Sunday, August 30, 2009

Beer Dinner

Recently we were the fortunate recipients of a care package from Iowa. While that might not make most people giddy with excitement, it's all about knowing the right person in Iowa.

One of E's friends is an award-winning home brewer, as well as a loyal reader of Brim. You may know him as mrT. He was kind enough to send us some of his magic, and to celebrate the bounty we put together a very simple beer-themed dinner.

The first selection for the evening was a double pale. If my beer research serves me right, the "double" refers to adding twice the normal amount of malt and hops, which imparts a stronger flavor and a higher alcohol content. This beer clocked in at just under 10 percent.

You can see the color for yourself. The flavors were bitter orange with a nice balance of carmel malt and green hops. It was a big full-bodied pale ale that called for something rich to go with it.

To go with the pale ale, I put together some mini-pizzas with smoked salmon, caramelized Vidalia onion, goat cheese and sautéed asparagus spears. A very nice combination, I must say. Asparagus can be notoriously difficult to pair with wine. The bold ale paired nicely without overwhelming.

Next up was the Potter Porter. Having a beer named in our honor was enough to predispose me to love it, but there was plenty to love anyway. It was hard to capture the glory of the artfully designed label, but it proclaims this beer as "a marriage of wine and beer" and even features a photo from our own nuptials. I was speechless when I saw it.

Tasting it was even better. Infused with a California red blend, this had the most intriguing nose: raisin, roasted malt and a hint of anise. The flavor was dominated by the rich malt and chocolate with notes of coffee and raisin. The mouthfeel was very lush and smooth.

To pair with such an elegant brew, I cooked up a couple bacon-wrapped fillets (and made sure not to burn them). I know I'm a bit predictable with the balsamic reduction, but it's so damn good. I finished off the plate with some baby greens, chopped heirloom tomatoes, a dollop of potato salad and some crumbled bleu cheese. The smooth, rich beer was perfect, and the flavor opened up even more as it warmed.

The final beer was a chocolate porter, which we paired with a bit of dark chocolate. I served it a bit too cold at first, but as it warmed up the chocolate came through, along with notes of malt, toffee and nuts. It might have been my imagination, but I picked up some more carbonation in this one, which gave it a lighter mouthfeel.

The Potter Porter was our favorite, of course, but they were all exceptional. My beer palate is still developing, but I'm getting better at picking up on the nuances. You might notice the glassware as Riedel "O" red wine tumblers. I love drinking beer out of them.

Here's a great big "thank you" to mrT for sharing his hard work with us. It's amazing to see what's possible with home brewing, and it was lots of fun to match such amazing beers with food. I need to do it more often.



Anonymous said...

I hope the beer transfer and travel faired well. What temp did you server the potter porter at? If you drink your red wines at the recommended temps and figure porters are traditionally (European) served at cellar temps then you should probably be drinking this porter in the lover 50’s. Now I’m not always one to cross only at crosswalks so I’m not saying it’s the way to drink it, but like my coffee brews if its too cold it taste like cold coffee and I just haven’t acquired the taste for cold coffee… luke warm, yes. So I’m curious as to your approach on temp with this beer as its both a beer and wine. I tend to drink it at 55, which might be a hair to warm once it hits the glass.

Also I had about a year ago my first pairing of beer and chocolate (theme of the event) and found it to be way more complimentary than I imaged with the right brews of course. Although it also can make a semi sweet brew taste very dry. I haven’t tried pairing this brew with chocolate yet, but looking forward to giving it a try.

Thank you for all the kind comments, the food looks great as usual. Sounds like we need to live closer so you can invite me over for dinner and I’ll supply the drinks!


John said...

I probably tend to serve reds too warm and whites/beers too cold. I made a point to take the Potter Porter out of the fridge well before serving it. I'm guessing it was in the 50-55 range.

It showed really well at that temp, and it was also great as it warmed in the glass. With all your beers, the flavors expanded as they warmed up.

What interested me the most was that I didn't detect much carbonation in the PP, although it had just as much head as the CP - which I could really taste the bubbles in.

I'm looking forward to revisiting the PP to see if my impressions are the same.

Left Behind Child said...

Balsamic reduction - do tell! Do you add brown sugar, or sherry or something sweet like that?

Anonymous said...

Let me point out a couple of things in regards to carbonation. First off there is long calculation based on Co2 coming out of the tank, the tank temp, the line to the keg length and inner diameter. Then there is the temp of the beer, the length and inner diameter to the faucet. You add some, something to the second power, MC squared = foamy, etc. At one time I had it all figure out on a 12 foot long chalk board, but the fact really comes down to.
A. I like my beer will low carbonation and since I only have one regulator (an eventual change) to all the tanks I have to find a happy medium for carbonation strength which is lower than higher.
B. Since all of those brews you drank came from a keg, they probably loss more of that carbonation with the transfer.

So the carb levels should be relatively light. Now the interesting thing to note is that I have the keg of PP in a separate setup in my “cellar” and I have it so jacked up on Co2 it shoots out like a fire hose and I get a cup of foam. Yet when I drink it I can barely detect the carbonation. It just feels so lush and smooth to me, I’ve never tasted a beer with this type of mouth feel, but then again I’ve never had a beer like this so I have no frame of reference as I normally do when judging beer.

So I agree with your observation, but not quite sure on the science of it.


John said...


My balsamic reduction is simple: 1/3 cup balsamic vinegar, 1/3 cup red wine and 2 tablespoons of sugar. Simmer until you have about a quarter cup of reduction. Let it cool slightly, and then drizzle over...well, really anything.

I'm guessing it would make dog food taste good.


Thanks for the science lesson. We need to discuss this further...ideally, in front of that keg you mention.