The dinner featured several beers from New Belgium that were paired with five different dishes prepared by the Whole Foods culinary staff.
|Beer Ranger, Kirsten Kelley, kicks things off with an anecdote about New Belgium's flagship, Fat Tire|
Kelley did a superb job of sharing the beer story behind each brew that was paired throughout the night. Starting with Fat Tire, Kelley shared the story of how New Belgium's flagship was named after the co-founder's bike trip across Europe.
The second course was a fresh Arugula salad with crispy avocado, marcona almonds and smoked cherry vinaigrette. The salad paired with a 2012 Biere De Mars. While I am not really a salad guy, I loved the crispy avocado. Any time you can throw something fried on top of a salad, I'm a fan. The arugula provided a slightly bitter flavor, which paired well with the sour and slightly tart notes from the Biere De Mars.
In between courses, I took the opportunity to mingle and take some pictures. Sitting right next to me was Regina, of Jaxbrewbitch.com. Also, Mark Wisdom (The Jax Beer Guy) was on hand to give Regina bunny ears. Real mature, Mark. Real mature.
|Big Smiles with Regina|
The duck was flavorful and gave off a nice smokiness. Duck isn't something I have consumed much, and to my surprise, I really enjoyed this. The Thai sauce brought a tangy/sweet touch to the duck that I enjoyed. Gratzer, which is an old Polish style of beer, provided an oaky, smoky, and but overall light beer to wash down the duck with. Gratzer was easily one of my favorite beers of the night!
Again, I found myself mingling in between courses. I grabbed Kirsten for a photo op. This was my first time meeting her, but hope to attend another New Belgium event again. Kirsten was a great host and created a wonderful night for all of us in attendance.
|Photo with Kirsten Kelley, Beer Ranger for New Belgium Brewing Co.|
The bison was tender, cooked medium, and full of flavor. The demi glaze cherry sauce offered a sweet and slightly tart combination to the meaty goodness. The dish included multi-colored potatoes, which was just fun. Have you ever had a blue potato? I didn't even know there was such a thing!
1554 Black Lager was a real treat here. Kirsten shared that this is a beer not currently distributed in Florida. We all savored the opportunity to taste this well-crafted black lager. 1554 is malt-forward with strong notes of roast and hints of smoke.
All good things end with dessert. On this night, that meant a spicy ginger carrot cake with cream cheese icing, paired with Rampant IPA. My wife said this was the best carrot cake she had ever had, and I agreed. The ginger was spicy without being intense. And the icy, OH THE ICING! So sweet and creamy! Rampant IPA is a hop-forward beer that offers sweet fruit and floral notes. This was a nice pairing with the overtly sweet cake.
With full bellies and happy palates, my wife and I looked at each other and shared about how fun this was. In addition to the food and beer, the company was great. We sat with a couple we hadn't met before and talked about their love for home brewing and local beer happenings like this.
Before leaving, Kirsten pulled out one more surprise and offered giveaways based on a tiny sticker on the bottom of your pint glass. My glass happened to have the only green sticker, which meant I received a nice and shiny stainless steel vacuum insulated New Belgium growler!
|The growler appropriately says, "Pairs well with beer-loving friends."|
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