April 27, 2011
If you are not convinced that beer pairings work with upscale dining, this post may change your mind. Recently I attended an amazing event put on by Stag Dining Group who partnered with Magnolia Brewery to create The Brewmasters Dinner. Stag Dining Group puts on communal dinners while partnering with vineyards, hunters, musicians–this time they collaborated with Magnolia’s Brewmaster Dave McLean. It was six amazing courses each thoughtfully paired with delicious beers that changed my perception on how well beer can go with food.
For me, this night was a lesson in beer pairing. Each course was announced by the chef and brewmaster themselves and came with a menu card created using the spent grains from the beer we were drinking. Here is how the night went.
Cocktail Lab created the beer cocktail, which was made from Magnolia’s Proving Ground IPA and reduced into a syrup with vodka, grapefruit, and topped off with some more Proving Ground.
This was the best beer cocktail I’ve ever had.
Amuse: Pickled quail egg with caviar.
The sour pickled egg and salty caviar was a delicious start.
1st course: Marinated mussels with grapes, radish, cucumber frisée, shiso and buttermilk vinaigrette paired with Kalifornia Kolsch.
A Kolsch is a crisp German Lager that is fermented at slightly warmer temperatures that give it fruity ale qualities that make it pair really well with shellfish.
2nd course: Foie Gras Terrine with rhubarb, kumquat, and vanilla paired with Saison De Lilly. This was AMAZING, and my favorite course of the night.
A Saison de Lilly is a saison (or farmhouse ale) named after the Brewmaster’s Daughter Lilly. Saisons are traditionally brewed in the winter or fall for the harvest in the summer at higher temperatures giving them some strong and interesting yeasty flavors that in this case matched with the potent foie gras perfectly.
3rd course: Warm smoked sablefish with horseradish, potato, fennel, and pickled beat paired with Spud Boy IPA.
Spud Boy IPA is an English version of the IPA which has some hop flavor but is not as strong and bitter as the American IPA we are used to in the states. It allows some of the bready malt flavors to come through which complemented the smoked fish really well. Another genius pairing.
4th course: braised beef cheek and grilled tongue paired with Pride of Branthill, a double ESB (extra special bitter).
While the ESB might be familiar to most of you, the Pride of Branthill (doubled version) is like an “ESB on steroids” as brewer Dave McLean put it. It has more sweetness, bitterness and flavor which helped it stand up to the red meat.
Dessert: Sticky toffee pudding paired with 2009 barrel-aged Old Thunder Pussy.
This was the perfect ending to a perfect dinner and I have been thinking about it ever since. (The Most Impressive Beer of the Night – Sorry I was too involved with this beer to even get a picture) – Old Thunder Pussy is a legendary barley wine as you may know from Strong Beer Month. This version was special as it was aged two years in a barrel giving it more time to mellow out and some nice oak flavors.
Barley wine is an über-strong style of beer that is very high gravity (dense because its made from lots of malt) and needs to be aged for it to mature to its full potential. The sweet caramel accents from the barrel gave it a sophisticated brandy like flavor that melded with the toffee pudding perfectly. Even though I was so full and had so much beer, I still found myself wanting more of the Old Thunder.
All I can say is I hope they do this again because there is no way I would miss it. It would be an amazing experience for anyone, but for a beer enthusiast like myself it was also the beer pairing that I will never forget.
Sorry for the delay in posts, I have been busy working on my own little project called BrewTogether that I hope will interest brewers. I’ll write a post about it soon.