One of the many specialty tours Brewvana offered during PDX Beer Week was a progressive dinner led by Lisa Morrison (the Beer Goddess and new co-owner of Belmont Station). The tour was a three course, three stop evening of food and beer pairing deliciousness.
First up was Beer, the taproom and bottle shop housed next to Meat Cheese Bread on SE Stark that opened at the end of 2012. Waiting for us when we arrived was a mini version of one of my favorites from the Meat Cheese Bread menu, the Park Kitchen, paired with Ninkasi's 2010 Critical Hit Barleywine. The oversized slider was packed with flank steak, blue cheese, greens and pickled onions. Both the sandwich and the beer were bold flavor offerings, with neither overpowering the other. The pairing was so perfect that I would have been happy to spend the entire evening with more of the same. Alas, after a palate cleansing sample of Coalition's Wheat the People it was time to move on.
Next it was off to Burnside Brewing for the evening's entree. As we were getting settled in and our meals prepared we were poured glasses of Burnside's very refreshing Lime Kolsch. The entree, a choice of smoked jerk chicken leg atop crispy rice cake with pickled bok choy or gnocchi with king trumpet mushrooms, dried tomatoes and pea tendrils on a bed of spring pea puree was paired with Premier Enfant Biere de Garde. Hesitant about the muscovado sugar and cocoa nibs new brewer Sam used in his first beer I was pleasantly surprised to find it very enjoyable, particularly with my plate of gnocchi. And the pea puree, well that goes right up there on my list of foods I've most enjoyed at Burnside, along with their white bean truffle spread (which sadly is not currently on the menu).
For the final course of the evening we headed across the river to Deschutes. There we were presented with not one dessert, but a trio of desserts and a three-glass paddle of beers to pair with the sweets. The lightest of the desserts, in both color and flavor, was a passion fruit creation that was somewhat overpowered by the 8.6% Double Impact Belgian IPA. Perhaps a more mildly flavored or lower ABV Belgian beer would have paired better. Instead of pondering that question I answered the call of the other two pairings. A beautifully layered "beer-a-miso" was paired with one of Deschutes' signature beers, Obsidian Stout, that was served on nitro. The combination of chocolate and raspberry flavors was stupendous. The pairings were only getting better and I was eager to dive into the final one that consisted of a petite salted caramel tartlet no bigger than a half dollar and Mr. Spelt Dunkelweizen. The salty, dark chocolate flavors of the tartlet were bigger than one would think could come from its diminutive size and my general dislike of dunkel beers was forgotten as I relished in the beauty of the pairing.
It was a night filled with delicious food and beer with the added bonus of being surrounded by a great group of people who were as excited about the experience as I was.