Darkstar Dinner Done Right

gnag3876It’s tough to write about beer dinners as the numbers show: people don’t like to read about them. As you’ve probably already nodded off to sleep, I’ll get to the nitty-gritty. The 2016 Darkstar November beer dinner was probably one of the best beer dinners I’ve been to. Why? It was relaxed. It was paced. It had hospitality. It didn’t have a billion calories. There wasn’t a nasty slab of pork belly. The dishes were portioned well. The beer pairings actually worked. It wasn’t overly gluttonous. It seems like Bottle Logic is getting incredibly comfortable pulling these dinners off. Crazy, huh?

The plates, for your scrolling pleasure…

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Course one: Foie Gras, pickled mustard seeds, rhubarb, strawberry paired with Berlinier Equation with strawberry and rhubarb. Although pretty, mustard and foie was pretty funky, but a great place to start.

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Course two: Autumn Salad – seasonal veggies, ricotta solata, brown butter vinaigrette paired with Dark Harvest. The beer had a nice vintage root beer vibe that filled in the flavor gaps of the seasonal salad. Quite beautiful and a nice step in the dinner progression. Lovely fall colors as well.

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The best thing ever plated in an Anaheim alley, course three.

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Course three is when the tables got loud cutting into little Gnudi balls. Butternut squash puree was licked out of bowls. Sour Prince, the two-year-old experiment finally paid off. It tasted vinous, woody, tart, finished, polished. I’m really looking forward to A) more sour beer from Bottle Logic and B) more food from chef Patrick. This pairing was incredible.

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Course four - light and fluffy red snapper plopped on squash with a groovy onion, potato and asparagus to floss with. Love this almost intermezzo main before the main. Although Tattered Prince paired well, we all yearned for something hoppy.

Course four – light and fluffy red snapper plopped on squash with a groovy onion, potato, and asparagus to floss with. Love this almost intermezzo main before the main. Although Tattered Prince paired well, we all yearned for something hoppy. IPA intermezzo?

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Five: The best thing I’ve ever had at a beer dinner. Braised lamb belly that had a mutton jerky vibe on a grits-based tamal and mole drizzle…holy hell. Inventive, layered, textured, colorful, and, oh yeah, paired well with Darkstar November 2016 that is easily the best year yet. Blown. Away.

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Cheers to the team!

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Dessert: Textures of Chocolate. Who knew persimmon would go well with chocolate and BBA stout?

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Jam the Radar, Mostra Darkstar, and Darkstar November 2016. Incredible! Jam the Radar should be called Pornstar November. Sees candies, booze, decadent.

OOZEFEST is This Weekend!

I’ve been to a lot of boozefests. I’ve been to Ozzfest. I’ve been to a couple blues fests. I’ve even shot an Uzi at a dude’s chest, but I have never been to an OOZEFEST.

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Treatery – Sweet and savory s’mores, toasted marshmallows with a variety of cheeses and herb/spiced grahams.

What is OOZEFEST? It’s a celebration of all things CHEESE. The kind of cheese that pulls into long strands, long enough to play the banjo on if you were in a cheese-inspired jug band. *CODE: ocbeerblog – Tickets can be purchased at: oozefestival.com

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Sgt Pepperoni’s – ‘Balls Deep’ mozzarella-stuffed meatball wrapped in dough and deep fried

OOZEFEST is like breaking into a creamery, where you can milk all the goats, sheep, and cows, steal all the squeaky curds, then laugh your cheese breath at a box of hungry kittens.

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Messhall Canteen Truck – ‘War Pig Grilled Cheese’ BBQ pulled pork, bacon, fried mac and cheese patty stuffed with queso oaxaca, topped with napalm sauce, ranch, and bleu cheese on texas toast

Special OOZEFEST beer will be on hand from local breweries such as The Good Beer Company, Modern Times, Unsung Brewing, Four Sons, and more. You can buy an “all you can consume” VIP ticket, or buy as you go. Saturday has a slew of incredible eats, as does Sunday…seriously the hardest part about OOZEFEST is choosing which day to go, although Saturday has a smaller font, so I would choose that day. And use code OCBEERBLOG to knock $5 off.

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The Cut – ‘Gaucho Slider’ Smoked Mozzarella, Cilantro Chimichurri and Roasted Banana.

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Kebab – open-faced style gyro with cilantro ‘ooze’ (green cilantro with jalapeno house sauce)

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Shuck Oyster Bar – Shrimp and beef Yakitori-style Meatballs stuffed with sharp cheddar and dressed in spicy cheese sauce

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Good Beer Company! Although I’m sure they’ll bring “La Cheese”

OOZEFEST – DOWNTOWN SANTA ANA

SATURDAY OCT. 15TH & SUNDAY OCT. 16TH
MARKETPLACE NOON-10PM
VIP 5PM-9PM

Ten Reasons to Attend the CA Craft Beer Summit ’16 in Sacto

Last year, I hopped in my silly Scion and drove eight hours north to sweaty Sacramento. After three big gulps, ten rest stops, and two cups of spicy Frito-Lay bean dip, I checked into my $139 Residence Inn by Marriott, not expecting much.  My room was spacious and few steps away from the event in the heart of downtown. Surrounded by nightlife and eateries, reason #1 to go is easily the inexpensive beer travel. 

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#1: Inexpensive beer travel is the best beer travel. Residence Inn Marriott for $139/night!

If you come in early for the educational sessions, the next thing you can expect is a Friday morning filled with fresh faces of the industry.

#2: David Walker and Natalie Cilurzo address the media with concerns about CA’s drought in the state of beer. These guys were everywhere during the event for questions, selfies, and hugs. 

Educational sessions where you actually learn things. Here’s a bunch:

Don Barkley

#3: This is Don Barkley. His Q&A taught me about CA Beer history. He made beer at New Albion, America’s first craft brewery since prohibition in the 70’s. He is now the brewmaster of Napa Smith and has a big bellowing voice, and told great stories.

Vinnie Cilurzo and Ken Grossman

#4: Vinnie Cilurzo and Ken Grossman. They spoke about inspiration from Don Barkley (above) and Jack McAuliffe of New Albion. 

Tony Magee

#5: Speaking of tap talks, Tony Magee of Lagunitas gave a great one just days after announcing the sale of 50% of his brand to Heineken.

Julian Shrago and Tony Magee

#6: If one wanted to get pointers on buying/selling breweries, one could simply go up and ask. Julian Shrago of Beachwood BBQ & Brewing was probably doing just that, as they recently took over Beach City Brewing in HB this summer.

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#7: Hop sniffing at the expo. People walked away with hops on their noses like deranged hop heads. 

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#8: The guilds pouring beer at the expo. LA, SD, SF…pretty much the best of the best! The expo was also like a mini-CBC with vendors of all sorts. 

#9: The Fest to close things out. 150 CA breweries pour on the State Capitol mall.75 on this side, 75 on that side. No huge lines!

#9: The Fest to close things out. 150 CA breweries pour on the State Capitol mall.75 on this side, 75 on that side. No huge lines!

Actual brewers and brewery owners poured their beer, which was rad to ask questions and snap photos!

#10: Actual brewers and brewery owners poured their beer, which was rad to ask questions and snap photos!

Sold? I hope so. I will be there with the Four Brewer’s show from Thursday-Sunday! Come support California beer and have a hell of a road trip!

Check out the site for full schedule, tickets, speakers, and travel info!

 

Logical Menu Programming | FO Beer Dinner 2016

Tripping over my cat at 12:05 A.M. with two bags of glassware and four bottles of Fundamental Observation wasn’t the burglar-like entrance I had hoped, especially with a belly full of six courses of food and all the beers. The dogs came out to investigate the situation, one growling and kicking her back legs like a bull. The other, sniffs my leg and wags, obviously knowing what kind of shenanigans I had just endured. If this dog were human, she would be a foodie.

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Cooking in an alley, alley, alley – Patrick Whittaker, our chef of the evening.

Three hours prior, we were ushered into the back brewery of Bottle Logic Brewing. Big ass fan blowing DDB’s man-musk out of the room from the first seating, I’m guided to my table, delighted to see who I’m sitting next to: chef Cody Storts, Brandon Buckner (of Bottle Logic), main squeeze Christina, and Sean and Jessica McNew. A rowdy table, no doubt. I can ask chef questions about the food, and hit Brandon up about the beers.

You, light up my life, you give me hope...

You, light up my life, you give me hope… Haze Flux Vermont Style DIPA

Having been to the Darkstar November beer dinner earlier this year, I knew what chef Patrick Whittaker and the Bottle Logic team were capable of. What’s truly impressive is a brewery that has skilled staff to pull this thing off. There’s a million ways a dinner like this could go awry, especially if not done with regularity. The first improvement is Bottle Logic borrowed a food truck to use as a kitchen instead of cooking in the cramped brewery.

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Course one: Hamachi

My favorite moments of the night were many, but to name a few, the stone fruit salad paired with Berlinear Equation w/apricot & peaches was stellar. Refreshing on the warm night, the bready/stonefruity beer finishes clean and tart. The stonefruit vs. stonefruit beer seemed a bit obvious, but the real star of the show was a nip of basil that was like a ten-pin kicker when bowling a strike. Fantastic pairing.

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Getting stoned on stonefruit and Berlinear Observation with apricot and peach

One lobster tail and beef cheek later, the buzz hits. Haze Flux, Bottle Logic’s hazy Vermont style IPA was bursting with mango and pineapple notes. It didn’t take me long to blend the Bourbon Barrel aged and plain Cobaltic Porter pours into a cuvee to soften the blow of what was to come: Three versions of Fundamental Observation…holy shit, you guys!

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Fundamental Observation, sweating like me.

The first version, FO 2016 with Mostra Coffee gave the beer an ice cream-like smoothness. I pinched myself to stop myself from incessantly huffing the beer, like a man possessed. I saved the last half of the glass for my buddy Natalie DeNicholas, who helped the chef team prep and plate the dinner. She blew me a kiss. This beer is what makes me fall in love with beer all over again. Putting lipstick on a whale. Still a whale, but more attractive, for sure.

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Hospitality (and grammar) maestro, Lindsay Langton, w/ Patrick

Vanilla-vanilla Fundamental Observation is as good as 2015, albeit slightly different. It’s not as sweet, seems a tad lighter in body, and is backed with a poof of heat. The vanilla is way more punchy in the profile, which may fade with age. It’s a world class beer, I think the changes are more to my liking.

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Back alley Fundamental Observation purchases at 11:42 P.M.

Lastly, Fundamental Forces, a straight up vanilla booze jam and cheese plate closes out the night. “We keep feeding the yeast with more and more sugar until it gives up,” says Dylan Mobley, their brewer. Is it like 20% ABV? I’d like to try this beer on its own, not after the bellygasm that just took place.

My only complaint of the evening was the heat. Drinking big beers and multiple courses requires a certain temperature as to not get a sheen of glistening meat sweats. All in all, a hell of a lot of fun, and damn if I don’t feel like a 1%’er getting a seat. Keep up the fun, awesome releases like you do, Bottle Logic!

More pics:

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Lobster and Brexity pea vichyssoise (pronounced vishy swaz), whose kumquat paired well with the hazy DIPA.

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“HHHMMMBEEF…CHEEEKS!” Is what I yelled with this landed in front of me. Paired with all the Cobaltic Porters. So meaty, Bottle Logic. So meaty.

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The richest thing I’ve ever eaten. Inside the See’s candy looking chocolate puck is foie gras, which made me sweat with the Mostra Coffee FO. Super rich. YOOJ richness. Also I love me some chantilly cream and fucking Rainier cherries.

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“this is a fundamental beer dinner!” “you hit it right on the nose, bob!”

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Chef Cody Storts of Grits Fullerton and Chef Craig Brady of Haven Gastropub, both here to check out the dinner.

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my tablemates

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Sabroso: It’s all Pork & Stout, Baby!

by Errica Lane 5/4/2016, photos John Holzer @fourbrewers

This was my first time at Sabroso and I can sum up my experience in two words: Pork & Stout.  

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It seemed like big beers and pork tacos were on everyone’s agenda at Lakeview Park in Silverado last Saturday.  Fortunately the weather was mild, which paired well with the big booziness that wrestled our palates throughout the day. 

26761717005_ffcbba5b48_kMy two favorite stouts of the day were Leche Borracho from Bottle Logic and Luchador en Fuego from Clown Shoes.  Both had the mole spicy feels, with Clown Shoes aging their beer in bourbon barrels and Bottle logic giving it a little twist by aging in bourbon AND tequila barrels.  That Leche Borracho is dangerously delicious.

One other beer that really stood out to was the Cru’sin Corozon  from TAPS.  They described it as “West-Coast Grand Cru infused with prickly pear, passion fruit, blood orange, and pomegranate,” which was fantastic!  The fruits played so well with the Belgian yeast that I could have drank it all day.  But I didn’t.  I had tacos (and street corn) to eat.

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26668311712_e87453d7dd_kAlmost every food vendor had at least one sizzling pork taco on the menu.  One fave was the pork belly bahn mi taco from Devilicious.  For tres dolores I got a soft corn tortilla with a generous amount of crispy, juicy pork belly cubes and a sesame slaw. After that, my crew went in search of more tasty morsels.

Sadly, but the time we made it over to Haven, they had already run out of tacos.  I guess that’s what we get for getting distracted by beer at a taco festival.  I heard the soy marinated steak tacos were killer.  We quickly turned around and tried to get tacos from Kroft, but they had run out of buns.  They did offer up a double-meat deal for $3; instead of choosing between a pork belly taco or a fried spam, we got a paper boat with a slab of each meat.  The fried spam was the winner for me; breaded and deep fried, then drizzled with a sweet sauce and seaweed.  Totally odd combo that was pretty great.

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The highlight of the day, food wise, wasn’t a taco.  It was the Mexican street corn from The Lime truck.  Cobs of sweet corn were flash fried then smothered in sriracha mayo and cheese.  Thankfully that’s a regular offering from them, because there needs to be more of that in all our lives.

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In between each brewery booth of food truck we spent some time enjoying the bands on stage and roaming mariachis.  The only bummer is that by spending most of my time in the front area of the festival, I missed the wrestling.  But I saw that there were plenty of lounge chairs spread out for folks to sit and enjoy the show.  Overall it was a great day and a well run festival.

Viva Sabroso!

follow Errica on Instagram!

 

The Art of Going Big | Grits Fullerton + The Bruery Beer Dinner

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Grits is for lovers.

“Tonight is going to be like a race,” says the gruff and unshaven executive chef Cody Storts in his home away from home, Grits Fullerton. Six courses set out before us: pork, seafood, game, seafood, beef, then dessert. Having been to four of chef’s beer dinners, I mentally prepare myself to form my lips into the shape of Noah’s arc, and eat all the tasty animals.

Being Grits’ third beer dinner, this is the first with hyper-local O.C. beer: The Bruery, and as far as I know, the first beer dinner led by a Master Cicerone, Patrick Rue. Having had most of the beers, the mere thought of the pairings has me salivating. If I had a tail, it would surely be wagging wildly, enough to knock various glassware off the tables, Pavlov-style.

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COURSE 1, The Pork Confessional – A variation of the Bruery’s Sour Blonde Ale was blended and fermented with juice pressed from Fess Parker’s Riesling grapes. Juniper cured pork belly, cilantro and celery root puree.

Not being the biggest pork belly fan, I will say Grits preparation I actually enjoy. There’s something about how they get a perfect crust, bursting with umami, to play with the fat inside. It all comes down to balance, and chef totally nails it. Confession, one of my fave wine-blended beers, matches the dish with carbonation and acidity. The tone set, we move on.

GNAG0042Course 2: Sourrento Mussels – A beer that debuted at the second Firkfest, Sourrento is a sour ale inspired by the lemon flavored spirit, Limoncello. The broth on this dish has a nice rauchy-bacon quality, “I want a glass of it,” says my table-mate Anne Marie of OCWeekly fame. The black mussel is plump and ready, topped with 70’s chili-thread bush. Backed by the beer, this course made a nice intermezzo. 

Course 3: Bambi with Duck-Roids.

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Venison injected with duck-roids and the best bread pudding ever.

(Paired with Batch #1731, a homebrew competition winner is a 100% brettanomyces-fermented hoppy session ale at 5%.) “If rare venison doesn’t sound good, go over to Philly’s Best next door,” quips chef. It was indeed rare, but the duck fat seemed to tame the game, so to speak. The real winner of the night is the rye bread pudding topped on apricot key lime bourbon glaze. Nice rye-spicey take on a classic.

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So Happens It’s Tuesday – A slightly-less intense incarnation of Black Tuesday paired with Escolar almandine, a fish that can have laxative qualities if eaten in excess. I eat half, just to make sure we don’t have any accidents.

COURSE 5 – The Meat Statue – I’m not sure where one gets a steamship round cut of beef these days, but I’ll be damned if it doesn’t look like a statue. “Nobody does this shit,” I say out loud while snapping a photo. Coming back to my seat and finding a full ‘fuck off’ pour of 19.5% beer had me instagramming like a school girl. Sadly, I was full, but managed to eat a few fork-loads of the beef and root veggies. Wineification III, a blend of grenache grapes from Rodney’s Vineyard and Black Tuesday. Matured in a combination of bourbon and French Oak barrels, this beer is liquid dessert.

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Steamship Round, aka “the Meat Statue

GNAG0085Dessert Means You Survived: Blackberry cheesecake, Thai basil, bourbon sweetened currants and sweetened cream sauce paired with Cinnamonk was actually the best pairing of the night. But, wow. Full.

A shot of Bourbon is dealt in coffee mugs, we toast, inhale and hold our bellies. Cheers to another great party atmosphere, great hosts and solid, smiley service. Grits is located in downtown Fullerton and is open for brunch, pub dinner service on the weekends, and don’t miss their half-off draft beer on Thursdays!

Grits Fullerton Changes the Beer Dinner Game

A grit can be described as a small stone, just big enough to count with the naked eye. It can also be used to describe backbone, big enough to pull off a packed $135 per sitting beer dinner in downtown Fullerton…at a brunch spot…a few days before Christmas. Stone? Yeah, there was Stone, eight of them to be exact.

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For the price tag, Grits Fullerton had a lot to live up to. I went in thinking it needed flow, cloth napkins, and extended pinkies. I thought, we would all get to dive into Stone’s cellar and come out like masked robbers. Having been to two chef Cody Storts beer dinners and two “Dr.” Bill Sysak pairing events, I know the madness both are capable of.

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When the first beer is 2008 Stone Brewing Old Guardian Barleywine at 11%, the tone has been set. This isn’t going to be a hoity-toity affair. This is going to be a feast.

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Stone’s brand ambassador, “Dr.” Bill Sysak, ruled the beer side. Chef Cody mans the Christmas bush.

Various animals, grains and vegetables are shuffled and hit the table like a no-limit poker game. Plates like cards, beer glasses like poker chips. Do I go all-in or fold?

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Course 2 – cajun octopus with a dazzling candied citrus. tequila barrel aged cali-belgique IPA played off the citrus like a margie.

Amuse #1 and #2 down the hatch, “now the fun begins,” yells chef to applause. Smoked trout rillettes paired with Matt’s Burning Rosids, an imperial smoked saison, is served. I’ve seen this beer pulled out for a few events over the years and is drinking beautifully. RIP Matt, always glad to remember a comrade, your burning rosids beer and rillettes didn’t leave much for the dish cleaning crew…it was my fave of the night!

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South County IPA + OC Brew Ha Ha!

Artifex Brewing Co, Pizza Port and Left Coast Brewing Co. set to release South County IPA for the Brew Ha Ha! It’ll be on at the fest lakeside and will hit store shelves soon. Tickets and event info for Brew Ha Ha are here! 

150 California Breweries Line Up for the CA Craft Beer Summit + discount code

sacThe state of craft beer is something to behold. So is the state of California. When I heard 150 California craft breweries will be pouring at the California Craft Beer Summit, my personal state went from a foggy daze to “how can this be real?”

Not only is the festival a huge draw, the two-day event includes a CBC-type expo and educational sessions, put together by the California Craft Brewers Association.

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Pioneer Chris Cramer details the beginning of craft beer in SD.

Tap Talks: Featuring industry industry legends like Ken Grossman, David Walker, Natalie and Vinnie Cilurzo, Steve Wagner and a bunch more.

    • Masters Demos: Interactive demonstrations featuring California’s top 
brewers and chefs pairing California’s finest beers and fresh ingredients in new and innovative styles.
    • Experience the Craft Sessions: Craft beer professionals will provide phenomenal opportunities to learn more about craft beer and the business of brewing it.
    • Beer Releases: Tasting stations will feature an array of beers in a variety of styles to experience the difference and enjoy new taste sensations.
    • Job and Education Center: Have you ever dreamed of working at a brewery? Meet our experts in industry education and talk to the hiring professionals that make those dreams come true. Learn what it will take to meet your goals.
    • Hoppy Hour: IPA’s and Appetizers make for a great networking hour to discuss new and hilarious hop puns!

ocbeerMy personal itinerary on Friday:

  • 9: Food & Beer Pairings with Dr. Bill (simply to heckle).
  • 10:30: Draft systems technical workshop.
  • 1pm: Fritz Maytag speaks about 50 years of Anchor Brewing(!)
  • 2:30-3: Vinnie Cilurzo moderates a talk with Ken Grossman.
  • 5:30: Brewers reception.

temptationSaturday: Getting my learn on from Gary Glass, Mitch Steele, The Pope of Foam, Tony Magee, Chris Cramer, Patrick Rue, Vinnie, Matt Brynildson and Greg Koch. Then…

Saturday night on the capitol lawn: 150 breweries will stretch as far as the eye can see. Orange County will be represented by The Bruery, Beach City, Beachwood BBQ, and Bottle Logic. The best part of the fest will be sampling beer from all over the state from breweries that only support their local areas.

Tickets available via http://www.californiacraftbeer.com/2015-craft-beer-summit/tickets/purchase-tickets/

fact: California produced over 3.5 million barrels of beer in 2014, more than any other state.

 

fact: Craft Beer is a 6.5 Billion dollar industry in the state of California, 18% more in 2014 than the previous year.

 

fact: California has 554 breweries, more than any other state.

 

Fact: the discount code is CAcraftbeer10

Anchors, Oars, and a Green Flash | A&O’s First Beer Dinner

11713720_10207507331666231_4974723395755362688_oOf the many beer dinners I’ve attended and written about, there’s one thing I learned: Nobody likes to read about them. It’s sad really, with the amount of work put into the beer world colliding with a kitchen, and a staff that is on its toes for hours. I promise keep it brief, and show you pretty pictures, if you’re good.

Notable? The location. A&O Kitchen+Bar is nestled in the Balboa Bay Resort with a relaxing view of Newport Harbor and million dollar yachts parked a food-fight away. Location? Unbelievable. Also notable? The brewery phoned this one in.

Fullscreen capture 7222015 113644 AM.bmpIt’s smart to preview a beer dinner in advance; look up any specific beers, ingredients or preparations one hasn’t tried. A beer dinner can be a learning experience as much as it is fun. When four out of five beers on the menu are IPA, red flags, flare guns and tornado alarms go off in my head. Even as a hop-head, I will start out by saying 4/5 IPA’s at a beer dinner is horseshit baffling. I do think it is possible to execute such a dinner, preparing dishes that play off subtle hop notes and alcohol intensity. Lets just say I walked into this beer dinner looking for things to improve.

11731671_10207507330826210_5652225023129678161_oAs A&O’s first beer dinner (ever) and my first time there, I’m in media-mode, absorbing the ambiance and jotting down notes. A&O has a brilliant set of servers, smiling, prompt and thoughtful. My +1 for the evening is Chris Walowski, Smog City Brewing’s ex-brewer who recently took up a biomedical job in the area. It’s great to get second opinions on the pairings and always great to chat about beer things with a beer person.

11053051_10207507331506227_987788644536921173_oOyster Shooters, fried chicken skin, fried blue cheese balls (and a bread ball injection thing?) are passed as the sun sets and guests arrive. Chicken skin easily wins round one, but the beer served threw us for a loop. Normally, a beer rep should say “Hi, I’m from this brewery and you’re drinking this.” The guy with a Green Flash shirt sat with a glass twice the size of ours and said nothing during the reception. Although the menu said “Jibe Session IPA”, we had serious doubts surrounding it’s sessionability. With Belgian yeast esters on the nose and some alcohol warming on the finish, safe to say we were served Le Freak, Green Flash’s Belgian IPA (listed as “Le Freake” on the menu for the 3rd course). The beer is mildly oxidized and is not bursting with the usual hop flair Green Flash beers seem to have.

11053636_10207507329586179_3990557888106167181_oCourse two, however, saves the day. “It’s a deep fried Avo-Crab Hushpuppy,” mentions my seat-mate, Priscilla Willis of shescookin.com. Three components of the dish, Sriracha caviar, sweet dundeonous crab and the perfectly fried greenish ball of crab flash chef’s brilliance. Soul Style IPA brings just enough tropical panache to highlight the sweetness of the crab and offer a needed palate cleanse. IPA and Sriracha is always a win in my book.

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Course 2 – The most flavor ever squeezed into a 12 inch space.

Further courses, A&O’s chef Rachel put on a clinic; the beers, not so much.  With the second, it made the dish unbearable. Imperial IPA paired with the most flavor ever squeezed onto a plate? The uber-sweet booziness of the beer paired with intense braised rabbit and funky cheese fondue was too much to take. Looking at Green Flash’s portfolio, some of the beers they don’t sell any more (Rayon Vert or Saison Diego) could have paired perfectly. Not only is a beer dinner a chance for a chef to try fun stuff, it’s also a chance for the brewery to do the same. Why were there no Green Flash Cellar 3 beers? Natura Morta Plum for instance, might have had enough acidity to cut the richness of the next three dishes (which were all crazy delicious, but not enhanced by the beers paired).

I do hope A&O continues to get into beer, because wow, chef Rachel brings one hell of a lot of fun to a beer dinner. My only hope is they get a brewery that takes Orange County seriously.