We love to eat and we love great beers. Let us share with you our views on what Dallas has to offer in fine (and not so fine) dining and fine beers.
Dallas has few diversions other than eating, drinking and shopping.....and shopping does not interest us.
So we spend our time hopping from restaurant to restaurant and to every pub that we can find in search of the perfect meal and the perfect beer.
We randomly review restaurants and bars, dishes and beers at whim and give our brutally honest opinions of our findings. And while we concentrate on Dallas, we travel far and wide to sample cuisine from all regions of the country and beyond.
Wednesday, January 19, 2011
Beer Review - Brasserie D'Achouffe
Who are your heroes? Politicians? Perhaps. Movie idols? Not Really. Musicians? I admire a few. Hmmm, who would be a hero to a beer snob? Could it be...... a brewmaster? Hells yeah! Christian Bauweraerts is one of the founders of the famous Brasserie D'Achouffe in Achouffe, Belgium. The snobs were lucky enough to have been invited by the Meddlesome Moth last week to dinner pairing the magnificent beers from the Brasserie with the tasty creations of Executive Chef Chad Kelley.
Regardless of what the typical Texas beer drinker believes, beer and food match up quite well, and no, I don't mean Shiner and nachos, I am talking about fine dining here. Even the most novice wine aficionado can tell you the basics of wine and food pairing; white wine with white meat, red wine with red meat (though those rules are complete b.s. and created as a marketing ploy by the french, but that is a story for a wine blogger somewhere other than here). But even experienced beer drinkers would have difficulty telling you what goes with whatever meal they are enjoying. That may be why the American lager is so often found in your friendly neighborhood digs. Lagers are very lightly flavored and will not overpower your meal, but neither will they enhance your dining experience.
The minds at the Meddlesome Moth are going to great trouble and great expense to educate Dallasites to realize that beer can have flavor and that beer can pair amazingly with food. Special kudos to Chef Kelly for doing it up right.
La Chouffe - 8% ABV
La Chouffe is the flagship beer of the Brasserie d'Achouffe and is classified as a Belgian strong ale. It is also one of my personal favorite beers. The hazy, golden brew pours with a significant head that persist and leaves nice, delicate lacing. You will smell bananas, citrus and herbs.... what is that herb... it smells so familiar. Coriander is the secret ingredient that gives La Chouffe it's unique character. The ale tastes much like it smells, with the suspended yeast giving the beer a smooth, chalky texture, but not in a bad way. There is enough carbonation to keep you from chugging it down but not so much that it burns. Really, really nice.
The Dunguness crabcake with the creole remoulade was perfection and very likely the best crabcake that I have ever had. And yes, I eaten many a crabcake all along the east coast from Boston to Florida. The spicy kick of the remoulade and the subtle flavors of the crabcake were balanced by the smooth texture and cooling effect of the ale, which in no way overpowered the delicacy of the dish. I could have eaten many but then again, I would not have been able to go on to the next course.
McChouffe - 8% ABV
McChouffe is an unfiltered strong, dark Belgian ale that was inspired by the smooth ales brewed in Scotland. The ale undergoes it's second fermentation in the bottle so you will find the suspended yeasts and a bit of sediment in the bottom of the bottle. You will also find that this ale is a bit more bitter than the La Chouffe and is a product of the scottish ingredients and additional hops. The significant carbonation makes quite a bit of head upon pouring and leaves plenty of lacing on the side of the glass. Surprisingly silky and smooth with flavors of caramel, malts and the coriander used in the brewing.
The stronger flavored ale required a dish with a bit more substance. The tender, roasted pork shoulder with ras el hanout (a north african spice blend) and pomegranates was served over freshly made pasta (the only hickup of the evening, the pasta was a bit tough) which had more than enough flavor to stand up against the ale and was voted the favorite of the evening by the snobs.
Houblon Chouffe - 9% ABV
Monsieur Bauweraerts favorite beer style is reported to be the Belgian tripel, which makes it odd that it was not introduced until 2006, the same year he sold the brewery to Duvel. The Belgian tripel is triple firmented, which gives it more alcohol, which requires it to be quite a bit hoppier than the typical Belgian ale to cover up the additional alcohol. Houblon (french for hop) Chouffe is even hoppier than a normal tripel using the more aggresive American hops to make it less of a British style IPA and more like an American double IPA. As with the other products by Brasserie D'Achouffe there is quite a lot of carbonation and you will find the unfiltered, bottle conditioned ale to have floaties. The delicate nose is fruity, citrusy and quite subtle and gives not hint whatsoever of the blast that is to come. The flavor is of hops, fruit, hops,citrus and hops (did I mention that it had hops?) and is surprisingly dry, probably due to the magic water they use in the brewing process. Belgian beer lovers may find this one a bit strong whereas American hop heads will find it subdued. Houblon walks a fine line between the Belgians and the Americans and does it very well.
As the beers presented in the tasting became stronger and more aggressive the flavors in the dishes paired with the beer became more pronounced so as to not be eclipsed. The citrus in the orange peel glazed beef nicely matched the citrus and fruit flavors found it the ale. Instead of trying to compete with the strength of the flavors of the beer, Chef Kelly blended the flavors of his dish with those of the ale, intertwining with instead of bracing against the strong flavors... inspired.
The desert course had no beer to offer, just a lovely french press with coffee supplied by the Oak Cliff Coffee Roasters paired three offerings; an interesting corn meal pudding with Indian spices, a peanut/butter brownie bite and cake balls w/ fudge and cream cheese interior and a white chocolate coating. Ymmmmm.
We did not have a coffee liquor that is produced exclusively for M. Bauweraetz, but if we had I am sure it would have been magnificent ;}.
It was an honor to get to meet Christian Bauweraerts and hear him speak about his brewing experiences, that is from what I could hear above the din of the Moth's enthusiastic patrons and we look forward to visiting the Brasserie in Achouffe next year. We also greatly appreciate the efforts of Keith Schlabs and the fine folks at the Moth in their attempts to break the hold that the mass market brewers have on the TABC and to try to help modernize our archaic, not quite ethical beer laws. Good luck with that guys.
We would also like to thank Prescott Carter with Duvel Moortgat USA for the fine, fine brews and for arranging the visit by a beer knurd rock star.
The Meddlesome Moth
1621 Oak Lawn
Dallas, TX 75207
I am lucky enough to have a group of good friends who share my passion for great beers and inspired dining. My goal is to entice you into sampling something different, something uncommon, something outside the box. Join us in the neverending search for the perfect beer and the perfect meal.