21 November 2009

Sun King Harvest Brewers at Chef JJ's Backyard

This is our second time at the Back Yard for a Sun King beer dinner. We were in the company of both familiar and unfamiliar faces and it is great to see the interest arising from both craft beer lovers and beginners alike. These dinners are always great because the pairings are always very thoughtful. They always seem to find creative ways to enhance the best parts of the food and beer.

Appetizer: Sunlight Cream Ale with a chipotle infused olive oil.

Why it worked: The crisp malt flavor in the Cream Ale helped balance the spiciness in the olive oil.

"Fucking Delicious" - Clay Robinson, Sun King Brewery

First Course: Sun King Tulip Wit served along side pears stuffed with goat cheese, and wrapped with peppered bacon served over spring mix and balsamic vinegar

Why it worked: There's a peppery element in the spring mix and the smokiness (from smoking on the egg) that pairs nicely with the finish of the beer. The savory, maple syrupy bacon and pear sweetness matches the sweetness in the beer, and the dry finish of the beer prepares the palate for the next bite.

Each of these elements taken alone may have been too much, but there was something really special about the way everything worked together. A wonderful way to start the evening.

This beer is made with poplar syrup from Hickory Works in Trafalger.

"I don't even drink beer and I like this beer." - Dave Colt, Sun King Brewery

Second Course: Sun King Harvest Ale served with Harvest Ale creamy risotto, shiitake mushrooms topped with Parmesan cheese and grilled prawns

Why it worked: The earthiness of the of the mushroom along with the light smoke flavor that came through in the prawn lent itself well to the rich earthy hop finish in the harvest ale.

"I hate this beer." - Clay Robinson, Sun King Brewery

Third Course: Sun King Osiris Pale Ale paired with big green egg grilled quail, with pear, hazelnut, and prosciutto stuffing

Why it worked: This pairing reminded me of a Christmas dinner. The sweet stuffing with the peppery quail worked well with the citrus and spice from the hops in the beer.

"What is this corn and potato mishmash" - Clay Robinson, Sun King Brewery
"I have no time for this dilly-dally - I have drinking to do." Dave Colt, Sun King Brewery

Fourth Course: Sun King Java Mac served with espresso bbq sauce basted baby back ribs, served with roasted celery root, acorn squash, potatoes and carrots, garnished with cinnamon

Why it worked: Having taken my first few bites before chasing the food with beer, I didn't get much coffee out of the sauce on the ribs - more so a nice sweetness from the sauce and the fat on the meat. The first drink of the Java Mac revealed the coffee elements in the ribs. Once revealed, there is a nice, roasted and nutty flavor in the Java Mac.

The celery root, squash, potatoes and carrots were a nice accompaniment, and in this case the beer worked well to cleanse the rich flavors of the vegetables, preparing the palate for the next tasty bite of the ribs.

"Your cookie is bigger than mine" - Clay Robinson, Sun King Brewery

Dessert Course: Sun King Black IPA along side a brownie spiced with cinammon and topped with a Black IPA ganache

Why it worked: The brownie has elements of a rasiny sweetness, with element of cinnamon, and almost a pumpkin bread-like flavor. In this case the beer didn't refresh the palate - instead the brownie brought out sweeter elements in the black IPA that you might not normally expect.

* All quotes are totally made up. Kinda.

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