It’s always enjoyable when a food event teaches you something new. When MillerCoors hosted a recent Tasting Room Dinner at Bolsa, I learned several things:
- The MillerCoors’ portfolio includes some beers I didn’t know of, and I really like them
- That, like wine, beer can pair with food in a very sophisticated way
- That chef Joel Harrington has mad skill and is up for any challenge including creating dishes inspired by and perfectly married to brews
The evening’s menu included six courses, all paired with a beer or cider. The hosts invited us to vote for our favorites using the hashtag #MCTastingRoom. So, I’ll highlight my favorites here, starting at the top.
The winner for me was a Berkshire Pork Cutlet with a pretzel crust. It was served with brats and cabbage, and a just-sweet-enough apple mustard that flattered the pork perfectly. Married with Leinenkugel’s Oktoberfest, this pairing really worked. I can guarantee you’ll find the Leinenkugel in my refrigerator come October, and, if I could order the dish again, I’d be headed back to Bolsa for it.
Next on the favorites list was a course titled “Old School”. Inspired by Pilsner Urquell, the world’s first golden pilsner brewed in the Czech Republic since 1842, Chef Harrington went old-school Czech for his creation: fried cheese in an onion-garlic broth with sausage froth. The first bite was a rich unami explosion. Even though this was the first course of the night, we would have been happy sticking with it – both the dish and the beer – for the rest of the evening.
Other courses that hit all the right notes included Coriander Smoked Trout whose smoky burnt orange flavor was complemented by Blue Moon Belgian White, and an Asian Pear Slush that harmonized well with Crispin Pacific Pear Cider.
Dinner ended with a near-perfect dessert of Butterscotch Pudding and a Sea Salt Caramel Macaron. It was paired with two beverages, both interesting and truly good. Big Eddy Royal Nektar, sweet upfront with a spicy finish, is a take on a hybrid of beer and mead. Crispin Venus Reigns is a pear cider aged 26 months in red wine casks. Even if you’re not a cider person, this is one I would check out – and it’s one I’m going to buy myself.
Chef Harrington characterized the whole event as a way to “spread his wings” in a “twisted, interpretive chef way”. I hope he’ll invite me any time he chooses to do so again. And I’m happy to have a little deeper beer knowledge and some new MC brews to add to my list the next time I hit the liquor store.
Note: We were provided food and beverage samples, but all opinions are my own.