Kevin and I attended the Founders Michigan Beer Dinner at Big Bear Lodge Restaurant on Thursday night. Beer dinners are one of the few beer events that in my current condition I feel I can still fully appreciate because, while drinking beer is a key component, they still include two other important things that I can enjoy: Great food and good conversation about beer. The Founders Beer Dinner was full of both.
First, we ran into and ended up sitting with Roy Stewart and His wife Cheryl. We originally met Roy at a Belgian Beer Dinner at Fort Street Brewing Company about a year ago. We ran into Roy again, with Cheryl at the Michigan Winter Beer Festival in February. Our discussions were filled with stories about our favorite beers, local water holes, beer events and beer vacations. Roy and Cheryl also recently became grandparents for the first time so it was fun (and comforting) to hear their stories and advice insights on with a fussy new born.
As far as the food goes, the highlights were probably the salad course (which consisted of grilled romaine hearts, tomatoes, goat cheese, kalamata olives and a balsamic vinaigrette) and the intermezzo and dessert courses (mainly because I’ve been on a sweet kick lately). The intermezzo was a stout mocha freeze, which was actually more of a chocolate and coffee gelato made with Founders Old Curmudgeon Old Ale. The stout part was a misnomer. Dessert was a rich dark chocolate truffle tart.
It was these three courses which probably also had the best beer pairings. I did have a small sip of Kevin’s beer for each course so I could experience the pairing with the food. The grilled salad was paired with Founders Red’s Rye and the assertive hop bitterness of this beer was able to cut through the tanginess and acidity of the balsamic, tomatoes cheese and olives. The intermezzo (a light palate cleansing course between the main course and dessert) was paired with the Curmudgeon and slight alcohol warmth and maltiness of the Old Ale was a perfect complement to the icy coffee and chocolate flavors. The chocolate truffle tart was paired perfectly with Founders Rubaus . This is actually the beer that I wished I could have drank a whole glass of. This is strange considering I’m usually not a big fan of fruit beers. However the rich dark chocolate and the raspberry ale were a match made in heaven.
But perhaps the best part of the evening was the fact that Dave Engbers, owner of Founders Brewing, was the guest speaker. Dave told candid, engaging and funny stories about the history of Founders, the ups and downs of the business and the origins of many of their award winning beers. For example, Red Rye is actually an IPA style rye beer and a name change for the beer in the works. (He even let us in on the secret of what the new name will likely be.) He also told us a great story of how the brewery initially received some flack from the state about the name “Dirty Bastard” (the brewery’s famous scotch ale) for being “offensive to both women and children” and how he managed to convince them that that the name was a common one that Scottish Highlanders often called each other. 🙂 Dave even stuck around for a little while after dinner was over to talk beer a little big longer with us.
All in all it was a great evening. If you’d like to get on the e-mail list for announcments about upcoming beer (and wine) tasting events at Big Bear, e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org and ask to subscribe.
I’d also like to say that it was great to meet Carrie and Chris, fellow craft beer lovers and MIBeerBuzz readers! We hope to see you both again and future beer events!