Saturday, December 11, 2010

Beer Dinner

I have a list of draft posts that are aging in the queue. I also have a backlog of beer to discuss. At the end of the year, I hope to move the Beer List to a stand-alone post as a summary for the year. I want to cover those brews before then. The topic of this post dates back before my trip to China. Unfortunately, the Chinese government's block of Blogger kept me from posting while I was there, and I have not gotten around to finishing this post until now. The week before my flight to Shanghai, El and I attended a beer-sampling dinner at Zely & Ritz which is a tapas and wine restaurant in the Glenwood South area of downtown Raleigh.

El and I have always thought Glenwood South would be great for tapas hopping. The area has four tapas restaurants within a few blocks plus several great restaurants featuring a variety of cuisines. The tour could start at Zely & Ritz which is at the south end of the stretch. A block north is a relatively new place named Cashmere. I have never visited Cashmere nor the restaurant previously housed at that location which was first named April & George and then just the George. I have visited the final two stops on our proposed Glenwood South tapas tour. The next stop would be the Red Room which is another block north. Red Room is one of several local restaurants owned by Rocky Top Hospitality. Two others, Bogart's and Hi5, are in the same building. Our tapas tour would finish up at Tasca Brava which one of our favorite restaurants.

Back to the beer dinner, the featured brewery was Fullsteam which is located in Durham. The dinner featured four courses including desert, and each course was paired with a different beer. I kept a menu to help me remember which is very convenient since two months have now passed. Two representatives from the brewery, Sean (also from Pop the Cap fame) and Chris, were in attendance, and they regaled us with stories for each brew. Unfortunately, I have waited too long to write this post, and I have now forgotten their stories.

The first brew was their Summer Basil Farmhouse Ale which was served as people were arriving at the restaurant. This beer was the first produced by Fullsteam. I know that farmhouse ales are flavored by a variety of fruits and spices, but I thought the basil in this beer resulted in a odd taste which reminded me of soap.

The first course was a Swiss chard salad with goat cheese, apples, pecans and maple syrup. The brew paired with the salad was the Rocket Science IPA. I do not remember why they decided to call this particular beer Rocket Science. I suppose brewing a very good beer is complicated work, but the finished product is much tastier than a Saturn V. The IPA is an enjoyable pale ale that does not go too crazy with the hops.

The second course was an arugula salad with shiitake mushrooms and barley. It was paired with the Carolina Common beer which now seems to be named Southern Lager and is their flagship brew. The style is steam beer or California common beer and was made famous by Anchor Brewing out in San Francisco. This was my favorite of the brews we sampled.

I remember the third course being completely fabulous. It was smoked bacon and pork rib roast with mashed sweet potatoes. Some of the mashed sweet potatoes were purple which made for an interesting look on the plate. The pork was from Coon Rock Farm which is located over near Hillsborough. The paired beer was Hogwash Hickory-Smoked Porter. I was not overly impressed by the smoked porter. Most of the people in the place either did not like this beer at all or absolutely loved it. El fell squarely in the later category.

For desert, a local bakery named Crumb provided their take on the Moon Pie. It was another hit. The brew paired with desert was the Working Man's Lunch which is a chocolate stout. Both the desert and the beer were quite tasty and the pairing provided a great end to the evening.

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