Last night, View 202 brought together two excellent breweries, Fall River Brewing Co. and Mad River Brewing Co. to pair their top brews with chef Sean Gaffner’s specially-created meals. The dinner appeared sold out, with the patio earmarked for the River Dinner. Misters kept diner cool in the 90-degree heat, and musician Christian Abercrombie provided the music.
The evening started with an introduction to the principles at both Mad and Fall River Brewing Companies, and each of the evening’s five courses was preceded with an overview of each beer and a description of the meal that was created specifically for it.
Course 1: Hibiscus Poached Shrimp with jicama salsa & chilled strawberry soup shooter, paired with Flor De Jamaica Ale by Mad River. The strawberry soup was the star in this course; it completely changed the beer. The sweet hibiscus notes were cancelled out by the sweet soup, bringing the malty finish to the forefront.
Course 2: Kahlua Pork Spring Roll with ginger & basic cabbage salad, paired with NorCal Blonde by Fall River. The NorCal blonde has more spicy notes and a sharper finish than the Flor De Jamaica. The spicy pork and goat cheese in the spring rolls had the opposite effect of the previous course; it neutralized the sharp and emphasized the sweeter caramel notes of the ale.
Course 3: Fried chicken with peach waffles and jalapeno syrup, paired with Steelhead Extra Pale Ale by Mad River. The heartier profile of the Steelhead EPA was necessary to keep up with the strong flavors of the jalapeno syrup and salty fried chicken, and the jalapeno taste rolls right into the beer’s piney finish.
Course 4: Steak sous vide, seared with whiskey cream & crispy sweet potato, paired with Kilty Pleasure Scotch Ale by Fall River. This was the most interesting pairing of the evening, as the meal’s sweet and savory duality gave the beer two separate identities. After the savory steak, the sweet scotch and smooth malty notes took the forefront, while after the sweet potato, the sharper, hoppier notes were emphasized. It was like drinking two different beers.
Course 5: Coffee & beer float with porter, vanilla bean ice cream & espresso whip, paired with Scotch Porter by Mad River and Pitville Porter by Fall river. If the steak was the most interesting course, this was the most delicious. We poured the chocolatey Pitville Porter into the ice cream glass and drank the smokey Scotch Porter as we ate. The float was a sweet, decadent dessert, with a touch of beer kick. It was as if the ice cream and the Pitville Porter were made for each other. I could probalby have eaten a gallon-sized bucket of the stuff, but I didn’t want to have to call a cab.
How’d it go? Every course was met with a round of applause from the diners, and it was well-earned. Each course represented excellent pairings that gave participants new insights on each paired beer. Gaffner know beer. Even better, he knows how to make it even better. It was a great night with creative, delicous food, some education about beer, and some of the most interesting pairings we’ve seen at Beer Week.