Hostess Melanie’s delicious pairing event (her last at Crown Wine & Spirits, by the way) may have taken place three days after Valentine’s Day, but there was plenty of sweet love (of beer and food) in the air as more than 25 beer aficionados sat down to enjoy some remarkable craft brews and homemade food at Crown Wine & Spirits, in Fort Lauderdale.
In keeping with the sweet theme of the event, Melanie chose several honey-based beers to pair with her food items. Don’t let the honey beer connotation turn you off; honey can impart a totally unexpected flavor profile that can surprise and delight, if you let it. Melanie provided us with a flier with tasting notes and recipes for the evening and we began the tasting!
Our first beer/food pairing was the Redstone Meadery Sunshine Nectar (8% ABV) which was something we hadn’t tried before. This particular quaff is a melomel, a mead that contains any type of fruit. It was extremely light in in color and was slightly tart, courtesy of the apricots it was infused with. Thankfully it did not have the extreme sweet we had experienced with other Meads. Melanie paired the Redstone with a goat cheese, apricot jam and a toast point. The contrasting taste of the cheese and beer melded quite well on our palates.
Next came the Dogfish Head Midas Touch (9% ABV), always a favorite of ours, an unusual brew created from an ancient Turkish recipe allegedly found in the tomb of King Midas. Its unusual blend provides lots of layers and complexity. It provided a nice balance to the Thai avocado and shrimp salad with its fresh lime juice and sweet chili sauce.
Our next beer was the Brooklyn Brewery Local 2 (9% ABV), an ale that has notes of honeyed dark fruits, citrus and spices. It was slightly hoppy, but the aforementioned mix of sweet ingredients balanced out the tart notes of the hops. The Brooklyn paired really well with the delicious ragout of wild mushrooms Melanie prepared. We could have eaten several bowls (with several beers, of course)!
Next, we moved onto the Dupont Biere de Miel (8% ABV), another new try for us, a classic Belgian-style brew that had hints of earth, herbs and white pepper, all mellowed by its subtle honey notes. I am not a huge fan of the Belgian style beers, but this one in particular changed my opinion immensely.
As a special treat (not mentioned in the flier we received at the beginning of the pairing) Melanie offered up a taste of Bell’s Hop Slam, the Holy Grail of honey-based beers, and easily one of the most amazingly complex IPA’s you will ever taste. It is brewed but once a year and released in small quantities across the U.S. Because of its cult-like following, it fetches nearly $20 a six-pack at liquor purveyors who are lucky enough to have it, but it is worth every penny. Melanie served up delicious coconut and passion fruit bars that accentuated the complex notes of the Hop Slam. After the event Melanie let us all purchase one bottle each of the Hop Slam, and we were all grateful to her for her generosity.
It is sad that this was Melanie’s last Beer –n- Bites at Crown, but she told us she would back with more pairing events at her new place of employ, Whole Foods Market, in Fort Lauderdale, where she will take over the beer-buying duties at this location. Thanks, Melanie, for some incredible beers and unbelievably tasty foods. Cheers!