Naomi, one of our bartenders did a great job setting the mood!
I couldn’t help but remember going fishing with my dad when I was a little girl!
I really felt like we were in for something special. . .
One look at the menu and it was on!
Our first course featured an Alehouse triple header:
Our first course began with the Gazpacho with crab paired with the 60 minIPA. I am not normally intrigued by a cold soup or a tomato based soup, but I have learned from attending these beers dinners to always try something once. The Gazpacho accented with delicious lumps of crab meat was a pleasant and subtle awakening for my appetite. The tomato and herbs really brought to life the hoppiness of the 60 min. The citrusy and grassy notes in the ale were the perfect compliment to the sweetness of the crab meat.
Next, I dug into the Tuna Tartar paired with my first beer love, Midas Touch. Our Chef topped the sushi-grade tuna with chunks of avacado and mango and a little bit of wasabi butter; a sweet, creamy, and luscious dish that was the perfect accompaniment to a beer named for a king with the touch of gold. I fell in love with Midas Touch because it reminded me of a honey-mead and was very approachable for someone like me that (used to) prefered wine over beer. Justin, a manager at the Falls Church Alehouse, and our host for the evening, noted that the mango chunks in the Tuna Tartar really brought out the mango notes in the Midas Touch; I actually noticed the bite of the saffron in the beer more than anything else. For me, it gave a hoppiness to the Midas that I don’t normally notice. It was like when a child first sees the tough-guy in the dad they have always known as a soft and cuddley teddy-bear, a very welcome and pleasant surprise!
The first course was rounded out with a Lobster Roll Lettuce Wrap paired with Dogfish Head’s first continuously hopped brew, the 90 min IPA. Lobster is such a succulent and rich food that deserves a bold partner, and 90 min is most definitley up to the job. Our chef added just the right amount of dill to the lobster roll to tie the dish and compliment the hoppy and malted backbone of the 90 min, without overwhelming the natural, sweet butteriness of the lobster meat. As I endulged my taste buds with my favorite seafood, my mind was reminiscing about my childhood summers in Maine, hanging out with my dad and his friend on the boat catching lobster; probably not too far from the place where Dogfish Head gets it’s name!
Our Second course was a Chipotle Caesar Salad with Polenta Croutons paired with the My Antonia. This brew is the best of both worlds; it is the light and refreshing body of a lager, with the hoppy personality of an IPA. This citrusy and sweet ale’s bread notes were beautifully enhanced by the crisp, yet tender polenta croutons. Sweet and spicey deserves a whole new definition from this pairing of My Antonia and the chipotle caesar dressing! I normally like lots of “stuff” in my salad, plenty of veggies and cheese on my lettuce please. But this salad needed absolutely nothing!! The first words out of my mouth were literally, “Oh My God!” That dressing was simple perfection. I love, love, love our caesar dressing here at the Alehouse, it’s a bold and garlicy taste that I never thought could be improved upon. Holy crap! I would love to have this on our menu all of the time. As simple as this dish was, and considering everything on the menu, it was strangely my favorite.
I was very excited for our third course, Thai Steak Kabobs, and one of Dogfish Head’s latest collaberation ales, the Urkontinent. This Belgium dubbel ale comes from the pairing of Google and the brewery to create yumminess in a glass. Utilizing ingredients from across the globe, this brew is a world-wide tour for your taste buds. The roasty notes waft into your nose as you bring the glass to your face, with hints of coffee and chocolate. The medium rare steak, marinated in our Thai sauce really brought out the meatiness of the beer. The sweetness of the cherry tomatos, onions, and peppers were a great compliment to the slight sweetness in the chocolate notes of the Urkontinent. And the blending of rice and thai rice noodles was the perfect palate cleanser so that each bite was fresh and new. My husband is going to be really jealous of this dish, and he will probably try and make me feel guilty for not bringing him, the father of my child, to a beer dinner for fathers. I will have to remind him that he has traveled to Hawaii, twice, AND Las Vegas without me. . . for work; well, this is MY work related perk that didn’t include him.
This is where you might be asking, “how do you top that?” The answer was our fourth course, Braised Short Ribs with Polenta paired with Burton Baton. These ribs were as soft and tender as room tempature butter, covered in a gravy made from a Chicory Stout demiglaze and the juices from the bone. I can’t think of a better way to describe this course, so I am going to borrow from our host Justin; ” The meat has a wonderful fattiness that the alcohol and hops cut through, while the polenta rings with the amber malts and the slight sweetness in the beer and sauce all coming together in the after taste, leaving only the hops and alcohol for a clean palate.” All I could come up with was succulent savoriness with a bad-ass beer.
We all have memories of going to the local ice cream store, sharing some special time with our dad and maybe a banana split; well, if those trips had been like our fifth and final course, childhood obesity rates would be 100 times higher! Our kitchen created the ultimate pairing for the Palo Santo Marron! This is my absolute favorite year round offering, and I will find any excuse to get a taste of it. I often tell my customers that it is a meal by itself, there is so much flavor in the glass you almost need nothing else. Unless of course you have the ultimate desert handy, a banana split. The rich caramel and vanilla notes in the Palo come alive when paired with chocolate and vanilla ice cream, drizzled with hot fudge sauce and garnished with pineapple pieces. The banana taste is able to hold on to your taste buds and finish with the Palo, leaving a sweet yet roasty taste on your palate. It was if the Palo Santo and the banana split were holding hands, the flavors intertwined and embraced each other to create a sweet and soothing memory of a perfect summer evening.
All in all a terrific evening and a perfect toast/tribute to dads everywhere. And, I guess next time, I should bring the husband!