Friday, August 7, 2009

Monk's Kettle Beer Pairing Dinner

Made it up to San Francisco this week to the Monk's Kettle's once a month beer pairing dinner. This month featured the brews from the Bruery. The food was delicious, service was great and the company was fantastic, what could possibly make this a better night out? Oh, that's right, the amazing beers!

I was glad my friend Phil had warned me about the size of the meal, so we just had a very light salad for lunch, no afternoon snacks and I avoided the tempting bread basket at the table when we arrived.

The founder of the Bruery, Patrick Rue, was in attendance and introduced us to each beer as it was served. It was cool hearing about their humble roots as a home brewer and how they've developed so many new recipes as well as attempting to bring back old styles. The Bruery is just over a year old, and I haven't had much luck finding them here in the south bay (quoth the BevMo employee, "I'm sorry, *which* brewery are you looking for?").

The first course was organic bibb lettuce with fresh tarragon, chervil, parsley and fried capers, paired with Hottenroth Berliner Weisse. The salad was delicious, but a bit of work to cut into and a bit too much for the plate it was served on, as we all had trouble with flying lettuce and splashing dressing :) The beer, at a light 3.1% ABV, was super refreshing with a delightful lemon flavor. It reminded me of what I think Mike's Hard Lemonade should taste like (hint: not like syrup ...). It was delicious and I could easily see myself sipping on that on a lazy summer afternoon. (speaking of fried capers - they tasted almost like bacon! they were so good, and seemingly no semblance of vinegar on them)

For the second course, we had pan seared local halibut, crayfish risotto cake, a Sausalito Springs watercress salad and an organic pesto beurre blanc. When I looked at the menu in advance, I was not particularly excited by this course, not being a huge halibut fan, but was surprised when the fish came perfectly cooked (neither dry nor gooey) and loved the sauce! This was paired with the Trade Winds Tripel (8.1% ABV), which is apparently made with Thai Basil. You could catch the basil on the nose, but the taste was much lighter.

The third course was Blue de Sassenage, fresh slices of pear, spiced almonds, organic honey and toasted bread. I'm always a fan of a cheese course, so no complaints here! We all wished the "spices" used on the almonds were listed, as they were quite tasty. We were guessing paprika and brown sugar. This was paired with Humulus Lager (India Pale Lager, 7.2% ABV). This was much lighter than a pale ale, and apparently made with rice to make it an American style lager. Patrick assured us, though, that rice is not a cheep beer making ingredient, as it is often referred to, as it costs him more than his hops. I'm not a big fan of hoppy beers, but Mark was more than happy to finish the last half of my beer.

The fourth course was what we'd all been waiting for: 'Black Orchard' marinated short ribs, roasted garlic potato puree, haricot vert, and a 'Black Orchard' demi glace. This was all paired with the Black Orchard beer from the Bruery (5.7% ABV). These ribs had been marinated in the Black Orchard beer with bay leaves and garlic for 24 hours, before being braised for 5 hours (with a mixture made of Black Orchard beer, chicken stock and brown sugar). These spare ribs were phenomenal! The Black Orchard beer (yes, that Orchard, as in Apple Orchard, not Orchid) was my favorite one of the evening. A nice brown ale, soft and smooth, slightly sweet, and a crisp after taste.

Dessert was house made ice cream sandwiches with a 'Papier' chocolate sauce. This was served with two beers: Papier (first anniversary old style ale, 17.5% ABV) and Black Tuesday (bourbon aged imperial stout - 19.5%). Both beers were really good, though I would have to say that I loved the chocolaty flavor of the Black Tuesday the best. And who wouldn't like a beer named after the start of the Great Depression that sells for $30/bottle? ;-)

Anyone else make it up here for the event? I can't wait for the next one! This is a great way to discover how beer can make food better and to discover small craft breweries.

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