Stoudt's 5 course beer & food pairing

When have I ever had a 5 course meal before? Not for as long as I can remember. As a very generous and thoughtful (yum, beer!) gift, we were treated to a fantastic dinner at the Brattleboro Country Club's Fairway Tavern. Chef Steve did an amazing job of preparing unique and delicious dishes inspired by and accompanied by Stoudt's brews. I must admit I'd never heard of Stoudt's before. Their rep was there at the dinner and explained each beer as we drank it. He said the brewery is in Adamstown, PA, the heart of Amish country. It has been around for over 20 years, and Mrs. Stoudt, Carol, seemed instrumental in getting the thing going. Very cool.

Course 1 was a "Pretzel Bread Floral Salad." At the bottom was a yummy salty pretzel round, with a vertical salad composed of greens and edible flowers. This was paired with the Gold Munich Style Helles (4.7% alcohol, 25 IBUs). To me the pretzel and the beer combined made for a nice homey ballpark feel. I never knew you could eat fuchsias--they're good.

Course 2: I was so excited about the look and smell of this one that I forgot to take a picture before eating, so this is a picture of the "sample" plate at the front of the room--kinda blurry. It's a spicy jerk-style pork tenderloin with a not-too-sweet mango chutney and fried plantain chips. Everything had a subtle but heady curry aroma to it, and I just inhaled the food. The pork was so tender, the chutney was just the right amount of hot. We had this with the American Pale Ale (APA), a hoppy golden affair that tasted a lot like any other IPA (that is, good). (5.1% alcohol, 40 IBUs)

Course 3: If I had to eat one of these courses every day, I'd pick this one. It was a giant (U10) scallop that had been smoked the day before, seared and wrapped in prosciutto, then served with Israeli couscous perfumed with fennel, a touch spinach and a dab of sweet corn. Just amazing. The chef (who came out and explained each dish as we ate) said that hot scallops just suck up the prosciutto when applied, so there's no need to use toothpicks or skewers. The prosciutto simply sticks. This was served with my current favorite style of beer, Pils. I like the CRISP taste of a pilsner (this one 5.4% alcohol, 40 IBUs). Just as bitter as the APA technically, but to me it was much more precise and single-minded in its hoppiness. As I said to my companion, pale ale is a hot mess compared to the clean edge you get from pilsner. I guess it's something about the pilsnering process (long, cold, bottom-fermenting) that makes for that puckery clean finish I like so much. (Frankly, it's the same exact reason I like Genesee Cream Ale! Not a huge beer expert, obviously.)

Course 4: Our dining companions were cracking us up with many off-color comments about the beech mushroom on this plate. This was a grilled sliced New York strip steak with lots of black pepper, served with mushroom risotto and an incredible "sauce au poivre" (was there brandy in the sauce? Dunno. It was so good though). It was served with Stoudt's Scarlet Lady Ale (4.8% alcohol, 32 IBUs), which the beer rep said was good for both men and women to drink. I have no idea what he meant, if anything, but how can you go wrong with a statement like that?! While I loved Course 3 as a concept and a dish, this course was probably the most fun. The beers were starting to have a positive effect on everybody, we were all loosened up, loving the steak and the funny mushrooms, starting to hand around extra bottles of Scarlet Lady Ale, and generally having a good time.

Course 5: Grilled peaches, with habanero sorbet served in a chocolate cup. I have huge respect for any chef who is not afraid to singe his guests with habaneros. At some point in between childhood and now I started to love hot things. I'm not like a smoker who has to put tabasco on everything to taste it, but I am not afraid of a little--or a LOT of--spice. Bring it on, man. The chef seemed so proud of his invention: The peaches were hot yet sweet, the sorbet was cold yet sweet yet HOT. And the chocolate served to tie everything together. My companion decided to stick the entire chocolate cup of sorbet in his mouth at once, to get the whole experience. I decided to drizzle my sorbet all over everything (after first tasting it to make sure it would really burn... it did). The beer accompaniment, a hefeweizen called Heifer-in-Wheat (5% alcohol, 12 IBUs) was the perfect relief in between bites of the flaming cold dessert. It's supposed to taste of bananas, cloves, and bubble gum, but to me it tasted like peaches and habaneros, which was terrific!

Thank you tons JK for the idea and the treat, we had so much fun on a special day!

1 comment:

ValleyWriter said...

Wow - this looks awesome! Glad you guys had such a great time! (And as you noted... I'm sure the 5 beers along the way helped with that...)