Wednesday, April 23, 2008

SacBrew's Spring Brewmaster's Dinner

I just returned from my second beer dinner at Sacramento Brewing Company and the night was lovely. Granted, I believe the first dinner was more solid throughout the experience, but this night rocked.

The highlight of the meal, for me, was our first course, fish that was caught in Hawaii the day before and flown into the region for our enjoyment. Let me tell you, it was enjoyed! The people behind me, beside me, all doing a good job of cleaning their plate in what was really a very healthy portion for a first course. It was paired with SacBrew's IPA, it flat out worked too! Man, the soft caramelized malts with bright citrusy hops played well with the light spices and fat of the fish, and cut right through the amazing gravy it was on.

Up next was a bean soup that was quite light, for a bean soup, and full of flavor. I made pretty quick order of this dish, it actually surprised me that it was gone. To go with this dish we had a Brown Ale that isn't very common at SacBrew. The nutty flavors of the beer working brilliantly with the acidic tomatoes and earthy beans.

The dinner salad was perfect, served just in time. I've eaten a whole hell of a lot of food this week (this was my third brewer's dinner in as many cities) and salads seem like a lost art sometimes. This, however, was great, with lightly dressed arugula, fresh mozzarella and paired with their Hefeweizen - the whole course lightened and refreshed the palate.

The main dish, to be frank, was my least favorite of the night, but I still managed to eat quite a bit of it - it clearly wasn't bad. In fact, it was quite good, but duck and me have a fickle relationship you see. I didn't give it a fair shot, the fattiness of the bird, the rich flavors... there are many days I would have been all over this dish. Indeed, most of those around me were. The duck was paired with Red Horse Ale, the beer that just days ago brought SacBrew home a bronze medal at the World Beer Cup - in a category with a lot of entries nonetheless. If you've not had Red Horse, well, you should. It's a beer that will confuse you, thinking one minute it's a big malty beer, but then wondering just how hopped up this baby is - it's got it all! The aroma of Red Horse is something I can appreciate any day of the week. Come to think of it, I think I have enjoyed that flavor on every day of the week, albeit not the same week.

Dessert was a pear pastry, the pears infused with Peter's Brussel's Blonde Ale. My goodness, what a way to end the meal, I was certain I couldn't eat more and still found a way to finish the plate! I really need to exercise more. This was served with a beer that I certainly enjoyed, SacBrew's unfiltered Maibock. Sometimes I wonder why we filter beer at all. The texture of the beer, the subtle flavors throughout, present only because they haven't been stripped. I know SacBrew lightly filters their beer and that most of these flavors will still be in the finished product (IF he filters it), but it just won't be the same. Doesn't need to be I suppose.

It was a lovely evening, Peter doing his usual best to make us feel at home, addressing us without boring us, and sticking around to shake hands and say hello. It was also great to see the Homebrew Chef, Sean Paxton, again - this guy is one of the class acts of the world. In addition, it was fun to hang out with Peter Salmond, the head brewer as SacBrew's Oasis as well as the new(ish) owner of SacBrew, George.

If you're interested in attending the next meal, I suggest you go in and ask to be put on a list. There's no date set, but I suspect a summertime dinner will be on the calendar.

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