Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Crane Alley Bell's Beer Dinner

On Monday, March 15, Crane Alley held a Bell's Brewery beer dinner.

Tickets were $65 each. It included almost all the beer you could drink, not that there was very much room for much beer.

Prior to the first course, Bell's Oarsman Ale was served. It's sort of a Berliner Weisse style beer. It's not high in alcohol, but it does have lots of flavor. Berliner Weisse normally is a very tart beer, but this one wasn't too bad on the tartness. The beer was served as a palate cleanser. Additionally, that glass was refilled as much as needed during the evening. Oarsman is currently on tap at Crane Alley.

The first course was a Monkfish Ceviche. It was served on a Belgian Endive. It was citrus cured, with scallion, red onion, oregano and cilantro. On top was some avocado and tomato. It was a pretty good ceviche. This was paired with Bell's Sparkling Ale. The beer was described as a Belgian Triple. It was a pretty good pairing with the ceviche.

The second course was a braised bison short rib. It was served with a mirepoix, oyster mushrooms brussel sprouts and Mangalitsa bacon with a walnut cream sauce. Several of the people at my table considered it to be the best course of the night. The meat was very tender and slide right off the bone. This was paired with Bell's Amber. Bell's Amber will always hold a soft spot in my heart, as it was my gateway beer.

The third course was roasted duck leg with pan seared foie gras. It was served in a prickly pear sauce, and was paired with Bells Two Hearted Ale. Someone at another table took offense to the beer being named an "ale" because it's listed as an "IPA". Well, what does the A in "IPA" stand for?

The main course was Snake River Farms Kurobuta pork tenderloin. This was served wrapped in the mangalitsa bacon. It was served with beet gnocchi, in a maple syrup reduction made with Bell's Consecrator Dopplebock, it was served on frisee. It was paired with Bell's Consecrator Dopplebock. This was my favorite meat of the night. The sauce was excellent, and the pork was delicious. Wrapped in the fancy bacon, it was outstanding.

The final course was a sweet potato doughnut. It was served with vanilla bean ice cream and topped with pralines and spun sugar, that looked like wheat. It was served with Bell's Java Stout. Several people would have claimed this was their favorite, if that honor didn't go to the short rib.

Upon completion of the dinner, Bell's Batch 9000 was tapped and served. This is a special beer commemorating the 9000th batch of beer made at the brewery. It's a really good beer. Crane Alley was serving it for $5 in a snifter (about 6-8 ounces). It's definitely been aged in barrels. It's listed as an imperial stout, but it seemed like an American strong ale, similar to Lost Abbey the Angel's Share. It was very rich and flavorful. It was almost hard to finish the snifter, even though there was only about 8 ounces.

It was a good dinner. I didn't leave hungry. I don't think anyone else did either. The meal wasn't rushed, giving you time to appreciate each dish. The beer was plentiful, even though only served in the sampler glasses, they kept the glasses full. They didn't take away any glasses that still had beer in them, allowing you to have an entire collection in front of you at the end of the night, if you really took your time. There wasn't too much time in between courses, which was nice. Sometimes there is a lag as the kitchen is trying to get caught up, but this time, there was just enough to take a quick break and then head back up.

I'm not sure what the next dinner will be, but if you hear about it (look at the "Beer Weekend" posts) you should consider going. At $65 it is a bit expensive, but there are quality ingredients going in to the food. At one of the dinners, I overheard one of the kitchen staff thanking Aaron (the Crane Alley GM) for letting him help on the dinner. He was happy that he got to work with some really good "product". So if people who work with the food are impressed with it, you probably might be too.

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