I was originally dreading doing this post. Not because I don’t want to talk about the evening, but because I have a really hard time reviewing the pairings. I feel that I start repeating myself and I just keep talking about the same thing over and over again. Maybe as I do more of these I’ll feel a bit more comfortable, but for the time being I think I’ll just provide the sights and stories of the evening.
We arrived around 7PM, the cash bar started about 6:30 and everything was already in full swing. I want to say about 20 crowded around the bar at Duff’s drinking down their favorite New Belgium beers. In my case I was about to partake of my new favorite New Belgium Beer, Eric’s Ale.
If you’ve never had a sour beer, your first one will always be bit of a shock. They’ve got this tangy, funky interesting taste that you never would have expected from a beer. What made Eric’s Ale so special for me was that the tartness of the beer was relatively mild and completely refreshing. It provided this fruity funky aroma and an ever so slight peach finish. I really hope that New Belgium starts bottling it because it’ll be my gateway sour beer.
Around 7:30, Karen Duff sat us at the table we selected and it turned out that we were sat with Andrew from Bon Vivant Wines and his lovely girlfriend Colleen. As each dish and beer pairing arrived Eric and Lauren Salazar provided us with information about the beer and why the they made the pairing choices they did.
Here’s the part where I’m going to post all of the pictures of the dishes:
Lobster Enchilada, Mothership Manzano Chili, Avocado Relish
Cranberry Duck, Sweet Potato Pear Bisque
Trippel Belgian Style Ale
Mirin Glazed Salmon, Braised Red Cabbage, Chinese Mustard
Fat Tire Amber Ale
Lamb Chop, Goat Cheese Moussaka
1554 Brussels Style Black Ale
Braised Beef Brisket, Potato Pancake, 1554 Pearl Onion Gravy
Abbey Belgian Style Ale
Frozen Chocolate Hazelnut Truffle With Abbey Ale Sabayon
Just a few quick notes about everything. First, hopefully one of these days I can buy a camera that will allow me to take pictures in dark places without a flash. All of the pairings were quite excellent. I really think it helps having a representative (in this case one of the best representatives you can have, a brewer) help to make the beer pairing selections. The brewer is going to know their beer better than anyone. They know all of the subtle flavors and aromas and therefore what foods will pair well with them.
The lobster enchilada was nice and crispy and much lighter than the name would let on. The squash and duck soup was Irene’s favorite dish, I mean almost everything goes better with duck. And as silly as it sounds one of my favorite things of the night was the potato pancake. In fact I turned to Irene as she’s making a stir fry and asked if we could have potato pancakes tonight. She just gave me a dirty look instead.
I also found that the portion sizes were just about perfect. By the end of the night I felt full, but not stuffed. Which is both a good and bad thing because as the dinner wound down the bar filled back up. All of us beer nerds made our way back out to the bar to talk about beer and food and anything else that struck our fancy. The next thing you know you have two glasses of Eric’s Ale in your hand and it’s getting close to 11PM. I’m glad to have someone smart enough in my life to say, “Don’t forget, you need to be up at 6:30 tomorrow.”
Damn responsibilities. Why do they always need to ruin a good time?