Last night, for Valentines day, I took the wife to the 2nd annual Avery Beer Lovers Dinner at the West End Tavern on Pearl street.  The upstairs deck was maxed out with tables with white table cloths and a single flower.  Adam Avery and Peter Archer were the brewery representatives and made the food and beer pairings.  Chef Chris Blackwood prepared the food.

The meal was superb – Big tastes to equal to the big beers Adam brought.  He mentioned several times that in previous beer dinners, the beers were better then the food, but tonight he “got his ass handed to him.”  I think that’s overly dramatic – the beers were huge, over the top and down right tasty.

Adam was also at his fourth event in as many evenings.  Monday was a special vertical tasting of the ’06, ’07 and ’08 Czar Russian Imperial Stouts at the Mountain Sun Brewery which is celebrating it’s annual stout month in February (more on this later).  Tuesday was the release party of “Collaboration, not Litigation Ale” which is a blend of Russian Rivers Salvation ale with Avery’s Salvation ale.  Wednesday was a beer dinner in Fort Collins.  So he was doing the bachelor thing on Valentines day at his fourth evening out – let’s just say the enthusiasm to talk about beer wasn’t there, but he did unwind after getting a few pints in him.

Okay, on with the menu already!

First Course

Trio Of Sliders

rib eye (with wine glazed unions), blue crab and bbq pork

The Reverend (10%), Salvation (9%), Hog Heaven (9.2%)

Second Course

Biscuits and Gravy

Beer Battered Shrimp, Cheese Biscuits

Smoothered in Crawfish Etoufee

White Rascal Belgian Wheat Ale (5.5%), Avery India Pale Ale (6.4%)

Third Course

Scallops and Oysters Rockefeller

Maple bacon seared Scallops

Crispy Fried Oysters

Ellies Brown Ale (5.6%), Out of Bounds Stout (5.3%)

Fourth Course

Surf and Turf

Coffee smoked venison and lobster tamale

Roasted Sweet Corn Chowder

New World Porter (6.7%), Collaboration not Litigation Ale (8.72%)

Dessert

I Love Pie

Key Lime Pie, Satin Crunch Pie, Apple Pie

Maharaja Imperial IPA (10.54%),

The Beast Belgian Grand Cru (16.4%) and Samael’s Oak Aged Ale (14.9%)

The beer battered shrimp and biscuits smoothered in Crawfish Etoufee were wonderful. Peter shared his recipe for making beer batter for fish – beer, flour, salt and pepper.  Mix to a consistency where you can put your initials in the batter and it will sustain for several seconds.  These shrimp had a huge batter coating on them and they were fried to perfection.  The White Rascal was an excellent beer pairing.  Adam shared that he uses the Hoegaarden Yeast with orange peel and coriander – typical of a witbier.

The scallops and oysters Rockefeller were also outstanding.  The scallops were shamelessly cooked in maple bacon grease from a local pig.  They were covered with spinach and grated cheese.  Delicious.  The crispy fried oysters were flash fried cold so they didn’t get tough.

The surf and turf portion of the meal was the best.  The venison was seared on the outside and red on the inside.  The meat had been cold smoked with coffee beans!! I have never heard of smoking meat with coffee beans – it was fantastic.  There was  a sizeable chunk of lobster meat and a nice tamale.  The corn chowder was made by roasting ears of corn, stripping the kernels from the ear and boiling the stalks.  It was reduced to a creamy topping.  You could taste a bit of the charred corn – a great topping. 

The Collaboration ale is from Batch #2 which will be released this week sometime.  The story behind Vinnie (Russian River Brewing Co.) and Adam collaborating on this ale is fun.  They got together and spent an evening coming up with the best blend of the two Salvation ales.  Then the project stalled until Adam committed to producing the beer in a BA magazine interview many months later – funny how things work out.  They used available tank space in Boulder and created the first collaboration.  This beer has more yeast character the Averys Salvation ale.  It is a remarkable beer.

Finally we topped the evening with pie, pie and more pie.  Each couple got 3 slices of pie to share – my glucose goes up just thinking about it.  They combined the very sweet pies with two huge ales from the Demonic series, Samael and the Beast, as well as this years release of Maharaja from the Dictator series. 

This was the first public tasting of this batch of Maharaja and it’s going to blow you away.  The hops are as fresh and way over the top as they can be.  This is the only beer that was too much for my wife.  Anyhow, I will report more after going the Maharaja release party Wednesday 2/20/08.  Adam personally chose the Maharaja to pair with Key Lime Pie – “It’s very nice!” (say it with the Borat accent, it’s more fun that way.)

I fell in love with Samael all over again.  Adam described the brew day when they are making this beer.  They have a pallet full of fermentables – raisins, dates, molasses, honey, turbinado sugar and dark belgium candi sugar.   It has strong port character that is oh so good when combined with chocolate from from the Satin Crunch Pie.

So that was the evening. You didn’t walk out feeling bloated, but you were fully satisfied. I’m sure happy endings were had by all! 

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