Last Tuesday Sarah and I went to our first beer dinner at The Vanderbilt in Prospect Heights. We definitely lucked out because Garrett Oliver, brewmaster of the Brooklyn Brewery – who literally wrote the book on pairing beer with food and has hosted over 700 beer dinners – led us through the pairings. The food and beers were all solid but we had a couple of favorites.
Brooklyn Sorachi Ace was paired with Moules Frites as our second course. The freshness of the beer was incredible compared to the bottle I attempted to pair with shrimp. The Sorachi hops were bright and lemony while the saison yeast kept the beer dry and played well against the slightly sweet mussels. We were glad to hear that Sorachi Ace is here to stay as a seasonal brew. Oliver said, “there are some beers that we brew because we think other people will like them. This is not one of them. We make this for ourselves.”
Our favorite course was our third course of Belgian Trippe Sausage and a spring vegetable stoemp paired with Brooklyn Wild One. The sausage and stoemp (a Belgian word which everyone seemed to appreciate, it’s essentially pureed potatoes with veggies mixed in) were delicious but the real star in this pairing was the Wild One. Using their “Skunk Works,” the Brooklyn Brewery inoculated a batch of Local One, a Belgian style golden ale, and aged it in bourbon barrels. Wild One tasted little like the Local One that we started the evening with. We got hints of bourbon, especially in the aroma, and got the flavors of green grapes and a mouthfeel similar to cider.
Garrett Oliver brought a historical perspective to the evening that I appreciated. It was interesting to hear him describe the Brooklyn Brewery as “a brewery going back in time,” and the craft beer movement as a movement working for a return to normalcy after a dark period of structurally engineered beer and food. We highly recommend beer dinners and especially those led by Oliver.