Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Samuel Adams Beer Pairing Dinner and The World's Strongest Beer

This Boston Beer Company wants people to rethink the role of beer on your dining table, and that's one of the reason Samuel Adams has been going around the country holding beer pairing dinners (Sam Adams-paired, naturally) - pairings beyond bbq ribs and burgers. For Los Angeles, what restaurant could be more perfect than Jon Shook and Vinni Dotolo's Animal?

Let's not forget the second reason though. The reason many of us were there that night: the launch of Utopias, the Guinness Book record holder of The World's Strongest Beer at 27% ABV.

But that comes later. Before that, food. "Cocktail" hour starts with a series of canapes: shell bean bruschetta, goat cheese with fennel marmalade bruschetta, squash arancini which I managed to eat 3-4 of, and chicken liver pate.

The sit-down dinner starts out with the Sam Adams Coastal Wheat. Instead of serving the beer with lime as is usual, the Animal chefs instead decided to pair it with some deep fried hominy with lime.

Even though Animal is known for rich and heavy dishes like the foie gras loco moco or the poutine, it does not mean they're incapable of preparing more delicate dishes. The next course of fluke with grapes, yuzu, and apples is proof of that. Not to miss out on bold flavors, though, they accentuated the dish with some heat from serrano peppers.

Then we're back to rich and heavy dishes with the melted petit basque cheese, chorizo, paired with the Cranberry Lambic.
Melted basque cheese on grilled bread - I can probably eat at least half of this on my own. Warm, rich, and extremely comforting. The light sweetness followed by the crispness of the Cranberry Lambic cuts the richness of the cheese, making this quite a pairing.

Unfortunately, estarla and I already have 8 PM tickets for Cirque du Soleil's KOOZA from Goldstar, so this was as much of the dinner as we go to taste.

Now, let's get back to why we were all there that night. Before we busted out of there, we sneaked in a tasting of the Utopias.

The world's strongest beer. "Beer", that is. 27% ABV.
A collector's item shaped like the brewery's itself, this beer runs approximately $150. Expensive, for sure. Did I mention it was a collector's item?
Sam Adams brewer Bert Boyce shows us the production number under the bottle. It's a very limited production but you should be able to find it in stores like BevMo if you act fast enough.

The Utopias has been decanting for a while at this point - and you should decant it before drinking. Even with their warning to discard any prior notion of "beer" before tasting, I was surprised nonetheless. The aroma was sweet and caramel-y, but unlike a cider, it smelled "thick". The aroma was just like sherry. With no carbonation left, this "beer" sits somewhere between a sherry and brandy in both aroma and taste.

A unique beer, indeed. If you have $150 to spend on a beer lover this holiday, this would probably make a great gift.



two more month's!
two more month's till I hit the big 2-1!

Then the world shall be mine :)

Food GPS

Looks like a great event, and those dishes all look good, especially the squash arancini. Unfortunately, I only got a chance to taste the Utopias, which was very good. That was an apt comparison to dessert wine.

Good point about Animal's range. They've become known for gimmicky (but no doubt delicious) dishes like the foie gras loco moco, but Dotolo and Shook are skilled chefs.


It was good to taste what we could. ;) ...And at least we got our own special presentation of the Utopias! It wouldn't have been worth it if we didn't get to sample that.

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