Cead míle fáilte Gulpers! A thousand Welcomes! Can you believe it is already March! Spring has arrived in South Florida with warm and sunny days and it was delightful under the Tiki at Bx BeerDepot. This month was filled with celebrations. St. Patrick’s Day had everyone out and about wearing the green. Then there were birthday celebrations for Krys, Jim, Kelly, Dana and Michelle. Not only did Krys celebrate another great year but Wally bought her an engagement ring as a present! Meanwhile your humble blogger was marking 29 years of marriage to her highschool sweetheart. (My anniversary present was John coming to this pairing). So when we gathered on March 18th there was a whole lot of partying going on! Congratulations to everyone!
Lagunitas beers. We also welcomed guest Chef John Hazard, who contributed in the third course.
Onto the pairings!
1st Course: I love simple and this first course highlights why. Coreen prepared and Irish antipasti platter. Pepperoni, salami cheddar, romano, gouda, as well as dried apricots, figs, dates and homemade crackers paired with the only non-Lagunitas beer of the day, a Sierra Nevada Ruthless Rye IPA. (Just a note for all those newbies to beer, like me: IPA stands for India Pale Ale). This Ale was full of grapefruit and bitter. It was crisp and light and no one mentioned rye on initial tasting. There were a lot of different flavors on the plate and some worked really well with the ale and others not so much. I actually loved it with the fruit. The concentrated sweetness of the dried apricot and date mellowed the bitterness in the beer and smoothed it right out. John found it a bit heavy with the meat. Kritsina thought it was a great pairing especially with the cheese. I got a new taste twist on this course. It was suggested to wrap a fig in pepperoni and it was a good suggestion indeed. Salty, greasy, sweet, and a little pepper, then a drink of the ale. Delish!
2nd Course: Staying with the Irish theme the next course was an Irish eggroll. Corned beef, cabbage, carrots and potatoes were grinded and wrapped in eggroll wrappers. Coreen grilled them instead of frying which gave a lovely smokey charred crispness to the wrapper. The filling was salty, meaty deliciousness. This was paired with a Lagunitas Imperial Stout. This stout smells like black coffee and smoke just the way I remember the Quays Pub in Galway smelled. The flavor is rich roasted coffee and carmel. It is a thick beer made with malt. Some thought it was a little heavy with the eggroll but Gary thought the eggroll mellowed out the stout. The Thousand Island dressing that accompanied the eggroll went even further and actually brought a little caramel sweetness to the fore.
3rd Course: Chicken in Mole’ sauce and green salad with oil and vinegar was the offering for this course. Our guest chef John Hazard contributed the mole’ sauce. If you are wondering what mole’ is then you are lucky I have Google. This is the national sauce of Mexico. It has a lot of variations but basically it is a chili pepper sauce that includes pine nuts, rasins, sesame seeds, several different chili peppers, chocolate and coffee. It is often spicy and is a deep brick brown hue. The salad was light, crisp and tart. It was a very nice palate cleanser for the deep rich mole’. The food was paired with a Lagunitas WTF Brown Ale, aka, WILCO TANGO FOXTROT Brown Ale. Coreen used skin on chicken legs and thighs for the mole’. They were tender, juicy and I love skin covered in sauce. (get your minds out of the gutter!) The sauce was disappointing only in that we were given a wonderfully taste tempting description of ingredients and process from chef John. We were also told, while “not blow your head” off hot it did have “nice” heat. The ale and cheese from the first course would be used to cut the heat. What I tasted was a deep and complex smoke, coffee, chili powder, slow roasted flavor. It was delicious but no heat and I can’t lie I wanted some. The WTF was an effervescent ale with lots of bubbles. The nose was fruity and bitter. Daphine suggested she smelled apricots. The taste matched the nose and included coffee, toasted caramel with just a hint of chocolate. I can see where it would mellow out a hot sauce but it was a bit overpowering here. I liked it with the cheese and the dried fruit. With them I got the sweetness hiding in the ale but maybe the similar flavors in the sauce didn’t play as nice.
4th Course: Holy Schnikey’s Batman!!! This course and pairing was my favorite of the day. The dessert was carrot cake waffles drizzled with an orange-cinnamon syrup and topped with ginger and cream cheese frosting. The waffle was tender and warm and wasn’t overly sweet. The syrup was spicy and subtle. The frosting was the taste powerhouse with candied ginger pieces in sweet cream cheese scooped like a little ice cream ball. My mouth is watering in memory. It was paired with Lagunitas IPA. This is Lagunitas’ flagship brew and for a very good reason. It is delicious. This amber colored ale smelled like grapefruit and bananas. It tasted like bananas and grapefruit with a strangely creamy finish, maybe that is the malt? It played beautifully against the waffle enhancing the spicy orange syrup and ginger frosting. My “I don’t eat desserts” husband loved this course!
So there you have it my Gulper Friends! Another delicious and fun Gulp! pairing event.
Please note: Our next event is on April 22nd at Bedner’s Farm. Dig In! will be featuring farm to table food, demonstrations, short lectures on organic gardening, composting, and cheese making. There will be live music and more! Vendors will be presenting their wares for tasting and possible selling while the Gulp! team helps with pairing wine and beer at each station. Tickets are $55.00 and you can purchase them at Bx Beerdepot or here on the blog by just clicking on the Local Wine events button at the top of this page. See you at Bedner’s!