Before I jump in to describing all the fun that was had at the latest installment of Bruce Paton’s beer dinners, I just want to direct all your attention to this picture:
I can’t stop thinking about this barleywine, 2006 Old Diablo Barleywine from Schooner’s Brewery. It is up there as one of the best barleywines I have ever had. The creaminess hits you right up front. The malt is there and you are left with an aftertaste that reminded me a little of pecan pie or bread pudding. This is not your usual bordering-on-whiskey barleywine (which I like sometimes too), this is instead a dangerously addictive 9% beer. Craig Cauwels, from Schooner’s Grille & Brewery, was going to bring the 2007 but instead really wanted to bring the 2006. I am happy he did (even though I have not tasted the 2007). I talked to Craig for a minute, and found that he has worked very hard to find that balance for this barleywine that makes it really stand out. They even dialed back the alcohol some over the years. The minute my glass was empty I wanted more. It went really well with Bruce’s Butterscotch Bread Pudding with a chocolate message on it .
The rest of the night was just want you want from a beer dinner. Good food, good beer, and a fun crowd. This was probably the smallest crowd at one of Bruce’s dinners that I have been to, but that created a nice intimate event. My table was full of beer and non-beer conversation. There were some new faces and some old. It was good to see Jay Brooks. I also met Brian Yaege who is putting out a beer and travel book, Red, White, And Brew, which i can’t wait to read. Brian was celebrating his birthday, so we even go to sing to him.
Back to the food and beer. There was a good IPA and Belgian Wit to start the night off. The first course was a caprese salad of sorts but with peaches. It was paired with another knock out beer. This was Schooners Vindecation which Craig told us was a contraction for Vinnie Deserves a Vacation – ha! Lots of cherry in the nose and in the flavor. If i remember correctly it was an oatmeal stout that was mixed with a bunch of cherries. I might be wrong but in the end it reminded me a lot of Supplication (with a different carbonation).
The main entree was Brined Berkshire Pork Tenderloin with Potato Risotto and Espresso BBQ Sauce. Wow! The pork was real flavorful and tender. Everyone at the table enjoyed learning from Bruce that to make potato risotto is pretty much the same as if you were using rice just with potato (cut rather small). This was paired with a Irish Stout on Nitro. Great pairing, even if i couldn’t pick up the espresso in the bbq sauce. I bet you could make a kick ass sauce from the Irish Stout.
Overall a wonderful meal and a fun time. What this dinner proves, is that now I have to go up to Antioch and visit Schooner’s.