Friday, October 15, 2010

Carbo Loading?

I’ve attended beer festivals, beer tastings, beer-and-wine tastings, and wine-paired dinners, but last night’s Schlafly Beer Dinner at Patrick’s Steaks and Spirits was the first meal I’ve had for which the various food courses were selected to pair with specific beers. Already a fan of Schlafly’s products as well as Patrick’s (some of the best home cooking in town!), I expected to fully enjoy the meal. I was not disappointed.

In the company of several friends as well as dozens of other patrons, I was treated to the following menu (descriptions are from the event’s Facebook page):

Hors D’oeuvres
Spicy Smoked Pork BBQ Crostini
Served with Schlafly Pumpkin Ale
A full-bodied, deep reddish amber beer made with pumpkin and
butternut squash and spiced with nutmeg, clove and cinnamon.

First Course
Beer Cheddar Soup
Served with Schlafly Dry Hopped APA
An American Pale Ale with a hearty dose of hop bitterness, flavor and aroma.
Hops are added directly into the finished beer to boost the fresh,
fruity flavor and aroma of American hops.

Second Course
Lump Crabcakes, Wilted Garlic Spinach &
Roasted Red Pepper Remoulade
Served with Schlafly Pale Ale
A rich, amber-coloored, medium bodied British style ale
with a smooth mild hop character

Third Course
Butternut Squash Risotto
with Bacon-wrapped Jalapeno Shrimp
Served with Schlafly Oktoberfest
A malty, full-bodied, deep reddish-amber lager. Traditionally brewed in March
for the Oktoberfest in the fall, this style is also known as Märzen.

Sweet Potato Cheesecake
Served with Schlafly Bourbon Stout
Roasty, rich, and malty, and aged for several months in freshly-emptied
Jim Beam bourbon barrels, where it picks up the essential
character of oak, caramel, and bourbon flavors.

Favorite pairing? Really tough call. I might have to go with the final pairing—the sweet potato cheesecake paired with the barrel aged stout, just because the flavors of both the dessert and the beer were individually very strong, yet they complemented each other really well.

Favorite beer of the night? The aformentioned stout was the most unusual and the pumpkin ale was the more pleasantly surprising (somehow, I did not expect to enjoy it but did), but the dry-hopped APA continues to be my favorite Schlafly offering—nice hop punch in the nose, but not so heavy or bitter that you can’t enjoy the rest of your meal.

Favorite food course of the night? Gotta go with the sweet potato cheesecake, by a nose. Each dish was excellent, though, and for sheer comfort-food indulgence, I’d pick the beer cheddar soup.

Learn anything new? The Schlafly Bottleworks (their second, larger brewery in the St. Louis area) is housed in a former Kroger store. My wife is a Kroger pharmacist, and my first job was at Kroger. Is this a sign to us regarding a potential career upgrade?

Swag? A keychain bottle opener as well as two tulip glasses (score!) 

Overall observations

1. The beer serving sizes were really just about perfect. At first, I assumed (incorrectly) that we'd get a full bottle of each of the five selections--which might've been fun in theory but would've ultimately spoiled a nicely balanced meal (and spoiled the next day at work as well!). Instead, each beer serving was around 6 ounces; given that two of the beers were "big" (in alcohol content), that was just about right.
2. If you're going to attend a beer dinner, it's a total bonus perk to be able to sit at the table with the brewery representative--not only did we get a couple of extra refills (not so many as to negate the point made in #1 above), but we also were able to chat with him about all things beerly and St. Louis-related.
3. According to one of my dining partners, the best bartender in town can be found at Billy Hardwick's bowling alley, just down the street from my house. I don't bowl but once a blue moon, but I may have to stop by there more often--turns out I've had a neighborhood bar without even knowing it!


Mandy FM said...

Nice post! I've never had a beer pairing before. Yours sounded great.

David T said...

It really was excellent. With all of the great beers available now, I'd bet we'll see more dinners of this sort.