This past week I had the honor of being flown to Charleston, SC to attend an all-expense-paid, super special beer dinner co-hosted by the Culinary Institute of Charleston and Samuel Adams.
There were several highlights of the night –one of which included meeting and conversing with the phenomenal team of chefs from the Culinary Institute of Charleston. The food and the beer were obviously major highlights as well.
But hands down, the ultimate highlight of the entire evening was the opportunity to meet, interview and talk beer (and other non-beer topics) with Sam Adam‘s Head Brewer, Bob Cannon. And get this — he not only sat at MY TABLE, but also sat RIGHT. NEXT. TO. ME.
And let me just tell you, Bob is one heck of a guy. He is extremely personable and an amazing conversationalist. I could have talked with him for hours upon hours … upon hours … upon hours (and so on and so forth).
Prior to the actual event, I was sent an invitation that listed the various courses and pairings for the beer dinner. Other than knowing the tentative list of food & beers, I had absolutely no idea what to expect from the evening.
Needless to say, any expectations that I may have even remotely had were completed exceeded by both The Culinary Institute of Charleston and Sam Adams. The Culinary Institute was beautifully decorated and the table settings were simple, yet effective.
I arrived at the event early with my good friend Lain Bradford. Almost immediately upon entering the building, we were both introduced to Bob Cannon. Even though I didn’t believe him at first, I was very humbled to have learned that Bob had actually heard about me and my blog prior to the event. (Apparently, “The Beer Wench” was a brief topic of conversation at the Great American Beer Fest … who woulda thunk?)
Bob was kind enough to allow both Lain and myself interview him. The footage will be released in the near future.
And now without further ado, allow me to present my Sam Adams Beer Dinner RECAP through the use of visual media …
Disclaimer: the following video is the first of its kind to be released on my blog. I used a FLIP camera to record myself prior to the start of the dinner. Ummm … enjoy?
Okay, so I might need a wee bit o’ practice in the self-video department.
Let us move on to the nitty gritty.
Upon entering the doors to the Culinary Institute of Charleston, guests were immediately “bombarded with beer. We were forced to sample the Samuel Adams Pils and the Samuel Adams Ale.
We were asked to vote which one we preferred best. And you will NEVER guess in a million years what The Wench voted for …
(If you even need to ask, then you are not stalking me well enough — tisk tisk)
Soft pretzels and whole grain mustard and beer is a natural pairing. These delicious knots of joy were a slam dunk with the Samuel Adams Boston Lager.
This was our modest cheese spread. Only about 5 pounds worth per guest …
Super sexy close-up of the cheese. Ohhhhhhh yeah.
That was some seriously coagulated casein. I’m drooling just looking at the picture.
Adobe chicken wings and livers. To die for. Really.
Mussels steamed in garlic & Boston Lager. Absolutely delicious!
The Beer Wench and Chef David Vagasky — the brilliantly talented chef behind all of the appetizers.
The simple, yet completely perfect center piece.
The spit bucket was just for decoration.
I don’t think anyone actually used it …
The table confetti consisted of two types of barley and dried hops leaves — which I proceeded to chew on at the end of the meal. HEY, hops are good for digestion. Among other things
The Beer Wench with Chef Ben Black — the other brilliantly talented chef responsible for the amazing appetizer spread!
The Salad Course: Shrimp and Citrus Salad paired with Samuel Adams Summer Wheat Ale.
The salad was super light and refreshing and the beer complimented it extremely well.
The First Entree Course: Cajun red snapper with Texas caviar and mango salad with a mango Irish Red reduction. This was paired with Samuel Adams Irish Red Ale.
I loved this course. I would almost argue that it was my favorite. The Irish Red Ale was definitely my favorite beer of the night, hands down. (It is also Bob Cannon’s favorite SA beer)
The Second Entree Course: Salmon Nicoise — Fennel crusted salmon atop a nicoise olive & haricot vert salad finished with a reduction of whole grain mustard and paired with Samuel Adams Boston Lager.
This dish was very tasty and the salmon was cooked perfectly. Samuel Adam’s Boston Lager is one of the only American Lagers that I actually enjoy.
The Third Entree Course: Pan-seared SA Blackberry Wit Muscovy duck breast with blackberry-lemon gastrique and griddled Anson Mills hoe cake paired with Sam Adams Blackberry Wit.
The duck was out of this world. This was also the first time I tried the SA Blackberry Wit — and needless to say, I was impressed. Light & fruity. Perfect pair for this dish.
The Fourth Entree Course: Hold onto your seats for this one, kids.
Kobe beef short ribs braised in SA Cream Stout atop a bed of roasted garlic buttermilk mashed potatoes and paired with Sam Adams Cream Stout.
This dish was absolutely pornographic. The cream stout was rich, thick and oooohhh so creamy.
The Fifth Entree Course: Sam Adams Black Lager & chocolate ancho chile rubbed lamb ribs paired with Sam Adams Black Lager.
Ridiclous. Absolutely ridiculous.
The Dessert Course: Paired with Sam Adams Cherry Wheat.
Part 1 = Apple walnut & cream stout tart
Part 2 = Malted chocolate gelato with macerated cherries, vanilla bean creme fraiche and SA Cherry Wheat foam.
I completely devoured both desserts. In fact, I wouldn’t be surprised if pictures of me licking the plate surfaced.The cherry wheat complimented both deserts very nicely. It was not too sweet and slightly tart.
LA PIECE DE RESITANCE: SAMUEL ADAMS UTOPIA.
This is the strongest beer in the entire world. It is roughly 27.5 %ABV. It is only produced every two years — and will run yo about $200 bucks a bottle.
And what does The Wench have to say about it?
Wow. Just … wow.
I am still speechless.
Well, folks. That is all the photos I have to share from the event. The event was almost too enjoyable that I forgot all about taking pictures.
BIG THANKS go out to both Samuel Adams and The Culinary Institute of Charleston for putting on such an amazing event and allowing me to be a part of it. I had a tremendously wonderful time. The food was amazing and the beers were spectacular — but it truly was the people who made the event as enjoyable as it was.
I am still speechless.
Great job, Ash, it looks great.
You are so lucky to have had the chance to attend this event… thank you for sharing your pics and story!
I am so jealous. Great story. You did good in the video, by the way.
Chris — Thanks! Although, I still think that the video is pretty lame. I’m looking forward to seeing the interview that my friend shot with me and Bob Cannon. That should be much better!
Thank you darling! You are my biggest cheerleader
Food looked good. I am jealous as well.
But come on, no critiques. The Cherry Wheat???
“The cherry wheat complimented both deserts very nicely.” Actually maybe that was a critique, as it was much more subdued than your other praises.
What missed the mark? Anything?
Ashley, as always, informative and entertaining. And well written. Loved the video!
Excellent first time at bat. Time will offer you polish and presence, but the potential is obvious. (Even Giada D. had to develop her style!) The extravaganza sounds like a smash hit. Keep on sipping and tasting so we can live vicariously through you. You’re a star in the making!
The Cherry Wheat was … well a Cherry Wheat. Not the worst fruit wheat beer, yet not my favorite wheat beer. It did pair well with the cherry dessert, though.
Looks like it was a stellar event, anything else you could say about the Utopia in detail?
Also Nice work on the flip cam video. Always nice to see that type of content in there to spice up a post.
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