I'm back. Its been quite a busy couple of weeks. And when I say busy I mean lazy; really, really lazy. I did have a rather entertaining ordeal involving a rabid fan and a hacked brewing blog, but I survived. Security levels have been raised and restraining orders have been filed. Let's talk about beer.
Last night I was cordially invited to attend my first beer dinner. For those of you who do not know, a beer dinner is when somebody tells you to eat their food while drinking their beer. Then they charge you a lot of money. Last night's event was held at The Melting Pot restaurant in naptown. Now I am not a huge fan of fondue. I'm somewhat of an aggressive eater, and I tend to leave fondue restaurants with some rather serious burns in my mouth. But my love of beer trumped any medical concerns, so I packed my aloe vera gel and prepared myself for a wonderful night. I was not disappointed.
The hosting brewery was Brooklyn Brewery. I am not very familiar with their products. In fact, even though I have read (partially) a book about the founding of the brewery (Beer School) I am not sure if I have ever even tried their signature Brooklyn Lager. I was looking forward to sampling some of the best craft brewed beers in the world. I'll stop boring you now and give my super expert professional review.
Brooklyn Cheddar Cheese Fondue: Brooklyn Pennant Ale, cheddar and Emmenthaler cheeses accented with Nueske's (who?) Applewood-Smoked Bacon, onion, dijon mustard, Tabasco and scallions.
Paired With: Brooklyn Pennant Ale '55 (apparently 1955 was the last year the Brooklyn Dodgers won the pennant, or maybe it was 1855. Who knows?)
Professional Review: Bangin'. That Nueske is ok in my book. He sure knows how to smoke a hog. The bacon made the cheese taste all appley and woody. This was probably favorite dish of the night. The Pennant Ale was good too. It had a reddish color and a refreshing quality. Somewhat dry but sweet at the same time, if that makes any sense. This was my second favorite beer of the night. I lucked out too cause the guy next to us won a free pint but wasn't much of a fan so he passed it off to my wifey. Since we are married and required by law to share everything 50/50 I begrudgingly commandeered my half and stowed it away for safe keeping in my rapidly expanding gut. It's the law.
Wisconsin Wedge Salad: Iceberg wedge with Roma tomatoes, Emmi Roth Kase Gorgonzola, Nueske's Applewood-Smoked Bacon and Peppercorn Ranch Dressing.
Paired With: Brooklyn Brown Ale.
Professional Review: BORING! What can I say? Its lettuce. I absolutely despise Gorgonzola (and bleu cheese, what's the difference?) and for some weird reason I can only eat tomatoes if they are on a sandwich. The bacon was delicious of course. The brown ale was good. Not great. I'm not a giant fan of brown ales. I have never had a non-skunk New Castle and always wondered why they use clear bottles. But this is Brooklyn Brewery, and this brown was fresh. It had a nice crispness to it which went well with the salad. Overall I'm afraid this course fell short based on personal preferences. If my buddy had a fresh case of Brooklyn Brown chilling I would certainly help him finish them off. Would I buy it in the store? Probably not. It's just not my preferred style. This was my least favorite course.
Entree: Buffalo Chicken, Memphis-Style BBQ Pork Tenderloin, Teriyaki-Marinated Sirloin and Cajun-Style White Shrimp.
Paired With: Brooklyn Sorachi Ace.
Professional Review: My first reaction when I saw the selection of meats was sheer joy. The kind of emotion that only the chubbiest 10% of the population are capable of feeling. I freaking love shrimp!!! I consider myself to be an honorary Beaver Boy (warning: extremely immature content.) Off the chain. I also really enjoyed the teriyaki sirloin and buffalo chicken. The fondue dippin' sauce reminded me of chicken flavored ramen. I have a refined palate. The Sorachi Ace is probably the most unique beer I have ever tasted. After my first sip I found myself thinking "WTF this tastes like Bazooka Joe." I also really enjoyed the carbonation. It gave the beer a very clean and enjoyable finish. Sorachi Ace was my favorite beer of the night and I can't wait to get my hands on some more.
Dark Chocolate Fondue: Dark Chocolate Fondue with Van Gogh Double Espresso Vodka.
Paired With: Brooklyn Black Chocolate Stout and Chocolate Stout Ice Cream Floats
Professional Review: Whoever had the idea to make ice cream floats with beer deserves a pat on the back (if it was Nueske I'm facebook friending this guy.) I am not a huge dessert guy so I only dipped one or two pieces into the fondue. It tasted like... dark chocolate. I am also not a huge stout fan. I always feel like I just gave birth and am ready for a 3 hour nap after I drink one (is that normal?) I was very impressed with this beer however. I have tried chocolate stouts before but have never really tasted the chocolate. In this beer the chocolate flavor was very noticeable. It was very good paired with the vanilla ice cream. It also packed quite a wallop at 10% alc. I was very impressed with this beer and have to say it is my favorite stout that I have tasted so far.
Well there you have it. Delicious food. Delicious beer. Wonderful atmosphere and a designated driver to boot. Does life get any better? We met some cool people and learned a lot about beer. I had an absolute blast at this beer dinner and cannot wait for the next time. Have fun. If you have any good beer pairings leave me a comment. I will start you off with one of my college favorites.
Beer: Bud Light
This combo is an all-time favorite of mine. The delicious saltiness of the processed cheese complements the watery flavor of the Bud perfectly. Enjoy!