It probably isn’t fair to be reviewing this one on the heels of the Nikki’s Beer Dinner from last month as that was a tough one to beat. The Stouts and Porters Dinner at Julian’s on Sunday night was a great time and they did top it one way – entertainment.
In the middle of the dinner, they had a bunch of people from a Chinese dance school come in and do a little thing with a lion that ate and regurgitated some lettuce. It was accompanied by drumming. It was really fun and bought a nice new dimension to the dinner. In addition, Brian from Julian’s also attempted to wear a different color ruffled tux shirt with each introduction for the courses. Anyway, on to the review.
The first course found us drinking Buffalo Belgian Stout. I had tried this once before from the bottle at a warmer temp and it was quite enjoyable. It wasn’t nearly as good off the tap, unfortunately. It was served with chestnuts and cranberries, which actually paired quite nicely.
The second course was a salad served with Avery The Czar. The beer was awesome. It was the first time I had tried it. I found it a little odd that the strongest beer, at 12.2%, was served with the salad. It had a lot of depth to the flavor with some dark fruit and anise. The salad was greens, golden beets, herb encrusted pistachios, and crispy sweet potatoes. It paired alright with the beer. Neither over-powered the other, but I didn’t find them overly complimentary. However, I also didn’t find them to be so opposite that they went poorly together.
The third course is honestly slipping my mind right now. The beer was a whiskey barrel aged Ten FIDY from Oskar Blues. This was quite tasty and added a nice dimension to the Ten FIDY without giving it a strong whiskey/bourbon flavor as happens too often when beers are aged in those types of barrels.
Following that was an intermezzo. Again, the food is slipping my mind. The beer was Great Divide’s Oak Aged Espresso Yeti. This is easily one of my new favorite beers. I managed to try some of this at Track 84 on Thursday. It’s very tasty and has quite a bit of depth to the flavor. The espresso is muted enough that it’s not overpowering, but strong enough to really complement the other flavors of the Oak Aged Yeti. If you can find this, you need to try this beer.
Now onto the main course. As with all the Julian’s beer dinners, there were 2 options. Luckily, this time Susan and I picked different options. I opted for the crab corn butternut squash ravioli, which came with an oak aged Smuttynose Robust Porter. It turns out that this is actually called “JD” Oak Aged Robust Porter, the JD presumably standing for Jack Daniels. Boy was that beer strong with the whiskey flavor. Luckily, some of that flavor died off as the beer warmed, bringing out more of the porter flavors. The regular Robust Porter is one of my favorite porters. It’s very flavorful and has a great body. This rendition of it wasn’t really up to my liking as I’m not big on strong whiskey flavors. The meal was perfect, though, again, it wasn’t a perfect pairing. If anything, the strong flavors of this beer took a little away from the food. The other option was a roasted duck dish served with Hoppin’ Frog’s B.O.R.I.S. the Crusher, an oatmeal Russian imperial stout. I found my dinner to be better and the beer to be different enough that I was really glad I chose what I did.
Finally, we made it to dessert, which was also a choice of 2 options. I opted for a pumpkin creme caramel with a ginger cookie. The beer was Meantime Coffee Porter. This was the best pairing of the night. The beer is excellent, and the dessert had just the right flavors. It had a great consistency and the mix of pumpkin and ginger went well with the coffee flavored porter, which has a nice coffee flavor that is not overwhelming. The other option was a float made with Young’s Double Chocolate Stout. Again, I’m glad I chose what I did. It was the better of the 2 options.
Overall, this wasn’t the best pairing, but the beers were fantastic and the evening, as always, was a ton of fun. Many thanks to Brian, Mike, and the rest of the great staff at Julian’s. I wish I remembered those other 2 dishes, but I just can’t. If someone reading this remembers, feel free to post it in the comments.