Avid readers of this column will know that I am a fan of the beer dinner and they don’t just occur during L.A. Beer Week. The Foundry has been doing a few and a couple days ago, I ventured out to Whittier to The Bottle Room for a gourmet meal paired with beer from Craftsman Brewing of Pasadena.
Mark Jilg and Craftsman brought their A game. An English style cask version of the venerable Poppyfields Pale ale, their 1903 lager aged in oak barrels from the Buffalo Trace distillery, the 2009 version of Cabernale – their most expensive beer to produce – and a new mash-up of Edgar’s Ale and Burly Barley Wine called Rest in Peace.
To me the Cabernale and Oaked 1903 were tied for Best in Show for the night and for wildly different reasons. The Cabernale looked gorgeous in the glass. Bright red with an intense grape aroma. Then a great wine taste hit the tongue but without the tannins normally associated with red wine. The 1903 had a great whiskey taste that didn’t sledgehammer the palate like some aged beers do. The lager underneath was subsumed by vanilla notes but it was very tasty.
I have to admit that the food portion had me scared. Both caviar and chicken Foie Gras was on the menu. Neither of which I had ever tasted. The chilled potato-leek soup with American golden caviar was an excellent first course and the Foie Gras terrine was a generous and really good second. My favorite on the night though was the Rabbit Albondigas. Spicy and gamy with exploding with herb taste it was fantastic.
The important part is how the beers matched with the food in each course. The Veal Marsala with Cabernale was probably the hit of the night. The flavors matched each other perfectly. On the other hand, the Honesty Ale with its sour profile and cherry taste really cut the Foie Gras and improved the dish immensely. The only pairing that didn’t quite work for me was the Aurora Borealis with the Rabbit Albondigas. And that may be because the beer is just so brash that it doesn’t play well with others.
This is the 2nd annual Winter Beer Dinner put on by The Bottle Room and I am marking my calendar for # 3.
For the craft beer of the week, I turn to my trusted beer companion, Richard Rosen to give me a selection (for a change of pace). He has chosen Loakal Red from The Bruery “for two reasons:
1) Because the beer was really good. Dark amber in color. Aged in oak barrels (which I am partial to). Not a harsh taste as some oak barrels can provide.
2) Because if folks venture to the Bruery Provisions. [In Old Town Orange] they have some limited edition beers that just became available March 1.” Like the new Imperial White Orchid, Workman’s Friend and Old Richland.
Your homework this week is to be cheap. Craft beer can be expensive and there can be a dizzying amount of choices to sample. So to remedy this situation, enter the happy hour. Each beer bar is different so some research is needed. But to start you off, I will let you know that Side-Bar in Glendale has a happy hour Monday through Friday from 6pm to 8pm.
Find more of Sean Inman’s writing on his blog, Beer Search Party.