Fort Collins restaurant the Moot House and Ballast Point Brewing of San Diego, California hosted a lively and adventurous beer dinner Wednesday that left guests impressed by a dynamic six course food and beer pairing.
With a menu featuring dishes ranging from Korean fried chicken, to curry and a modern twist on surf and turf, Chef Jeff Blackwell gave guests a virtual culinary trip across the globe while pairing dishes with some of Ballast Point’s more obscure brews, as well as its flagships.
In a large room, separated from the other dining areas, a casual atmosphere developed as beer geeks and foodies alike began to funnel in. Laughter was heard as the first round of beers was served to several tables of six guests.
April Gilstrap, a beer representative for a local distributor, described the dinner as a happy medium of between quality and humility.
“It is fine dining and great food, but without the stuffiness,” she said.
In preparation for the frequent beer dinners that he hosts at The Moot House, Blackwell travels to the various breweries in search of the most interesting, obscure flavors in beers they offer.
“I like to pick beers that are, uncommon,” Blackwell said. “When you try them, you hope that you’ll get a notion of what you might want to pair them with. When I tasted the tangerine (Ballast Point’s Manta Ray double IPA), I thought of curry.”
That tasting note was the inspiration for one of the evening’s courses: a lamb curry with mint chutney and a tap root puree. With a cooling sensation offered by the mint chutney and a rich lamb foundation, it was a pleasantly complex, hearty small plate.
Gilstrap said the process for choosing the beers to pair with food is a fairly simple but important step to the process of preparing for a beer dinner.
“We met with the chef and lined a bunch of beers out and tasted them,” she said. “Those are the fun meetings.”
Ballast Point representatives were present to speak with each table of guests about the process of brewing each beer as well as the history and culture of the brewery. Steven Edmund explained Ballast Point’s atypical process for developing new beers.
“All of our beers are developed through friendly home-brewing competitions,” said Steven Edmunds, a Ballast Point representative. “Every employee in the company is required to brew.”
Ballast Point’s Blackberry Sour Wench, a product of this testing process, was a particularly impressive tart blackberry-forward ale with an unconventional brewing method.
“The beer is pumped out of the brewing process and left to sit for two days before starting again,” Edmunds said. “It’s an incredibly difficult beer to brew.”
Chef Blackwell chose to pair the blackberry sour with a soft, buttery scallop atop a deeply smoky slice of pork belly. Surrounded by a blackberry reduction and a bed of fennel puree, it sat aside micro-greens tossed in a bacon-citrus vinaigrette.
The dinner culminated with a dessert course of vanilla bean cake, white chocolate mousse, a sweet beet sauce and sea salt pistachio short bread. The dish was paired with Ballast Point’s Red Velvet nitro stout, which truly did taste and look like red velvet cake.
When the two-hour meal had ended, Blackwell and his sous chef came to the dining room to ask guests for their thoughts on the pairings and the meal overall and thanked everyone for coming.
Collegian reporter Max Sundberg can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @jmaxsun.