Last night's Brewer's Tasting Dinner, on the eve of the Oregon Garden Brewfest, brought brewers and beer lovers to the table for a six course meal. One cider and five beers, each introduced by their brewer, were paired a mix of traditional plates and those with surprising components.
First Course - Flat Tail Blended Beer with Fontina, Boursin and dill Havarti with dried fruit and crostini
The dinner started off with a very successful pairing of a blended beer from Flat Tail that was part pre-Prohibition pilsner and part sour beer.
Second Course - Fort George Roses on Roses Belgian IPA with blackened shrimp martini with fresh pico salsa and crab meat
After a big first course I was pleased this was a smaller portion of food. Belgian IPAs are not a style I enjoy and the boozy, barrel aged flavors were appreciated more by others at the table than me.
Third Course - 2 Towns Traditions Ciderworks 2012 Vintage Amity Rose - Willamette Valley Traditional Dry Cider with pork and baby apple bruschetta
The cider was more like a wine, dry and not sweet at all to my palate, but it was delicious with the apples and pork.
Fourth Course - Alameda White Peppercorn Saison with spinach salad with smoked pears, walnuts and lemon vinaigrette
The Saison was "dry hopped" with peppercorns and was delicious with the walnuts alone. The most impressive part of the dish was the smoky aroma and flavor from the pears. Had I not known it was a smoked pear salad I would have thought that there was delicious smoked meat on it.
Fifth Course - Falling Sky Who Loves the Sun Winter Spice Ale with Cornish game hen with grilled strawberries and root vegetables
I didn't anticipate liking a winter spice ale but it surprised me with a sweet, hoppy aroma and a completely different, amazing tropical fruit flavor. Another surprise was in store for me with a bite of grilled strawberry and a piece of bacon. I could have eaten a whole plate of just these two components.
Sixth Course - Santiam Sangre de Cristo Oak Barrel Aged Cabernet Stout with flourless chocolate cake with black cherry compote
The barrel aging of the beer was very prevalent and very pleasant and paired with the dense cake...nothing short of f*$%ing amazing. Really.
The evening - the food, the beer, my dining companions - were a great start to my first visit to the Oregon Garden and the Brewfest. Although the dinner is now just a delicious memory and I can't do anything other than suggest you get a seat next year, the fest awaits, running both Friday and Saturday. It's going to be a gorgeous day so hop in the car and make the short drive to Silverton for the Oregon Garden Brewfest.