March 29, 2013

Three breweries, one Interstate UPDATE: SOLD OUT!

It's the first Interstate Highway built in the United States, with some sections of it in Kansas and Missouri being claimed as the first to be constructed. Connecting Cove Port, Utah to Baltimore, Maryland is the 5th longest Interstate Highway, I-70 (I've been on Wikipedia). And, luckily for us, there are some great breweries along it in our neck of the woods who are bringing their beers to the next beer dinner. 

In addition to our St. Louis friends at Schlafly, our pals from Free State will be making the quick jog from Lawrence on April 15th! It'll be a gathering of Ste(v)(ph)ens, as Boulevard's Steven Pauwels represents the George Brett Super Highway, Stephen Hale from Schlafly heads over from Mark McGwire Highway, and Free State's Steve Bradt comes from the... hmm I don't know, Danny Manning Highway?

Now THAT is a menu. Even without the beers, I think it would be a great meal. I mean, surf & turf with smoked trout and beef tartar, fresh Green Dirt Farm spicy chili cheese, smoked brisket with barbeque spaetzel(?!) and bananas foster. . . mmmm yes. But then add the beers and WHOA. Each brewery will be bringing it. Hopefully part of "it" that will be brought will a surprise from one of the breweries... Last year it was an experimental Oud Bruin from Schlafly, and it was delightful. Boulevard will have an unreleased "Grape Nelson" beer in the "IPA round," so that should be a nice treat. I'm looking forward to Free State's Coeur de Sasion, a beer I've yet to try. And the first pairing that really jumps out at me is the Schlafly Single Malt Scottish Ale with the smoked brisket. It's such a good, peaty beer so it should go well with the smokey meat. 

For $50 you can reserve your spot, including tax and gratuity! Call Beer Kitchen today for reservations, this one will fill up in a hurry - 816-389-4180. What better way to celebrate the end of tax season? UPDATE: This is SOLD OUT! We're looking forward to hosting everyone on the 15th!

March 21, 2013

The Biggest Upset in March

Alright, after more than two weeks (and a trip out of town), I've finally come to terms and am ready to talk about the Grain v Grape beer dinner.

Jarrod Finn from Cellar Rat brought five French wines to go up against five Belgian (style) beers in a showdown for beverage superiority!

The first course was a delicious boudin blanc with a soft poached hen egg (which led to me wondering if there were such a thing as an egg NOT from a hen, but that's probably some deep philosophical thing) and frites, paired with Foret Organic Saison and Andre Delorme Brut Reserve. This is a beer I like very much matched up with a wine I knew nothing about (that'll be true with most of these... I don't know wines).

It turned out it was a nice sparkling wine in the Champagne style, but since it's not made in the Champagne region, it can't be called champagne. It was sweet and light, and paired well with the breakfast sort of theme of the dish - sausage, eggs, and fried potatoes. The hoppy beer worked as well, but, I must admit, my vote for the first round went to the grape. My foundation was shaken right off the bat. What is happening?

The second round pitted Brouwerij Van Honsebrouck Bacchus against Domaine de Vaufuget. When there are Belgian/French names involved, spell check gets very confused/angry. These two were paired with a foie tourtiere with brandied apple and black truffle. I've been to a number of beer dinners now, and it seems like there's a new dish I love at each one. But this one may best them all. A perfect dinner for me would have this foie gras "pot pie," the lobster fondue from the Green Dirt Farms dinner, and finished with the bread pudding from when Local Pig's Alex Pope stopped by. Yes, each of those are super rich, but I DON'T CARE, THEY'RE DELICIOUS. 

The beverage pairing on this wasn't close for me. Bacchus is a favorite of mine, and the wine-like acidity in it cut through the richness of the dish, complimenting it very nicely. The wine was nice, a sweet white, but didn't fit the food as well. A red wine-like beer against a white wine. Grain gets this vote all the way. Whew, back on track.

Up next was a sea scallop "coquille" with lardons in a consumme, paired with Lindeman's Cuvee Renee and Domaine de Tranquillite Rose. 

As I've stated at other dinners, I love scallops. And lardons. This dish was another winner, especially when some of each element was in a bite. It was very well put together. And the paired drinks were well thought out, with another almost wine-like beer in the gueuze. Old hops! The Cuvee Renee is another favorite of mine, so the wine didn't really have much of a chance in my book. It was a good wine though, with good acidity and minerality to balance with the seafood flavors. I just liked the beer better with the dish. 

Now this next beer wasn't from Belgium, but it was a Belgian style, so we bent the rules a little. Still counts!!! It was the Bell's Hell Hath No Fury, sometimes called Belgian style dark ale, sometimes called a dubbel, against Domaine des Rozets Coteaux de Tricastin (and this might be totally wrong... based on my notes, I was getting scribble-y), a blend from the Rhone Valley. I have Grenache and Syrah written down, so those might be the blends involved. The dish was canard au povre with fork smashed fingerlings and buttered pea shoots.

Don't know why I opted for no flash on this one...
Once again, a dish featuring something I love. This time duck, and it was perfectly prepared. On the rare side of medium rare. And once again, both drinks paired with the dish were great. I'm only beginning to like red wines, and this is one I will most definitely drink again. The tannins cut through the duck fat (credit Jarrod for that one, I wouldn't have come up with that on my own). But, once again, to me the beer was just better. The wine was good, borderline great. Both had full bodies, both went well with different aspects of the dish. This was the hardest decision of the night, but in the end I just like the beer paired with it more. What more justification is there??!? Alright, so beer should have this wrapped up already, leading 3 to 1 with one course left. Time for a dessert victory lap!

Crepes with mousse, berries, and gastrique made up the beautiful dessert (that got totally washed out in my photo :( ohhhh camera phone). Back to Belgium with this beer, the St. Bernardus Tripel. And over towards the German border of France with the wine, the Willm Gewurztraminer.

This was another pairing that I didn't feel was even close. I am somewhat familiar with the Gewurztraminer style of wine, and expected this to be sweet, but in a pleasant surprise it was drier, offsetting the sweetness of the dessert. Still, there was something in the combination of the food with the wine that kind of reminded me of some sort of liquor flavor. It was strange, and possibly all in my head. The tripel, however, was perfect for this. Tripels love berries. A great balance, and a nice end to the meal. Once again, beer takes the round, and after questioning myself in the first course, beer pulls ahead for a decisive victory.

My confidential ballot
After the ballots were collected and tallied, I thought it was all a formality. 

First course - Grain 24, Grape 30. OK, that makes sense. It was close, but if wine was bound to win one round, it'd be this one. I mean, I even voted for them this time.
Second course - Grain 38, Grape 21. There we go. Great dish, great beer, great choice.
Third course - Grain 33, Grape 26. A little closer than the last, but it's expected. A gueuze can be a shock to someone not ready for it, and that could have swayed some voters.
Fourth course - Grain 16, Grape 42. WHAT?! Yeah, I thought it was the toughest decision, but dang that one is lopsided. Maybe the "not from Belgium" thing made people vote against the beer. Yeah, that's what I'm going with. That's cool, because beer has this last course all wrapped...
Dessert - Grain 22, Grape 34 OH MAN WHAT I thought this one was going to be won by beer by a wide margin. Goes to show you I don't really know much. 

So, for the first time at Beer Kitchen, Grape takes the win, 3-2. Grain is going to have to regroup and get back on track for the next meeting. 

This was such a fun event! Jarrod was a humble winner, and Randyl a gracious loser. These two were great hosts, playful and educating, and Michael Peterson outdid himself with amazing food. If you were unable to make it to the dinner but are interested in trying the wines, well they're all available at Cellar Rat, and all less than $20! So pick up a bottle or two and have your tasting. And congratulate Jarrod on this monumental upset while you're there.

All of this talk and I'm already looking forward to the next dinner, which is...

The I-70 Showdown! This year it's going to be even better, as Free State will join in with Boulevard and Schlafly! We'll have more details soon, but keep April 15 free. After you file your taxes, you're going to need a beer dinner. 

March 15, 2013

A great weekend to spend in Westport!

If you're in Kansas City from out of town, come on out to McCoy's or The Foundry and enjoy the beautiful weather on our patios! Or sit inside watch some of the great college hoops action while drinking one of our house-brewed beers. Either way, you'll win!

And come Sunday morning, celebrate St. Patrick's Day with us! Grab brunch and beers at Beer Kitchen or McCoy's. McCoy's will open at 7, so get there early and get your table!

There'll be a write-up of the Grain versus Grape beer dinner shortly.... so check back for that!

March 05, 2013

Big Ass Stout Night is here!

Big Ass Stout Night is upon us! Head to the Foundry tonight for some great stouts on tap, including: 

Bell's Java Stout
Bell's Expedition
Deschutes Abyss 2012
Deschutes Black Butte Porter XXIV
Founders Imperial Stout
Founders Breakfast Stout
Goose Island Night Stalker
Goose Island Bourbon County Stout
Goose Island Big John
Southern Tier Choklat

6 oz. and full pours are available. NOW!!