It’s incredible to see just how far Tree House has come in the past year. It feels like just yesterday I was asking the only person I knew in MA at the time, Alec of Armsby Abbey, what Tree House’s story was (thanks to Jeff for reminding me of this).
Thankfully Paul and Jeff (neither of whom I knew at the time but thanks to Tree House I now consider good friends) pushed me over the edge and I made my first visit to what has now become one of my favorite breweries. Fast forward to today and Tree House has gained national recognition in the beer community, their beer is traded all over the world, and here they are being featured in a world class beer dinner at one of the top bars in the country, Armsby Abbey.
The night was a cause for a celebration: both the fifth anniversary of Armsby Abbey and subsequently marked the passing of the torch from Alec to Executive Chef Damien Evangelous, as well a belated reflection on the one year anniversary of Tree House Brewing Co.
The dinner started with a reception of some of our favorite cheese from the Cellars of Jasper Hill, Bonnieview Dairy, Cobb Hill, and Champlain Valley accompanied with fresh fruits from local farms, house candied nuts and house baked bread. Metacognition, Tree House’s saison, was paired with our starters.
The next dish was a different take on the Watermelon Carpaccio that was offered last year (the jalapeno fan in me definitely missed the addition of razor thin slices of the pepper, but I still have great appreciation for this dish nevertheless). This year the watermelon was presented with basil oil, black olive powder, pine nuts, orange zest and Vermont Shepherd Verano. The dish was paired with Tornado, a beer born during the tragic events of the 2011 tornado that still leaves a scar on Brimfield to this day (full story here). It’s a unabashedly hopped pale ale coming in at under 6% ABV. Refreshing and an all day sipper, for sure.
The course after that was baby eggplant, split in half and grilled a la plancha with romesco, charred scallion, tomato guts, and olive oil breadcrumbs paired with a second helping of Metacognition.
The Land & Sea dish was one of my favorite pairings of the night. It featured lobster poached in chicken fat, wild mushrooms, soft cooked egg, corn & lobster foam, crispy chicken skin, chive and esplette. Paired with a true citrus bomb, Curiosity Four has grapefruit juice and zest added to the boil with two dry hoppings and a butt ton of Galaxy hops.
Following that was an Intermezzo of compressed sungold cherry tomatoes with smoked tomato jam.
The sweetbreads made a return again this year, this time encrusted in the same grains used in the beer it was paired with, adding a little bit more crunch to it than last year. Sherry glazed baby carrots, chiles, bone marrow-carrot puree, and chervil accompanied the sweetbreads. The Old Man keg was one they’ve been holding on to for a while, and I think the beer has aged beautifully.
The second to last dish consisted of slow roasted goat, curried cauliflower, raisins, braised walnuts, and lemon yogurt. The spice in this dish, no surprise, worked perfectly with Tree House’s flagship IPA, Julius.
Lastly, for dessert was something I had never seen before and took me by surprise: smoked peaches. The smoke was something you wouldn’t typically see in a dessert and worked beautifully with the stout ice cream, local blackberries, brown butter oat crumble, aerated vanilla custard, and of course the roastiness of Tree House’s Space & Time.
Of course, anyone who has been to the brewery know the Tree House folks are a fun group. A little goofin’ off after the dinner was naturally in order.
So there it is, tack another one on to the list of a half dozen or so incredible meals we’ve had at Armsby Abbey over the past year. Perfect food and beer pairings, ambiance, and experience. Not to mention how proud I am to see just how far our friends at Tree House have come over the past year.
Given the bullshit that has been brewing on the Armsby Facebook Group the past couple of days, it’s worth mentioning that the bottom of the menu that night read “All menu items are prepared as is; substitutions/additions will not be acknowledged.” I wish more restaurants did this. Alec, Chef Damien and their crew are truly masterminds at what they do, and their vision and choices in a dish should be left unmolested. No more does this sentiment ring true than at one of Armby Abbey’s Anniversary Dinners.