When there’s love in beer and food, it’s easy to taste it. When there’s not, well, that’s easy to detect too.
Fortunately for those who attended last week’s beer dinner at the newly-remodeled Tom Ham’s Lighthouse, pairing select Green Flash beers with creations from executive chef Lance Repp, the match was made in craft heaven.
Repp, who last year came to the iconic Harbor Island restaurant from La Valencia Hotel, teamed up with Dave Adams, Green Flash’s affable director of beer education, to put together an unforgettable six-course meal for the more than 30 people who attended.
“Green Flash beers are so food friendly,” Repp said. “Some of their flavors are just so overpowering, whether it’s bitterness, hoppiness or a flavor profile. They just stand out from that perspective.”
Adams said when they were putting the menu together, they tasted about 22 beers over several hours and bounced a number of ideas off each other.
“It was a very fluid, organic process,” he said. “That’s what makes a beer dinner so special, that harmonious combination of a great beer with great food. And to see that pairing open up someone’s eyes, that’s what really makes it cool.”
Here’s the play-by-play:
First Course: Rayon Vert paired with House-cured pepper salmon, roasted apple chutney, Red Hawk cheese on crostini – The Belgian-style Pale Ale has an apple character effervescence that paired perfectly with the chutney. It was an ideal way to take in the spectacular views of San Diego Bay and the downtown skyline.
Second Course: 30th Street Pale Ale paired with Herb-crusted scallop, pine cone syrup – Topped with a rosemary crust, this was a great balance of sweet and savory. The syrup was derived from the cone’s buds, and yes, it’s as delectable as it sounds.
Third Course: Treasure Chest Belgian Brown paired with Moroccan duck leg, date couscous – The caramel and biscuit malt backbone was a perfect opportunity to introduce the date couscous and mirror Treasure Chest’s sweetness.
Fourth Course: Imperial IPA paired with Pan roasted branzino whole grain mustard crust, spring onion beurre blanc – Also known at European sea bass, the branzino jumped off the plate thanks to the butter sauce infused with garlic that complemented Imperial’s intense hop flavors. This was Repp’s favorite pairing.
Fifth Course: Ristretto Cosmic Black Lager paired with Smoked tea crusted lamb duo, slow roasted root veg – This pairing had everyone talking. Part of the brewery’s Genius Lab small-batch series, this bold lager uses chocolate and roasted malts with a dose of cold-pressed espresso that matched perfectly with the smoked lamb. The shoulder that complemented the chop was braised with the black lager. My favorite pairing of the evening.
Sixth Course: Candela Rye Barleywine paired with Point Reyes blue cheese soufflé, roasted fig and caramel sauce – Adams had a good feeling Repp was going to choose this beer. And for good reason. The highly coveted rye barleywine that was a collaboration with Cigar City Brewing is a big beer at 10.9 percent ABV, but the blue cheese (aged for 18 months) cut into the malt sweetness perfectly. Repp first thought figs when he tasted the beer and his caramel sauce featuring the Candela was an excellent topper. “The Candela just jumped out for me,” Repp said. “It just had so much more depth than anything else. It was unbelievable.”