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Beer Week 2008: A Bitter Bite with Joe Sixpack

In February, when I was planning my Beer Week schedule, I had decided to avoid “all the dinners featuring multiple courses and beer pairings,” because I just don’t have the capacity to eat and drink that much. The description of “A Bitter Bite with Joe Sixpack” (Jose Pistolas, March 13) sounded innocent enough: “a fun taste of hoppy beers, paired with an imaginative menu.” That didn’t say “dinner” to me, or maybe I just fixated on all those hoppy beers! Mmmm.

When I got there at 6:40, the downstairs dining room was empty except for one person, but by 7:15 every seat was filled (about 25 people). I sat at a table for four and was joined by Tom, Steve (visiting from Denver), and David, who said he has a blog (although the URL I wrote down didn’t work). One beer-related tidbit I picked up during our wide-ranging conversation was that English “bitters” is really something wonderful to try if you go to England. I was told that there’s nothing like it here in the US. Someday... I also heard that the “Most Expensive Beers” dinner, held the night before at Monk’s, was an amazing party that even included a marriage! Hard to believe, but why would they lie?

I persuaded Casey Parker (our host, representing Jose Pistolas) to sign page sixty-six of my copy of Don Russell’s book (where he lists his favorite beers). Actually, it didn’t take much persuading. :-)

The beer lineup and pairings:

WELCOME BEER
Weyerbacher Double Simcoe Great IPA with a slight metallic aftertaste, probably my favorite IPA of the evening.
FIRST COURSE
Heavy Sea’s Small Craft Warning Uber Pils Delicious and not too hoppy. You don’t need to be a hophead to appreciate this one.
paired with: Serrano Ham and Asparagus Risotto; shaved queso cojito and mint
SECOND COURSE
Dogfish Head Aprihop Different, with a nice hoppy note added to the fruitiness.
paired with: Pan-Seared Diver Scallops; applewood bacon and Jever Pilsner braised
CHEESE COURSE
Sly Fox Cask Rt. 113 A treat to have this on cask. Wonderful, bitter flavor, one of my favorite IPAs, but tonight, at least, I preferred Weyerbacher’s by a nose.
paired with: Iowa Maytag bleu cheese; tomato confiture, spiced balsamic syrup
ENTREE
Stoudt’s Smooth Hoperator Excellent. DeRanke XX Bitter was an alternate choice, but I didn’t taste it.
paired with: Barleywine Marinated Pork Tenderloin; sweet corn souffle, creamed spinach, Vermont maple demi
DESSERT
Urthel Hop-It A Belgian IPA, combining the best of both worlds, but by this point, my head was spinning, so I barely sipped this one.
paired with: Isgros South Philly Rum Cake

I think I was the first person to leave and left the table in the middle of a heated discussion about global warming. I was feeling kind of warm myself—what you earthlings call drunk. I had reached my limit just before the dessert course, but all those delicious beers were just too good to pass up. Fortunately, the walk to the train helped sober me up.

Of the four events I attended during Beer Week, this was my favorite. It wasn’t just one thing that stood out. Rather, everything was just right—my favorite kinds of beer and the best food of any of the events, all in a relaxing and friendly setting. Thanks to Don Russell for making it happen.

Oh, by the way, if you’re planning to go to Beer Week in 2009, don’t wait until February like I did to make up your mind.

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