Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Beer at The Farm

The Farm Artisan Foods in Redlands has been offering beer dinners about once a month for several years now. My husband Doug and I have attended one other in the fall of 2012 and were impressed by the wonderful flavors that were paired with the beer that came from Olive Ave. Market. This latest beer dinner on March 5, 2013 featured Avery Brewing Co. out of Boulder, Colorado.

Maureen Perez, the beer guru at Olive Ave. Market and now also at The Farm assisted in pairing the food and beer together. On this evening there were thirteen diners set to enjoy this meal of five courses each paired with a beer.

Our dinner began with penne with bacon and pork shoulder ragu. The penne did not have the usual homemade pasta taste that The Farm is known for, but it was tasty and perfectly cooked none the less. Now the sauce was a wonderful red sauce with nice chunks of the bacon and pork throughout. This was paired with Joe's Pilsner. This was an excellent pairing with the hops complimenting the sauce wonderfully.

Our next pairing was mushroom and barley soup paired with Salvation, a Belgian style strong pale ale. The soup had a luxurious broth filled with mushrooms, carrots, kale and barley. Being our second course we were served a full portion and not a tasting portion as we thought we would have. After having a full appetizer portion of the first course, we figured we needed to pace ourselves as we were already headed to being full.

Salvation comes in at around 10% alcohol and we were served a smaller pour that the pilsner as we would be bombed if we had full pours by the end of the night. Salvation has a slight sweetness that when paired with the mushroom and barley soup, as it cuts through the creaminess that comes from the texture of the barley. Another excellent pairing.

Course number three brought us lamb chops with mashed turnips over sautéed spinach. The portion of lamb was generous being that of two double chop pieces arranged artfully on the turnips. Once again, Chef Roberto outdid himself in the preparation of this dish. Because of the size of the portion I did concentrate on the lamb and enjoyed a little of the turnip and spinach garnish.

The lamb was expertly prepared with a wonderful crust and paired with The Reverend, a Belgian-Style Quadrupel Ale. The Reverend is seriously good. It has a sweet caramel taste that paired so nicely with the crust and flavor of the lamb. The Reverend is a grown-up version of Salvation that we previously tasted.

Our fourth course and final savory dish was a smoked beef cheek pot pie. This pot pie was encrusted in a homemade pastry that was light and tasty. The beef cheek entombed inside was tender and melts in your mouth good. Doug commented that the beef cheek reminded him of the one I make at home and I took that as a complement. 

We were really slowing down at this point. The food was so good, but having the full portions and the beer made it hard for us to find room. As with the prior dish I mainly concentrated on the meat and left a majority of the pastry. The beer pairing for this dish was Hog Heaven Barley Wine. This is an Imperial Red style ale. It is dry hopped and pairs well with food.

Fifth and final course, we were really hurting at this point and wish we could order another stomach to hold everything. For this last dish we had a warm strawberry cobbler paired with Ellie's Ale. Ellie's Ale is a brown ale that has the look of root beer when poured into a glass. It was one of my favorite beers of the night. The strawberry cobbler was the best strawberry dessert I have ever had. The problem with it was we had no room for it or the beer. We did however take the cobbler home for later.

Overall our experience was a great one. The Farm gave us great portions and was an excellent value for the price of $49 per person. In looking back we would have liked smaller portions as it would have left room for us to enjoy all of our food. We are not complaining too much as we left full and happy and with a handful of goodies that were given out throughout the dinner to take home. Upon the end of the dinner we each received a bottle of The Beast that comes in at 16%. The tasting of that is yet to come.

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