For those in search of authentic northern tastes, the Damn Yankee Craft Beer dinner at Ted's Butcherblock on Thurs. Feb. 18 was the place to be. In honor of executive chef Eva Keilty's northern roots (and birthday), the downtown butcher shop and deli highlighted the hearty ingredients the Northeast does best. The four-course meal featured four corresponding beers, including Southampton Cuvee des Fleurs from Southampton, NY.; Allagash Tripel Reserve from Portland, Maine; Brooklyn Local 2 from Brooklyn, N.Y.; and Smuttynose Wheat Wine Ale of Portsmouth, N.H.
Chef Keilty and owner Ted Dombrowski paired the farmhouse-style Southampton Cuvees de Fluers ale (7.7 percent a.b.v.) with a blue cheese tart, topped with accompanying New England flavors like McIntosh Apple and Maplewood bacon confit. The beer lived wonderfully up to its name, boasting fresh floral aromas and flavors, and greeting the palate with citrus side notes. A spiciness was more apparent in the flavor than in the aroma. This beer was definitely not a quick drink, but one made to be patiently enjoyed. The pairing worked, as the fresh floral beverage accented the smooth and slightly salty tart.
The Allagash Tripel Reserve (9 percent a.b.v.) was paired with a Cape Cod-style shrimp stew, which was smooth, but with an added corn crunch to it. The pale, Belgium-style ale held a hint of banana and honey flavor, but it snuck up on you with a slightly spicy build up. With a tall, white head and medium carbonation, this beer was very refreshing. It wasn't the best pairing of the meal, though, as the sweetness of the corn and lightness of the stew appeared weak next to such a strong beverage.
The most successful pairing of the night came in the third course with Brooklyn Local 2 (9 percent a.b.v.) and braised beef short ribs. The hefty beer poured nearly black with a medium head. Greeting the palate with hints of chocolate, caramel, and deep orange flavors, this ale worked wonders with the short rib, which fell beautifully off the bone and was accompanied by cabbage and a large Irish potato griddle cake.
The final and the most artistic pairing came at dessert with the Smuttynose Wheat Wine Ale (10.7 percent a.b.v.) and a bowl of vanilla ice cream with cranberries, caramel, and chocolate granola. The specialty wheat beer was bold and a bit bitter. With hints of medicinal, hoppy flavors, it was best drank before eating anything semi-sweet.
Ted's Butcherblock hosts a beer dinner every month and wine tastings every Friday. They make an art of pairing and do a wonderful job at introducing each bottle and course.