Friday, April 17, 2009

Mmmmm... Beer

I was out last night with some friends. Some of whom I haven't seen in a long time. One guy who now lives in Israel (and who is getting married this summer - road trip!) was the reason for the gathering. He is sorely missed by all of us friends. It fell to me to pick a locale for gathering, so I chose...

The Beer Bistro.

But they were full and couldn't seat us until 9:30. So I switched to Volo! You know a place is serious about beer when they have an RSS feed of what's on tap/cask/new.

Let's see if I can recall my choices:

Dieu De Ciel!'s Péché Mortel - a delicious stout from Montreal

Dogfish Head 60 Minute IPA, which has become a standby for me at beer bars, the beer that gave me faith that the US could actually produce a brew that was enticing and not just beer.

Granite Hopping Mad IPA - not as good as the Dogfish head, but fine nonetheless, and brewed about a 10 minute drive north of where we were.

Great Divide's Oak Aged Yeti Imperial Stout - at the recommendation of our waiter.

What I love about places like these is that the staff knows they beers COLD. Pick anything on the extensive menu (literally hundreds of beers) and they'll give you a full breakdown, comparison to other beers, food pairings, and general opinions. This guy saw that me and a buddy were drinking and figured we'd be the types who could appreciate the Yeti. He was right. Damn near chocolate in stout form, it was a rich, full-bodied beer that was a great finish.

Then he dropped a plate of chocolate in front of us. By this time it was just me and one friend, as everyone else was lame and lived far away. A chocolatier across the road made these for them - a 5 chili dark chocolate. Our server suggested they went really well with the beer. So we tried the chocolate - nice and spicy, but a bit off. My friend thought it was the wrong kind of chili being used perhaps, but I wasn't sure. However, with the beer, it was a great combination.

We mentioned our misgivings about the chocolate to the server, and returned with 4 more pieces - this time with vanilla bean in them. Also good, but this time I was able to place the problem - the chocolate was too dark.

This was a very high cocoa content (I'd guess 70-80% at least), and it created a very "dry", powdery texture and a bitterness that lingered far too long. It's perhaps possible he burnt the chocolate a bit in the processing, or perhaps just the region he chose didn't mix well with my palate, but it stopped these handcrafted nuggets from being sublime and made them merely an interesting curiosity in beer and food pairing. 10% lower cocoa content and I think they'd be a winner. Still, free gourmet chocolate? I can't complain that much.

Getting to bed at 3am hasn't helped me with consciousness today though. Yay Sobe Arush!

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