Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Review of Craftsmen Kitchen's East Coast vs. West Coast Beer Dinner!

          The Craftsman Kitchen and Taphouse, in conjunction with Stone and Allagash Breweries hosted a beer dinner unlike anything we have ever attended.  The theme for the night was East Coast vs. West Coast.  Old School Belgians vs New School hop hammers.  Six courses .  Twelve beers.  A daunting task from the outside looking in.  In the end, we survived and partook in a culinary experience without rival.

          I’ll first start off by saying that Chef Todd Garrigan did a superb job.  The ambiance was great. We were quickly seated next to friendly folks and given our first round of beers, an Allagash Blonde Ale and a Stone Leviation, and shown the Greeting course of shrimp tartine and a nice, delicate pork pate.  The food throughout the evening was excellently prepared and he and his staff did an excellent job of maintaining the pace.  The beer was certainly top-notch as well.  I’m going to hit the high-points of the evening, skipping a couple courses that weren’t as notable.  I’m leaving them out mostly for the beer in that particular course, for what it’s worth.

         The first course was when the action began to ratchet up.  A perfectly fried cold water lobster tail was served over rough chopped seasonal vegetables in a white sauce made with Allagash Tripel. The course was paired with Stone Cali-Belgique and Allagash Tripel.  The Tripel complemented the food amazingly, yet also served as a interesting juxtaposition to the Cali-Beligue; clearly the most “Belgian” beer off Stone’s menu for the evening.

         Our third course began our introduction to rare and unusual beers.  An oyster mushroom salad was paired with Stone Vertical Epic 06.06.06 and Allagash Hugh Malone.  Stone’s Vertical Epic series was brewed on 02.02.02, 03.03.03, all the way through to 12.12.12.  We were able to experience the 06.06.06 vintage just over 7 years after bottling.  The dark Belgian ale had strong dark fruit flavors coupled with a dark malt backbone that provided an intriguing drinking experience.  The years have been kind to this entry in the Vertical Epic series.  The Allagash Hugh Malone was a wonderful Belgian IPA. The beer begins with Belgian yeast notes and follows through with a spicy, lightly hopped middle, and a malty back that leaves you with a clean palate.

 Chef Garrigan's delicious Boudin Blanc made with BBQ pork belly served with parsley potatoes and red cabbage was the highlight of the 4th course

Photo of the Hugh Malone (left) and Vertical Epic (right)

           Our fifth course was a simple, yet delicious plate of cheeses with a few accouterments paired with a heavy hitting pair of strong beers.  Stone Farking Wheaton W00t Stout is brewed with pecans and partially aged in bourbon barrels. This beer was brewed in collaboration with Wil Wheaton of Star Trek fame and Drew Cutis, founder of W00t stout is a behemoth, clocking in at 13%. The dark chocolate and coffee flavors dominated the first sips of the beer, however bourbon and oak flavors with hints of vanilla and nuttiness were also apparent.  The Allagash James Bean was the second beer of the course and it is an astonishing creation. The beer itself is a bright yet hazy golden with a beautiful white head. The taste was that of a dark coffee and bourbon stout with a light body.  Every sip had to be followed by a look at the glass to be entirely sure cold pressed coffee was not snuck into the cup.

           The final course of the night was a light dessert consisting of a chocolate coconut macaroon, salted caramel, and licorice pudding. The dessert was a perfect pair for two of the most contrasting, and enjoyable, brews of the night.  2008 Stone Russian Imperial Stout has aged with grace. The Allagash Mattina Rossa was a complete change of pace for the dinner, and the curveball that helped end the night on a triumphant note.  Mattina Rossa is a red wine barrel aged raspberry sour. The nose has an intense aroma of fresh raspberries.  Each sip explodes with the sweet and tart taste of fresh raspberries, combined with a slight hint of the dry and dark fruit flavor provided by the red wine barrels.


           Thanks Craftsmen Kitchen & Tap House.  Cheers to a great event!  Hope to attend a few more in the near future!  


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