March 17, 2009

Beer dinner III: All ESB Dinner? Bob's Your Uncle.

The exploits of my foray into the world of homebrewing were chronicled earlier. Last night was time to enjoy the fruits, or rather, beers, of my labor. Because my Crossroads ESB is quite a British-style ale, Half Pint & I decided it was time for another of our Beer Dinners and we'd basically only feature one style of beer! For our all-ESB dinner ("You can't do an entire pairing dinner only pouring one type of beer!" you say? I'll pick up that gauntlet) we went overboard with the Limey theme. Here's the menu for the 3-course, 7-ESB dinner:

Fuller's Extra Special Bitter (5.9% ABV, England) & AleSmith Anvil ESB (5.5%, San Diego, CA)
With finger or tea sand-wiches. I literally bought a loaf of white bread, cut the crusts off, and made the weirdest sandwiches that seemed English (shredded carrot and mayo, water chestnuts [since I couldn't find watercress] and butter w/ some garlic paste, English(!) cucumber and a sweet'n'sour carrot spread). I had to pour the Fuller's first--the benchmark of this style--to showcase what the brew is all about--a deceptively named middle-of-the-road mild, easy-drinking beer. I bought the Anvil at an AleSmith event during SF Beer Week and the owner, Peter Zien, signed my bottle. I hope it's not heresy to say I like the Yank version much better.

Sierra Nevada Early Spring Beer (5.9%, Chico, CA) and Elysian "The Wise" ESB (5.9%, Seattle, WA)
Cheese and biscuits. OK, crackers. But all the cheeses were imported from England including stilton and a 12-month cave-aged cheddar. Both the beers and cheeses were tip-top.

Anderson Valley Boont Extra Special Beer (6.5%, Boonville, CA) and Grand Teton Bitch Creek XX ESB (7.5%, Victor, ID)
Bangers & mash, shep-herd's pie, "salad," and crumpets. We whipped up a huge pot of mashed potatoes, which Half Pint made using a pale ale (yes, it's British) and it came out great. I grilled up some banger sausages with a bit of grilled onions and a brown gravy (from a packet, for extra authenticity). Our friends Chris and Carson brought the shepherd's pie. The salad consisted of just tomato and cucumber (English cucumber at that!) with olive oil and sea salt. And the crumpets, in lieu of a more traditional bread, were bought at the British import shop, "You Say Tomato."

While the AVBC beer was the strongest ESB I found, and it's a winner, mate, the Grand Teton bottle was the crowd favorite for the night. Bitch Creek is one of my favorite ESBs of all time, but it stopped showing up here, even at BevMo. But a few months ago, one trip there yielded an incredible find. To celebrate Grand Teton's 20th anniversary, they made a series of XX beers including this "Double ESB." It's the same ingredients of the regular ESB, but doubled. To me, doubling a mild beer and calling it a Double ESB is like doubling pink and calling it Double Pink, when it's clearly red. Once I opened the wax-dipped 750-ml bottle, the beer poured a dark brown compared to an ESB's clear coppery color. By kicking up the malt bill, it tasted like a strong, nutty ale with blasts of toffee and rich caramel. It could be paired with any bold, meaty dish. Too bad I'll never see this beer again.

Our friends Joe and Alexia (just engaged!) brought shortbread cookies and some other British sweets that were basically Mallomars (my fave) with a spot of raspberry jam. And, unable to resist, I prepared a tin of spotted dick. Yeah, that's a real thing and it's actually quite nice--a sort of warm and buttery spice cake with currants and raisins, served with homemade whipped cream. And to drink? Why, my homebrewed ESB of course. No clue what the ABV is. I was just plum-relieved, dare I say delighted, that it came out well. Don't just take my word for it; everyone agreed. (Though the color was a bit paler than I'd hoped.) Chris brought over his first homebrew as well, a great Amber Ale. We each bought our kits at the same time and discovered at the same time we have a knack for...following directions.And there we have it. Bob's our uncle.

No comments: