I mentioned on my Gossip page that I get to serve up beer for a living, but I’ve never really mentioned anything more about my other alter-ego, the beer wench. So I thought my beer & food porn filled New Year’s Eve would be a most excellent opportunity to show why I love my job.
Dogfish Head is all about innovation and collaboration; and, of course, forging new paths others have said couldn’t or shouldn’t be done. As my dad would say, they march to the beat of their own crayons. You wouldn’t know it by this post, but 4 years ago I couldn’t stand beer. I have since learned that the crap that hogs up most of the shelf space in our local grocery stores isn’t really beer. Or at least quality beer. **(this is my opinion and my employers should not be held accountable for my mouth).
So instead of working last night, the husband and I got to be guests and enjoy one of the basic philosophies of DFH; good food can and should be paired with great brews. We do beer dinners throughout the year, but this was our first NYE beer dinner. A shout out here to our MC for the evening, my coworker Justin V, he shot this one to the moon! Each course was paired with a DFH collaboration ale, along with “quick sip” video clips from DFH founder Sam Calagione giving a bit of insight for the inspiration for each brew. Even the music was paired with the proper course. And now for the “porn” . . .
Faithful Ale: this years collaboration with Sony music marking the 20th anniversary of Pearl Jam’s debut album “10”. A Belgium- style golden ale that perfectly captures the bands taste for pinot noir wines and domestic Mexican style lagers. It smells AMAZING and paired with the seafood bouillabaisse stew, it was as if I was drinking/eating a fruit accented ocean.
I ate every bit, and one of my table mates ate it all and she doesn’t normally care for seafood! I assume that I don’t need to explain the music pairing for this course . . .
Next our taste buds were titillated with My Antonia and sweet Italian sausage with marinated onions & peppers over toasted polenta. This brew is the result of DFH pairing up with the Italian brewery “Birra del Borgo”. The name is from a Willa Cather novel. After doing a bit of research, Justin decided that the best music to pair with this course was none other than Loretta Lynn. Willa wrote strong female characters in her books and Loretta is the epitome of strength, not only in voice but as well as in character. And both women had their books made into movies. A most excellent pairing all the way around.
I have never had polenta before, but this crisp, citrusy lager makes me want to have it again and again. I have enjoyed My Antonia on draft, but given a choice, the bottle version is where it is at my friends! ( actually, that’s true of most brews, but I really noticed the difference with this one and the Faithful ale.
Now for the “money shot” . . .
Bitches Brew with Malpeque oysters!!!
This is the course that made me sign up for the dinner in the first place. I love, love, love raw oysters on the half shell; and I couldn’t pass up the opportunity to get me some Bitches. This imperial stout is blended with a tej honey beer that is just orgasmic for the taste buds.
This was DFH’s first collaboration with Sony marking the 40th anniversary of Miles Davis’ album of the same name. Mr Davis’ philosophy of “don’t play what’s already there. Play what isn’t there”, is the ultimate pairing with Dogfish Head’s vision of brewing outside the box. Justin took that vision and paired it with oysters even though Sam and the brewery pair it with spicy, meaty foods. ABSOLUTELY BRILLIANT!
Hellhound on my Ale, the second collaboration with Sony. Last year was the 100th anniversary of the birth of blues legend Robert Johnson. DFH used centennial hops and it tops out at 100 IBU’s (international bittering units), so it is for true hopheads. The husband really enjoyed this one. My palate is more intrigued with stouts and porters, so I ended up letting husband finish up my share. It’s good, don’t get me wrong, but I really have to be in the mood for a super hoppy IPA.
The bacon stuffed pork loin with balsamic glaze & apple compote however, I needed NO help finishing that. Bacon is the one food that will forever keep me from becoming a vegetarian. Wrap it around some pork loin. . . triple x-rated food porn. Awww yeah.
And the finale? Let’s just say I lost my virginity with this last pairing. The blending of DFH’s World Wide Stout with its “liquid gold” the 120 minute IPA. This is affectionately known as Heaven & Hell to true Dogfish Head beer geeks. For me, World Wide is my “crack” and 120 min is the sex on crack. This was my first experience of Heaven & Hell, and I gladly had my cherry popped on this one.
Heaven & Hell was paired with a Chocolate Turtle Mousse, a creation of one of my managers, Linnie. The perfect finish for a perfect meal. Who could say no to glass filled with chocolate? Well, actually Linnie. . . he may not like chocolate himself, but he sure as hell knows what the rest of us like!
To toast in the new year we were treated to the baby that was birthed when DFH partnered up with Sierra Nevada Brewing Co: Life & Limb. This is a strong, dark ale that refuses to be pigeon-holed into a specific style. Sierra Nevada provided the barley from their own estate, and DFH added some maple syrup from Sam’s family farm in Massachusetts. This brew is the best explanation when asked “what’s so different between craft brews and the more well known, mass produced shelf hogs in the grocery stores?” those “beers” are about the bottom line, not creativity. They want to be the only beer on the market ( all of them) and take your money. Craft brews actually want to give you a quality brew that you want to enjoy again and again.
It was the perfect send off to 2011 and a great beginning for 2012. And now you know why I am proud to call myself a beer wench and why I love my job! Happy New Year everyone!