What do you mean, I haven’t updated my blog in over two weeks?
Oh, looks like you’re totally right.
Let’s just pretend that never happened. Have a beer, relax and let’s all flash back to Valentine’s Day – a day when everyone could use a beer, no matter their relationship status.
Due to some American presidential holiday malarkey, I spent my weekend in Ottawa. One long overnight bus ride with an unexpected college friend later (seriously, it’s a small world), Beer Nerd Boyfriend (who will henceforth be known as Nick) was surprising me with a four-course dinner, complete with local beer pairings!
We started off the evening with some of the most beautiful beer snacks I’ve ever eaten – beet-pickled deviled eggs. Not to be outdone, they were accompanied by bacon-wrapped dates and olives. I was skeptical about the bacon-wrapped olives. I was wrong. They were the best. Do yourself a favor and go make yourself some right now. I’ll wait.
Do you get what I’m saying now? Exactly.
Nick paired this course with The Second Coming of Broderus, a Christmas saison that was a collaborative effort from Brasserie Dunham in Quebec and Danish gypsy brewer Anders Kissmeyer. It’s called The Second Coming because this is the second time it’s been brewed after its first test batch on October 6th, 2011. It was once again brewed on October 6th, 2014, since that’s the day of Viking king Broderus in Denmark.
This light saison was brewed with maple syrup, pomegranate seeds and spices, and then fermented with farmhouse yeast and our good old friend Brettanomyces. It made for a nice counterpart to the acidic eggs, and was even better when paired with the richness and tanginess of the bacon-wrapped olives.
The beer itself is quite funky and heavy on the passion fruit aroma. You get some toasty spices and some pepper, but very little maple. Instead, it’s just kind of generally sweet. It does have a nice tartness and even more passion fruit as it warms up.
Our plentiful appetizer was followed up by a luscious Parmesan risotto. We turned once more to a brewery in Quebec for our second beer, Microbrasserie Charlevoix’s Flacatoune. It’s a Belgian ale that had an almost scary amount of banana on the nose. However, the Belgian banana notes were lessened on the palate, especially when covered with a thick blanket of cheese. A little citrus presented itself to lighten the whole beer, with quite a bit of clove as well.
This was actually my favorite beer pairing; it was delicious with the Parmesan risotto, cutting through the richness but not overwhelming the dish. Out of personal preference, it’s not something I would drink by itself – I think every article I write, I voice my general dislike of Belgian ales – but it was the perfect pairing.
Oh, the main. How can I resist a filet mignon topped with a mushroom cream sauce and accompanied by rutabaga fries? I could resist it even less when I discovered that its pairing was an American IPA. Microbrasserie La Chouape’s IPA IBU 90, to be exact.
This was probably my favorite beer overall – I’m always up for a good American IPA. My first surprise was that it does not taste like 90 IBUs. There is bitterness, but it’s not as overwhelming as you’d expect. Instead, the emphasis is on the tropical fruit and a grapefruit-like musk that makes it nice with rich food. Once again, a success!
Wait, did I say that La Chouape’s was my favorite beer? I might have lied. Let me be more specific: it was my favorite beer until dessert.
This is where Nick brought out the big guns, and the blowtorch. Literally! Dessert was a deliciously rich crème brûlée topped with a hearty helping of homemade maple candied bacon.
Just when I thought it couldn’t get better, he unleashed the chocolate. Really, would it be a Valentine’s Day dinner if there were no chocolate involved?All the chocolate in this meal was concentrated in Chocolate Manifesto, a chocolate milk stout from Flying Monkeys in Toronto. They really went overboard, in the best way possible; the Chocolate Manifesto is made with chocolate malt, cocoa powder and cocoa nibs. It’s a dark, dark beer, and strikingly opaque. The aroma is so chocolaty that I just wanted to smell it forever. Fortunately, I didn’t do that and opted to take a sip instead.
That was the only thought going through my brain at that point. It’s a dark chocolate pudding. It’s chocolate milk for grown ups. Put simply, it is a chocolate lover’s dream date. Next Valentine’s Day, put down the cheap assorted candy and pick this up instead. You’ll thank me.
It’s a sweet beer, perfectly cut by the bitterness of the cocoa nibs. It’s smooth and thick and delicious. What else can I say? Nick sent me back to New York with a bottle and it’s taking all my strength to not rip open the box and chug the whole bottle right now. Overall: yum.
There you have it, a great dinner full of great beers! If you’re a beer fan, plan a beer dinner with your friends – and then send me an invitation, please!
Drink (moderately) on, drink fans!