I've gone to two beer dinners this week - one was $30 and one was $100. (disclaimer: I did not pay for either.) As is obvious from the price point differential, the two dinners were on two sides of the cuisine and experience spectrum. Ale (the beer bar on Oak Street) hosted a Goose Island beer dinner on Tuesday. Since Goose Island is owned by AB-Inbev, that's a very good reason for the price of the dinner to be so inexpensive.
Chef Via Fortier (who manages the kitchens at both Oak and Ale) put together a very nice four course meal, a smoked and fried rib, shrimp and grit cake, and my favorite (and perhaps soon to be on the Ale regular menu) a cold lamb leg sandwich on a warm brioche roll with rosemary aioli, mint chimichurri, and pickled onion. Wrapped up with a teeny tiny peach pie. Tasty, not overly filling.
The first two beers - the 312 Wheat and Goose Island IPA - were pretty meh, the IPA actively not very good (metallic aroma, chemical taste) but the Matilda and Sofie, which accompanied the lamb sandwich and peach pie, respectively, were quite tasty and well matched to their dishes.
I'd have been OK paying $30 on the strength of all four food courses and the last two pairings. I think Ale did a good job and look forward to their next event. But maybe a slightly larger pie next time?
Restaurant August's beer pairing dinner with The Bruery was $100, tax and tip included, and I'll say that's pretty much par for the course for a five course meal from August. Add in the great beer pairings and if you had the C-note to spare, it's well worth it. I think my favorite pairing was the pastrami-spiced hanger steak with leek and ricotta dumplings, which I honestly could have eaten a whole big bowl of. It was paired with Bruery Terreux's Saison Rue, which is one of their flagships, and is a great, great, fantastic food beer. And it was beautiful with the steak. (Bruery Terreux is the new wild/sour arm of The Bruery.)
I was happy to have started the evening with a glass of Rueuze - that's a great beer. And the chocolate dessert was beautifully complemented by Tart of Darkness, a sour stout aged in the barrels that aged another of the Bruery's beers, Black Tuesday.
It was a great dinner, and looked like it was a good turnout. I hope August dips its toes back into the beer dinner game again... this was the restaurant's first and they killed it.
On a different note, I went to a media thing at the new World of Beer-Warehouse District a couple weeks ago which included a complementary beer and food pairing tasting. Only me and another person (an advertising guy from Offbeat) showed up and I think that's a real shame. I don't know who else was invited, but it was a great introduction to the concept of beer and food pairings, and I hope that other media professionals in the city take them up on the offer at a later time.
Beer dinners are getting more and more popular and I challenge any and all food writers in the city to get in on the action. It's not just for beer nerds, people.