One of the best parts about my gig with Gordon’s is that I am allowed to attend any of the classes at their Wine & Culinary Center. Gordon’s has some pretty awesome events, but last night’s Ithaca Beer dinner is probably the best that I have attended. (Well, besides the VinoVoyage, of course! 😉 )
As soon as I saw the menu for the evening, I was psyched! Everything sounded so delicious!
Eric VanZile of Ithaca Beer was our host for the evening. He told us all about the company and throughly discussed each beer as we tasted it. Ithaca Beer is a small company with just 13 full-time employees and their beer is currently sold in 7 states.
The first beer that we tasted was the Cascazilla.
The Cascazilla is a hoppy, red ale with a big, bold, and citrusy IPA flavor. Generally, I’m not a fan of IPAs, but I liked this one. It was IPA-esque, but not quite a true IPA.
Paired with the Cascazilla was a piece of Bruschetta with Mushrooms, Figs, and Gorgonzola. The strong gorgonzola flavor really brought out the citrus notes in the beer. It was very nice.
Then, we tried Ithaca’s #1 selling beer: Apricot Wheat. The Apricot Wheat was definitely something special.
Ok, let me start off by saying that I usually like fruity beers; I don’t love them. When I drink beer, I like it to taste like beer, not fruity soda, ya know? So, when I first smelled the Apricot Wheat, I immediately thought that I wasn’t going to like it. It has a seriously aggressive apricot smell. But, once I tasted it, I totally changed my opinion. It was light and refreshing with a good beer balance. The Apricot Wheat first hits you with apricot flavor, but then all you taste is beer. It was easily my favorite of the evening.
The Apricot Wheat was paired with White Bean Soup with Calvados glazed Scallops.
The White Bean Soup was made with pureed apricots, carrots, onions, celery, apple brandy, and sage. It was hearty, slightly sweet, and a wonderful match for the Apricot Wheat.
The glazed scallop was perfect.
Up next was Ithaca’s Flower Power.
Flower Power is an Indian Pale Ale with tons of body and tropical notes of pineapple and grapefruit. It’s dry-hopped five times throughout the brewing and fermentation process, so it had a seriously strong hop flavor. Of course, Mal loved this beer. He even bought a 6-pack of it on the way out of Gordon’s.
The Flower Power was paired with Spring Greens with an Avocado Dumpling and Pineapple Salsa.
The Avocado Dumpling was outstanding! In fact, I liked it so much, I asked Chef Becker if it was on the menu at Sweet Basil… and it is! Mal and I already have plans to there for dinner soon. (Sweet Basil is also BYOB! 😉 )
The Avocado Dumpling was made with a wonton skin, filled with a mushy mix of avocado, Manouri cheese, ginger, and lime, and sauteed. I loved it!
The Ithaca 12 is a Monastery-style Quadrupel Ale that is brewed with French malts and German hops then fermented with a blend of Trappist yeast strains. It just sounds like a special anniversary brew, doesn’t it? 😉 The Ithaca 12 had a wonderful balance of fruity and spicy flavors– it actually sort of smelled like a Tootsie Roll to me! It was really rich, but dry at the same time.
The White Gold is a rustic pale ale with fruity and herbal flavors. It had a pineapple sweetness and a slightly sour twinge to it. I also really liked this beer.
These two beers were paired with Roasted Chicken Tossed with Homemade Sage Noodles, Stewed Tomatoes, and Glazed Onions and Sliced Gruyere with Port Poached Plums and Candied Pecans.
As you probably know, I’m not a big fan of chicken, so I didn’t think I’d really like this dish. But, I tried it anyway and surprisingly LOVED it. The chicken was so tender and the homemade pasta was fresh and chewy. I ended up eating the whole portion.
The final course was quite delicious as well. The combination of Gruyere (my favorite cheese!) with plums and candied pecans was fantastic. I downed this course too!
I left feeling pretty stuffed, but every bite was worth it. I loved the entire meal. The beer pairing complimented the various courses so well. It was a fun night!