Back in the USA and I realize that one does not need to go to Belgium to find amazing beers, (but still do so!) It is time for Town Hall Brewery's 15 year anniversary week. They are doing a whole bunch of special events for the week, including special beer releases, scotch tastings, pint-club-lympics and more. Most importantly to me, they had their second annual beer dinner on 10/23/12. Sj and I went last year and had a great time and were happy we could get in to this again.
Just a quick shout-out to Town Hall for getting a Bronze medal at the GABF for their Pro-Am beer made in conjunction with our friend Kyle Cisco from the Primary Fermenters! Next year they will win another medal with Tim Roets' Kolsch...I can sense it!
For this year's dinner they had roped off a section of the back dining area and even had white table cloths for us. For our intro beer we had our choice of anything on tap, I chose the Citra pale ale which was dry and fruity. For an appetizer they had a huge brick sized serving of Spanikopita (spinach pie) that was made from Pete Rifakes' family recipe. It was the best I've ever had, including many Greek restaurants'. We sat with Randy and Andrea, whom we met at last year's dinner and seem to run into at nearly every beer event since! Another couple who are members of the MHBA sat with us as well, and we all had a great time. I love the social nature of beer dinners, and getting to tell and hear beer stories with folks that are interested. Before each course Mike Hoops, the head brewer, and his chef gave a quick talk about the beer and food. All of the beers were served in new 15 year anniversary stem-ware. Mr. Hoops commented that last year beer had been wasted due to pours of strong ales that were too big, so this year they were going to cut it down. We still had a hard time drinking all that beer!
Our second course was a sweet butternut squash and leek bisque. I had forgotten that these dinners also have a cheese paired with each beer course, and the first was our favorite of the night: a stinky Swiss Gruyere. The beer served with this course was the Grand Cru, a 9.1% ABV smooth Belgian monster that hid its alcohol dangerously well. This was brewed many months ago and has not been served yet this year at Town Hall. I liked it much better than last year's batch and would actively seek it out now. The pairing with the cheese was out of this world.
The third course was a crab cake with a caper and curry cream sauce, and was very good. Cheese was a fairly bland smoked Gouda. The beer for this pairing was the star. This was the 15 year anniversary Double IPA, made with MN basswood honey and a ton of hops. It has a character that reminds me of Hopslam, but dryer and less sweet. YUM! It was a treat getting to try this before it was released to the public, and I highly recommend getting out there to try it.
Fourth course was baby back ribs braised in Czar Jack RIS served with cous cous and wee heavy soaked cranberries. The ribs were a wonder, falling off the bone and flavorful as can be. The cheese was a mild Portuguese. The beer paired with this was the Wee Heavy, and did a nice job of complementing the food. I wish it had been Czar Jack though!
Fifth course was a roast tenderloin poutine topped with porter gravy. The meat was a bit overdone, but the gravy was salty and delicious. A Wales cheddar cheese was quite tasty. This dish was served up with the Publican Porter, the first beer that Pete Rifakes really took a part in designing. A very complex and drinkable brew.
Final course was desert, a Beer-a-misu made with espresso and Russian Roulette. The beer was the Russian Roulette, the imperial stout aged on Belgian dark chocolate. Sj and I had this beer at Winterfest this year and went back for it repeatedly. A great way to finish the evening.
Town Hall is truly my favorite brewpub and I congratulate them on 15 years of success putting out good food and amazing beers.