After a truly debaucherous Mardi Gras in the Big Easy I decided to recover in Austin and check out their beer scene. Of all the restaurants and pubs that I visited one spot truly stood out above the rest: The Flying Saucer (on Twitter @FlyingSaucerAus.) I attended their Deschutes Beer Dinner with special guest and Brewmaster Larry Sidor—the first of many events to be held in their Hollandsworth Hall. The beer pairings were as follows: beets and goat cheese with Mirror Pond Pale Ale; spicy shrimp and polenta with Green Lakes Organic Ale; onion soup with Black Butte Porter; winter bruschetta with Red Chair NWPA; blue cheese and orange marmalade with Hop Henge Experimental IPA; and chocolate mousse and blood oranges with The Dissident.
I was super excited about this dinner not only because of all the bomb food but also to meet a real mover and shaker in the brewing industry, Larry Sidor. Mr. Sidor is a die-hard whole-hop evangelist, using nothing but beautiful whole hop cones in his brewing with no pellets in sight! Not only that, but his Organic Ale is made with Noble hops that are grown far enough from Salmon reproduction streams and using only eco-friendly pesticides to be aptly named “Salmon Safe.”
I really enjoyed the beets and goat cheese with the Mirror Pond Pale Ale, I thought the sweetness of the malt base really brought out the musty earthiness of the beets and made it quite the savory bite. The onion soup and Black Butte Porter was a classic pairing one that would have been very welcome on a cold winter night, it really made me hot and I will definitely remember that next time I'm looking for a tasty dish on a chilly night. The evening was directed towards introducing Austin to the Red Chair NWPA (North West Pale Ale), a beautifully copper colored Pale Ale who's citrus hoppy punch exposed the strength of the parmigiana in the bruschetta.
My overall favorite pairing of the evening was Hop Henge Experimental IPA and bleu cheese. An IPA that starts and finishes with the hop: and I do mean they throw hops in the mash! This beautifully pugnacious IPA grabbed the blue cheese, walnuts and marmalade by the balls and wrung out the pungency of the cheese in a whirlwind of flavor. Truly a match made in heaven; I will remember this for future pairings of my own. The Hop Henge brought up natural questions about how fresh their Hop Trip Fresh Hop IPA was, especially in era of fresh hop beers and I was pleasantly greeted with a beautiful story reminiscent of the Smucker's Preserves Ad. Larry actually goes out and hand chooses the lot of hops he wants for the batch, calls the brewery to signal them to mash in, and by the time they're ready to add the hops, the crop has been harvested and is right outside their brewery in beautiful Bend Oregon ready to go in! So yes folks, its VERY fresh!!!
As a special surprise they concluded the dinner with The Dissident and chocolate mousse with blood oranges. I love the Dissident, and the older it gets the better it gets, however I wasn't a huge fan of it with the chocolate. I thought that as a sour brown with such a wonderful distinct flavor I thought it would have paired nicely with venison or lamb, something more savory than sweet. However, to end the meal I felt that it worked perfectly as an aperitif. (Mind you I loved the Mousse and blood oranges... yes, I scraped the bottom of the dish—it was awesome.)
I was very happy to see that the Dissident make an appearance at the dinner and I truly hope that Mr. Sidor plans to continue producing such a wonderful Brett.-based beer.
As it is one of today's current hot topics I asked Larry what he thought of the selling of beer by collectors on eBay and other networks. He wasn't as down on it as I had assumed, essentially as long as people aren't being careless and trying to sell growlers of Pliny the Younger on eBay he's all for the trading and selling of older and agreable beers and see's no harm in it as long as it's properly cellared and cared for!
I was happy to meet the wonderful Austin crew of Deschutes (@DeschutesBeer), Larry Sidor himself and of course the wonderful staff at The Flying Saucer. Their next big event is their Allagash Dinner coming soon.
If you're in Austin check them out! They're also in Arkansas, Tennessee, North Carolina, South Carolina and Missouri. And folks, THEY HAVE THE CUTEST BEER SHIRTS EVER!!!! I'm just saying, I never thought I'd buy a t-shirt with cute little angel wings on the back but their Beervana shirts are just the best!