A Winning Pairing of Food and Beer

Tickle the Tastebuds - Beers & Breweries

Renewing a Favorite Relationship 

You know how sometime it’s important to get away with family or the significant other to spend quality time together, to reaffirm what’s best about your relationship? Such was my experience on April 20, 2016 – but with a three-year-old Virginia brewery that, perhaps, I had been taking for granted.

Brothers_beer_dinner_1On April 20, I attended a beer dinner at Brothers Craft Brewing in Harrisonburg, Virginia, pairing six beers with six courses from top Harrisonburg chefs.

So certainly I’m familiar with Brothers. I’ve enjoyed many of their beers since they opened as Three Brothers over three years ago, including The Great Outdoors, Hoptimization and Good Adweiss, not to mention popular beers such as Resolute, Atramentous and Daylight Cravings. I’ve enjoyed all, from the flagships to the limited-release beers.

At the dinner, however, I was reminded of the benefits of partaking of beers at a brewery – not just the freshness, but the range of choices that typically escape one at bars, restaurants and bottle shops. Add to that the food from two Harrisonburg farm-to-table restaurants and appreciation multiplied.

Lest you think of Harrisonburg as a little Podunk college town, you should know that its location in the heart of the Shenandoah Valley puts it close to amazing farms – that its population of Mennonite residents has supported a culture of peace, service and sustainability even before it was a thing – and that Harrisonburg’s downtown claims to be the first designated Arts & Cultural District and the first Culinary District in Virginia.

So the contributions from the restaurants undoubtedly added to the aura of the evening.

Chef Brian Bogan brought his culinary skills from Joshua Wilton House (also a classic, elegant and relaxing downtown Harrisonburg inn). Joshua Wilton House restaurant boasts a “unique Refined-Virginian menu – creatively contouring to seasonally fresh, local products.”

The April 20 menu put Chef Bogan’s Virginia blue crab salad slider (filler? What’s that?) with Brothers’ Dalliance tart saison – a nice contrast of mild fresh seafood taste with the tart spicy notes of the saison (see image above). Another Joshua Wilton House course presented the lamb BLT (twice-cooked lamb bacon with sweet potato brioche and Great Outdoors whole grain aioli) with Brothers Brown Out – the nuttiness of the beer toasted the roasty-fresh flavors of the lamb bacon. Another course paired Chef Bogan’s pork belly with cucumber kimchee on house-made steamed buns with Atramentous – the tart kimchee played quite nicely with the sour cherry, Brett and lactobacillus in the beer (see image below)!

Brothers_beer_dinner_2The other three courses were prepared by Chef Jakob Napotnik of Local Chop and Grill House, which prepares “creative meals with locally sourced products from our neighbors.” The restaurant's web site continues, saying, “We are dedicated to supporting local artists, craftsmen, family farms and vendors—bringing you the best of what the Shenandoah Valley has to offer.” So, yeah, proof that Harrisonburg has locavore dining in the bag.

Chef Napotnik presented sauerbraten and hopped sauerkraut with Better Times Bock – the richness of the German-style meat with the smooth, clean and biscuity tastes of a classic German-style beer. The next Local course paired smoked sausage taco with Scarlet Empire imperial red ale – not only did the food and drink dance in step like Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers, the tastes of caramel malts and Galena hop danced in perfect harmony as well.

The final course of the evening presented a Local dish with Resolute. As Virginia beer fans know, Resolute is one of the commonwealth’s favorite beers, pulling in long lines for its annual release. Chef Napotnik surprised me by not pairing the big bourbon barrel-aged Russian imperial stout with a dessert but with a charred mushroom stuffed with roasted chilies and a Resolute mole sauce. The rich, sensuous, savory flavors were marvelously compatible with the Brothers beer.

At the dinner, menu descriptions promoted the local farm ingredients as well as the dish descriptions. All I can say is, be sure to visit these Harrisonburg restaurants to learn about and experience fresh foods of Shenandoah farms for yourself. And while you’re there, stop in at Brothers Craft Brewing, to appreciate the range of the craft brewery’s beers and to take home bottles of their limited-release brews.

You’ll come home renewed and reinvigorated – like the best of your family vacations.

 

Ardent Swine & Brine

Tickle the Tastebuds - Beers & Breweries

ardent_beer_dinner_settingIt's back, and better than ever! 

Ardent Craft Ales presents its 2nd annual Swine & Brine on Friday, April 22 from 4 to 8 p.m. at the brewery. The over-the-top outdoor food and beer festival is even bigger this year with cooking from The Roosevelt, Metzger Bar & Butchery, ZZQ, Saison, Sabai and Amuse. Chefs from each eatery will be smoking and grilling a killer line-up of pork dishes and their own homemade sides. Plus, Rappahannock Oyster Co. will join the festivities with steamed and roasted oysters, as well as fresh crab cakes.

And, of course, there's beer – 14 special Ardent beers, to be exact:

  • Saison 
  • Virginia Common 
  • IPA Batch #9 
  • IPA Batch #18 
  • IPA Batch #19 
  • IPA Batch #20 
  • IPL 
  • Robust Porter 
  • Batch 100  
  • Golden Ale 
  • Earl Grey Brown Ale 
  • Altbier 
  • Szechuan Peppercorn Saison 
  • Oyster Porter Cask 

Cost is only $20 per person, which includes three tickets redeemable for food or beer, as well as a limited edition Ardent Craft Ales bandanna. Additional tickets will be available for purchase at the event for $5 each. Must be 21 or older to attend and ID is required upon entry. All food items are 1 ticket (with the exception of a few larger portion items).

Come on! Make a pig of yourself!

Ardent Swine and Brine

 

King's Dish: Fit for The Bard

Tickle the Tastebuds - Beers & Breweries

Kings_Dish_BtlNot often does a beer appeal not merely to my appreciation of literature and history but also to my palate for a finely crafted beverage. King's Dish from Breckenridge Brewery manages to hit all three sweet spots.

King's Dish is a Burton style ale, a resurrected style that initially arose in England's Burton-upon-Trent. (Don't you love those English town names? Like Shakespeare's Stratford-upon-Avon. Perhaps my Virginia hometown should call itself Richmond-upon-James.)

You may assume that a Burton ale is a traditional IPA - after all, the oft-told tale of highly hopped IPAs that made their way over the seas to India is of how the town of Burton produced and popularized the export.

The style's story is richer, though, as rich as the color of the ale. As beer-style-and-history guru Randy Mosher describes it in All About Beer, "Right behind IPA is another style, once highly celebrated and so synonymous with Burton that it actually took the name of the town for its own. This was the strong, sweet, and long-lived Burton ale." 

Mosher notes that trade with the Baltic countries, including Russia, provided a booming market for Burton brewers. "As a later observer noted, Peter the Great and his Empress Catharine loved Burton ale, ‘which in those days was highly coloured and sweet and of very great strength and especially suited to the Russian palate.’" The Russian export business crashed in 1822 when the Russians slapped a tariff on imported beer, but the style eventually found a following in its home country.

The dark color, Mosher explains, likely came from the use of amber malt, known today as amber or biscuit malt.

Read more...

 

Limited-Release Buffalo Trace Bourbon

Tickle the Tastebuds - Wines & Wineries

Sip Some Seasoned Wood

Virginia ABC will offer a limited inventory of E.H. Taylor, Jr. Seasoned Wood Straight Kentucky Bourbon Whiskey from Buffalo Trace Distillery. The one-time, small-batch wheated bourbon, Virginia ABC reports, “was aged in barrels seasoned in several ways, including outdoors in natural, open air and bathing in an enzyme-rich proprietary solution, [which] extracted unique flavors from deep within the American white oak.”

To get some of this 100-proof spirit ($67.99 for 750 ml), you must sign up on the ABC website on March 31 between 9 a.m. and 5 p.m. Available bottles will go first come first served to those who sign up, notified by April 6.

 

Starr Hill's Four Kings IPA Variants

Tickle the Tastebuds - Beers & Breweries

Attention, hop heads!

 

Starr Hill Four KingsLooking for some new IPAs to tickle your palate? Starr Hill has you covered in their new Four Kings IPA 12-pack, with King of Hop Imperial IPA and three different variants: Grapefruit, Habanero, and Lemon-Lime.

#1: start with the King of Hops, which uses Citra, Simcoe, Amarillo and Falconer’s Flight: it weighs in at 7.5% ABV and 50 IBUs, dry hopped for fresh aroma and citrus notes. This base beer, King of Hop Imperial IPA, won the gold medal for the India Pale Ale category at the Virginia Craft Brewers Festival in 2014, the same year of its release. 

#2, add to that real lemon and lime zest, a perfect complement to the hops. Ever tasted Bud Light Lime? This mix of hops and citrus zest will outrank that big time (unless you prefer a mild, watery taste in your beer).

#3, add real grapefruit zest. Yes, you can taste the tart grapefruit that complements the hops. If you like Grapefruit Sculpin, give this a try! It’s a beautiful blend!

Finally, #4, add a touch of habanero peppers. It’s not so much pepper that your digestive system rebels, but just enough to add the essence of the pepper taste. The hops and pepper blend quite well!

The Starr Hill Four Kings IPA Pack will be released on March 24 in the Starr Hill Brewery & Tap Room, then shipped to retail April 1 on draft and in package.

“The hop build in King of Hop pairs extremely well with a range of flavors, so our brewing team
had a lot of fun experimenting with test batches past year,” Starr Hill Brewmaster, Robbie O’Cain says. “With Citra providing a strong citrus characteristic to the base of this beer, the fruit and spice variants bring a new level of complexity for King of Hop.”

To find out where you can get these hoppy gems, visit the Starr Hill website.

 

 
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