On the (very regular) occasion that something awesome happens in the beer world, and I am not invited, I like to pester those that were in order to get reports. I then take their reports and put them on this blog. Very recently we opened Michigan as a new market. We threw a bunch of sweet parties, hugged a lot of really nice people, and traveled up to a wonder-filled place called Brewery Vivant. In our Brewery Vivant hangings-out there were two collaboration beers made, one beer there (for their markets) and one beer here (for our markets). The beer that was made up there is called Escoffier. It's pretty great, it's named after a very famous French chef. And in the spirit of French chef-er-y the fine folks up at Brewery Vivant put together a beer dinner for this beer, some of their other beers, and then some of our beers. It was totally awesome. I was not there. But my pal Matty was, here's his report:
I Went to Grand Rapids for Dinner...
By Matty Smooth
There is only one correct answer when your coworker asks you if you want to go to a beer dinner to release the latest collaboration beer: “Yes.” The chances are good that it could end up being pretty cool. In this case, it turned out to be the culinary experience of a lifetime.
Brewery Vivant looks unassuming from the outside. The first time our guys saw it, they were eating lunch at a local gastropub. When they asked where the beer they were drinking was from, the server just pointed, indicating the brick building across the street, an old funeral home. New Belgium’s Head Brewer Alex and Beer Ranger Aaron decided the beer was good enough to warrant poking their heads in, where they met Jason and Jacob.
Fast forward a year, and I’m passing through the same door – it still has the old sign reading “Chapel” over the doorframe – and into what looks like an old European beer hall. The Belgian flag has a place over the door, and the prancing red rooster, symbol of the Wallonia region of Belgium, is tastefully woven into much of the décor. The backdrop for the bar is the stained glass lancet arch that had backed the sanctuary, a shape mirrored by the shape of the bar itself. The whole place has an old-school-cool feel to it. After meeting Jason, their cofounder, and Jacob, their exceptionally talented brewer, we shook hands and clinked glasses for what felt like less than a minute and shot back outside for the trip out to Lubbers farm
dinner needs to start early, we were told, to allow time for all 12 courses(!).
“Escoffier” is the name of the beer. It’s also the name of a classic French cookbook, and most of the recipes from the night’s dinner were pulled from its pages. Jason told our little group that this had been his Chef, Drew’s idea. Drew had wanted to put on a full-fledged French cuisine festival for quite some time and the release of Escoffier seemed like the occasion for it.
Occasion it was: Chicken and summer truffle terrine paired with Vivant’s Farmhand. Grape leaf wrapped, forcemeat gratin stuffed partridge breast on a brown butter crouton paired with Escoffier. Spiced beef tongue with cream on a fried green tomato paired with Escoffier. Grilled nelson lamb chops with foie gras puree and asparagus paired with our Biere de Mars. Cheese plate! Sweet veal
marrow pudding with Vivant Zaison. That’s just a few of the courses.
I’m not as much of a foodie as a few people I know, but I still know ridiculously good food when I see it. More than just the food, though, the setting, in the hayloft of the barn at Lubbers farm, and the phenomenal Vivant beers made. Just getting to chat with Vivant’s other cofounder, Kris, and Rick, their sales/marketing guy would have made it a pleasant evening.
Most of the other attendees were beer writers, or photo bloggers, and I met some really cool people. Someone asked me how I came to be invited, and I couldn’t lie: I’m just real good at eating.
Thanks for the write up Matty, you're a pro.
More on the Brewery Vivant collaboration beers coming next week!
And PS, thanks to Rick Muschiana from Brewery Vivant for the photos!
I'm out of here!