Saturday, December 17, 2011

Maloney's St. Bernardus Beer Dinner Review.

Mix great food with outstanding beer and you get a Maloney's Beer Dinner. Every time my wife and I go here we yearn to live closer to it, currently it's about a 30 minute drive for us to get there. Although that's still close, a 30 minute drive wouldn't allow you to leave your car there and walk home like I would've had to do if i was driving tonight! I've mentioned it before, but so you know, they have over 70 taps. Hence our wanting to live closer.

This dinner featured St. Bernardus. A belgian brewery that until tonight we never tried more than their Christmas Ale. Being devoted to mostly local breweries, hopping the pond isn't something we normally do. Well that needs to be rethought after trying the run of beer we had tonight. Each beer was fantastic for it's own individual reason. This brewery obviously offers a wide diversity of beer that excites your palate each sip.

Like the American Ales Dinner, this one also featured four courses paired with four brews. Each course was delicious and showed off the talent of the kitchen staff. The pairings were also well done. Standing alone, both the food and the beer were great. But when paired together, flavors not present in the food before a sip would later pop out at you and the same with the beer.

Although my memory is pretty good, I sadly didn't keep any notes during the tasting. Add to that the fact that we shared an Allagash Curieux before hand on an empty stomach, and memory clouds.

Check out this menu;

****Classic Pate de Maison- traditional pork and duck liver pate with Cumberland sauce and crostini, paired with Christmas Ale (Belgian Strong Dark Ale, 10%)
****Meghan’s Holiday Salad- autumn greens tossed with shaved fennel, toasted almonds, dried cranberries, and an orange-tarragon vinagrette, topped with a crumbled Feta cheese, paired with Witbier (Wheat beer, 5.5%)
****Rack of Lamb with a white cheddar-chive potato cake and thyme-scented fresh baby spinach in a natural lamb jous, paired with Abt 12 (Quad, 10%)
****Sticky Toffee Cake and vanilla bean ice cream, paired with Prior 8 (Dubbel, 8%)
Wow right? Right off the bat the Christmas Ale hit hard and delivered the mood for the evening. The thicker consistency and dark fruit flavors paired extremely well with the pate. Having already tasted this offering of beer I was really able to focus on the pate, which I've never had before. The pate was rich, and very filling. Just what I needed since there was already a beer and a half in me already! The two sauces on the plate complimented both the pate and the beer so well I could have just eaten that the whole night. 
Although a salad for a second course seems very light, this one hit the spot. With the pate being so filling, the salad fit perfectly in there and also gave the Witbier a chance to shine as a wonderful session beer. It's light body and low ABV smoothed out the spike of 10%ABV from the previous Christmas Ale. Witbier is comparable to many white beers. Citrusy, crisp and refreshing. It's a perfect beer for summer, but can also be enjoyed all year. The random cranberry and piece of crumbled feta in the salad bought the flavor of the beer to a whole other level exposing more depth  than a normal white ale. 
Third course is where the mistake happens. Not by the kitchen or any of the staff, but by me. The lamb looked delicious. Both my wife and I have tried lamb over and over and just can not get past the flavor. But according to my wife, who tried a bite from our friend, it was very good. We subbed in a chicken dish that was served in a type of cream mustard sauce along with the same sides as the lamb. Don't take it the wrong way, the chicken was very good, but the lamb just looked so picturesque. The Abt. 12 was a another great brew. To me Abt. 12 shared many characteristics with the Christmas Ale but with an earthier finish and slightly less dark fruit flavor. 
The dessert bought on the Prior 8. Another high ABV beer with great flavor. And the toffee cake went perfectly with it. Both complimented each other so well it amazed us. Although by now, the high alcohol and continual flavor punches had worn away the majority of my palate, I could still tell that flavors were being positively affected by both the beer and the food towards one another other. This dessert far surpassed others we've had during beer dinners here. Everything was balanced out so well and it helped to finish off the dinner wonderfully. 
Although the beer was amazing for this dinner it was certainly was not the highlight. The chef and his staff stole the show on this one. The food was a hit right across the board. No course lacked in flavor or stuck out as not pairing well. Each one had depth in flavor and was paired well with the equally flavorful beer. Cheers Maloney's and thank you for a fun night!

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