Lately, beer has become sort of an obsession of mine. In particular, I’ve been very interested to sample all the variants of craft beer made in the Philippines. I was browsing through Facebook when I came across an announcement for a Craft Beer and Food Pairing Dinner organized by Books, Bites & Brews to be held on February 1, 2014.
For P1,400/head, the event promised a four-course dinner paired with ales from Craftpoint Brewing Co. and Katipunan Craft Ales, two Manila-based craft breweries. Since the event fell just a day before Art’s birthday and we both hadn’t tried the four styles that were going to be served, it sounded like a good deal to me.
The event was held at The Blackboard by Chef Michel at The Podium in Ortigas and drew in a good number of craft beer experts and brewers, beer bloggers and average beer enthusiasts like myself. I think the slots were really limited to accommodate the beer supply available. I had previously thought that we would be served 1 bottle per course, but apparently that would be too heavy. Each course was served in a glass with a pour size of 3 oz. each, though there were bottles on display on one table for photo op purposes.
The first course was “Homemade Gravlax with a Lemon Sour Cream Dill Sauce served with Fresh Flat Bread” paired with Craftpoint’s Summer Sessions. I found Summer Sessions (ABV: 4.7%) smooth and very easy to drink. Brewers describe the beer as “light and laidback”, a perfect balance of light maltiness and soft floral notes with just a subtle touch of fruitiness. True to its name, it’s the kind of beer you could kick back with on the beach on a sunny afternoon. The blonde ale went very well with the smoky flavor of the salmon and zesty dressing. However, I could have eaten a much larger plate of the delicious appetizer to go with the beer.
The second course was “Prawn and Salmon Raviolis in a Coconut-Ginger and Lemongrass Broth with a Hint of Curry” paired with Craftpoint’s Liberation Pale Ale, the brewer’s flagship brew. Liberation (ABV: 5.5%) is a hybrid American pale ale with Belgian yeasts. Described as “bold and unique”, Liberation offers a stronger, more assertive flavor compared to Summer Sessions. The smooth, nutty caramel base and combination of citrusy American hops and complex fruity aromatic yeasts tasted great. However, this craft beer’s strong flavor overpowered the seafood curry a bit, which I found too subtly spiced. The beer could have worked well with a much stronger curry flavor.
The third course was “Black Peppercon and Coffee Crusted US-Tenderloin with Pan Juice Reduction and Oven Roasted Sweet Potatoes paired” with Katipunan Craft Ale’s 1 Porter Road. The beer’s name, 1 Porter Road (ABV: 4.6%), plays on the phrase “one for the road” and promises to be a good nightcap. The brew is a blend of wheat, chocolate and black malt with just the right helping of hops to round it. The rich aroma of dark roasted barley gives it a deeper flavor. The rich flavor of the brew complemented the main meat course and vegetables. As a steak lover, this was my favorite dish.
The last course was “Fresh Baked Grand Marnier Cheesecake with Chocolate Cookie Crust and Confit Orange Zests” paired with Katipunan Craft Ale’s Dear Fred. Dear Fred (ABV: 4.8%) is collaboration between Katipunan Craft Ales and coffee company Yardstick Coffee, which combines pale ale and cold brew coffee. The beer gets its name from a “coffee and beer manifesto” issued by Frederick the Great in 1777, that declared beer superior to coffee and restored it as the national drink of Prussia (a German Kingdom and historic state). The brewers combined their own pale ale with Yardstick’s cold brew Indonesian Ratawali Valley coffee.
I found that this brew has a very strong coffee taste (more coffee than beer). The bitter flavor of the coffee beer mix countered the sweetness of the dessert. I think coffee lovers will like this one, even if they don’t like beer.
All in all, it was a delicious event that made me appreciate the nuanced flavors of craft beer and how these should really be paired with great food.