Monday, August 27, 2007



While Andrea has taken over most of the blogging duties lately, I haven’t let her touch this one. Beer is my territory, and THIS MUCH beer is my responsibility to [finally] write about. While a number of you (Andrea included) might sample a craft beer or microbrew and typically respond, “It tastes like beer”, there are plenty that have already discovered what I love about beer. Beer is as varied as wine in flavors and complexity, and it can pair well with all sorts of foods. Below you’ll find the foods and beers that the chefs and beer experts and Rustic Canyon decided to pair for their Summer Beer Bash.

Summer salad of watermelon, feta, wild arugula and soaked walnuts with lemon and olive oil
Biere De Blanco: Craftsman Brewing Company

As expected, a lighter beer with citrus qualities is paired with a salad. The salad combines the sweet, nutty, and tangy flavors which welcome the cool rush of the Biere De Blanco to finish it off.

Fried green tomatoes and burrata with heirloom tomato relish
Red Barn Ale: The Lost Abbey

For me, this was too much tomato, not enough burrata. That’s likely why I knifed off little slivers of the tomato to eat with the sauces on the plate. There was nothing wrong with the beer, however, which cut the tomato with richer, hoppy flavor.

Mussels steamed in beer with preserved lemon and chili flakes
California Ale: Telegraph Brewing Company

The mussels in this dish really just served as a rich textured vessel for the substantial chili and lemon flavors, which was fine by me. Combined with the starchy garbanzos, this dish seemed to coat my mouth with flavors that really needed to be washed down with a good beer. The California Ale is the richest beer among these first courses, which was a nice contrast to the sharp sting of the lemon-heavy mussels.

Craftsman IPA

Beer as a palate cleanser. Awesome.

Beer braised short ribs with chantrelles and creamed polenta
Biere De Mars: Craftsman Brewing Company

Once again, braised short ribs and polenta. Do short ribs ever come served WITHOUT polenta? To be honest, I don’t remember much about this dish. Given how many times we’ve had a version of this dish served to us, I was likely done with short ribs by the time this dinner rolled around. What I do remember is that of the beer pairings, this seemed the most out of place. The beer was good, but the short ribs didn’t make me FEEL like drinking a beer.

Baked goat cheese in pastry with wild honey
Lost and Found Ale: The Lost Abbey

Of all the dishes, this cheese and honey combo was my favorite. The sweetness of honey with the rich saltiness of the cheese all baked into a pastry? Can’t go wrong there. Also, I’m quickly becoming a fan of The Lost Abbey brewing company, and the Lost and Found Ale, red and hoppy, is my favorite.

Oatmeal stout cake with porter ice cream
Oatmeal Stout: Telegraph Brewing Company
Stock Porter: Telegraph Brewing Company

This just makes sense, doesn’t it? Two types of beer go into the dessert complemented by a glass of each beer. Even though, at this point, the sheer VOLUME of beer was threatening to overwhelm any appetite I had left, I still managed a sip with each spoonful of dessert. A winning combo.

Overall, I enjoyed every beer, and most of the courses. However, I wasn’t thrilled with all of the pairings nor the AMOUNT of pairings. A beer with the starter/salad and then a beer with the main course would be perfect for me. Any more, and beer and food will be fighting for space in my belly (which isn’t a great feeling). I have to applaud Rustic Canyon for giving everyone an opportunity to really experience a variety of pairings and demonstrating how versatile beer can be. It’s not just for BBQs and football games anymore.

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