It wasn't a total loss, but I really screwed this one up. This beer dinner however, was just too good to not to write about despite my shoddy pictures. So I am going to blog it anyway and hope that you all don't mind.
A good friend of mine, Sebbie Buhler of Rogue, came up to Boston to do a beer dinner at Cambridge Common. The ladies of Cambridge Common, Kate Baker and Suzanne Schalow, also great friends, just keep cranking them out. Beer dinner after beer dinner. And this happened to be a spectacular dinner I was lucky enough to catch.
Welcoming Beer: Captain Sig's Deadliest Ale 6.2% abv American Amber/Red Ale
A beer brewed in honor Captain Sig from the Discovery Channel show Deadliest Catch. This is a nice and bitter beer. Spicy, malty, big hops, and it's plenty bitter. Very tasty and easy to drink. I liked it a lot. It was my first time having this beer before. I had been wanting to try it ever since I heard about it because I am big fan of Rogue and the show.
My picture is so pathetic. It's painfully obvious I am not a photographer or possess zero photography skills, but I am not sure why I snapped a blurry pic and then moved on.
First Course: Garlic, cheddar, and andouille sausage soup.
Beer: Dead Guy Ale 5.6% abv Maibock/ Helles Bock
What a wonderful soup! Man this thing was creamy, chock full of garlic and sausage. The Dead Guy ale was perfect. Not too hoppy or bitter, very balanced with the malts. They were made for each other. The soup was very filling and delicious. Perfect for the winter months. I really need to get the recipe.
Look at that beer shot. Same thing again, blurry. Does that delicious beer no justice. Let's forget about that bad shot with another good pic of the soup.
Second Course: Baby spinach toasted hazelnuts, cranberries, and crumbled blue cheese.
Beer: Rogue Hazelnut Brown Nectar 6.2% American Brown Ale
It's as though I really hate the beer with the kinds of pictures I took.
Actually, this was the best pairing of the night. Rogue Hazelnut is a delicious brown ale, but if you have ever had it before, then you know how delicate the hazelnuts are. It happens to be more robust on bottle than it is on draft. But again it's not a dominating feature of the beer.
Once I took a sip of the beer and tasted mostly the roasted malts, I figured nothing different because this is the kind of beer it is. But once I had a bite of the spinach, this beer opened up in huge ways. The hazelnuts completely popped out. Not just a little bit either. It was like drinking an actual hazelnut nectar. I believe it was the earthiness of the spinach. Yes the salad had hazelnuts on it, but if you notice the picture, there wasn't enough on that plate to do dominate the palate.
I used this beer once before for a chocolate and beer dinner. And sitting around with the chefs of this restaurant, we tasted the beer and decided that the best way to make the hazelnuts pop out was to just do a simple butternut squash puree with only vanilla added. Served with it was a piece of Selles sur Cher goat cheese rolled in cocoa nibs. The premise was to have beer, cheese, and chocolate in every course. Well this worked for pronouncing the hazelnuts and it was delicious. But this salad pairing far exceeded the butternut squash as far as making the hazelnuts pop.
Third Course: Pork chop with black lager mushroom jus, scalloped potatoes, and haricot vert.
Beer: Chatoe Dirtoir 5.2% abv Schwarzbier/ Black Lager
So naturally when I finally manage to get a clear shot of the beer, it's so black you can't even tell. And the clear shot of the beer meant, bad shot of the food. You can't see the delicious pork chop smothered in amazing mushrooms.
Luckily, Sebbie managed to capture a much better picture.
There was a choice for entrees and naturally I had to go with the pork chop. I did it solely because of the name of my blog. That and it just sounded awesome. Of course it was awesome. The gravy was amazing, the au gratin was creamy and fantastic. This was straight up comfort food and I ate every bit of it.
The beer was unbelievable too. Another Rogue beer I haven't had before. This is a black lager that drinks like a big old stout. You wouldn't know it was a lager at all. The brown head, the very black body, and big robust flavor and nose. No this thing couldn't possibly be a lager. But it sure was.
Chatoe Dirtoir purposely misspelled, and proudly labeled GYO (Grow Your Own). From their press release:
Available on draft and in serigraphed 22oz bottles, Wet Hop Ale is
brewed using two First-Growth hops, Independence and Revolution, from
Rogue's Micro Hop Yard in the Wigrich Appellation. Each hop will be
brewed the day they are harvested by John Maier, Rogue Brewmaster.
After brewing, they will be blended, bottled and kegged.
2010 Chatoe Rogue products will use Rogue Micro Farms' Independence, Revolution, Liberty, Freedom, Newport, Rebel and Alluvial hops from the Wigrich Appellation and Dare, Risk and Dream malts from the Tygh Valley Appellation. Chatoe products will include Pinot Envy Ale, Dirtoir Ale, Single Malt Ale, and OREgasmic Ale.
Dedicated to Independence, a 200 barrel brew of Wet Hop Ale is made using 3,000 pounds of wet hops! To view the Hop Yard web cam, and get more information on Rogue, Rogue Micro Farms and additional pictures of the harvest visit www.rogue.com or call 541-867-3660.
It was delicious, creamy, drank like a big stout, and worked wonderfully with the pork chop and potatoes au gratin. Total comfort food with an amazing new beer. You would not recognize this beer to be a black lager.
Fourth Course: Molten Chocolate Lava Cake
Beer: Rogue Chocolate Stout 6.3% abv
Sebbie's beer! That is Sebbie on the bottle. A delicious and very bitter chocolate stout. My first time with this beer I thought it was too bitter. Now that's all I want in beer is nothing but bitterness. Bitter like my soul.
[image via Sebbie]
Normally when I host pairings, I try not to pile the same flavors on top of the same flavors. I like to push the envelope and explore different ranges. But sometimes you got to go with what works. This is one of those cases, chocolate on chocolate. A no-brainer. The beer is made is imported dutch chocolate, and was paired with a big sweet chocolate cake. Unbelievably good yet again with this pairing.
What happens to the beer with a big sweet cake is that it tones down the beer in such a way it becomes more drinkable. Sometimes stouts are so big, you can only have little bits at a time. There is such a thing as very filling beers. But there is a reason big, decadent, rich chocolate cakes work with big rich stouts. They balance each other out. Not to mention the rich chocolate enhances the roasted malts on the beer allowing it to be roasted, chocolatel-y, coffee, bitter, and fantastic!
Well done Kate and Suzanne. Another successful beer dinner in the bag even if my pictures didn't do it justice. And hanging out with Sebbie late after the dinner until the bartenders kicked us out, was the highlight of the evening.