A Food & Beer Pairing at Denton County Brewing Company
At Denton County Brewing Company’s first beer-pairing dinner, there was nothing but warmth and welcome in the beautifully rustic brewpub - that, and four courses of great grub and better brews. Here’s a look at how attendees stuffed themselves at this Thanksgiving-inspired dinner.
Intro: Kolsch & Rolls
It started off with a light meet-and-greet segment while the finishing touches on the main dinner were made. A classic light German beer in the form of the Fru Kolsch, with nice little grazing food in the form of in-house made biscuits. A perfect pre-dinner pairing that left one occupied, yet free to converse as well.
Course the 1st: Salad & Sake
Frisée Salad, Bacon Lardons, Pear, Mustard Vinaigrette w/ Mirror of Truth Sake
After a crisp, tangy first bite, this ethereal sake cuts the pear and vinaigrette’s acidity, while the smokiness and umami of the bacon is kept delicately in check by the frisée. It's light overall, but bold - a subtle gut-punch of awakening flavor that catapults the dinner forward in anticipation of the courses beyond.
Course the 2nd: The Bird and the Bière
Whole Texas Quail, Sourdough Stuffing, Root Vegetable Pureé w/ Adelbert's Bierre de Garde
Compared to the tantalizing breeze of the first course, this Thanksgiving-inspired course welcomes us like a warm hearth. Earthy, starchy subtlety warms the body in the form of a cozy stuffed quail and a vegetable puree that you’d swear was Mom’s new recipe for mashed potatoes, while Adelbert’s Bière de Garde cools the soul. It's malty, mellow, and clean. With a bite of the bird, the beer blossoms forth into rich flavor. There's a slight spice to the dish which warms well, especially with the boozy heat of this style of beer.
Course the 3rd: Short Ribs & Stout
44 Farms Cocoa-Braised Short Ribs, Sweet Potatoes, Bleu Cheese, Walnuts w/ Denton County Brewing Imperial Stout
In this sort of liminal dish that combines entrée and dessert, we start off with the decadent cocoa braised short ribs, the braise of which immediately fills the mouth with that delectable, smoky char one expects from the burnt ends in some Memphis BBQ shop, but with an extra layer of warming bitterness from the choice of cocoa. Now, this may be inventive, but the dessert-ish half of this serving is where creativity unabashedly shines. Would you have thought that the funkiness of bleu cheese, the homespun sweetness of sweet potato, and the earthy crunch of walnuts would combine to create a beautiful desert? The walnuts add a crust-like crunch, while the bleu cheese adds a creamy tang that leaves the whole dish feeling evocative of a cheesecake that’s not so overpowering - a subtle, Thanksgiving homage to a delightful dessert.
This beer is just as decadent as the dish - it's good ol' Texas gold: dark as oil and just as rich. It's the perfect amount of sweet balanced with an effervescent cacao bite that is an excellent addition to a beautiful, rich, downhome course.
Course the 4th: Custard with Kasteel Fig & Cognac Custard,
Crushed Ginger Snaps, Grand Marnier Cream, Pistachios w/ Kasteel Rouge
So, we may have spoke too soon - we thought the last round was decadent, but this course really throw a custard-shaped wrench into the works.
It’s love at first sip for this final round; the Kasteel Rouge is unparalleled. Imagine a beer that’s been made from the finest of cocktail cherries, and that’s the tart, silky tapestry that this beer weaves for your senses. Taking a bite of the delicate tart in front of me, it’s quick to see the ginger snap pairs with the rouge like egg nog with alcohol - it's so decadent that you hate to admit how intoxicating the whole thing is (and how much you want to go back for seconds). The tart cherry flavor melds with the fruity fig, and the citrus of the custard feels right at home with the sweet and sour rouge. The cream retains that slight orange sweetness from the Grand Marnier, with a tinge of liqueur that elevates the whip cream beyond a simple topping. Add in the creamy pistachio crunch, and you've got a dessert that checks off every box - even the ones you never knew you wanted.
We’d hate to say it, but, especially with this last cherry-on-top, your Mama might want to step up her game this season - because with this masterfully prepared and paired beer dinner,
We already had a Thanksgiving like we’ve never had.
Photos by Garret Smith
Header image by Cristopher Rodgers