19 February 2009

RB Brewer's Dinner - Winter '09

I like to write these up because I enjoy sharing what local Brewers are doing to pair beer with food. I also realize that I usually make these way more wordy than they need to be. Or at least I think I do. So I'm going to try a new format for this. Let's see how it goes.

First course this time around was a Jerk Scallop Salad with a raspberry balsamic vinaigrette. This was paired with the Amarillo Pale, which was their Sugar Creek Pale Ale, cask conditioned and dry-hopped with Amarillo hops.

The beer: Noticeably less sugary and more citrus than the standard Sugar Creek.  Had a pleasant tangerine flavor to it with a hint of piney hops.

Why it worked: The tangerine/citrus flavors in the beer were an excellent accompaniment to the strawberry balsamic vinaigrette.  A sweet wheat beer would have done this too.  Spicy foods and hops are like long lost brothers so clearly jerk seasoning, red onions and pale ales are a hit.

Second course was a beer cheese soup paired with the Hop Bomb IPA.  For some reason this looks darker in the photo than it actually was.

The beer: Hop Bomb is very sweet, very hoppy and very smooth thanks to a nitrogen pour.  Simcoe hops provide a prominent grapefruit flavor which is complemented by a floral Crystal hop aroma.

Why it worked: This soup was amazing. Smokey bacon brought out smoke and pine notes in the beer.  A heavy cheese soup like this would normally coat your mouth but the large amount of hops and higher alcohol in this beer cleanse the palette every time.

The main course was a braised venison chop drizzled with a demi-glace made from the golden Belgian strong ale that accompanies it and a garlic cheese potato cake on the side.

The beer: Trouble, the seasonal Rock Bottom Belgian, is typically a tripel. This year Jerry went a different direction and ended up with a strong ale. Tons of standard Belgian spice notes in here such as allspice, cloves, orange and honey.  A coying sweetness and well masked ABV make this year's Trouble a beer worthy of its name.

Why it worked: A food prepared with the same beer you are drinking will naturally go together.  Beyond this, the garlic in the potato cakes brought out new, subtle spices in the beer such as oregano and mint.

For dessert, I forgot to take any pictures.  Trust me when I say that the three layer chocolate cheesecake, paired with a milk chocolate dipped strawberry and white chocolate dipped strawberry was very appetizing.

The beer: This imperial stout was assistant brewer Adrian's first beer to go on tap at the downtown Rock Bottom.  For the brewer's dinner, it was combined with vanilla extract and placed in a firkin.  At nearly 10% ABV, the alcohol was well hidden behind the vanilla flavor.  Dark chocolate, vanilla extract alcohols and a flavor I can only describe as Kahlua were all prominent in this beer.  With this strong offering from Adrian, I look forward to what he and Jerry will come up with together in the future.

Why it worked: Chocolate and imperial stout.  Seriously.  If you haven't paired this before, do it.  Simple and delicious.

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