Over the years, I've been to countless wine & food dinners - even "hosted" or moderated a few. And, yes, I've had the occasional perfect pairing, but believe me, I've also had my share of misses. However, the wine industry has done a much better job of marketing and romancing the paring of food and wine. Beer lovers and brewers are beginning to understand and promote the same. In the last month, I've been fortunate to enjoy two such beer and food dinners. Both upscale with chefs fully engaged in both cooking with the beers and creating excellent matches of beer to food - across all courses of the meal.
The first was a four course meal. Appetizer, salad, entree and dessert. Created by the Executive Chef at the Grand Traverse Resort in Grand Traverse Michigan. Excuse the photo quality - at both dinners I only had my phone, which let's just say lacks in photo quality.
Appetizer course: Meyer Lemon Encrusted Sea Sea Scallops with a pepper caper pipperade finished with a Peroni drizzle, accompanied by Peroni Nastro Azzurro. Peroni Nastro Azzurro is an Italian import Pilsner with a refreshing and dry taste, a crisp lager.
Salad Course (this was wow, I love Blue Moon, and didn't realize how great it is with salads.) Heart of Romaine salad with toasted walnut crisp, orange supreme and Walnut Belgian white vinaigrette. Blue Moon Belgian White is a medium bodied, unfiltered Belgian-style wheat ale spiced with fresh coriander and orange peel.
3rd course - 5 Onion Strip Steak with classic Amber cipolini, grilled scallion mash, amber beer battered vidalia, shallot demi and asparagus braised with leeks. Leinenkugel's Classic Amber was the paired beer. Leine's Amber is a Vienna style lager brewed with a blend of three malts to provide a bright copper hue and intense malty aroma - four types of hops give it a floral and spicy aroma.
First course: Crispy Kurobota Pork Belly, salted caramel, candied kumquat, arugula accompanied by Leinenkugel Honey Weiss. Honey Weiss is an American Wheat Lager with a delicately sweet, malty flavor with a nice balanced hint of bitterness and a teasing taste of pure Wisconsin honey.
Bottom line - if you see a beer and food dinner in your town, run not walk and attend. Expand your culinary horizons just a bit. You won't be disappointed.