Having attended a handful of beer dinners (other than my own) and read about several others, I am going to base this article on the format that I usually follow.
I invite a brewer to bring four different beers and make sure the brewer will be available to attend on the night of the event. Next I decide on a theme, which usually coincides with an eating and drinking festival (Cinco de Mayo, Mardi Gras, Luau, Barbecue. Octoberfest etc.). Then I taste the beers and decide which order to serve them in and what foods will go well in accompaniment. The upcoming June event at The Cathedral Hill Hotel will feature Vinnie Cilurzo of Russian River Brewing and a quartet of his delicious ales.

We always have a reception with Hors D’Oeuvre and one beer for the first hour. The beer is usually the lightest in style and color of the four. The reception portion is to allow the guests to mingle and relax before dinner as well as give everyone time to arrive before the event commences. The beers get darker, heavier, hoppier or stronger as the meal progresses. Dessert is usually accompanied by a Stout or Barley wine style.

  At the onset of dinner the brewer gives a short presentation on his or her brewery, the beer served during the reception and the one we are about to enjoy with the first course. Then the chef gives a short presentation on the food and beer pairing. These presentations also precede the second and third courses.
While plying my trade at The Clift Hotel I had the pleasure of doing one of these events with Mr. Cilurzo. He is an excellent speaker and has a passion to his craft that rivals any chef I know. At that time we did a Cinco de Mayo event that was very well received. He is very involved in the brewing process and even grows his own hops at The Korbel Winery where Russian River Brewing is housed.

The upcoming event, June 21st, will feature Hop2it and Pliny the Elder which are California style IPAs as well as Damnation and Temptation both made in a Belgian style. The theme will be French Bistro and the menu is still in the process at this point. Vinnie has won several medals for his well-balanced highly flavored ales and that also makes my part easier. Matching food with a good beer is a pleasure.

In July I will host Sierra Nevada Brewing for a Christmas in July dinner featuring Celebration Ale, which is only available during the Holidays (just this once I was thinking ahead). One of the advantages of a highly hopped beer with a slightly higher alcohol by volume is that not only does it keep well under refrigeration, but it tends to improve with age. The exact date is yet to be set but it will probably be in the latter part of the month. If you are interested in attending one of these educational and fun events please send me an email and I will add you to our subscriber list.


Chef Bruce