Ole! Ole! Ole! Let’s start the fiesta. It is always a good idea to have a theme when having a beer and food-pairing event, whether it is at home or in a larger setting. I like to pick holidays or events, which traditionally involve food and drink and let the event evolve from there. In the past I have used Fat Tuesday (Mardi Gras), luau, picnic, barbecue and of course Octoberfest. In May of 2000 I did a Cinco de Mayo dinner with the very talented award-winning brewer Vinnie Cilurzo of Russian River Brewing Co.

The beers we chose for this event had absolutely nothing to do with Mexico, but they went nicely with the meal anyway. I always like to start with a reception to allow everyone to relax, get to know each other and to be sure everyone has arrived before dinner is served. We served a British style India Pale Ale with the hors d’oeuvre, which were all somewhat spicy. I find that the slightly higher alcohol content sooths the spices while the hop finish cleanses the palate.

The first course was a lobster pozole paired with Damnation Ale, which is a Belgian style white beer. This beer also is on the strong side as far as alcohol and the citrus flavor matched very well with delicate shellfish.The surf and turf entrée of Pan Seared Skate with Birria (a traditional goat stew made with roasted tomatoes), Tomatillo Risotto and Three Salsas was accompanied by a British style Porter, which is a dark toasty beer that cries out for a hearty stew.
Dessert was Flan de Rumpope, which is the Mexican version of Egg Nog and we served it with Vinnie’s Barleywine which (surprise, surprise) also is high octane, though no higher than other beers of this style. This beer also has a slightly sweet finish that complimented the rich custard.

Russian River Brewing will be opening in a brand new location in Santa Rosa, Ca. sometime in July of this year and I for one, can’t wait.
On May 23rd I will host another “Cinco de Mayo” Dinner with the Brewmaster featuring another award-winning brewer, Richard Norgrove Jr. of Bear Republic Brewing in Healdsburg, Ca.. The menu and the beer selection have yet to be determined, but the dishes will be based on the cuisine of Mexico and all of the Bear Republic beers are excellent.
If you are interested in learning more about beer or pairing food with beer, come to a dinner or please feel free to contact me directly. Now please get out and try some new beer.


Chef Bruce