When you’re sitting at a Beer Dinner with Ron Lindenbusch of Lagunitas, Dave Keene the owner of Toronado, and Alec Moss the brewmaster at Half Moon Bay Brewery, it makes it hard to know what you think of the beer being served. You tend to want to wait for the experts to offer their opinion. Then you agree.
Friday night was our 3rd Beer Dinner at the Cathedral Hill Hotel, but it was Bruce Patton’s 60th. I always have fun, whether or not I like the beer. It’s a great way to try beer you might not grab otherwise–or might not even have access to. The atmosphere is fun and casual and the group tables are conducive to making new friends. Lagunitas was the featured brewery.
We started off with hors d’oevres and a Czech style pilsner. The reception hour is always the hardest for Joe. The beer is basically serve-yourself all-you-can-drink. We have learned, however, that if you overdo it on the first beer, you won’t remember the last.
The first course was Dungeness Crab with Avocado Mousse, Celery Root and Citrus Vinaigrette, paired with Saison Style Ale. Both were light and tasty, but somewhat forgettable in combination.
Our main course was Poached Lamb Cutlets with Fontina Sage Potato Gratin and Roasted Garlic Jus. The beer was Hop Stoopid. Hop Stoopid is, well, we’ll let Ron tell you about it (the video is dark, but the audio is good and Ron is a great storyteller. And yes, that’s the beer chef himself wandering around to the side. So just sit back and listen…)
I think this was the best pairing of the night. The bitterness of the hops, which I normally don’t love, was cut by the fattiness of the dish. Also the herbal smell in the beer went well with the meat and potatoes–it was like having another vegetable. Delicious!
Bruce always goes all out on dessert. The Butterscotch Bread Pudding with Chantilly Creme was served in a martini style glass. I was stuffed already, but I finished the whole thing (most people at our table barely made it halfway through). The beer went down even faster. Ron gave us not one, but two kinds of Brown Shugga, a ’06 bottling and a recent bottling. The ’06 had aged to the point that it smelled like a wine apertif, though the taste was pretty similar to the new bottling.
I’m bummed that there isn’t another dinner until February, but excited that it’s the Beer and Chocolate dinner for Valentine’s Day! There are a few things in this world I love more than beer, and chocolate is one of them. Thanks Bruce!