THE BREWHOLDER: Dinner sheds light on food, beer pairings

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Unlike most supermarkets, take one step inside the door of the Whole Foods Market Devon and you’ll realize this store is “super” for a different reason — the Mile Post Pub. In a trend that has been increasing over the past few years in Pennsylvania, since 2012 the Mile Post Pub has operated inside — but separately from — the Whole Foods Devon, located at 821 Lancaster Ave., Wayne. As explained on the Whole Foods website — http://www.wholefoodsmarket.com/department/beer — “Our beer departments are stocked by a group of merry revolutionaries dedicated to liberating civilization from the clutches of boring beer. They operate independently but share a common goal; to procure the finest beers imaginable. Each month we will bring to you tips, tall tales (and tallboys) — and share the history and adventure of brewing.”
To celebrate Philly Beer Week 2015, the Mile Post Pub has held special events every day and will hold events through June 7. On Monday, June 1, the Pub held its first ever “Beer Dinner” — a four course meal created by the Prepared Foods Department chefs, with masterfully paired beers for each course by beer expert Joe Breslin, the “Beer Buyer” for the Pub. While the rainy weather did not cooperate with the original plan (the meal was to be held outside on a candlelit patio), eating the meal inside surrounded by bottles of craft brew did not detract from the ambience.
The evening began with oysters and a ginger-saison mignonette, paired with “Oude Geuze” from Belgian brewery Oud Beersel. The sour and salty Oude Geuze (imagine a lambic beer without any fruit) was an extremely well-paired compliment to the sweetness of the oysters. The second course was an arugula salad with hops vinaigrette dressing. The whole flower hops used for the dressing were the Citra variety and came from Victory Brewing Company based in Downingtown, Pa. Along with the salad, Breslin offered Firestone Walker’s “Easy Jack”, a session IPA whose tropical fruit aromas were enhanced by the tartness of the vinaigrette dressing.
In what seemed to be the most well-received course of the night, the third course consisted of braised pork belly with shredded daikon, carrots and radishes. The pork belly had been marinaded for an entire day, cooked slowly, then served with an apricot / soy glaze — which resulted in a tender piece of meat that simply melted in your mouth. The beer selection for the pork belly was Stone Brewing Company’s “Ruination 2.0,” a West Coast double IPA with a citrus edge that perfectly balanced the sweetness of the meat and apricot.
To finish the night, Breslin served The Bruery’s “Or Xata,” described by The Bruery’s website — www.thebruery.com — as “a blonde ale brewed with a heavy dosing of rice, cinnamon and fresh vanilla beans along with lactose for a little extra creamy character.” While the Or Xata with its sweet flavors could be enough for dessert itself, the chefs spoiled the attendees one last time with two doughnuts accompanied by ginger-creme anglaise and a chocolate ganache. It was a delightful end to a finely designed meal.
For those who have never been to a beer pairing dinner, it is a great way to learn about the wide range of beer styles and how those styles can be used to enhance your food. As Breslin explained, “Beer can be used to complement or contrast your meal. Beer and food — it’s all about balance.” If you missed this beer dinner, don’t worry. Bill Speers, another one of the knowledgeable staff at the Mile Post Pub (and formerly of the Cold Point Pub at the Whole Foods Market in Plymouth Meeting), said that they hope to hold another Beer Dinner at the end of this summer.
Wrapping up Beer Week
It’s not too late to celebrate Philly Beer Week 2015 at the Whole Foods Market Devon. The remaining PBW2015 events include: June 5, 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. – “Chicken and Waffles with Victory.” The description says it all — “Fried Chicken! Waffles! Victory Beer!” June 6, noon – “Sixpoint Pig Roast.” A pig roast and brews from Brooklyn-based Sixpoint Brewing Company. June 7, noon to 3 p.m. — “Shuck and Chuck with Yards.” The final event of PBW2015 will include oysters and Yards beer, and cornhole on the patio.

Columnist Matt Brasch is a Souderton Area High School graduate and a beer enthusiast. For more, check his blog at http://thebrewholder.com.

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