A Celebration of Beer, Food, & Stories…

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I recently had the pleasure of meeting a really cool guy, with an even cooler job as a sales representative for a beverage company.  He invited me to this awesome event here in JC, hosted by Edible New Jersey and Brooklyn Brewery.  It was held at The Lighthorse Tavern last night, in the Paulus Hook area of downtown. The event called ‘The Quarterly Carousal’, started off with a cocktail/networking portion from 5-7pm, and then for $45 a person immediately following was a five course dinner provided by the Lighthorse with beer pairings from the Brooklyn Brewery.

The cocktail hour was located near the bar of the restaurant, with a table set up featuring tastings of Brooklyn Brewery’s latest ‘Fire & Ice’.  Also provided by Edible NJ, were some local food vendors and sample bites.  Among them were a tomato sauce by Jar Goods, pickles by Pickle Licious, meatballs from The Flying Meatballs, and beef jerky by SlantShack Jerky.  The tomato sauce by Jar Goods was especially good, handmade in New Jersey in small batches.  It is a family recipe distributed in local stores and restaurants in the Hoboken and Jersey City area.  Check out their site for online shopping, to find your local carrier, or for event information.

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After the cocktail hour, we were escorted to a dining area for the dinner with beer pairings.  The dinner was kicked off by the restaurant owner Bill Gray saying a few words to welcome the guests.  Chris Vasquez of Brooklyn Brewery would be our beer pairing host for the night, and chef Carlos Ortega of the Lighthorse Tavern (who I think I now have a slight crush on) would walk us through the culinary creation he chose to pair with each beer.

First course:  Prosciutto, pretzel bread, cheddar spread, and grilled shishito peppers (my personal favorite- inside happy dance happened)

Beer pairing:  Brooklyn Lager

This course was like a little picnic on a plate, with something on it to please everyone.  Of course since it’s me, there wasn’t anything on it I didn’t love.  I just so happen to have a love affair with shishito peppers though, so I saved those for last.  The prosciutto was super fresh, pretzel bread was soft on the inside, crunchy and salty on the outside, and the cheddar spread you could eat with a spoon.  The peppers were charred just right and had a soy sauce glaze, which was a nice touch.  The Brooklyn Lager is an amber lager enhanced by “dry-hopping”, which is when they steep the beer with fresh hops during maturation.  I noticed this particularly in the aroma of the beer which was a bit floral, and it had a slight bitterness in taste, but not overwhelming.  A fairly versatile beer, it definitely paired well with this meat and cheese dish.

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Second course:  Oysters, lemon confit and horseradish

Beer pairing: Brooklyn Pilsner

I was definitely excited to see the little plates of crushed ice being passed around, because it could really only mean one thing- ‘raw bar’ :)   The plate featured three types of oysters from the Long Island Sound: Stoney Brook, Tomahawk, and Naked Cowboy.  I found the oysters to go from mild to briny as I moved left to right.  All were enjoyable, but the cowboys are always a favorite.  Wasn’t too crazy about the pairings however, the lemon confit had a sweet syrup which is not really my thing and the horseradish lacked that pungent kick I usually expect.  Still didn’t take anything away from the dish, the oysters and beer were a great match.  The Brooklyn Pilsner is a golden lager beer, and was a delightfully refreshing apertif.  Really smooth and crisp, it complimented the oysters nicely.

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Third course:  Pork belly, octopus, and split pea

Beer pairing: Brooklyn Winter Ale

The third course was exquisite and my personal favorite.  Thin slabs of crunchy pork belly, slices of grilled octopus, and slit pea puree over squid ink.  This was not just a party in my mouth, it was mardi gras in my mouth.  The crunchy saltiness of the pork belly, chewiness of the octopus and one of my personal favorite foods, and the smooth creaminess of the split pea just came together like a happy life-long marriage of goodness.  It was just awesome!  The Brooklyn Winter Ale, a Scottish style robust flavored ale, was a perfect choice.  We all even took special note of this by smelling the beer and then the food- a wonderful combination of aromas indeed.  I particularly liked this beer, it was a nice combination of hop and malt with a deep bronze color.

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Fourth course:  Tandoori duck with potato crepe

Beer pairing:  Brooklyn Brewmaster’s Reserve Fire & Ice

This course was a close runner up to the pork belly and was absolutely deeeelish.  The duck was cooked nicely, with a dark and smoky flavored, savory yet slightly sweet sauce.  This sauce was REALLY good, but my favorite part of the dish was actually the potato crepe.  They served it julienned, so it was almost like a potato crepe linguini.  I wanted to take home a pound of it, whoa it was amazing.  The Fire & Ice is the brewery’s latest edition to their limited line and will only be around for 3-4 months.  It is a smoked oatmeal porter, dark in color and very unique in taste.  I feel like this is not a beer, it’s an experience.  It made me feel like I was sitting in a log cabin somewhere, deep in the woods by a fireplace.  You don’t even need food with this, you don’t even need anything but a log cabin in the woods with this, but it did pair perfectly with the food.  Actually, this pairing was probably the best in my opinion.  The aromas from these two beauties could create it’s own scented candle, and I would definitely buy two or four.

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Fifth course:  Dark chocolate pie, cinnamon whipped cream and caramel popcorn

Beer pairing: Brooklyn Black Chocolate Stout

The last course was the dessert and we were all stuffed at this point, but I left a litttttle bit of room for it of course.  The courses were actually all very well sized I must say, and didn’t make me feel over the top full.  The chocolate pie was good, very rich, and I felt the cinnamon whipped cream was a perfect way to balance the richness with some light fluff.  I probably could’ve eaten an entire bowl of that whipped cream though.  However, the real superstar was this caramel popcorn, everyone was going crazy over this stuff.  It was gooey, chewy, nutty goodness.  The Black Chocolate Stout is an Imperial stout style and was an obvious match for this dish.  At 10.2% alcohol content, it packs a big punch and is my kinda beer.  Deep chocolate malty flavored, this is definitely worth a try especially for the holiday season.  I want to try the pairing recipe float listed on the brewery’s website- yum!

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The night ended with some closing comments and a parting gift pint glass from Brooklyn Brewery.  Fun times!

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Special thank you to Danny Barroqueiro of Peerless Beverage Company for the invite to this splendid event.  Stay tuned for more exciting events like these in the future!

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