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Friday, October 23, 2009

A Mill Street Beer Dinner

It seems I've managed to fall behind in some of the things I've been meaning to write about over the last couple of weeks, but if you read the post below, you'll understand why.

One of the events I had planned to cover was the Mill Street Brewmasters dinner that was held down at the brewpub in the Distillery District back on October 8th. Better late than never.

Mill Street, seeing how popular pairing beer with food has become, and noticing the increased popularity of recent Toronto beer dinners, decided it was time to host one of their own using beers available down at their brewpub.

The $49.99 price tag provided customers with a welcoming glass of their Organic Lager, plus four other beers throughout the night, which were paired with sausage, soup, beef tenderloin, and a chocolaty dessert. Very reasonably priced for the amount we would be receiving.

By 6:30pm 101 people had filled the back of the brewpub. Pub owners, industry representatives, Mill Street employees (including owner Irvine Weitzman, who was very excited for the release of the Nightmare on Mill Street Pumpkin Ale), craft beer enthusiasts (some Bar Towel faces) and people from the area who call the brewpub their local, were all in attendance. It was a good mix of people, which made for pleasant conversation. David Mitchell, the VP of Sales at Mill Street, mentioned before the dinner commenced that tickets sales were great and at one point there was a waiting list, which he was thrilled to say, and it showed that Ontario craft breweries can actually pull off a beer dinner (granted, the location did help tremendously).

The first pairing arrived to the table - bratwurst sausage with fixins and it was paired with the Oktoberfest Marzen. Joel Manning, Brewmaster, spoke about the beer, how it was developed, and explained why the pairing with the sausage would work. Everything on the plate went together wonderfully with the Marzen as it was allowed to stand out on its own without comprising the taste of the food.

Round two had many people in the crowd excited as it would mark the official launch of the Pumpkin Ale, which was paired with a butternut squash soup topped with toasted pumpkin seeds. This was a pairing I dug, and judging by the responses of the others at our table, they did to. The spices in the beer married nicely with the soup, complimenting the toasted seeds and not overloading the palate with two different sensations. The beer itself is medium-bodied with a nice balance of the various spices used in creating the beer. Manning pitched in a bunch of vanilla extract at the end of the brew to help round out the roughness of the pumpkin ale and the result is a super smooth, beautifully coloured, with a pleasant pumpkin pie aroma, and very drinkable.

Red chili beef tenderloin came up next and was paired with the IPA that can only be found down at the brewpub. It was a huge plate and simply delicious. The pairing was okay, I might have used the Tankhouse though, as the hop bite may have taken a bit off the red chili crust. Dessert featured a delectable piece of chocolate pecan pie that was matched up with the Extra Special Bitter, another beer only available at the brewpub. The pie was amazingly rich, maybe to rich for the ESB. I think the Coffee Porter or the Cobblestone Stout would have been a better match in terms of matching flavour profiles.

It was a terrific beer dinner and like I mentioned earlier, well worth the $49.99 admission. Mitchell stated during dinner that they are looking at doing this every so often, at the brewpub, using different beers each time, so keep an eye out for the date of the next one. Hopefully we'll start seeing more and more Ontario breweries doing dinners like this in the near future.

Round 1
Grilled Bratwurst Sausage skewer on a bed of Oktoberfest beer braised sauerkraut, served with apple and mint relish - Oktoberfest Marzen

Round 2
Butternut Squash soup topped with toasted pumpkin ale infused pumpkin seeds - Nightmare on Mill Street Pumpkin Ale

Round 3
Red Chili crusted beef tenderloin with parsnips, mashed potatoes and buttered autumn vegetables drizzled with a balsamic reduction - India Pale Ale

Round 4
Chocolate pecan pie with caramel and chocolate sauce - Extra Special Bitter

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