“Why wouldn’t you come to this?” one of my dining companions asked partially through our Flights and Bites meal at Brothers Craft Brewing on April 20th. It’s true. For $40 and two hours on a Wednesday night, we enjoyed six courses of beautifully crafted food carefully paired with beers from Brothers Craft Brewing. Chef Brian Bogan of the Joshua Wilton House and Chef Jakob Napotnik of the Local Chop and Grill House teamed up to create a menu that highlighted both local ingredients and local beer. Adam Shifflett, managing partner at Brothers and both chefs introduced each food and beer course while we lucky ones shared tables with strangers who quickly became friends.
The evening started with Dalliance, a tart saison with bright sour notes that complemented a rich Virginia Blue Crab salad on challah slider rolls. This simple first course was the basis for everything that followed and the flavors grew and compounded throughout the dinner.
Better Times Bock, a toasty, malty traditional German bock beer was served with a deliciously tender sauerbraten made from Buffalo Creek beef, topped with a hopped and quick-pickled sauerkraut. The bready beer mingled nicely with the tart cabbage and melt-in-your mouth beef.
The third course was a pouring of Brown Out, a smooth brown ale, paired with the evening’s best dish of the night--not that there was a bad one, not even close. Chef Bogan’s lamb BLT featured Border Springs lamb marinated in Moroccan spices on a sweet potato brioche roll and topped with local lettuce, tomato and ridiculously good mustard aioli made with Great Outdoors, one of Brothers flagship beers.
Halfway through the event, what appeared to be miniature course began to feel like a full meal, making the ticket price oh so worth it and we eagerly checked the menu for what would come next.
The fourth course arrived with a glass of Scarlet Empire, a slightly sweet and caramel-y imperial red ale along with delicious Autumn Olive Farm smoked sausage, spicy guajillo peppers on a local corn tortilla. The taco was a close second to the lamb BLT.
A pour of Atrementous, a Belgian stout with distinct cherry notes, a slight bite and warm, complex flavors came next. It was served with an equally complex food pairing—steamed pork belly buns with kimchee, toasted peanuts, spicy Korean gochujang and scallions. At this point my excited palate craved a lighter, bubblier beer, but the choice was dramatic and clever and I admire a chef who takes risks. It certainly set the tone for the final pairing.
Last, as it should be, came Resolute, Brothers renowned Russian Imperial Stout that is released once a year after aging for almost as long in bourbon barrels. It’s a complicated beer with malt, oak, chocolate and drinks—with it’s 13.5% alcohol—like a good bourbon. The beer’s intricacies were matched by a charred portobello mushroom stuffed with roasted chilies and a traditional mole sauce made with over 40 ingredients. It was like the grand finale of a fireworks show—big, loud, and bold but we couldn’t stop eating or sipping.
An incredible event by three true craftsmen of food and beer. If you ever find the opportunity to attend a pairing dinner by any of the chefs or breweries who call Downtown Harrisonburg home, you must go.
Written by Kirsten Moore, Food Writer and HDR promotions committee member.