Wednesday night I attended the Maine Beer Company dinner held at Blaze in Bangor. This is the second beer dinner held at Blaze I’ve been to. The first one paired pork dishes with beers from Allagash Brewing Company. The word “delicious” for both of these evenings hardly seems adequate. I have been so impressed with the level of thought that has gone into Blaze’s menus. It seems like the chefs are given free reign to play with the courses and come up with dishes that you just can’t get anywhere else in Bangor. And to give diners a “warm, fuzzy” about eating at Blaze, all of their ingredients are locally-sourced.
To me, these beer dinners combine the best elements of this great addition to Bangor’s dining scene (and yes, we are developing a very good dining scene) with the Maine craft beer business in general; local people, using local ingredients, to come up with a drinking and dining experience you can only receive here.
One of the things I like best about these dinners is to hear the brewers talk about the stories behind their beers. The Maine Beer Co. founder and head brewer, Dan Kleiban, was on hand to introduce every beer. And every beer they make has a story. He also went around to each guest to talk with them, which was great. And I have been so impressed with the care and pride the 2 chefs have put into their dishes. And one chef is from my hometown neck o’the woods, Lincoln.
And I hear there will be more beer dinners in the very near future. So bottom line: GO!!!!
Now, what did I drink & eat?…
Peeper Ale – American Pale Ale (5.5% ABV) Light, hoppy, and maybe a little…grassy??? Refreshing, regardless. And a great start.
Mo – American Pale Ale (6.0% ABV) This beer does a great job of incorporating citrus without tasting like you’re biting into an orange or other citrus-y fruit. Paired so well with the crab cake slider w/ calamari, lemon black-pepper aoli, red pepper jelly, seaweed salad & “salt & vinegar” fried wonton. I went into this dinner with a strategy to only eat half of each slider so I wouldn’t be too full by the 5th course, but like my 2 friends who attended with me said, “Whenever there’s crab cake, you have to eat it all”. And I did.
Red Wheelbarrow – American Amber/Red Ale (7.0%ABV) I’m a big fan of red ales and this one was no exception. According to Dan, this beer was kind of an experiment and it doesn’t fit neatly into a category. But it did pair nicely with the lamb burger slider, goat cheese, malt-fig mustarda, watercress, soda bread, w/sweet potato waffle chips, sprinkled with mint sea salt.
Mean Old Tom – American-style Stout (6.5% ABV) They use real vanilla beans in this and you can taste it. Wow! So delicious. The stouts were probably my favorite beers of the evening. This one really stood out. Paired with braised beef brisket slider, diced pork belly, Mean Old Tom BBQ sauce, fried collard greens, sweet tea gastrique, cornbread bun, w/ warm potato salad.
Lil One – Double IPA (9.1 ABV) A lil sweet, a lil smooth. The only thing not lil is the ABV. What’s not to like?! Served with a duck burger slider, candied bacon, frizzled beets, manchego, bourbon-cherry reduction, w/duck fat fries and orange saffron aoli.
King Titus – American Porter (7.5% ABV) So rich and chocolatey! Paired perfectly with 2 beef burgers slider, smoked cheddar, guyere, smoked onion relish, house bread & butter pickle, centennial hopped mayo, w/Peeper dusted tater tots. I was getting full by this point but I gave it the ole college try because, well, there were tater tots.
And then there was donuts. Enough said.