Still catching up on some of the events that happened before we headed Vermont for vacation, today I wanted to share some pictures and thoughts on May’s Wild Game Night at The City Beer Hall, this time featuring the beers of a wildly popular brewery out of Grand Rapids, Founders Brewing Company.
It’s been a while since I’ve done a post on The City Beer Hall. Too long, in fact. And it’s not for lack of great events that they’ve been putting on, either. They’ve had Brewery Nights, Tap Takeovers, Brewery vs Brewery Events, and Special Keg Tappings on the beer side of things. Executive Chef Dimitrios Menagias has the food covered with events like Bacon Fest, Wild Game Nights, Beer and Cheese Tastings with The Cheese Traveler, and although I couldn’t make it, one of my personal faves was the Biggie Brunch featuring a T-Bone Steak, Cheese Eggs and Welch’s Grape (Mimosa). These are exactly the types of things I like seeing going down at a beer bar. It just keeps things fresh and keeps patrons coming in on nights they might not typically make it out. It’s really a win-win all around.
It’s been even longer since the last attended a Wild Game Dinner, back in February 2012. That’s back when I first started this blog, didn’t have a great camera or know much about photography (still don’t) and was just dipping my toes into the world of craft beer. The City Beer Hall was open for less than a year at that point. They were closed on Sundays and Mondays, most of the plates came in around $10, and the Wild Game Nights were held on Thursdays, with the kitchen competing with that night’s regular dinner service and seating was done upstairs.
Things have changed dramatically since then. Now open on both Sundays and Mondays, the weekend brunch kills. The Speakeasy is now open and offering some amazing cocktails (I’m dying to get my camera in there). The menu is constantly changing every season, but they’re still keeping things around the $10 mark with a few more expensive shared boards and a nightly special that ranges from $16-18. Wild Game Dinners are now held on Mondays while regular dining service is put on hold (there was a time in the interim where Wild Game Dinners were held on Mondays but was closed to the public) and seating is done with the farmhouse style tables on the first floor. Wild Game Dinners are less frequent these days which make them all the more worth while to attend.
We started the dinner with Penino melon wrapped in house-cured duck prosciutto, fiddleheads fried in tempura with both laid on a bed of red heirloom spinach, frisee and pickled fennel fronds. This was served with a pint of Founders dry hopped Pale Ale, atypically served on nitro.
The dumplings, filled with Elk and Wild board belly, were plated along side pickled ramps and a hoisin-oyster dipping sauce. This was paired with a generous pour of Centennial IPA.
I thought the intermezzo was the most imaginative course of the evening. With Founders All Day IPA being their most popular offering, it’s pretty common and difficult to wow for a beer dinner such as this. Breathing new life into the beer, it was served as a cocktail with Hendrick’s Gin, lemon juice and honey. This was accompanied with an All Day IPA sorbeto with Aperol and grapefruit, seated on a cucumber and Meyer lemon jello. Absolutely refreshing.
This Indian stew is traditionally made with pork, but swine was substituted with antelope in this presentation, served with crispy taro root, bismati, raita, and naan. I just about licked this plate clean but the chili head in me wants a version of this with the spices ramped up quite a bit. This was paired with the barrel aged version of Founder’s Dirty Bastard scotch ale, Backwoods Bastard.
Last up was a whole chicken-fried quail seated on top of white chocolate pancakes with coffee butter, foie gras maple syrup and a side of grilled peaches infused with Heaven Hills bourbon. The barrels of the aforementioned spirit were used for barrel aging KBS, the beer paired with this course.
I’ve been really happy with how accessible KBS has been this year (although, as per usual, some accounts that get KBS in the Capital Region leave me scratching my head a bit, but that’s a distributor thing). I’ve had it at The Ruck a couple of times, Armsby Abbey for their Stout Fest, The City Beer Hall for this dinner, Henry Street Taproom had bottles and Lionheart will have it on for their Founders Beer Social later this month. No need to chase KBS bottles down this year, although I’m sure some still did.
It was really nice to get back to doing an event at City Beer Hall. All too often I just miss the event, can’t make it or am doing some beer traveling that day, only to get the leftovers on tap the next day. It’s always good to get first crack at the taps and get a glimpse into Dimitrios’ ever creative mind, and the beer dinners are where he gets to flex those culinary muscles the most. The next Wild Game Night has yet to be announced, but both a Jack’s Abby Tap Takeover and a Country Boil are slated for later this month. If you haven’t gotten the chance to head to an event at The City Beer Hall yet, or if like me, it’s been a while since you have, I highly recommend giving either of them a shot.