22 August 2008

Rock Bottom Summer Brewer's Dinner 08

This season's brewer's dinner was a little bit short notice, so we almost missed it! The crowd was quite a bit smaller than usual, probably for the same reason. Good food, good beer and good conversation were all still present so we had a great time as usual. A Greek-influenced menu lead the theme of this brewer's dinner and Jerry paired mostly lighter, summer-style beers with the courses.

Cold Tomato Soup with Parmesan Ice Cream served with 80 Schilling Scottish Ale
A classic dish with a twist, our homemade tomato soup served chilled, accompanied by a creamy original Parmesan ice cream.

Greek Salad served with Happy Pils
We toss fresh tomatoes, onions, cucumbers, olives and feta cheese together with oregano in a mouth-watering Greek dressing

Stuffed Lamb with Feta Cheese and Garlic served with Helles Bock
The finest cut of Lamb chops, seasoned and marinated, stuffed with feta cheese and spices, served with our own zesty garlic sauce.

Baklava served with Oatmeal Stout
An authentic Greek dish, prepared the Rock Bottom way! A rich delight made with ingredients such as honey and walnuts for the perfect treat.

The ice cream had more of a ricotta texture and less Ben and Jerry's.

This beer may be familiar to some of you who attended the Microbrewer's Festival. I also learned that my previous assumption about the schilling value being a tax on alcohol percentage. The schilling value of a Scottish ale is actually representative of the tax on the malt. A higher schilling beer would be a maltier beer (and through brewing science, also a somewhat higher ABV beer). The aroma on this beer opened up very malty (duh) with a slight ash quality. I hope you appreciate me writing that a beer had an ash-like nose, Mike. The flavor of this beer opened up far more than the last time I had tried it. Sweet flavors of caramel malt and apricot mixed with spicy allspice notes. The finish was incredibly crisp with a slight touch of hops rounding out the initial sweetness. When paired with the tomato soup, the tangy tomato, cream and Parmesan all amplified the hop presence and created a significant bitterness. The sweet basil in the soup melded with the malt to create an almost pizza beer-like experience. Better than pizza beer, I promise!

I think Rock Bottom's chefs are in love with stringy carrots

The Happy Pils was the last beer to be tapped at Rock Bottom and was brewed as an Imperial Pilsner. The imperial aspect definitely came through in the flavor profile, as it tasted very much of Pilsner Urquell x2. Lemon and grapefruit bitter notes were produced by the hops and provided a nice contrast to the hay-like sweetness and coriander spice. Another beer that finished very clean. The salad was very light for a Greek salad and the light spritzing of dressing was a welcome balance that is rarely found with salads. The crisp, watery lettuce was a nice compliment to the lighter beer. The lemony hops cut the oil in the dressing nicely while blending with the vinegar. The kalmata olive brine and salty cheese were especially friendly with the hop bitterness of the pilsner.

That green onion is getting out of control

The Helles Bock was a very light and malty summer German lager. Orange and cream were the major flavor notes while a candi sugar sweetness filled out the body. Again, a slight bitterness was present in the sweet finish. At first I was a bit dismayed, as one of my lamb chops had a somewhat large piece of fat on it. I have a weird aversion to eating large amounts of fat on meat, but I figured what the heck, might as well try to pair it. I am glad I did! The creaminess of the Helles Bock complimented the creaminess of the fat very well while the hops cut through the oily fat flavors that I am typically averse to. The herbed feta almost had a gorgonzola flavor to it and the citrus flavors in the beer worked well with this. Overall the Helles Bock played a back seat to the lamb flavors here, complimenting where it could and never overpowering.

I'm beginning to think the Rock Bottom way is really huge

Oatmeal Stout started out the final course of the night. This was an extremely creamy Oatmeal Stout that could have been dessert on its own. Strong bitter chocolate notes mingled with coffee and cream flavors. Oats and roasted malt filled out the rest of the flavor profile. This beer could be described as the sweetness of a milk stout with the robust flavors of an oatmeal stout. The baklava was both much larger than most pieces of baklava I've had and far more stuffed with walnut filling. The extremely sweet honey mixed well with the sweetness of the stout and helped bring out stronger bitter flavors. The walnut mixture helped solidify the presence of oats in the beer.

Jerry also still has some of his Woodford Reserve 10-month Barrel Aged IBA on tap which we had a few of Tuesday night. It's not on the chalk board, so ask for the IBA. Overall the hop character dissipated quite a bit in the barrel, so it comes across as more of a porter. Tons of bourbon character in this one with a good malty background without the typical stout characteristics. They still had it available last night and it's definitely worth a try if they still have it on. This is his first beer in a barrel aged series. We'll try to keep you posted on when each one is released.

Maybe we'll see some of you at the next Brewer's Dinner? Don't forget that Liz up at the College Park Rock Bottom has brewer's dinners too in case you don't want to make the drive downtown.

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