As we mentioned the other day, we don’t often post press releases about or otherwise promote beer dinners because, for the most part…they bore me. Perhaps this is an example of my personal beer ignorance or stubbornness, but I like keeping beer and food separate.
Don’t get me wrong — I like beer. I like food. Those two things should never be in doubt. But, do I like slamming the two together to see how they work? Personally, I prefer to concentrate primarily on one at a time.
However, we really like the ethos of Paul Virant, which includes his local focus and his “pickle everything” attitude on display at Lincoln Park’s Perennial Virant. We’ve also enjoyed what we’ve drank from Perennial Artisan Ales, which has that strong Half Acre heritage behind it as well. So when the two came together, we set aside our general aversion towards beer dinners, and decided if we were gonna do one, we were gonna do this one.
And godblessit, if we didn’t have a really good time and ate a lot of really good food.
The “Beer” in the title of this post should be pretty self-explanatory; “butter” and “bird” goes like this — the best kickoff small bite of the night was a house-cured slice of salami wrapped around a little dollop of butter topped with relish. Fat, salt, meat and vinegar? We’re all in. “Bird” refers to my favorite plate of the night — squab a couple different ways, both kickass.
Without boring you with too many details, we appreciated the thoughtful progression of courses and beers — lighter and lower ABV to darker and heavier and stronger; that corresponded with a menu that started with an airy tempura-battered soft-shell crab through to the strongest, fattiest, gamiest lamb I ever did have. Lest you think that’s not a compliment towards the animal, it is — Virant explained they harvest their sheep a little later than most, and the older animals produce a richer, “lambier” flavor that I was a-okay with.
Beerwise, pretty much all of these Perennial beers were new to me with the Aria and Saison de Lis being standouts. The former, a Belgian Ale kettle soured with Brettanomyces Bruxellensis (google it, we don’t know), was complex, funky and fun. Brewer Phil Wymore was on hand to explain the process of adding a nifty yeast strain to make this beer the brew it is, but as I am not as yeast-literate as I should be I invite you to ask him about it the next time you see him because I cannot explain it well at all. The latter, a Belgian Saison with chamomile was a thirst quencher hiding beneath a big, thick, frothy marshmallow head of foam.
Without boring you too much further (the only thing more tedious to me than most beer dinners is having people explain them to me) you’ll be able to see below exactly when the light got bad, the crowd got loud, the beer flowed heavier and the jokes got a little bit dirtier. Which, really, is what any good gathering should be about.
Thanks to the minds in the kitchen and the brewhouse for coming together and becoming a whole even greater than the sum of its parts. Equal credit goes to Garrett Sweet of the Perennial Virant beverage team, who got these two groups together in the first place. Good job, all.