17 Mar No Coast Reserve and Central State Beer Pairing Dinner, or We Need the Funk, We Gotta Have that Funk
“Hmmm, that’s sounds suspiciously like your birthday week,” was her skeptical reply. But once I explained that it wasn’t just any beer, it was Central State’s lineup of farmyard funk, she warmed to the idea. Then, like a poker player laying down the last card of a royal flush, I told her that it was actually a beer pairing dinner at No Coast Reserve (NOCO to its friends).
“Ah yes,” she smiled, “now I remember why I married you.” We both love No Coast, especially in its new digs on the Courthouse Square right next to The Tap. Executive Chef Seth Elgar and Sous Chef Sasha Divine have created an eclectic menu featuring local produce and meats alongside fresh oysters and other seafood. We sometimes go just for the raw bar, but we usually end up with a plate of Vietnamese meatballs as well. We haven’t been there for brunch yet, but with dishes like King Crab Benedict and Pig & Apple Poutine, it’s only a matter of time.
Each course began with the beer, giving us a chance to taste it on its own. The second course started with House Beer, a farmhouse blonde ale, which was a little bitter (rye, maybe?) and a little funky, with some delicate floral notes. I like many of the barnyard characteristics of funky ales, but the nice thing about Central State’s approach is that they use Brettanomyces for primary fermentation. Brett is commonly used after Saccharomyces has worked its magic, because Brett will eat many of the sugars and carbs left behind. Using 100% Brett in primary seems to result in a mellower funk. House Beer was paired with beer-battered smelt, which Chef Elgar called “Great Lakes anchovy.” These finger-sized fish were accompanied by a tartar sauce with house-pickled celery, onions, and beets; freshly fried potato chips and sunchoke chips added some crunch to the course.
The Central State brewers were together at a nearby table with Caleb Staton, master of sours at Upland. As I looked around the restaurant, I noticed Jarrod May, head brewer at The Tap, at another table and Steve Llewellyn, head brewer at Function, sitting at the bar. Some folks from Quaff On! also made an appearance.
The third course began with Halsdurschlag, a Berliner Weisse made with 100 pounds of Meyer lemons, with hibiscus added to the cask giving it a pink hue. This beer was a collaboration with Chef Elgar, and he paired it with German-style sweet-and-sour pickled shrimp. The shrimp were piled on a raft of sourdough bread that was house-made from a 300-year-old starter and slathered with Maldon sea salted butter. This was a full entrée! We knew we should start pacing ourselves with two courses to go, but I’m not going to relinquish my Clean Plate Ranger badge any time soon.
Next up was Cast No Shadow on Liberty, a farmhouse IPA with a citrusy funk from Chinook, CAmarillo, El Dorado, and Galaxy hops. At nearly 11% ABV, we clearly weren’t winding down. This was too much for my wife, so I ended up drinking hers too (after she agreed to drive us home). I thought this paired well with Langosta del Infierno, a lobster tail roasted in a spicy tomato-chili sauce, garnished with slices of fresh jalapeno, radish, cilantro, and lime. Oh, did I mention that it was served atop a raft of cheesy polenta? I should have pre-unbuttoned my pants (a Thanksgiving tradition) before sitting down to this meal.
“You don’t have to finish it if you can’t,” my wife consoled. She had eaten a couple of bites and was content to take the rest home and save it until she was able to eat again, probably in a couple of days.
“But I always finish dessert,” I sniffed. But I didn’t, I couldn’t. But I’d be damned if I was going to leave any beer behind! I have too much respect for the effort and time it takes to make this kind of beer, and I was pretty sure I couldn’t get it to go. As we walked back to the car, I wasn’t even tempted to wander into The Tap for one last beer; that’s how sated I was. Ever the forward-thinker though, I suggested that maybe we could head to The Koelschip on Saturday for the release of canned Lazer Raptor, which will also be on tap along with Halsdurschlag. Those were my wife’s two favorite beers of the night, and it is her birthday week after all.