Pairing beer with pork or beef, or even seafood, is a time-honored tradition that goes back hundreds of years in Europe: English ale with fish and chips, German lagers with schweinshaxe, Belgian beers with cassoulet. Beer and meat has served as the primary template for American craft beer and food as well. Think beer with burgers, hot wings and pizza, for example.
Historically, beer has been what you drink casually in pubs and pizzerias, while wine is the beverage of choice in good restaurants.
It doesn't have to be that way. If American craft beer is to achieve the status it deserves in fine dining, American chefs must create menus that combine beer and food to maximum effect, coaxing out subtleties in the flavors of each that would have remained hidden without the pairing.
Beer gives American chefs a whole new flavor palate with which to create exciting combinations, and people like Rich Higgins, cicerone and head brewer at Social Kitchen, are matching beer and food the way sommeliers have done in many of the finest restaurants. Under head chef Adam Dulye, Monk's Kettle also has been working wonders with beer and food. It makes sense, since beer has many more flavor and aromatic components than wine and can frequently pair much better with many dishes.
On Tuesday night, Millennium Restaurant in San Francisco will investigate how well beer can perform outside its protein comfort zone. The upscale restaurant, which specializes in sustainable, organic food production, is presenting a five-course vegan dinner paired with brews from Berkeley organic brewery Bison Brewing and Upright Brewing in Portland, Ore. Millennium Chef Eric Tucker and Sous Chef Jason Dunbar created the menu while tasting the beers, which they often incorporate as an ingredient in the preparation.
The pairings for the five-course dinner will be as follows:
Shredded Asparagus-Spring Onion Fritter
grapefruit-IPA dipping sauce
Upright Brewing's "FOUR"
Braised Abalone Mushroom Grilled Flatbread
tomato sauce, garlic aioli, fried nori
Bison Imperial Brown
Mushroom & Barley Risotto
scarlet runner bean-grilled radicchio en papillote,
morel mushroom & dried cherry reduction,
crisp smoked leeks
Bison Belgian Dubbel Brewed With Raisins
Seared Masa & Pecan Cake
huitlacoche & smoky black beans, sauteed plantains,
sweet potato-ancho chile puree, candied pumpkin seeds
Bison Chocolate Stout
red miso-chocolate stout glaze, hand cut noodles,
County Line Harvest brassicas,
black bean sauce
Bison Belgian Style Scotch Ale
Dark Rum Soaked Hazelnut Layer Cake
The chefs will also be on hand to discuss the pairings. A few seats remain for the $75 dinner, so if you're curious about whether craft beer belongs in the fine dining conversation, this might be your chance. Even if you're a wine drinker. Call Alison at 415-345-3900 ext. 13 for your seat at the table.
San Francisco, CA 94102