Showing posts with label Epic. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Epic. Show all posts

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Epic Beer Dinner #4 Utopia Edition

These dinners get better (and easier) with each attempt. As always the event was held at the beautiful Liquor Plus on Douglas Street tasting room - Thanks Rod. The format always involves five volunteer chefs, four local brews and something special from my cellar.

Course one was prepared by Simon. Once again he tried to poison me; this time it was with pumpkin stew. Truly a seasonal dish with all the needful flavours: pumpkin, nutmeg, cloves and other warming spices. The pairing was another comfort food: Moon Under Water's Blonde Ale. The creamy texture and notable spicy hop snap was a perfect pair for the creamy stew with its spices. Thank you Bonnie from MUW.

The next item for enjoyment was a salad by Terry. Organic greens and arugula were adorned with a simple dressing of olive oil and red balsamic crema. Don't forget the strawberries, sliced almonds and cracked black pepper on top. Our pairing for this was Driftwood's Farmhand Ale. The slightly sour/tart farmhand was a nice mix with the vinegary sweet balsamic. Black pepper flavours came from both directions. Thank you Driftwood for the contribution. I had seconds of both.

Things were building to a crescendo with the next course prepared by Jen (Mrs. Left4Beer). Even the name sounded great: Two olive tapenade on brie crostini. The pairing for a salty/fatty olive dish was obviously a good saison. Thank you Lighthouse for offering some Deckhand Saison for this event. The warming, spicy and tart Deckhand did wonders to draw out the complex and rich flavours that only brie and multiple olives and offer.

For those who like the spice, Michael always delivers. This time it was either a vegetarian or meat chili. If the stock chili wasn't spicy enough, Michael brought additional hot peppers and chilies as toppings. For a spicy dish I go with my favourite double pairing, a malty beer and an India Pale Ale. Our friends at Vancouver Island Brewery provided options: Hermannator ice bock and Double Decker IPA. Malty beers are perfect for calming spices while IPAs tend to enhance the warmth. Many guests learned that blending the two beers made a pretty good Cascadian Dark Ale. Did I mention that Michael also made bread using spent grains from homebrewing?

Finally the moment everyone was waiting for: dessert. Chef John took a bold step and attempted his first plum cheesecake with a ginger/plum sauce; it was a success! This was a perfect pairing with the cognac, dark fruits and spicy alcohol vapours that defines the Utopia. I was lucky enough to win a bottle in the LCBO lottery a couple of years ago.

As always, we chatted until the staff kicked us out. A safe trip home was not a problem thanks to Dial a Driver Victoria. Let me tell you a little secret; there really is no wrong pairing when you have good beer, great food and close friends together in the same room. Whatever shall we do for next year?

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Epic Beer Dinner #3 - Battle of the Trappists

Another cold night in Victoria was warmed over with the company of great beers and great friends. I have always wanted to try Westvleteren 12; so it was decided that a party should be build around this great Trappist ale. But you cannot have just one great Trappist ale, so I ordered a few bottles of Rochefort 10. Then I got to thinking: without great food there can be no Epic Beer Dinner. What greater challenge is there than finding great food pairings for great local craft brews. It has been done before.
Dates were set and emails flew. Several amateur Victoria chefs volunteered to prepare meals. The venue was perfect. Thank you Rod Phillips of Liquor Plus for allowing us the use of the beautiful tasting room at the Douglas Street location. It was truly a great canvas for the homegrown culinary creations we were about to create. Now, on to the food and beer..
The first featured beer was Spinnakers Kolsch style ale. This is truly a great delicate beverage and even better it is a fundraiser for the Swan Lake Christmas Hill Nature Sanctuary. I like this beer and look forward to it every year. The light grains and faint spicy hops combined with a tart citrus hop snap which gave ideas for a perfect pairing. Sandwich chef Geoff prepared a Spinnakers focaccia bread sandwich with triple cream goat brie, green apples, tzatziki and onions caramelized in Storm's 13 year old blackcurrant lambic. The apple flavours of each item blended well and the fatty brie enhanced this delicate beers flavours. Thanks Geoff

The next course featured the ESB from Swan's/Buckerfields - thanks Andrew. This is a great brew in the English bitter style; ample caramel and nutty malts with floral/herbal hops. English bitters are the easiest beers to pair because they go with anything. Perhaps, the best options are all things roasted; such as grilled veggies. In this case Simon was kind enough to prepare Welch rarebit with Brandson pickles. The grilled cheese and maltiness of the Brandson pickles were a natural match for the ESB.

When I asked Michael Decker to cook something, I never imagined it would be sooooo spicy. Putanesca sauce with homemade pasta is usually not this spicy. The garlic, capers, tomatoes, anchovies and fresh basil barely peaked through the spicy pepper onslaught added by Mr. Decker. We tried to pair this dish with a beer from Moon Under Water. The added rye of the Lunar Pale Ale provided an effervescence that helped to cleanse the palate of this uber-spicy pasta. It is hard to imagine, but this low ABV brew has so much flavour. Normally pale ales are perfect for washing away intense, spicy or hot flavours from the mouth. Thanks to Bonnie and Ron, from Moon Under Water, for helping to wash away the burn.

Next was the main course: lentil curry. Thanks to Dave and Dan for a tasty dish. With this dish came the double beer pairing. We served the Driftwood Fat Tug IPA and VIBs Hermannator. The bold pine, citrus and spicy hops of the Fat Tug really accentuated the same flavours in the curry. But the surprise pairing of the night was the ice bock. With its uber-maltiness, the Hermannator was able to calm everyone's spicy tongue. It's a pity the Hermannator is only available once a year; luckily we can get a Fat Tug every day. Thanks to Jeff at Vancouver Island Brewery and Gary from Driftwood.

A palate cleansing dish was needed to scrape away the residual spiciness. What works best to cleanse the palate? A sorbet of course. And what pairs well with a fruit sorbet? It must be a lambic. So we had Saskatoon berry sorbet paired with Lindemans frambroise lambic. This is an easy pairing that anyone can use to impress people.

The last course of the night featured the "Battle of the Trappists". My wife made delicious plum and chocolate ganache tarts; this was paired with Rochefort 10 and Westvleteren 12. Both of these Epic ales were big and rich with plum, fig and chocolate flavours. Which of these two beers was the favourite? There were 7 votes for Rochefort, 6 votes for Westy and 2 abstainers. While not a concise victory, it looks like the Rochefort was the favourite.

It was truly a night of Epic beers (both local and imported), great food and great company. Look for the Epic Beer Dinner #4 in about six months. Maybe next time I will remember and ask someone to take photos. I almost forgot; this epic night was also the launch date for Beer on The Rock will focus on great beers and events on Vancouver Island.

Friday, July 30, 2010

Epic Beer Dinner 2 with Sink the Bismarck

I love a good beer/food pairing dinner. The problem with most of them is that they always serve meat. This an awkward situation for a vegetarian like me. If you are in the situation I find myself in, throw your own beer tasting dinners. For the second Epic Beer Tasting, Dave from Beer i n BC
brought a Sink the Bismarck by BrewDog.

The format for this dinner was a little different; we did it potluck style. I prepared a loose menu and guests were required to bring certain dishes or the paired beers. Suggestions such as, "bring olives and pickles" or "bring an IPA" were well received and followed to the letter. As for the venue, a big thanks goes out to Rod Phillips from Liquor Plus for allowing us to use his beautiful tasting/cooking room. It was truly a stunning venue.

Now on to the food.

The welcoming beer was Mill Street's Organic lager. This was an excellent choice; the flavour was light, bright and not overly taxing on the palate.

The first pairing was Bruchetta and a Vienna style lager. The maltiness of the Brooklyn Lager mixed well with the acidity and sweetness from the tomatoes.

For dish two, olives and pickles were paired with a Saison. This was the surprising hit pairing of the night. The yeasty spiciness of the Driftwood Farmhand Ale balanced out the fat and saltiness of the olives. If the olives were spicier it would have been even better.

The next pairing was against my wishes but everyone loved it. Dan from Small Beer brought devilled scotch eggs and some regular devils for me. I really did not mind; it makes for a good controversial opening sentence. Props go to Dan for an excellent and creative dish. This was paired with Howe Sounds King Heffy. The banana, citrus and tart wheat cut through the heavy protein and creamy egg yolks. Dan has posted the recipe on his website. They were very good. Even my buddy Geoff, who hates eggs, sampled a few.

The next pairing was sponsored by myself. I paired a limited release Trappist beer with creamy brie cheese and crackers. Yes, I know pairing creamy cheeses and strong belgian pale ales is too easy. The plums, yeast and candied sugar of the La Trappe Isid'or has enhanced by the high fat creamy brie.

A good IPA can be paired with anything, even breakfast cereal. In this case, we took Phillips Amnesiac IPA and let it do battle with Mrs. Left4beer's phyllo mini-pizzas. The pizza toppings included caramelized onion, portabello mushrooms and camembert cheese. The sweet and rich pizzas were no match for the caramel and imposing citrus hop bomb that is the Amnesiac double IPA. The two gastronomic menaces blended fabulously.

The final pairing was the uber hopp ed and ultra strong Sink the Bismarck frozen IPA. This 41%ABV hoppy monster is an impossible pairing. You need something super sweet or spicy to balance out this ultra hop behemoth. A sweet carrot cake was up to the job, but it was no match for the Bismarck. Simon's cake was very good though.

Thank to everyone that attended; it was a good night. Nothing pairs better with good foods and beers than good friends.