I went to my first ever “Beer Event” the other night and it was a pairing where we drank beer and ate chocolate in various forms. I must say it was pretty fun, and beer people are just good people to be around and hang out with. Now I’ve been to GABF in Denver last year so you might say that I have been to a beer event before. But let me clarify I consider that a “Beer Happening” rather than a discrete event, so that is my classification. Not saying it is reasonable, or even logical, but it is what it is.
So this event brought together local chef Ryan that works for a nonprofit called Life’s Kitchen that helps troubled youth, kind of like hoodlum boot camp meets Hells Kitchen. He was the person that put all the chocolate creations together. You will see them all later. The other half of the event was Fred Colby. Fred runs Laughing Dog Brewery in Sandpoint, Idaho. Fred is responsible for some of the tastiest beers around anywhere, and what I like about Fred is he likes to share. And share he did! This was put on by Rick Boyd over at Brewforia and there were a series of five pairings. So let the festivities begin…
Fist up was a white chocolate hazelnut muffin paired with Laughing Dog’s Cream Ale. This is my go to summer brew. I love it. It is rich and flavorful with a little biscuit flavor and enough hop to make things interesting. The flavors of the white chocolate paired flawlessly with the creaminess of the beer, and the hazelnut really brought out the buiscuit flavor well. Here is another thing you don’t know about me. I never really thought that pairings really mattered. But after this event I’m a staunch believer that putting together beer with food flavors really is an art.
The next course was a strawberry Ice Cream made with fresh strawberries and dark chocolate chunks that had been infused with coffee and cayenne pepper. That was paired with Fred’s super hoppy Rocket Dog IPA. This was an annual offering that isn’t scheduled to reappear next year. Too bad, because its spicy 125 IBUs paired perfectly with the creaminess of the Ice Cream and the fruit and chocolate made a wonderful play all over my tongue. Actually the guy I was sharing a table with put the ice cream into the beer and made a beer float out of it and said it was amazing that way. That was perhaps a little too adventurous for me, but it certainly came together well as I ate and drank.
The next course was a chocolate cup cake with hazelnut cream frosting served with the Dogzilla Black IPA. The cream on top of this cupcake was just amazing it was so light and airy that it seemed to just dissolve into the cake. This pairing, while it worked was not as great as the rest. It just missed as far as the blending of the hoppy and malty character of the beer with the sweetness of the cake. If there was some heat in the cakes like a cayenne or something else to pull out those characters in the beer more that would have perhaps worked a little better, but it was good nonetheless, just not as good as all the other pairings.
Now we get into the big brews! This course consisted of a Carbomb eclair that was baked with a cocoa infused cream puff batter and filled with a whipped cream that was made with Jameson Whiskey and Irish Cream. Then a chipotle infused chocolate sauce was drizzled on the top of each one. This was paired with Fred’s Dogfather Imperial Stout. A 10 % ABV brew that packs a whollup. The high ABV mixed with the irish cream and Jameson’s in a wonderful way. The creaminess of the center and the mouthfeel of the big stout blended together very well too, and the biscuitiness of the eclair mixed nicely with the maltiness of the body of the brew. Finally there was a little orange zest in the eclair that really brought out the hops that were more prevalent on the back side of the stout. All in all perhaps the most complex pairing of the evening with some of the most amazing flavors.
Finally the beer pairing we were all waiting for. Fred and Laughing Dog Brewery are releasing a new beer, and this is the first anyone had tried this in the Boise area. His new brew is called Anubis and it is frankly an amazing beer. It is an Imperial Coffee Porter and it is a very flavorful and complex treat for the nose and tongue. This is a rich and sweet porter that is infused with freshly pressed artisan coffee from a roastery in Sandpoint, Idaho. No Folgers here! It is very coffee forward, but then settles in and the rich maltiness with the chocolate tones comes out in the end with a medium mouthfeel and a 9% ABV, there is a little warmth in the chest with this one. It was paired with a Raspberry chocolate truffle that was infused with chipotle and dusted with cocoa. It went very well with the Anubis and was the perfect cap to the evening’s festivities.
Afterwards we all hung around and shot the breeze with Fred and Rick and a few more of us. It was a great evening and one I won’t soon forget. If you get the chance to go to a beer pairing event like this one, by all means do so. You are going to love how these flavors go together and it could just open up a new dimension to your beer experiences. I know it did for me.