Yes you read the title correctly, BEER dinner. Wine pairing and tasting menus are pretty common in the food world, however these craft beer dinners are just so creative, original and most of all…delicious. Do you know what kind of dish would pair with a hand crafted pilsner from New Hampshire? I didn’t either… but the boys at The TapHouse did, and that was just the opening course!
Not to get too deep into the history of Smuttynose (as I have attached a link to their website below) but they are a well respected craft brewery that makes a slew of beers that are full of flavor, high in alc (in a good way) and quite food friendly. The two main consistencies that I seem to notice throughout Smuttynose is a coriander or orange peel component in their brews, and an unwritten company rule mandating facial hair (as featured by Lead Brewer Dan Schubert). Whatever the recipe is, it’s working!
So as I was saying, the opening course consisted of the Smuttynose Wunderbar Pilsner that was crisp with a good amount of hops and a really clean aftertaste. Chef Kevin Bertrand found the perfect pairing in a Bay Scallops dish in a Citrus Buerre Blanc sauce. The citrus flavors in the scallop dish elicited the subtle orange peel in the pilsner, leaving a fresh and tangerine driven finish lingering on the palate. Stellar way to start the night.
The highlight of the pairing was clearly the Veal Loin with Foie Gras, Wild Mushroom Duxelles and a Barley Risotto matched up with Smutty’s Barleywine. In a word…genius! Someone at our table realized when you got a little bit of everything on your fork and then followed it with a swig of the barleywine it was pure pleasure. You could barely even tell the brew was an intoxicating 11-12% alc…Yikes!! However the high alc in all their beers is well hidden by the beautiful structure and natural dark spices.
While that course was a tough act to follow, the Coffee Dusted Venison with the Smuttynose Baltic Porter was no slouch. While the brew was a little smokey with aggressive hints of olive on its own, when paired with the mildly gamey Venison it took on an entirely new character that worked out beautifully. To finish the meal off The TapHouse offered up their infamous Double Chocolate Lava Cake which they paired with, what else, the Smutty Imperial Stoudt. Talk about chocolate decadence!
This is the second of these beer dinners I have had the pleasure of attending at the TapHouse and they really have gotten this formula down pat. Of course the high quality brews from Smuttynose make the pairing a hell of a lot easier, but these guys clearly have a knack for incorporating the proper fare to bring out all the best qualities that a top tier craft beer has to offer. Well done fellas!