Calibration Dinner at Big Beers, Belgians & Barleywines Festival 2018
The Calibration Dinner is the kick off event for Big Beers, Belgians & Barleywines to help "calibrate your senses" for the upcoming weekend of Bx4 Fest!
With beers from Avery Brewing Company and Dogfish Head, Julia Herz and Adam Dulye from the Brewers Association worked with Chefs Daniel Hoyle & Brandon McCann to create an amazing menu showcasing the beauty of beer and food pairings. The menu for the event was full of interesting choices and unique pairings that I will go through with you to give my experience of the event.
The softly lit restaurant is an open windowed space with a nice wood and classic look. Coming into the event and checking in, you were treated to two introduction beers. These beers were presented to get the palate started for the upcoming bursts of pairing flavors. The crowd was not only packed with beer fans but was full of other brewers and brewery owners as well as many others involved in the brewing industry.
The first dish was an Applewood Smoked Elk Tartar with a basil & rosemary oil crusty bread that was paired with Avery's Spontanea and Dogfish Head's Pennsylvania Tuxedo. The salty and citrus flavor from the tartar blended well with the sour flavor of the Spontanea and the Dogfish Head beer had a piney flavor to it also paired well. The crunch from the crustini and the added spice from the mustard brought the whole dish together.
Dish two was Maryland Blue Crab Cakes with toasted macadamia nuts and grilled asparagus paired with Dogfish Head's Puddin' Wine and Avery's Amicitia. A spicy aioli added a nice spice to the crabcake and the nuts along with the carrots added a nice texture to the dish. Amicitia was my favorite for the pairings as the tart, fruit flavors cut into the crab cakes for a great blend.
The third course featured a Grilled Octopus Salad that was made of arugula with castelvetrano olives, mandarin oranges, roasted red peppers, garbanzo beans and a blood orange vinaigrette. The dish was paired with Avery's Promiscuus and Dogfish Head's Palo Santo Marron. This was my least favorite dish as I am not the biggest fan of the bitterness from Arugula but the beers did cut some of that bitterness when I tried them together.
The final savory course was my favorite of the night as we were served a 12 Hour Port Braised Pork Belly with a smoked gouda barley risotto and a raspberry chipotle bbq paired with Dogfish's Head Oak-Aged Vanilla World Wide Stout and the Avery Tangerine Quad. The pork belly was the most perfectly cooked that I have ever experienced as its salty, peppery crust was blended with a slow cooked and amazingly rendered fatty richness. Along with the sauce, which had a raspberry bite without alot of sweetness, was a cheesy and grainy risotto. The food paired with itself extremely well, making this a pairing within a pairing! The Dogfish Head World Wide Stout was the winner for me as the vanilla and malt flavor in the beer brought out the flavors within the pork belly to the forefront.
We closed the night with a light send off, since most of the beers before have been of a high ABV % persuasion. Dessert was an Angel Food Cake with ginger candied pears and honey yogurt paired with Avery's Ginger Sour and Dogfish Head's Namaste, both lighter beers. The cake was fluffy and light and the pears with the yogurt added such character and flavor to the dish that I almost asked for seconds! The pairings for beers were both on point as well with the ginger hitting with the pears and other flavors while the Namaste brought a nice light flavor that blended amazingly well.
For 125$, this is an event that many have asked "Is this worth the money?". To that, I answer a resounding YES! If you are the type of beer drinker that loves food and beer pairings, who also loves the brewing industry and talking to some of the best within the business, then this event is right up your alley. The meal itself is top of the line and then you get some amazing and sometimes rare beers that can add to the value of the ticket. That, along with the fact that you are most likely up for the other events within Big Beers, Belgians & Barleywines means this is definitely one to consider.