Chicago Craft Beer Week: WI Cheese and MI Beer Reception and Dinner

In Event Review by Andrew

Yesterday was a pretty big day for us at The legislation that we have been tracking for months received the overwhelming approval from  the Illinois House, putting the state just one step away from protecting the rights of craft brewers to self distribute, and we were invited to take part in a cheese and beer reception and dinner hosted by the Wisconsin Milk Marketing Board and Founders Brewing at the Kendall College School of Culinary Arts.

Yes, you read that right – beer from Founder’s and cheese from Wisconsin – could this night get any better?

The evening opened with cheese and beer pairing of Founders Pale Ale with a 4 year cheddar from Widmer Chesse Cellars  and a Dunbarton Blue from a Roelli Cheese . The cheddar had a bit of bite to it, as you might imagine, which really worked well with the hoppiness of the Pale Ale. And the blue cheese selected for this course, which was a really tame blue cheese, was an excellent choice for this paring. Anything stronger would have potentially overpowered the beer.

The second beer and cheese pairing brought us a Dirty Bastard Scotch Ale with an Uplands – Pleasant Ridge Reserve and Carr Valley Cheese – Casa Bolo Mellage. The Dirty Bastard is a very smooth, drinkable scotch ale, and the bit of oaky, creamy smokiness of the beer highlighted some of those same notes in the cheese. The Pleasant Ridge Reserve and the 4 year cheddar really stole the show in this round.

The first course of the meal was the best course of the night – an Old Curmudgeon Ale onion soup with Emmi Roth Grand Cru Gruyere and Satorie Sar Vecchio Parmesan paired with the Old Curmudgeon Ale. This pairing was an obvious selection – the beer was used to make the soup – but I really can’t get over how thick and creamy this soup turned out. I love onion soup and this may have been one of the best I’ve had in memory (no offense to Ryan’s killer Oktoberfest Onion Soup). Big home run here from the chef and students at Kendall College.

Our salad course consisted of Belgian endive and tart apple salad with Emmi Roth Blue Affinee, walnuts and Lemon-leek vinaigrette paired with Red’s Rye PA. The beer brings you sweet caramel and bitter notes which was a great choice to set off the flavors of the tart apples. The blue cheese also held its own here, stronger than the blue we had earlier in the evening, but not so strong as to overpower the rest of the salad or the beer.

For the main course, the chef paired a Dirty Bastard Scotch Ale with a Dirty Bastard braised beef with prunes, Widmer Cheddar polenta and French beans. The prunes really made this pairing stand out for me – they worked in harmony with the dark fruits in the Dirty Bastard. The beef, so tender it could be cut with a fork, was also a perfect marriage with the smooth, creamy beer.

With the sun setting more than an hour into our meal, our server brought us the fourth course of the meal consisting of a Centennial IPA and a cheese selection of Marieke aged Gouda, Satori Bellavitano Gold and Hook’s Tilston Point Blue. If you’ve had the Centennial IPA before, you know that it oozes caramel malts and tangy, floral hops. This pairing was an example of a beer that both worked with and against the cheeses. For example, the gouda was a great smokey, creamy cheese that you wouldn’t expect to pair well with the somewhat aggressive IPA – but it really was an instance of “opposites attract.” The blue cheese for this course, the best cheese of the night, was an incredibly aggressive, funky and gritty offering that played very well with the hops from the IPA.

Our meal concluded with the dessert course – where we could both eat and drink our dessert. We were served a Porter with a sexy and dark gingerbread served with Crave Brothers Mascarpone lemon cream. I was expecting chocolate for the dessert course, but was impressed by the choice of gingerbread and the lemon mascarpone. The beer was a great selection and makes sense for a dessert course, coffee and chocolate notes in a thick, drinkable porter.

All of us at would like to thank Joanna and the Wisconsin Milk Marketing Board for inviting us to participate in this event, it was the perfect opportunity to celebrate Chicago Craft Beer Week and decompress after the passage of SB 754.

We’d also like to thank Founders Brewing and at the Kendall College School of Culinary Arts for their contributions as well. If you’ve never checked out the Monday Night Dining Series at Kendall College, we give it our highest recommendation. The food is top notch, it’s affordable and you would be supporting a local institution and their students training to be chefs.

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Government by day, politics by night and beer every minute in between (and let’s be honest, sometimes during) is Andrew’s story. He works with his network of friends across the country to bring in new, regional beers and is always quick to jump when Ryan blows the conch to assemble The Guys for a unique vertical or cellar experiment.

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