April 16, 2012

I-70 Showdown Beer Dinner Recap

Last night's beer dinner, the I-70 Showdown, was a great success!  Steven Pauwels, Boulevard's brewmaster, and Schlafly's brewmaster Stephen Hale were wonderful ambassadors for each brewery, talking about their beers ("If you haven't had Tank 7 yet, shame on you," said Pauwels, before the first pairing), or giving tips on making it through airport security ("Maybe next time I won't wear my utility kilt," said Hale, airing some grievances).
Steven Pauwels of Boulevard (left) and Stephen Hale from Schlafly (right), discussing their beers.
If you weren't able to attend this dinner, here are some pictures, and a little recap.

The Menu
Up first, Boulevard's Tank 7 and Schlafly's Export IPA were paired with duck confit empanadas, with a red pepper and cilantro aioli.  Talking about starting the meal with a bang!  The empanadas were fantastic, and each beer complimented them very well.  Tank 7 pairs well with most any food, and the Export IPA was well-balanced, and worked nicely with the aioli.
The empanadas tasted even better than they looked.  And they looked good.  (Boulevard beers were served in the snifter-like tasting glasses throughout the night, Schlafly in the straight)
There was a change on the second course, as the patty-pan squash was replaced with green, white, and purple cauliflower, and the purple beans and herb vinaigrette remained.  Now, I am an unabashed lover of cauliflower, so this was a very welcome pinch-hitter.  The clean, fresh flavors from the veggies matched with the tart Two Jokers from Boulevard, and hoppy Yakima Wheat from Schlafly.  Both beers were light and refreshing, and fit the overall theme of the course.
The presentation added to the aesthetic value.  So nice.
Now, the main course - rabbit stuffed with wild rice and spinach, with fig jam and micro watercress.  To escalate the course, the rabbit was wrapped in bacon.  I keep going back and forth on which was my favorite course; this one or the empanadas.  I don't think anyone could go wrong with either.  Especially when paired with the beers served for the course - Boulevard Rye-on-Rye and Schlafly Bière de Garde.  The rye whiskey flavors of the Rye-on-Rye were well-suited for the smoky bacon and sweet fig jam.  The balanced Bière de Garde went well with the tender rabbit.  Great course, with both beers.
The watercress is hiding the fig jam, but it was there, and it was delicious.
What meal would be complete without dessert?  How about three desserts?  Paired with Imperial Stouts from each brewery, it got even better.  The mini eclair with stout cream, blackberry gelato, and chocolate wafers with mousse were all delicious, and the beers made them shine.  Boulevard's Imperial Stout had a slight tart and coffee flavor, perfect with the gelato and the chocolates.  And the 100% barrel aged Imperial Stout from Schlafly had a nice, rich flavor, which was fantastic with each dessert.  This may have been the best-paired dish of the night.  The complex beers had a little bit of something to go with each offering on the plate.
The lights turned low, to set the mood for a delicious dessert.
During the courses, both Steven Pauwels and Stephen Hale walked through the room, taking time to talk with each table, answering any questions and providing some insight to their beers.  And of course, they enjoy some of each other's work.

Steven and Stephen
There was one more special treat for everyone... Schlafly brought a beer that's still in the experimental phase, from their "Spoiler Room," an area where they're working on some sour beers.  This one was an Oud Bruin, and if it's any indication of where their sour program is, we're going to be tasting some good things.  Steven Pauwels also hinted at Boulevard's Love Child series, their own sour beer line.  Exciting times ahead for fans of both breweries!

If you made it to the dinner, give us a comment and let us know what you thought!  And if not, keep your eyes open for the next event.

Also, don't forget to head to the Foundry tomorrow night, for some ciders you won't find anywhere else.

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