What is a beer dinner exactly? I just moved here recently from Iowa. Are they expensive? What can we expect at them?Well, I'll take the questions in order:
- A Beer Dinner is a generally a 4-5 course prix fixe menu hand crafted by a chef to pair with specific beers.
- You can expect to pay anywhere from $40-$75 per person, depending on venue and brewery.
- What can you expect? Well, I'll just go through the last Old Fashioned/Harvest/Titletown Beer Dinner that I went to, as it is fairly typical, cost was $45.
Salt Cod Croquettas and Aoli; Titletown's St. Norbert PilsnerA tender croquette of ground salted cod, breaded and pan fried (I think? Maybe baked or lightly broiled?); the aoli was a classic garlic dipping sauce and it was accompanied by micro greens; it paired very well with a nice, light classic pilsner; neither over-powered the other, but both were light, yet full-flavored
Marinated Pork Skewers; Titletown's HopMonsterA big hoppy, full bodied, full flavored IIPA, paired with bite-sized pork skewers that had been marinated in rich, but not hot, spices; this was a full-flavored bomb of a plate with rich, decadent Indian spices, like cardamom, and cumin, but not hot spices; the beer competed nicely by providing plenty of malt body to go with a giant, citrus, American hop IIPA
Braised Beef With Prunes And Potatoes; Titletown's Railyard AleAmazingly tender braised beef was served with figs, and prunes, and small potatoes to emphasize the earthy fruits and strong flavors in the beef; the beer, a nice caramel-y, sweet Alt, is a rare style that holds up well to strong flavors, yet won't make you full
Dunbarton Blue Roelli Cheese, Shullsburg, Wisconsin; Titletown's Procrastinator DopplebockA cheese rarity - the cheddar/blue hybrid, provide a great creaminess and strong, but not overpowering, tart bleu-cheese flavor that really showcased the creamy texture and dark roastiness of a well-crafted, full-bodied dopplebock.
As you can see from the meals advertised in the comments, there are a lot of these that occur throughout the winter at various restaurants around Madison, indeed around all of Wisconsin. Indeed, Brasserie V holds them on almost any special, and most non-special, occasion. There are a lot of talented chefs in Wisconsin and there are a lot of talented breweries, so it is great to see them pairing up to show off their abilities and make a case for beer as a sophisticated, food-quality beverage.
In my opinion, the prices on these things can be a little stiff to attend too many of them. So, it would be nice to see restaurants work beer pairings more into their menus by way of suggestion and knowledgeable staff, and by regularly stocking these beers that match so well.