Want to do something special for the vegetarian in your life? Does the vegetarian in your life love beer? Make him (or her) this meal!
We have all seen the beer dinners advertised at local bars and restaurants before. They promise a tasting menu of delicious dishes perfectly paired with a variety of beers. Unfortunately for vegetarians, most beer dinner menus include at least one meat course for which there are no meatless substitutions. For this reason, Kyle and I have never forked over the cash to attend a beer dinner. That changed on the 4th of July, 2011.
That’s right, I celebrated Independence Day by taking matters into my own hands. I planned and executed a three course vegetarian dinner complete with beer pairings. I used as many fresh, local and seasonal ingredients as possible. Sounds fancy, but it was relatively easy to pull off, and I could see you scaling this menu to serve 2, 4, or even 20. Although I hope you’re working with a larger kitchen and dining area than I am if you plan to serve 20.
Tomato Cucumber Gazpacho
Organic Ur Pils from Brauerei Pinkus Mueller, Germany
This unfiltered German pilsner is a pale straw-like yellow, which appears clear at first but the haziness comes out when you hold it up to the light. When you taste it, then it is definitely apparent that the beer is unfiltered, yet pleasantly effervescent. The taste is still crisp and light, with tart citrus notes and a slight breadiness from the yeast. This pairing was great, but it would have been outstanding if I had made some crostini for the soup. I suggest that you serve this with toast points or topped with croutons.
Soup recipe from Epicurious Tomato Cucumber Gazpacho (omit anchovy paste, substitute yellow onions for red)
Beer from Ellwood Thompson’s Natural Market. See other reviews for Organic Ur Pils here.
Roasted poblano and spicy black bean tacos with chipotle sauce and cilantro lime sour cream
Wilco Tango Foxtrot from Lagunitas Brewing Company, CA, US
This pours a rich dark brown, and smells super malty and sweet, with a little pineyness in the background. Other reviewers have said the opposite, but I say caramel all the way. You can taste the caramel malts on the first sip and I thought it had a bit of a smoky character too. The slightly burnt sugar taste eventually gives way to a little hoppiness, although nothing overwhelming. Lagunitas calls this an American Strong Ale, and also a “Malty, Robust, Jobless Recovery Ale.” I thought this felt like a brown ale on steroids, which is why I was delighted to see a footnote on beer advocate describing this as an “Imperial Brown Ale.” The dark, smoky sweetness played well with the smoky spice and the fire-roasted poblanos in the tacos. I wonder if I picked up more smoke in the beer because of the food pairing, which wasn’t at all a bad thing. My only concern for you is whether you can still find this beer. It is a limited edition and I’ve been hanging on to mine for a few months. If you can get your hands on the Lagunitas WTF, pair it with these tacos and you won’t be disappointed.
Taco recipe original, coming soon!
Beer from Wine World in Bel Air, MD. See other reviews for Wilco Tango Foxtrot here.
Bourbon Peach Cobbler
Bourbon Barrel Stout from Bluegrass Brewing Company, KY, US
So this beer tastes a little bit like bourbon, due to the fact that it is aged in bourbon barrels. It is dark in color, sweet, and smells and tastes like bourbon and vanilla. I personally really enjoy this beer, but enough about that. Because while the pairing was amazingly wonderful, the real highlight was this bourbon peach cobbler! I have been dreaming about this dessert. Made with juicy peaches fresh from the market, t is syrupy sweet with just a hint of bourbon, and the soft, buttery crumb of the dough topping is divine. It is especially good with the slight biscuitiness of the beer. I can’t believe I ever considered pairing this with Dogfish Head’s Festina Peche; the pairing of bourbon peach cobbler with bourbon barrel stout is almost perfect.
It’s like Georgia and Kentucky had a love child and it was conceived in my mouth.
. . . too much?
Dessert Recipe from Food Network’s Tyler Florence’s Bourbon Peach Cobbler
Beer from the Krog’s. Read more reviews of BBC Bourbon Barrel Stout here.
The sky is the limit, my friends. A 5-course beer dinner? A 7-course wine dinner? A beer and cheese party for 12 of my closest friends? Who knows. Perhaps a throwdown. I challenge any Richmond chef to make a better seasonal vegetarian beer dinner (and please send me a free ticket or two when you do!). The thing is, I haven’t found anything quite like this yet in Richmond and I would love to see more of it. Until then, I’ll be whipping up my own versions to satisfy the cravings. And the beauty of that solution is that if I can do it, you can too!