Brown’s Brewing Company Fall Harvest Beer Supper [REVIEW]
If you've never been to one of Brown's Brewing Company beer suppers then you have to make sure the next one becomes an addition to your calendar. One of the greatest things about beer is pairing it with the right foods and having a perfect supernova of flavors. Brown's does frequent beer suppers and always impresses - including last night which featured a good deal of locally grown food. Check out some pictures and a review after the jump. The evening started off with a very relaxed reception in the newly remodeled Revolution Hall before everyone was seated. It was the first time I've been to Rev Hall since Brown's converted it from a concert hall to a banquet space - and they did quite the wonderful job. The bar is now in the entry hall allowing for more space in the performance space. The evening started off with Brown's General Manager Paul Minbiole sharing some thanks for all of the support during the flooding of the brewery after Hurricane Irene. Brown's had five to seven feet of water in their basement where all of their brewing takes place. Irene also caused their Ale Watch cruise on the Hudson to be canceled - but like the dedicated people they are, everyone came together to get the brewery reopened in less than a week. Paul also introduced Luca Brunelle as the new Executive Chef of Brown's and recognized several people who were employees of the month.
The first course of the evening was 'Farmer Joe's/Brown's Malted Barley Fed Beef Stuff Zucchini with grilled corn and red bell pepper salsa topped with fried onion crisps' - and it was phenomenal. The zucchini was very large and from Moses Farm in Eagle Bridge. The appetizer was paired with Brown's Porter - a beer I generally associate with dessert but in this case it really brought out the flavor of the beef and was a very nice contrast to the zucchini flavors too. Overall this dish paired with the beer was a very well rounded flavor experience. Porter has some caramel and chocolate flavors to it and is a very versatile ale.
The second course was the salad - and quite possibly my very favorite dish of the night (they were all good) because of a most unique combination of ingredients. The salad was arugula, smoked provolone, diced sweet potato, and spicy sauteed cucumbers tossed in a creamy french dressing - and paired with Harvest IPA. The flavors and texture of this salad were a perfect balance and I definitely wanted another serving of this. Making this dish even more amazing was the pairing with the Harvest IPA - a yearly special version of Brown's IPA that features locally grown hops (some from their own Hoosick Falls farm) and is brewed using a wet hop processes which produces a very specific hop flavor. The IPA does two things here; for one it extinguishes the spicy sensation while secondly enhancing and amplifying the flavors of the vegetables in the salad. It also took the smoky flavor of the cheese really brought it to forefront of the flavor profile. Best combination of the night!
The cheese course was locally grown heirloom tomatoes with chiffonade basil (from Brown's farm), fresh mozzarella cheese and drizzled extra virgin olive oil, cracked pepper, and sea salt. Paired with this we had the Tomhannock Pilsner, Brown's lager offering for the evening. What's interesting about this pairing is that the pilsner (named for the water supply used to make Brown's beer) has some lemon flavors to it, especially at the finish. That specific flavor really brought out the flavor the fresh tomatoes and the olive oil and washing down a taste of the food with this beer gives it a nice zest of taste at the end. If you are looking for a beer that really encompasses what a pilsner is, this is a great text book example. A side note about this beer - a portion of each pint sold is donated to the Rensselear Land Trust - an organization dedicated to the protection of the Tomhannock watershed which feeds the Tomhannock Reservoir, the source for Troy, NY's drinking water and also Brown's water source for brewing beer.
On to the main course we ventured - Grilled Honey Chipotle Center Cut Pork Loin Skewers with Oven Roasted Tomato & Fresh Basil Polenta. Served with Braised Sweet Onions & Grilled Herbed Flat Bread. Paired with Oatmeal Stout. WOW oh WOW! The honey in the main course was an amazing compliment of flavor with the Oatmeal Stout which is a very sweet beer with flavors that include chocolate. Every single flavor in this main course had a unique flavor with the beer - from the honey flavor being revisited after a sip of the beer to the deep flavors of the polenta being given a second dance. The Oatmeal Stout also really brought out the grilled flavors of the pork loin too - overall this was the 'loudest' flavor pairing of the night. Quite delightful and it also illustrates the versatility of Oatmeal Stout with food pairing - it can do so many things with other flavors and also could be used for complimenting a nice piece of chocolate cake.
However Brown's had much better plans for dessert - and a quick surprise before we get to that portion of the fall beer supper came in the form of their annual Oktoberfest offering. Brewer Peter Martin says this is his favorite beer of the year (or at least that's what I think he said - I was seven beers in at this point) and with good reason too - it's a very fine beer. A lighter, sweeter flavor is what you'll find in this very authentic Oktoberfest beer - it's a lager with a nutty flavor that even a novice beer drinker can enjoy. This one is also a good session beer as it's only about 5% on the alcohol scale. I like this yearly offering but I am a much bigger fan of their Pumpkin Ale - and I am counting down the seconds until it goes on tap October 1st!
Early Apple Strudel with Coriander Cinnamon Whipped Cream, paired with Cherry Raspberry Ale was our dessert offering. I always refer to Brown's Cherry Raspberry Ale as the 'gateway beer' to the craftbeer world because it is sweet, gentle, and oh so wonderfully fruity. The apples were early season and green - very similar in taste to granny smith, but a perfect balance to the sweet flavors of the beer. The whipped cream was out of this world - coriander cinnamon - which made the fruit flavors of the beer and the apples jump out and have a warmth to them. A perfect feeling of fall to wrap up a wonderful fall harvest beer supper.
Somehow we ended up with an extra beer by the end of the night but I can assure you that none of this beer went to waste at all! If you've never been to Brown's, you should consider it for not only excellent beer but very well prepared meals. Plus not only are you supporting a local business and drinking local beer, but you're also supporting the farmers locally that Brown's gets food and hops from - and you're supporting Troy too, which has really come into it's own I'm unabashedly a HUGE fan of Brown's and spread the gospel when I can - and that's with good reason that hopefully you've seen here - superior beer and wonderful food. A very special thanks to the staff at Brown's for putting on an incredibly enjoyable evening. I'm already looking forward to the next beer supper!