Two is my favorite number
Two is not really my favorite number, eight is. But this past Saturday, January 14, two was a great number. It was Chops and Hops second anniversary beer dinner. This also celebrated another birthday for Chef Miley. The restaurant was also closed earlier that day in preparation for the big event. The event was limited to 100 patrons and at last word from Chef Miley, there were as many as 130 on the list. I apologize to the thirty or so people who didn’t get to attend but the early bird gets the worm. The dinner was dubbed “Total Annihilation”. The name was given probably due to the fact that it was a seven course dinner with a total of 17 beers. 17 beers are more than enough to annihilate any professional libation enjoyer. I tried to think of reasons to not attend and was pretty nervous leading up to the dinner. I even went as far as telling Chef Miley to take me off the list. He insisted on me attending and knew it would be my first beer dinner. Well other than the beer dinner I have almost nightly at home, but I’m not sure a beer with dinner counts as an official beer dinner. But I must say, well done Mr. Miley, well done!
I received a phone call from the restaurant the week leading up to the dinner to confirm my attendance, this was nice. During our short conversation they mentioned that dinner wasn’t scheduled to begin until 6:40, but Chef Miley encouraged everyone to come at 6:00 as he had a few surprises planned. Those surprises came in the form of three cask beers. Wild Heaven Winter Ode to Mercy with cacao nibs thrown into the cask. Sweetwater Happy Ending sitting on a whopping total of 10 pounds of toasted coconut. This was one of my favorites of the entire dinner. It almost seemed as if the coconut added a big sweetness, but after discussing with several other ‘beer geeks’, we came to the consensus that it was actually mouth feel and not sweetness. Happy Ending usually doesn’t show any sign of the 9% abv unless super warm. The ‘slickness’ that the coconut gave the beer along with a medium strength aroma from the coconut hid all signs of 9% abv. The other cask was Terrapin Moo Hoo stout on maple bacon. This shined too in the form of a nice nose, but the taste didn’t change other than some signs on the tip of the tongue. Also, all photo credit goes to @DenverP for sharing his with me. My iPhone 3GS takes about as good a picture in poor lighting as I could draw (you wouldn’t be able to make either out).
Course 1: Arugula Salad
Arugula salad with rhubarb and ale vinaigrette dressing paired with Bell’s 2 Hearted randallized through rhubarb and Terrapin So Fresh and So Green, Green. The salad had candied pecans, strawberries, bacon and goat cheese which made for a great starter.
Course 2: Bacon and Egg
Kurobuta bacon and a deviled egg and mango syrup paired with Cigar City Thai Chili Mango Jai Alai and Ballast Point Sculpin IPA. This was hands down my favorite course! A piece of Kurobuta bacon, which translates to ‘black pig’ in Japan, is the distant cousin to Kobe beef as Chef Miley put it. That is if a pig and a cow can be cousins. The deviled eggs were filled with thai chili pimento cheese and sounds simple enough. But imagine the work that goes into making deviled eggs. Now imagine having to do that for 100 people. The bacon and egg paired great with both beers, but were nom with the Thai Chili Mango Jai Alai.
Course 3: Celery Root & Parsnip Soup
The soup, just as the bacon and egg course, was prepared by guest chefs Eddie Russell and Matt Palmerlee from Trappeze Pub. When I saw it was paired with New Belgium 10-10, I made the comment that parsnips rank right up there with grains of paradise (see the post about ‘Metric System Revisited‘). However I was pleasantly surprised on how good the soup was. It was also paired with Wild Heaven Eschaton which is also a great, great beer. I’m still not a big fan of NBB 10-10 but enjoyed getting another taste of this rare beer.
Course 4: Tuna Tostadas
Easily my second favorite course, whether it be because of my love for grilled Ahi Tuna or it being paired with Cigar City Chocolate Cherry Porter and Stone Chipotle Porter, it stood out. The Ahi Tuna was cooked perfectly and served with black beans, cheese, cherry chipotle salsa and sour cream. Also a nice helping of guacamole was on the plate. Both beers worked well, but I think I liked the chipotle porter better to give it that added spice kick on the tip of the tongue.
Course 5: Cheese Course
Probably just thrown in to cleanse the palate as many would think, but the beers didn’t slow down in flavor. Chef Miley was once again creative with his second Randall offering of the night by running Stone Russian Imperial Stout through fluffernutter. The stout came out reaping of sweet marshmallow bliss. Sitting alongside was Westbrook Smoking Guns Imperial Stout and as the name suggests, the smokiness went well with the aged Gouda cheese.
Course 6: Lamb Porterhouses
Yes, there is an s on porterhouse! Two nice cuts of lamb chops paired with gorgonzola mac n cheese (shells nonetheless), curried carrots. Plus crispy onions and bourbon apple bbq sauce rode in on top of the lamb chops. Pair this huge main course with Bell’s Black Note and Peak Organic Hop Noir and half the cost of the entire beer dinner sits in front of you. I was in awe when the plate arrived with two chops. Bell’s once again doesn’t disappoint with this rare offering, but it didn’t conquer the meal either, as Hop Noir shined with a huge hop aroma to pair just as well with the course.
Course 7: Raspberry & Gingersnap cheesecake
Not your typical cheesecake as this was a thicker consistency than I’m accustomed to. Sitting on top of the best crust I’ve ever had in a cheesecake, made from gingersnaps, and circled by a nice line of raspberry sauce. Pair this sweet offer with two others, Abita Barley wine and Heavy Seas Below Decks aged in bourbon barrels, and the dinner finishes as strong as it starts.
There was truly no low in the entire menu. Just as the meal portion would seem to slip, ala cheese and crackers, the beers kept it interesting and salivating with Stone RIS and fluffernutter. Really, who thinks of this? Or even when the beer choices faltered like NBB 10-10, then the meal or the accompanying beer stood tall, as in the parsnip soup or WH Eschaton. Props go out to all the chefs, staff and owners of Chops and Hops. Not only did a 2 years young restaurant pull of a beer dinner, it pulled off a big event for a large, well experienced restaurant and appeared to do it with ease. One of the more enjoyable aspects was the community. Being at an event like this and having so many come up and speak to you, or speaking to others was great. Although I sat at the bar, it wouldn’t have been hard at all to find a table of people who I see or talk to often and enjoy their company. So cheers again to everyone and especially Chef Miley for a great dinner.
Patiently waiting on your 3rd birthday.
Posted on January 16, 2012, in Beer Events and tagged #totalannihilation, Abita, Ballast Point, beer dinner, Bell's, Chops&Hops, Cigar City, craftbeer, Heavy Seas, Metric 10/10/10, New Belgium, Peak Organic, Stone Brewing, Sweetwater, Terrapin, Total Annihilation, Westbrook, Wild Heaven. Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.