On October 21, public health professor Gev Kazanchyan teamed with Dave “The Geuzehound” Watrous (Beachwood BBQ & Brewing) and chef/author Randy Clemens (The Sriracha Cookbook, The Craft of Stone Brewing Co.) for Dionicess IX, the ninth installment of the beer-focused culinary event series with charitable tendencies.
For the latest installment, they recruited market driven Library Bar(tender) Matt Biancaniello to appear at Steingarten LA to create next level beer cocktails. Kazanchyan said, “We tried to really push the boundaries of what beer cocktails could be,” and Watrous added, “It’s a blessing to meet someone who thinks about cocktails in a whole new way.”
Organizers summoned media types, including me, to appear for a trial run in the afternoon, leading up to the evening’s open-to-the-public main event.
Dionicess IX raised money for Real Medicine Foundation, an organization that provides humanitarian support to people living in disaster, post-war and poverty stricken areas. For example, the latest clinic from The Real Medicine Foundation in Armenia serves 17 villages and 8000 people.
Randy Clemens served vegetarian dishes to complement each cocktail, working with Steingarten chef Ricardo Morales, who helped mightily with prep.
COURSE ONE consisted of “The Lambic Pentameter,” a cocktail combining white balsamic, basil, strawberries, elderflower liqueur and Drie Fontinien Spirit of Armand, a rare distilled Lambic that arrived just in the nick of time from Belgium. Clemens is known for his wit, and his first small bite – “Don’t Let This Get Your Goat, Just Figure It Out” – featured figs and herbed Chevre.
COURSE TWO was a variation on a Biancaniello favorite, “The Cascading Hophead.” He infused seasonal Cascade hops in gin for 3-4 days, before mixing with grapefruit, honey, lemon and Beachwood Brewing Thrill Seeker IPA, which contains amarillo, simcoe and centennial hops. Clemens’ pairing was “The Hop and the Hound,” featuring Cabot Clothbound cheddar, yuzu marmalade and pickled habanero that was spicy enough to give me the hiccups.
COURSE THREE revolved around a Watrous cocktail, “The Current, Currant Attraction,” which originally had champagne currants, since he created the drink during summer, but adjusted the recipe since that fruit fell out of season. He used Dogfish Head Festina Peche, a Berlinerweisse fermented with peaches, Campari to make up for lost currants, gin, agave, grapefruit, lemon, raspberries and lemon verbena, which Watrous is convinced “complements the citrus in the drink.”
Clemens paired “The Current, Currant Attraction” with a provocatively titled small bite – “2 Cous, 1 Cup,” combining couscous, almonds, dried apricots, herbs and cucumber.
The INTERMEZZO consisted of Gazpacho de Calabaza, a seasonal “gazpacho” with heirloom pumpkins, yams, cinnamon, nutmeg and more.
COURSE FOUR featured “No Need to Cross Fingers, We’ve Got it Haandled,” which involved heirloom pumpkin “air” crafted from Cinderella (aka French fairytale) pumpkin, winter cooking pumpkin and small kombucha, “aerated” with soy lecithin. Watrous suggested a smoked beer from Denmark, which ended up pairing with over-proof rum, lemon and sage.
The “Risottopop” showcased Arborio rice Arancini, cooked to al dente with a late harvest Bear Republic lager, hazelnuts and Parmigiano-Reggiano, which Clemens presented with crispy sage.
COURSE FIVE was Biancaniello’s play on a sangrita – V-H8 – vivid heirloom tomato juice with Hangar 24 orange wheat beer and tequila, dusted with cayenne pepper. To pair the cocktail, Clemens opted for “Taquit-Ohhh Yeah!” a huitlacoche taquito featuring Monterey Jack cheese, jalapeno, fire-roasted corn, guacamole and queso fresco.
COURSE SIX was easily the most advanced from a cocktail perspective, with Biancaniello’s “Upside Down Deconstructed Umami Milkshake in 2 Stages,” a deconstructed upside down beer float featuring candy cap mushroom-infused bourbon with natural maple flavor, which appeared in Scoops ice cream, served over Intelligentsia coffee-infused Cynar, Belgian Tripel reduction and cassis, with a maraschino cherry plugging the center passageway. Clemens came up with a real teeth rattler for his finale, titled “Brittle Me This, Brittle Me That,” a super sticky (and spicy) pecan brittle with Aleppo pepper, molasses and vanilla.
To conclude festivities, participants posed with a check for about $1400 to Sarah King Stern, Real Medicine Foundation Director of Administrative Operations and Los Angeles Outreach Program Coordinator. Apparently beer cocktails can be rewarding in many ways.