ chips (not quite as cool as a wall of Federal Donuts, but can’t have everything)

Other brewers pouring wares include:

  • Free Will Brewing (Perkasie, Pa.)
  • Evil Genius Beer (Philadelphia)
  • Saint Benjamin Brewing (Philadelphia)
  • Levante Brewing (West Chester, Pa.)
  • Kurant Cider (Perkasie, Pa.)

You sip and eat while walking the various rooms of the mansion, which are each decorated with a different theme and vibe, and each contain different activities. There’s live music, DJs, screenprinting, a microscope to look at the scientific makeup of beer, comics, a game center and even a chance to do your own spin art on Brooklyn Brewery coasters.

Danya Henninger is a Philadelphia-based journalist who believes local news is essential for thriving communities, and that its format will continue to evolve. She spent six years overseeing both editorial...