Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Beer Shall Keep Them Warm

After a top-notch Beer Salon last Saturday night we're all set to roll into (out of?) the holiday season and into January. I'm putting together Salon dates for the cold months ahead, all certain to warm us up just when we need it the most. Meanwhile--that Beer Salon. What a great night, with really good food and beer brought out by the Saloneers. Stateside Saison from Stillwater, Supplication from Russian River, Avec Les Bons Voeux from Brasserie Dupont, and of course the delicious if big Bourbon County Brand Stout from Goose Island, made in 2008. Lots to try, and an enormous thanks to everyone for sharing in the true spirit of the Salon. But perhaps the beer that will stay with me was one that a Saloneer made himself using Citra hops, something he calls the Blasted Heath IPA, which--if I had to compare it to something--reminded me of the wonderfully un-syrupy, un-sweet Zombie Dust from Three Floyds I stumbled upon early in the year. Anyway, Blasted Heath was a real treat, and the thought of this happening in someone's home thrilled me to no end.

The food we made stood up to so many beers, and after a day of drinking beer and judging chili at Graze Magazine's Chili Home Companion fundraiser down at The Empty Bottle, you'd think I would be knackered and ready to call it a night. On the contrary, the energy of the Salon and those attending simply brought me back to life and so we steamed some mussels in a strong ham broth with leeks, celery and wheat beer; we dove into a crock full of pork rillettes with homemade epi bread; we rolled out some buttery flatbreads I stole from the fine Mission Street Food Cookbook that eat like a tortilla crossed with a croissant, and topped these with briased pork shoulder and crispy pork belly, with sauce options of Oarsman-braised cherries and apricots or nam prik pao pickled chiles. A huge bibb leaf salad--upon which we rained just-fried pork rinds from the belly skin--served to cut through all the decadence. And, as we finished our beers, the caramel ice cream bombe made it's way to the table, capping a very indulgent day.

I sat back after everyone had made their way back out into the cold, fortified by all that food and beer, and drank the remainder of the Bourbon Stout left by the home brewer. To me, that was a holiday celebration--not centered around a holiday--for the ages.