Craft Beer & Food pairing at The Ritz

So Friday night we joined Simon Says and the Athlone beer club for one of their monthly meetings. While it was my first time to meet up, Wayne had the pleasure of attending before. Simon organized a great event for the night, a craft beer and food pairing evening hosted by The Ritz aptly named #HopsAtTheRitz. Unsurprisingly there was a terrific turn out on the night. The guys put together a wonderful menu with some great beers.While I read over it I began with a pale ale from St Mels 
First course was smoked hake, warm nicoise salad topped with a boiled quail egg and citrus salsa verdi. This was beautiful and light with great flavours. Its matching beer was a brilliant choice in Mescan Blond. A delicious beer weighing in at 5.5% with a great creamy smooth finish.
Up next was a wonderfully prepared Pan seared wood pigeon, puy lentil with blackberry jus and a micro herb salad. This was so very tasty. To accompany it was Mescan Tripel. I really enjoyed this course but personally felt the beer didn’t quite suit the dish. Both are beautiful, just not together. 
Our third course was a baked sweet potato and cumin soup with sweet potato crisp and home-made bread. Young Dave Guilfoyle of Bo Bristle brought along a specially brewed beer for the evening. A simply stunning Strong Amber at 7.8%. I thought this was the perfect match. There was a slight kick to the soup that was complimented by the sweet caramel goodness of the beer. 
Following that we enjoyed Braised beef cheek with horseradish mash, baby veg with wild mushroom and smoked lardon jus. The cheeks were so tender and mouth watering and the mash was gorgeous. Such a generous portion size. This was paired with Beoir Na Nollaig by Mescan. A lovely strong dark ale with sweet spicy taste. 
Last but certainly not least was dessert! An amazing warm chocolate fondant with ginger nut crumble and vanilla bean ice cream. This was pure heaven. I loved how it oozed as soon as i took my first spoonful. The beer chosen for this dish was a new one from Black Donkey. A Biere De Garde called Arigna #1 at 7.5%. This one was not to my taste but I know Wayne really enjoyed it. 
This was a fantastically well organised event that offered amazing value for money. We enjoyed these five stunning courses with the accompanying beers for €35. Well done to Simon and all the staff at The Ritz. We’ll definitely see you again!

Sheep Stealer – Black Donkey Brewing

The first beer from new brewers, Black Donkey Brewing of Roscommon is the Sheep Stealer, a farmhouse ale, a traditionally brewed Saison. This beer debuted at the recent European Beer Bloggers conference in Dublin. It was one of the stars of the show.

Richard and his wife Michaela are behind this new venture and have returned to Ireland after years in New York to join in the Irish Craft Beer Revolution. A saison is a brave choice to open up with but this thing stole headlines. I applaud this, too often do we see people playing it safe going with a Pale Ale or Red Ale. 

No doubt in part to the striking label that was painted especially for the brewers.

Pours a lovely orange colour, with a crisp white head. Once you get past that Saison aroma, it opens up into lovely citrus notes. That familiar tartness is there and nicely carbed for the style, the yeast giving those familiar clove like and peppery flavours.

I look forward to seeing this in a wider arena and trying it on draught. 

There is the East Coast Launch, this Thursday, the 22nd August in 57 The Headline, Clanbrassil St, Dublin 8. The guys are hoping to set a new record for keg emptying. Priced at 4.50 for a pint, for a 5.5% beer this is going to shift. I’m just sorry I won’t be there to help. They will of course be at the RDS in a few weeks if you don’t get to try it