Holiday Beer Dinner – Spring Street Smokehouse

Spring Street Smokehouse concluded its 2012 beer dinner schedule with a special holiday edition. No single brewery was highlighted; instead we were treated to General Manager Jason’s favorite holiday ales paired with some amazing dishes. Per Smokehouse tradition, all the beers were used as ingredients in the dishes they paired with.

Jason added a new twist this time, asking each one of the restaurant’s chefs to focus on preparing one of the dinner’s five courses. The result was an explosion of creativity and diversity throughout the dinner. We look forward to this kind of experimentation at the beer dinners next year – it was definitely a treat!


The Menu

Amuse

  • Bratwurst “Egg roll” – Bratwurst, Yukon potatoes, onions, cinnamon, fennel, German mustard & red cabbage
  • Lagunitas Brown Shugga – Seasonal Strong Ale – 9.9% ABV @ 51 IBU
*Tasting Notes: A tribute to Jason’s Lithuanian/Polish/German heritage, this fusion dish combined traditional European flavors in an egg roll that was flash fried in Brown Shugga. This dish started the night off strong, no warm-up round, straight to the 10% beer and German meat. While heartiness abound in this pairing, both the beer and the egg roll displayed excellent balance, walking the line between too rich and pleasantly savory with perfection. The beer was just hoppy enough to provide a fantastic palate cleanse.

Entree

  • Swedish Meatballs – handmade meatball, Mouette a Trois glazing, gravy
  • Karl Strauss Mouette a Trois – Spiced Belgian Ale – 8.5% ABV @ 10 IBU
*Tasting Notes: This dish combined with the previous egg roll could be considered one amazing meaty appetizer. The meatballs were done to perfection with a nice caramelized char and a rich yellow gravy, but the star of the show in this course was Karl Strauss’s new fruitcake ale (its true!). Just released in LA this week, this holiday ale features cherries, apricots, and vanilla from French oak barrel aging. It was the perfect beer to cut the richness of the meatballs and leave you with a lingering spice profile that is reminiscent of the holidays.

Salad

  • Mixed Green Salad – Beer gastrique, candied and smoked pecans
  • Sam Adams White Christmas – Winter Warmer Ale – 5.8% ABV @ 8 IBU
*Tasting Notes: A refreshing interlude between some amazing meat courses. The pecans were right on – just the perfect amount of candy and smoke. The gastrique incorporated the beer into the dish really well; it was a sweet compliment to the crisp lettuce and smoky pecans. The sweetness of the gastrique and beer built on each other, but it would have been nice to have some stronger contrasting flavors present.

Main Course

  • Stuffed Smoked Pork w/Cheddar Garlic Mash – slow smoked pork, apricot/cranberry/onion/pecan stuffing, cheddar garlic mash, roasted carrots
  • Samuel Smith’s Winter Welcome – Spiced White Ale – 6.0% ABV @ 32 IBU
*Tasting Notes: Another amazing display by the BBQ masters at Smokehouse. Smoked pork marinated in Sam Smith’s Winter ale that was as good as it sounds. The stuffing really tied everything together nicely. It highlighted the infusion of spices and fruits that had been prevalent in so many of the beers and foods throughout the evening. 

Dessert

  • Tiramisu – served with stout reduction, cake soaked in stout
  • Stone/Ken Schmidt/Iron Fist Mint Chocolate Imperial Stout – Spiced Imperial Stout – 9.6% ABV @ unknown IBU

*Tasting Notes: This was a fairly simple looking course: a Tiramisu cake and a small glass of stout, but sometimes looks can be deceiving. The Tiramisu was light, fluffy, and creamy – one of those desserts that you think you’re too full to eat then before you realize what has happened you’ve cleaned your plate and want some more. The beer pairing was spectacular: the Mint Chocolate Imperial Stout is practically a dessert in itself; the crisp mint flavor and dark roast were good compliments to the Tiramisu. 


We shared the meal with some great people, including Karl Strauss reps Eric Miller and Karli Sullivan who were there to celebrate the release of Mouette a Trois. Everyone agreed that the beer was a hit, and loved the bold marketing from Karl Strauss to call it a fruit cake ale on the label. While fruit cake is something most of us love to hate this time of year, Mouette a Trois is not something you want to avoid – it would be a great addition to any holiday party.

We must have been sitting in the beer industry corner of the room because Kip and I also ran into Jace Milstead from Ace Mission Distributors and Morgan Guerra-Heuwetter from Anchor Brewing. It was great to catch up with Jace and Morgan in a non-beer festival setting. There was much discussion of the growing LA craft beer scene as well as compliments for the meal before us. Everyone agreed that it was a great value and looked forward to the next round of beer dinners in 2013!

Towards the end of the night Jason pointed out that two of the beer dinner guests owned an art gallery next door and recommended we go check it out. Jai & Jai, two sisters, opened up their gallery earlier this year and have been hosting local exhibits and events ever since. We walked the gallery and got a tour from the sisters – we even learned that local brewery Angel City has sponsored an event or two for them. We love seeing this kind of collaboration within the community, and it made for the perfect end to another great beer dinner.

Happy Holidays!

About John Rockwell

John Rockwell is a co-founder of LA Ale Works and contributing writer to Bierkast. He has been home brewing for over seven years and is a certified BJCP judge, "Bring me your beer!".

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