by Eric Doksa
On Saturday night Ben Berryhill and Next Door Bistro hosted possibly the fanciest New Belgium beer dinner ever. The restaurant was packed to the max with guests mingling inside and out sipping on zesty Biere de Mars (6.2% ABV) from New Belgium Brewing company’s Lips of Faith series and noshing on incredible hors d’oeuvres.
Ravioli of roasted pork shoulder and brown butter, Arancini di Riso (rice balls) with mozzarella and braised beef, and ricotta and herb gnudi were sent out to please the crowd while we waited for dinner to start, all courtesy of Berryhill’s right-hand man, Nathan Hood.
Local beer ranger Grant Smith and Mid Atlantic Field Brander Tyler Foos were on hand from New Belgium Brewery to give an overview of each of the beers and explain how the flavor profiles pair well with each course. In addition, Robert Carter (Carter’s Kitchen), Donald Barickman (Culinary Institute of Charleston), and Brett McKee (Eli’s Table) joined Berryhill and Hood to create four incredible main courses.
The first course was an old favorite Berryhill brought over from Red Drum — Crab & Shrimp Tostada Campeche with avocado relish and cabbage slaw paired with a Belgian style Trippel (7.8% ABV). Slightly spicy with hints of citrus, the Trippel paired well with the vibrant, light dish.
Robert Carter had the task of creating a dish to go with DIG pale ale (5.6% ABV). He went with wild mushroom tortelloni with spring vegetables and fennel broth, which was simple yet elegant with the potency of fennel broth playing well with the floral hop character of the beer.
The dish of the night was prepared by Donald Barickman. He made tender wood-grilled pork tenderloin with sweet and spicy jalapeño peach jam, pulled pork ragout, and extremely flavorful collard greens that were braised in Fat Tire. Truth be told, I forgot about the Fat Tire (5.2 % ABV) pairing, as the dish was just fantastic without it.
Next a small pour of the glorious sour brown ale, La Folie (6.0% ABV) was presented as an intermezzo with goat cheese wrapped in prosciutto with a small sliver of apple. The small bite was able to tame the mouth-puckering sourness of the beer to create a truly unique pairing — best of the night in my opinion.
The fourth course consisted of delicate beef short ribs braised in red wine and veal stock with a bit of thyme, butternut squash puree, and candy sweet caramelized Brussels sprouts courtesy of Brett McKee. A savory and sweet dish paired with a toasty 1554 black ale (5.6% ABV).
Finally, Lauren Mitterer (Wild Flour Pastry) came through with Cocoa Mole Mousse with chewy caramel ancho chile graham cracker crust and sour cherries paired with the spicy Cocoa Mole ale (9.0% ABV). The dessert was a winner and the pairing was even better as the beer warmed up.
What a memorable evening it was. Legendary chefs, fantastic food and pairings, great company, and stupendous service.