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Beerspotter Dinner: One for the Ages

May 7, 2010

If you’re a follower of us Sturgeonistas on Twitter (and honestly, if you’re not, you should be! Social media! The wave of the future!), you may have missed my play-by-play from Tuesday night’s Beerspotter Dinner at Granville Moore’s. But this recap has photographical evidence! (Unlike Hillary, I can’t draw, but I got an A in photo first semester junior year… I’m getting back into using the camera, so hopefully my pictures will start getting better. These were from a dark restaurant and a six-beer dinner, so I can’t be held responsible for the quality.)

I don’t know a ton about beer, but I’ve started to learn. Aaron knows a bit more, and is a big fan of DC’s own Beerspotter – Orr Shtuhl, from the City Paper – so when he saw that Orr was teaming up with Teddy Folkman of Granville Moore’s for a spring beer pairing meal, we were quick to sign up.

If you haven’t been to Granville Moore’s and are in DC, check it out. I’m so glad my previous apartment was near the Atlas District (H St NE, or whatever you want to call it) because it is such an awesome neighborhood they have developing. Great food: Granville Moore’s, Taylor Gourmet, Liberty Tavern; great bars: Argonaut, Rock N Roll Hotel, and streetcars! Someday. But for now, if you like mussels, beer, and super cool neighborhoody places, start with Granville’s.

The scene was pretty great. All night, you could drink the “session beer,” an Ommegang Pale Ale, which Orr explained was a Belgian-style Pale Ale made in Cooperstown, New York but by brewers who partner with the Belgians every so often, so they know what they’re doing. Since most people came in groups of 2, we were asked to sit and commune with strangers. Aaron and I met the coolest couple, who knew TONS about beer and food and bourbon and wine… Amazing dining companions. Needless to say, we were in for a great time before the courses started.

Quack quack

First course was duck three ways: pate confit-ed (I took Spanish in high school and Chinese in college. How do I spell this?) into a terrine with duck fat, and topped with a seared duck breast. It was like a ducky symphony that I didn’t want to stop. It was served with a Saisson 1900, aimed at tasting like a Belgian house beer, made with wild Belgian yeasts.

THREE WAYS

The next course taught us a bit more about the value of wild/cultured yeasts. For beer we compared Hop Devil with Wild Devil (a pinch of wild yeast gets you a beer Orr described as tasing like a “horse blanket” – and meant as a compliment) and then took the funk to the next level by eating a Bison tartare (I don’t think I’d ever eaten bison before, and it was amazing!) and a boucheron cheese that Chef Teddy had let age for six months in the restaurant. Anyone who tells you they don’t like stinky cheese should be tried for treason. Or made to wear a scarlet “W” for weak on their chest. I swear, between the yeast in the beer, the funky cheese, and the bison, it was an incredibly complex, earthy, and deep course.

Yeasty

The third course was when I started to think I might not be cut out for this type of eating. I was already full of food, beer, and yet I wanted EVERYTHING. The gazpacho at Granville’s is apparently quite good (our table-mate had eaten it before), and they added crispy-skinned snapper to the top and served it with Rogue’s Chipotle Ale. We’d tried the chipotle ale in Portland, and it may or may not have been the thing that pushed Aaron into buying the tickets. Perfect combination, too – the beer was just the right amount of smoky and spicy for the soup. (They’d been telling us all night that they’d worked to make the pairings work, but you never know til you’re eating.)

Cold soup, hot beer

Another course? Why not. A take on Bangers and Mash paired with Anchor’s English style porter. I’m not a huge porter drinker, I find it heavy and filling, and to be honest, I was pretty damn full by this point. It was tasty and the sausage was an amazing rabbit sausage with veal (I had eaten rabbit before, but I don’t think Aaron ever had. I’m guessing he might not ever again), but the gruyere mashed potatoes were the best part. Considering I left a lot of food uneaten in this course, it was a great pairing, just I didn’t know if it was particularly springy.

I can't turn the image, just tilt your head

Oh, man. Dessert. When I saw the menu online, I figured that the dessert would be all chocolate and a heavy stout and I wouldn’t want to go. Chef Teddy and Orr must have been reading my mind – they planned a tangy fresh fruit with pastry and cream paired with a Belgian Quadruple (my notes don’t have the type of beer, it was number six! I can be forgiven). It wasn’t heavy or overwhelming, and the dessert beer was perfect.

Berries and pastry and beer oh MY

The dinner was an overwhelming success. I certainly hope they plan another – maybe for late summer, by which time I’ll stop comparing everything I eat to what I had last Tuesday?

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