Wednesday, January 31, 2018

Harry's Alehouse Bourbon Barrel Beer Dinner

We capped off last weekend with an enjoyable event at Harry's Alehouse. The "Bourbon Barrel Beer Dinner" promised interesting beers and good food. As we were seated our server let us know that the first course would start in about 20 minutes, and he then tempted us with a couple additional barrel-aged beers that weren't to be featured in the pairings. Naturally, we couldn't resist ordering both the Founders Canadian Breakfast Stout and the Goose Island Bourbon County 2017 offerings.

Checking in at 11.7% ABV, Founders CBS has been brewed only three times since its introduction in 2011. Brewed with chocolate and coffee, the beer is aged in bourbon barrels that previously held maple syrup. An annual release, the Goose Island Stout is also aged in bourbon barrels, and boasts a big 14.1% ABV. Both beers are much hyped and sought after by craft beer aficionados. We enjoyed both, but picked the Founders CBS as the better, and worth seeking out again in the future.

Those palate primers finished, it was time to for the main event to begin. The first course featured Baked Brie en Croute with Tangerine Honey Marmalade. The beer pairing was Alltech Brewing Kentucky Rickhouse Series No. 6 Tangerine Cream. Alltech is a combination brewery and distillery located along Kentucky's Bourbon Trail. The beer was a bright golden color with a creamy citrus aroma, and a moderate 5.5% ABV. The flavor was that of a classic creamsicle, if it was made with a hint of bourbon. This was certainly an unusual, but tasty beer. The flavors of the brie and marmalade was similar and compatible.

Next up was a French Country Salad made with Heirloom Tomatoes, Herbed Goat Cheese, Toasted Walnuts and a Lemon Dijon Vinaigrette. The featured beer for this course was Allagash Curieux. Curieux is a Belgian Triple, 11% ABV,  that has been aged bourbon barrels for seven weeks. Besides the expected bourbon notes, there are hints of coconut and vanilla in both the aroma and flavor. The salad was especially flavorful, and made even more enjoyable by the paired beer.

It was about this time in the event, that we started discussing how this was not a "sampling" dinner. We were being served full courses meals and respectable servings of the beers. It was going to be a long evening!

The main course featured Blue Mountain Barrel House Chocolate & Coffee Aged Dark Hollow. This was paired with a Coffee Crusted Prime Cut Porterhouse with Grilled Asparagus, Duchess Potatoes and Dark Hollow Demi-Glace. Dark Hollow is one of my all-time favorite Imperial Stouts, and this version was extra rich in roasted coffee and chocolate, with hints of vanilla and oak. As much as we enjoyed this spectacular 10% ABV beer, the star of the course was the steak. 

The "coffee crust" added an extra kick to the flavors. The steak was huge, tender and cooked to perfection. We saw several attendees asking for "to go" boxes. Not us. This was a feast to be enjoyed in the moment. Thankfully the service, which up until now had been almost too quick between courses, slowed to allow us to linger over this course.

Eventually it was time for dessert. This was a classic French Apple Raisin Pie with a Cream Cheese Topping. In a break from the beers served previously, the pie was served with a cider. Moonlight Meadery Them Little Apples is a created from fresh cider, blended with honey and sugar at the meadery and allowed to ferment in Rye Whiskey barrels.

The honey sweetness comes through in the flavor of the cider, though I didn't detect the affects of the barrel aging. The pairing didn't come off as well as the others, but that could be simply my preferences for less sweet beverages. That said, I had no trouble finishing any of it.

The dinner complete, Colleen and I decided to linger over coffee and continue our fun date night. Before we left home for the dinner, we had discussed how neither of us felt particularly motivated to go out for the evening. However, in the end, we were delighted to have struck with our plans. It was a most enjoyable finish to the weekend.

This was the third "beer dinner" we've attended at Harry's Alehouse, and I think the best and most extravagant. The service all evening was attentive and friendly. Harry's events are reasonably priced, a lot of fun, and there is no skimping on the servings of food or beer. We're definitely looking forward to the next event.

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