By Daniel Meyer

Planning and preparation continues as organizers prepare for the 12th annual Beer and Wine Festival, a weekend celebration that features two days of special events that highlight everyone’s favorite beverages as well Ellicottville’s role as the region’s focal point for tourism and hospitality.

Holiday Valley Resort, the Ellicottville Brewing Company and Southern Tier Brewery will once again host the unique weekend of beer and wine tasting opportunities on Friday, Nov. 6 and Saturday, Nov. 7.

Festivities begin Nov. 6 with the 10th annual Brew Masters Dinner at the Holiday Valley Lodge, with hors d’oeuvres being served at 6 p.m. and food stations open at 7 p.m.

The event features specific beer and food pairings selected by experts looking to present a dynamite dining and tasting extravaganza.

This year’s theme for the Brew Masters Dinner is called “The Golden Age of Hollywood” and will pay homage and respect to the entertainment capital of the world of the 1940’s and 1950’s.

The intimate event includes a “meet-and-greet” segment and will also feature entertainer Michael Nugent playing the role of a “Young Sinatra.” In addition, brewers will be present to discuss each of their beers, explain the food pairing decisions and answer any questions from those enjoying the meal.

When it comes to how beers are paired with specific food items, brewers from the area say there is a method to their madness when they design the menu.

“Food pairings are great because, right off the bat, you have to decide if you want to compare or contrast, and that is what makes it such an adventure for people like myself,” said Dan Minner, the head brewer at Ellicottville Brewing Company. “You either want to decide on a flavor of beer and the food you are preparing to complement one another or find something that are opposites but will be the perfect balance when served together.”

Minner said food pairings involve lots of “trial and error” and long-term strategic planning.

“It is actually a very enjoyable experience because there are so many different flavor combinations that we can come up with and it allows us to play in the kitchen, experiment and interact with each other about what works and of course what doesn’t work. Ultimately those decisions are made by whoever is eating and drinking what we serve them,” he said. “The feedback we get from people is interesting, especially because many people never realized the many different flavors of beer that exist and how those can be carefully paired with certain foods to build an incredibly delicious and satisfying meal.”

The event continues the following day at the Holiday Valley Lodge with the 12th Annual Beer and Wine Festival from 3:30 to 7:30 p.m. Guests can sample from some 100 hand-crafted beers by dozens of New York State’s top-notch craft breweries and local wineries, including the Winery of Ellicottville, Heron Hill Winery, Black Willow Winery, Merritt Estate Winery, Victorianbourg Wine Estate, Willow Creek, Gallo, Savage Winery and Amorici Vineyard.

In addition, live music will help set the atmosphere that afternoon, including performances by “Hit ‘N Run,” “A Band Named Sue” and another appearance from Michael Nugent.

Tickets for the weekend festivities can be purchased online at www.holidayvalley.com . Tickets for the Friday night Brew Masters Dinner are $65 per person, while tickets for the Saturday Beer & Wine Festival are $52.50 per person.

The evening promises to be what organizers like to define as a “gastronomic exploration of unbelievable flavor combinations featuring nationally recognized craft beers and classic seasonally focused, locally sourced cuisine,” which is an accurate description according to Minner.

“Being able to pair two things you enjoy and others will enjoy as well is one of the thrills I get from this business. The entire weekend should be an excellent opportunity for people to enjoy great food and drink, learn more about what they are tasting and get a better understanding about how food pairing decisions are made.”