Doctor Duvel

I'm like a sommelier, but for beer.

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Location: Upstate New York, United States

Favorite Beers: Orval, Samuel Smith, Duvel, Hennepin, Oude Gueze, Chimay, Dogfish Head, Anchor Steam, and anything made by Trappist monks.

Tuesday, June 14, 2005

The beauty of beer dinners

So, last night, Cynthia and Brian and I all went to a beer dinner at Belmont Brewing in Long Beach, a lovely, high-class brew-pub right on the beach. This is not one of those pub-grub places, but more of a "we have a chef and aren't afraid to admit it" type of place. The dinner revolved around the Stone beers, which I've always enjoyed and now like even more. Anyone visiting (or living in) the area should look into these dinners, as they are a fabulous deal. For fifty bucks a head, tip and tax included, you get a five-course, seriously good dinner, with five different beers freely poured, plus a little chit-chat from a brewer or importer and good service. What's not to like?

Here's the menu and the beer matches:

As an appetizer, we had crab-stuffed shrimp in hollandaise. The accompanying Stone Levitation Ale is a crisp, fairly low alcohol beer in more or less the California amber ale vein. It had a brisk, dry, malt character and fairly high hopping for a beer of its weight. It was a terrific match, the Levitation slicing deftly through the decadent hollandaise and cleansing the palate snappily.

Our salad, paired with Stone Pale Ale, was decked out with roasted vegetables and toasty walnuts. Here, the key points of food-beer harmony were built around complementary flavors: the bitterness of both the beer and the walnuts, the caramelization of the vegetables and the underlying malt, the bright hop aromatics and the base of mixed greens.

Next came a roasted corn chowder and bottles of the new Vertical Epic (released 05/05/05). This was a pretty stunning beer. Mixing American malt and hop varieties with a Belgian yeast, they've created a big, lush beer loosely in the vein of an over-grown Belgian Dubbel. It had fairly massive, malt-based aromatics, with chocolate, raisins, and fruity esters more or less leaping out of the glass. Rich, caramelized, unctuous flavors drifted across our palates and lingered for some time. It matched surprisingly well with the chowder.

The main course was Kurobota pork roast with lovely garlicky vegetables and mashed potatoes. We agreed that the pork was marvelously cooked, definitely toward the medium end of medium-well. It was moist and full-flavored. Arrogant Bastard was a good match, battling the richness of the pork with sharp, abrasive hopping, complementing it with its alcoholic weight and full malt character.

We were fairly slain at this point, but regrouped for a dessert of dried-cherry bread pudding and Stone Imperial Stout. I think our table thought this the best beer of all. I've had their Imperial Stout before, but forgot how good it was. We're talking about layers and layers of huge roasty flavors; at a burly 10.8% a.b.v. it functioned almost like a fortified wine (only much, much better), bringing the whole evening to a conclusion while cleansing the palate of sweetness with its deeply bitter core.

So we all left thanking our host, the great chef at Belmont, and Greg Koch from Stone, who brought the beers. The three of us also fell immediately in love with our waitress. That she kept bringing us extra beer (Cynthia prompted her deftly) may have contributed to the infatuation. . . After some coffee, we wandered home-ward saying inappropriate things about beer, food, our server, and one another. We were, collectively, in a slightly pitiful state, but this is the kind of self-abuse that pays dividends. Hopefully, I'll link you to Cynthia's photos.


Blogger Cyn said...

the photos are up. glad to hear you're alive.

1:59 PM  

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