Saturday, November 24, 2012

Saint Arnold's Divine Reserve Tasting

I should really title this entry "I finally have my fridge back." For those of you that don't know us, Jeremy has been using our cheese drawer to store his Saint Arnolds Divine Reserve stash ever since DR7 back in 2008. Of course as we made our way through DR8, 9, 10... up to 12 that little cheese drawer just wasn't enough, so it started to spill its way over into other parts of the fridge. Then Saint Arnolds started bottling special beers in big bottles. Well, those don't fit well in a drawer, so they displaced the ketchup, mustard and BBQ sauce on the sides of the fridge. Lets just say that by the end of the night I had gotten back a LOT of fridge space.

The boys started at 3pm the day after Thanksgiving for the tasting party. Since we only had a few bottles of some of them (like DR7) there were only 5 present at the tasting. Jeremy helped me come up with a menu and I stayed in the kitchen and cooked. I love hosting dinner parties, so I had enough fun just prepping the food and serving it. Before I get into the courses, here's what the beer menu looked like.

Yea, that really happened.

The Pairing:
(click on each picture to view larger)

Course 1: DR7 - Weizenbock

"This is a dark, slightly chocolatey weizenbock with an undercurrent of bananas and cloves." We choose to pair it with some Manchego and Gouda cheese and some walnuts and dried cranberries. Although there was a consensus that this pairing was the least matched of them all, the beer itself poured very smooth and had aged very well. And really, Manchego cheese is just awesome by itself anyway.

Course 2: Alaskan Smoked Porter

Although this is not a Saint Arnolds beer, Jeremy's friend brought it back special from Alaska just for us, so he wanted to include it in the tasting. "The dark, robust body and pronounced smoky flavor of this limited edition beer make it an adventuresome taste experience. Alaskan Smoked Porter is produced in limited "vintages" each year on November 1 and unlike most beers, may be aged in the bottle much like fine wine." We paired this with a smoked salmon and cream cheese topped crostini. Smoked beer from Alaska, smoked salmon crostini, how could you go wrong?

Course 3: DR9 - Imperial Pumpkin Stout and Pumpkinator

The DR9 is a black beer with "some ruby highlights. The nose is full of pumpkin pie spices and some alcohol. There are notes of nutmeg, caraway and vanilla." The DR9 was the divine reserve predecessor to the Pumpkinator. It went over so well that they decided to make it a seasonal sold only in 22oz bottle. It seemed necessary to try these two side by side.
This was a tough one to pair simply because I wanted to try to pair it with something that wasn't a dessert. Though, as you'll see later, we did also throw it in with the dessert course. Here I made a spinach and arugula fall salad with pecans, pears, and a side of sharp cheddar cheese. For the dressing, I combined macadamia nut oil, olive oil and pumpkinator (yes, the beer) as well as cinnamon and nutmeg. The salad dressing came out AMAZING, though the salad itself only paired well with the aged DR9, while the Pumpkinator was a bit overpowering.

Course 4: DR8 - Scotch Ale

"This is a bold, malty, smoky Scotch Ale. The nose is full of smoky toffee notes. The taste opens with sweet malt and spice, then the alcohol comes up with a light residual sweetness on the finish." Unlike when we first sampled this beer, the smoky flavor had mellowed out quite a bit. We paired this with sliders made from 85/15 grass fed beef mixed with garlic powder and worcestershire sauce, topped
with aged sharp cheddar cheese served on a bed of arugula. Of all the pairings it was determined that this one was the best.

Course 5: DR11 - Double IPA, Homefront IPA, and Endeavour Double IPA.

Like the Pumpkinator, DR11 was the predecessor to the Endeavour. "The color is deep amber with a light, creamy head. The nose starts off with a touch of citrus but then turns decidedly into peaches. The taste starts off with creamy malt resulting from the pale 2 row and caramel malts and Saint Arnold yeast." We choose to also pair this with the Homefront Pale Ale, brewed by Saint Arnolds but first brewed by Fremont Brewing Company. This is a west coast IPA brewed to help Operation Homefront an organization that provides emergency financial and other assistance to the families of our service members and wounded warriors. For these beers I chose to go with grilled baby back ribs covered in Joe's Stuff, a low sodium seasoning from New Orleans, and a side of BBQ sauce. Mmmmmmmmm, Ribs! These were so tender I could barely cut them without the meat falling off the bone. Of the three beers, this pairing worked best with the DR11, which was very smooth.

Course 6: DR10 - English Barleywine

"DR10 is a big, strong, spicy barleywine with malt and alcohol dominating and a pleasant hop finish. The aroma has malt and spice from the alcohol. It was brewed with 6 different malts plus brown sugar." I'm not much of a beer drinker myself, but of all the divine reserves in the series, this is my favorite. Although it is very easily a dessert beer, we choose to pair this with a nice strong gorgonzola cheese. Since they recommend aging this for at least 5-10 years we only popped open one bottle of this one, so we could save the rest for a few years from now.

Course 7: DR12 - Old Ale, Pumpkinator, and Sailing Santa.

Well, we've made it to dessert. Here we started with the DR12, added the Pumpkinator mentioned above, and also paired it with this years Sailing Santa (a mix of Saint Arnolds Christmas Ale and their Elissa IPA with a hint of cinnamon)
The DR12 Old Ale color is "orangy amber with a light, creamy head. The nose has rich malt notes and a little alcohol that combines with a spicy hop note to create a complex bouquet. The taste has a spicy, malty beginning that smoothes out into a creamy middle and a warming finish." We paired this with an apple crisp and a molten chocolate dessert as well as some left over pumpkin pie. The pumpkinator went best with the chocolate dessert while the sailing santa and the old ale were best paired with the apple crisp.

So that was it. By the end of the night everyone was fully, happy, and probably slightly inebriated. Jeremy and his friends had a great time and I enjoyed cooking for everyone. I also enjoyed that Jeremy cleaned up all the dishes :)

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