Finally, an official beer pairing dinner at Offshore Ale, and not just one dinner, but a series! I bet you’ve been to plenty of wine pairing dinners, but beer? There are so many beer styles and beer can be a great way to compliment a dish.
Offshore hosted its first beer dinner on Wednesday, January 20th, and along with my friends Julia and Valerie, we attended this inaugural event, which is certain to catch on, and become one of the hottest dinner nights on Island during the Winter.
The beer dinners are five courses, cost only $55 (which includes tip), and are hosted by either the assistant brewer, Jay Bergantim or head brewer Neil Atkins. Jay was the host of ours.
There were about 12 attendees including us ladies. An added bonus was that Atria chef, Christian Thornton and friend David Crawford were part of the group — no pressure on the kitchen now. Just kidding, Christian and Offshore’s chef, Mark Brasefield, know each other and are big supporters.
First I have to say that Jay is a great people person and is very passionate about the beer he makes. I think talking about beer may very well be one of his favorite things to do in the world. People respond to him and get excited about his beer. And, Jay is so happy to be pairing Offshore Beer with a specially designed menu.
For Jay, he believes that beer pairs better with food than wine. To him, “beer is so versatile and can be paired with literally any style of food, whereas wine misses entire categories and ethnic foods like Asian food and most spicy foods. Do me a favor and try to pair a wine to Pad Thai and then try that same dish with a witbier or a light Belgian and you’ll understand.”
So, naturally, as makers of good, well-loved beer, it seemed a good time to start a beer dinner series. Something fun and different to do on the Island.
Jay likes to do things like this because he likes talking to people about Offshore’s beer and beer can bring out new flavors in food that weren’t there before, and likewise, food can do that to beer. Jay, food, Offshore beer, the perfect trio!
The evening began with a cheese plate, which is always a nice way to start. The cheeses were served with the Hop Goddess Belgian Ale. I love this hoppy beer and really enjoyed this pairing. The pungent cheeses with noted citrus flavors of the Hop Goddess were a good complement, both sort of mellowing each others strongest flavors and working well together.
I know that people like wine with cheese, but get the right kind of beer, and you can experience the flavor of your favorite cheeses in a new way. Like Jay said, the beer brings out other flavors lending to a different experience.
Next onto Crab Louie, a warm, creamy crab dip. This was accompanied by a beer that was waiting to be tapped for this event, the chardonnay barrel aged (since 2014) Saison. A Saison is a pale farmhouse Belgian ale with notes of citrus and spice usually. However, this Saison was not spiced.
This beer is not for everyone. Since it was aged in chardonnay barrels, it has a noticeable “winesque” flavor. However, I really liked the complex flavor and it went well with the crab dip. This is more of a sipping style beer, and I wanted to note that Christian was particularly fond of this beer! He wanted a keg for Atria!
Filling up already, we were at the mid-way mark. Here we were served Orecchietti Puttanesca – a flavorful, slightly spicy pasta dish. With this, Offshore’s Miss Behavin’ Winter Warmer Ale was served.
The Miss B (as we call it fondly) is one of my favorite seasonal beers. It’s a malty, slightly sweet strong ale, and Offshore’s is one of my favorite in this category. Take a sip or two and you can imagine being by the fire, with the snow barreling down outside. It’s just a beer that I find really relaxing and delicious.
The slight sweetness of the beer balanced out the spice from the Puttanesca. However, for me this beer is an after-dinner beer. I like the flavor profile so much, I prefer it all by itself!
Next was probably my most favorite course of the night, the Stout Braised Short Rib served over creamy goat cheese polenta, topped with crispy fried leeks. Offshore’s Steeprock Stout was perfectly paired with this dish, and it helps that the short ribs were braised in this exact stout.
The flavors just complimented each other perfectly, the dry, roasted flavor was so good with the richness of the meal. Even the intense, dark color looked beautiful with the dish. Interestingly enough, this stout is one of Offshore’s lighter beers as far as calories and bitterness. It is smooth, with a great finish.
By this point, we were pretty full, but there’s always room for dessert and a porter. The fifth course was a house made espresso chocolate mouse topped with whipped cream and berries, served alongside a glass of Fog Cutter Porter.
This porter is actually made with Mocha Motts’ coffee. So as you can imagine, the flavor profile which includes notes of coffee pairs very well with a sweet dessert, just like a cup of coffee is frequently enjoyed with dessert or something sweet.
I think that everyone who attended the first Winter 2016 Beer Dinner Series had a great time. There is something so fun about really celebrating each course with a new drink. Learning about what’s special about the beer, and why it works with the food. You tend to really think about what’s being paired, and discover new things about the food you eat and the beer you drink.
Also, Jay did a great job and his passion shined through the entire time. It helped us get excited about each course and really got us talking about what was in front of us.
Missed this one? Don’t worry! The series is continuing on February 17th, March 23rd, and April 20th. It’s $55 per person which includes tax & gratuity (which is an amazing deal). It’s limited seating and reservations are being accepted for the next one now.
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