Monday, June 24, 2013

Pizza & Beer Pairing Dinner

Pizza and beer, it's a no brainer, right? I mean we all ate our fair share of pizza and beer as college students/young adults. These days both my beer and pizza choices have evolved and last night I had a great dinner of beer paired with pizza, pasta, dessert and more.

The dinner's location and food host was Pronto Pizza in Clackamas. Living in inner SE I'm not that familiar the area or the restaurants there. The brewery - Breakside Brewery - is another matter. I've enjoyed their brews plenty both at their original location on NE Dekum and at other places around town.

1st Course
Polenta fries with spicy aioli
Fried risotto balls
Oven-baked meatballs of veal, pork and beef with marinara and grana padano
Breakside HopfenWeisse
This German-inspired beer was brewed by Senior brewer Sam Barber, who joined brewmaster Ben Edmunds, to facilitate the dinner. While my favorite of the three first course bites was the meatballs, they overpowered the lightly flavored beer; the polenta fries and risotto balls were much better matches.

2nd Course
Panzanella salad with tomatoes, fresh basil and mint, cucumber and pickled onion
Breakside Pilsner
Not being a fan of Pilsners in general, it's a beer I wouldn't drink on its own but it went well with the bread salad. As one of my dining companions mentioned, the beer was a far better match with the vinegary dressing than a wine would have.

3rd Course
House-made fettuccini with porcini mushrooms, fresh thyme and house-made ricotta
Breakside Duck Duck Drunk Porter
This beer had the best story of the evening. Breakside purchased 100 lbs of duck bones from Nicky Farms and roasted in the pizza ovens at Nostrana before adding them to 100 gallons of wort. The result, a chocolaty porter, was not overtly ducky and did a great job of cutting the richness of the buttery pasta.

4th Course
Signature Pronto pizzas
Breakside IPA
The beer is Breakside's flagship and my kind of IPA with plenty of tropical fruit aroma and flavor. The pizzas, of which I had two, were supported by a great, crispy and flavorful crust, and topped with some traditional ingredients - tomatoes, bacon, onions - as well as some more interesting ones - roasted broccoli and eggs. The hoppiness of the beer helped to cleanse the palate and counter the slight greasiness of the pizza, making each bite fresh.

5th Course
Fresh baked cookie ice cream sandwiches
Rockstar Bakeshop cheesecake
Breakside Bourbon Barrel-Aged Aztec
The ice cream sandwiches came in a variety of combinations of which I chose chocolate ice cream between peanut butter cookies. It was the cheesecake, a ginger cheesecake with lavender and strawberry-grapefruit compote, however that was the highlight of the evening when eaten with the 12.7% ABV beer. This is one of the most strongly bourbon scented and flavored beers I've had and while I'd struggle with a half pint of it on its own, it was pure magic with the cheesecake.

The dinner was a great end to the weekend and well worth the drive to Clackamas. If you're in the area, stop into Pronto for some pizza and if you find yourself in West Linn, check out Rockstar Bakeshop. Maybe take home some cheesecake and enjoy it with a bottle of Breakside's Bourbon Barrel-Aged Aztec.

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