Redemption Alewerks Offers Unique Beer Dinner with Two Beer Variants Per Course

Redemption Alewerks Offers Unique Beer Dinner with Two Beer Variants Per Course

by Mark E. Lasbury for Indiana On Tap

Beer dinners have never been my thing, but I’m currently reconsidering that position. Redemption Alewerks has a beer dinner with a twist coming up – a couple of twists in fact. It’s ultra-affordable, it has some very interesting food, but mostly…it’s got two beers per course – a base beer and a variant. I’ve never seen that before, and I think it is going to be something that other breweries will copy in the future.

January 24 is the date for Redemption’s first beer dinner experience, with tickets limited to the first 50 people and a price that begs one to attend – $54 dollars for five courses and ten beers. Heck, if you’re in the Redeemers Mug Club, you can get the dinner for $44. There’s also an option on the ticketing page for getting both the dinner and joining the mug club.

I sat down with head brewer Dan Gohr to talk about the upcoming beer dinner and try some of the beers that will be served. Little did I know that even getting to try these beers is a special treat – there just isn’t that much of some of these beers left in the world. Let me explain.

Dan was working his way through the cold room a few weeks ago. He knew what was there, and knew that a couple of kegs had been there a while. There was a half-barrel of the scotch ale called Ol’Smitty’s, and a half barrel of the Absolution DIPA that had been cold for months. He pumped a bit of each out into a pitcher and noted the aroma first. These beers looked to have aged well. Then he tasted them – so amazing. How do I know this is true? I was there the day he found them and tried them just after he did; he was so amazed he had to bring other people into the experience. The beers had become more complex and gained flavors that just hadn’t been there before.

Dan Gohr, head brewer and beer dinner emcee for Redemption Alewerks. image credit: Indiana brew review

What do you do with beers this rare and amazing? Do you just put them on tap and try to get people to understand how special they are? No, you have to find a way to feature these beers. Dan mulled it over for a few days; how about pairing them with some amazing food? Well, how about doing a beer dinner with these and some other Redemption beers? Redemption has always had great wings and smoked meats, but chef Eric Huse could use this event to break loose and really show his stuff.

So a beer dinner was conceived. But a lot of places do beer dinners – how could this beer dinner be something more? The combination of beer and high-end food is one thing, but what if you could find a way to heighten the education for both beer and food? It could be even better, so Dan considered his options again – how about doing two beers per course, a base beer and a variant on that beer? The base beer enhances the food and the food enhances the base beer, but adding a variant of the base beer would just add so much complexity to teasing out flavors and contrasts. That was the genesis of this most interesting of beer dinners.

Let’s give you some specifics as examples. There are five courses to this beer dinner, yet priced better than any other event of its kind I have ever seen. The first course is a charcuterie plate with calabrese salumi, manchego cheese, walnuts, and a cherry compote paired with that amazing wee heavy and a variant of that same beer aged on blackberries. Therefore, attendees will get to try the base beer, with it’s malty backbone and slight smokiness and see how it enhances the milkiness of the cheese and the umami of the salumi, and then get to compare that with how the blackberries build on that by contrasting to the cherry compote and balancing the sweet of the fruit with the salt of the salumi.

You get the point – this is going to be quite the beer and food journey. Starting at 6:30 on a Thursday evening, this event won’t disrupt your weekend, yet will give you a great jump start on your Friday and Saturday. Each course will be accompanied by a short description from Dan, explaining what someone might find in the beer and the food, giving hints about how to go about working through the pairings, and answering any questions that people may have about the food, beer, or brewery. The differences between the two beers of each course as well as their similarities will highlight the features of the beer and the food and will help the attendees to appreciate both. Then there will be time for diners to explore the menu and beer at their leisure and discuss them with the other diners. The entire brewpub will be dedicated to the evening’s dinner event, so there won’t be commotion at the bar or at the surrounding tables.

This is a new adventure for Redemption, so deciding on how and when to do this was important. Late January allows time for people to recover from the holidays, while having it after Christmas allows people to purchase this as an unusual holiday gift for that foodie/craft beer fan everyone knows. The NFL is on a hiatus that week and we will still be a couple of weeks from NCAA conference tournaments start. All in all, this is an opportune time to have the first Redemption Alewerks beer dinner.

just some of the succulent dishes planned for the beer dinner. image credit: Redemption Alewerks

It’s been a labor of love for Dan to put this event together. He started with the beers that were available, found, or conceived, and then Chef Eric reverse engineered the menu to go with them. This is a smart way to go about building a beer dinner, since a brewery has a production schedule to deal with, and the beer choices are therefore more restricted than the food choices. Once the beers were in focus, Eric and Dan had all the foods of the world to choose from in order to develop an enticing menu. And they have.

The appetizer is a broiled lump crab cake with a lobster mornay, paired with a true Czech pilsner and that same pilsner then dry hopped with Czech Saaz hops. The entree is a cochinita pilbil, a traditional Mexican braised pork shoulder marinated in achiote and citrus fruit, slowed roasted and then served with rice, pickled onions and cotija cheese. The savory and fruit notes of this dish will pair will with the hop forward Deliverance IPA, and then a version aged on orange rind and dry hopped. The orange of the variant will do much for the earthy spiciness of the pork shoulder. Each food/beer pair is designed to highlight and compliment each other, while each beer/beer variant pair will play off the food in different ways and be used to compare and contrast the beers; small changes can make for large differences in taste and complexity.

Since your mouth is no doubt now watering and your curiosity is peaked, it’s time to go get tickets (here). Don’t waste time, since this is designed as an intimate evening for a maximum of 50 attendees. At these very affordable prices given, these will certainly go fast. The pricing was designed to stir interest, to make this something everyone would be able to do, and to help Redemption break into this part of the craft beer world – all good things for us. Come hungry and with a thirst for beer knowledge and the chance to try these beers before they are gone forever.


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