A Nameday Beer Dinner

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Beer lovers! Long time no chat. Last week we were so busy enjoying our brother’s visit that we didn’t make time to post. We hiked, we biked, and we made an epic beer dinner for our dad’s birthday that we are SO excited to tell you about. For some time now we’ve wanted to do a post about pairing beer with food. Maddy found a super helpful chart that breaks down suggested food, cheese, and dessert pairings for over 20 beer styles, and it was a helpful resource in creating our menu.

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Our dinner included four courses and four different beers.

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First we served spiced edamame, paired with Rachel’s favorite beer of the evening, The Crisp by Sixpoint. We knew our dad would love this canned pilsner, and we chose it to go with the edamame because lagers compliment the flavors of Asian spices. This pilsner offers a nice hoppy backbone (hoppy for a pilsner) and a clean, crisp finish. The cracker-like maltiness paired perfectly with the salty, somewhat spicy edamame.

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Our second course featured the best pairing of the evening: a caramelized onion tart with gorgonzola and brie + the Anderson Valley Hop Ottin’ IPA. IPAs generally pair well with strong cheese because they can hold up to their bold flavors. We chose this particular IPA because Anderson Valley mentions on their website that it pairs well with gorgonzola. For those of you interested in creating your own beer dinner, now is a good time to bring up that many breweries offer pairing suggestions on their websites, or even on their bottles (for example, Ommegang, see below).

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Anderson Valley got it right with their recommendation. Pine, citrus, and the tang of the gorgonzola swirled together perfectly with no one flavor overpowering the others. It was cheesy-beery heaven. This restaurant-quality recipe is so easy to make that we recommend trying this pairing as soon as humanly possible. We made it again less than a week later!

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We modeled the next course after the bacon cheeseburger beer we just tried at 508 Gastrobrewery in NYC: bacon cheeseburgers served with the Evil Twin Cowboy smoked pilsner. Like our inspiration, we even topped the Cowboy with applewood smoked bacon!

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The Cowboy has just the right amount of smokiness for such a light-bodied beer. All meat-eaters agreed that the smoked bacon and the smoked pilsner were a match. We had really high hopes that this would be our dad’s favorite course of the evening since it featured many of his favorite things: burgers, bacon, pilsner, and smoke. However, he decided he’d rather keep his beer and smoke separate. We disagree…

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Finally we arrive at the last course of the evening: beer spiked milkshakes! We originally planned to make two small shakes with Crème Brûlée and Mokah by Southern Tier, but we were so full at this point that we decided the Crème Brûlée was enough. After all, we still had birthday cake to eat. 😉

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This was our first time making a beer milkshake, so we kinda just went for it. We read online that you should aim for a five to one ice cream to beer ratio, but what are exact measurements for two tipsy chefs? We ended up mixing 3/4 of a gallon of ice cream with just under a pint of beer. The result was a slightly-boozy and extremely delicious, crème brûlée-flavored shake. Be warned, like the dessert, this is a very rich beer. Rachel tried to finish off the rest the next evening and found it a bit too syrupy on it’s own. However, mixed with ice cream, topped with whipped cream and chocolate syrup, and served with mini straws, it is perfection.

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Overall the evening was a success. We were surprised by how much we enjoyed the two pilsners, loved the Hop Ottin’ (no surprise there), and want to experiment further with boozy dessert beers. Here’s to our dad’s birth and the excuse to finally make a beer dinner!

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