After my eye-opening adventure with the halibut at the Central Waters event, Bryan and I killed some time waiting for the Beer Luncheon featuring Tenth and Blake in The Horse & Plow with a tasty, creamy, and well-balanced, Jigger Ale (review is here). From the warm, casual, and friendly pub atmosphere of the Horse & Plow we moved to the gorgeous outdoor patio of The Wisconsin Room. We sipped Peroni as stellar hors d’oeuvres were served with the utmost class. We moved back inside to The Wisconsin Room’s elegant vintage design and atmosphere where it became abundantly clear; this room was the perfect choice for a classy sit-down, four-course meal.
One might think it would be hard to top the fantastic food paired with Central Waters’ delicious beer earlier in the day, but a few of us got the chance to experience an equally fantastic pairing of top-notch gourmet food and beer prepared by Matthew Bauer, a seven-and-a-half year veteran chef from The Immigrant restaurant. Grant Holtackers, trade brewer and certified Cicerone for Tenth and Blake kicked off the event with an intro about their purpose and passion; a heavy focus on education about beer.
Each beer and food paring were briefly discussed during this session, but the bulk of the Beer Luncheon rested on the food and beer speaking for themselves.
The meal was kicked off with a Pilsner Urquell paired with another appetizer that took me by surprise; Grilled Salmon with fingerling potato salad, shaved fennel, and lemon and caper butter. A little fish-y for me, but I still really enjoyed it especially since I don’t eat sea food, almost ever.
A mixed green and Endive salad followed up with a pour of a crisp Peruvian beer called Cusqueña. One of the best salads I’ve ever had, these greens were topped with citrus poached chicken breast, roasted tomatoes, crispy shallots, all topped by a stone-ground mustard vinaigrette. The corn-rich beer
The entrée was the only part of the meal that seemed fairly average, especially juxtaposed to the caliber of food that had already been served. The coffee and chili braised beef cheeks sat in red cabbage, baby carrots, golden raisins, and a braising reduction sauce. While the meat was tasty and melted in the mouth, the coffee wasn’t noticeable and the red cabbage’s flavor destroyed every other nuance in my mouth. Sweet golden raisins and baby carrots added great flair to the dish. I can confidently say that it paired nicely with Oaty Goat Doppelbock, a full-bodied, roasted, malt-heavy collaboration brew by Lakefront and Leinenkugel’s breweries.
And while dessert wasn’t a cake of any kind, it took the cake as the best course of the meal and one of; if not the single best dessert I’ve ever had in my life. Before the treat was served, we received pours of Tenth and Blake’s Celebration Porter, a Bourbon Barrel-Aged Vanilla Porter that’s well-balanced, mellow and nuanced for a robust porter with light, complimentary notes of alcohol. The beer was exquisitely paired with the out-of-this-world good two-tone crème brûlée made with dark chocolate stout and vanilla barley malt. From the soft, creamy texture inside to the toasted, crispy top layer, I was righteously upset that I was far too full to finish the whole soup-size cup of the dessert.
The Luncheon was a blast and as we were wrapping up with dessert, Holtackers surprised us with an unlisted treat; chilled Big Eddy from Leinenkugel’s, a bold Russian Imperial Stout presented in small snifters for people to enjoy while conversing.
There isn’t much more to life than great food and great brew. Except that when you’re stuffed to the gills with food, it becomes time to move on to some great brew, and that’s just what we did. A short walk from The Wisconsin Room in The American Club later, we arrived at the main festival tent smack in the middle of the parking lot for The Shops at Woodlake. By the time we arrived there was already a large line starting to snake it’s way into the parking lot. Slowly but surely the line crept towards the tent giving us plenty of time for food to begin digesting. Once inside we were greeted with entertainment in the form of music and a horse-shoe of beer tables surrounding, what do you know? More food! The table was loaded with delicious looking appetizers I dared not sink my hands into. Picnic tables formed rows in the center of the tent giving plenty of people the chance to grab a unique beer, a snack, and enjoy some live music.
We made our way around the horse-shoe of beers, sampling our way around the world. The selection featured classic staples from various regions like Belgium and Germany as well as brews even seasoned beer-veterans such as ourselves had never seen or tried before. Additionally, the caliber of beers provided was fantastic! There was no skimping at all. In fact one of the Belgian tables contained almost nothing but trappist beers like La Trappe, Orval, Westmalle, and Rochefort. The attendees weren’t short on world-class beer to try nor were they short on educated people to talk to. Since a lot of the brewers and reps from American companies didn’t have to work yet, it allowed them the time to share in suds with some accompanying conversation which was refreshing to experience.
As the only outdoors beer part of the Kohler Festival of Beer (besides the golf) it was nice that Beers Around the World was held in a tent but thankfully the weather cooperated and was overcast but quite comfortable out.
Join me for the last installment of the Kohler Festival of Beer article soon as I wrap up the eventful and exciting weekend with a superb beer and cheese pairing featuring Goose Island and the finale, Cheers to Beers held in the Kohler Design Center.
Photography by Bryan Nieman. Copyright BeerFM 2011.