I was very fortunate to have attended a special beer pairing dinner last week hosted by Michael Mina’s Bourbon Pub at Levi’s Stadium featuring Golden State Brewery. The dinner was truly a local event, as both the restaurant and Golden State Brewery are located in Santa Clara.
The beer dinner was the third such dinner in Bourbon Pub’s ongoing Hops & Harvest beer dinner series. The dinners – which take place every two months – feature a brewery and a carefully crafted, multi-course menu.
Each course is created to complement a particular beer from the featured brewery, taking into account the paired beer’s aroma and flavor profiles.
The dinner was held in the spacious lower-level Tailgate area next to Bourbon Pub. There were close to 60 guests in attendance for the beer dinner.
After an opening welcome, Bourbon Steak & Pub manager Giancarlo DiTullio shared – among other items – that this year marked the 70th anniversary of the 49ers.
As a Bay Area sports fan, I appreciated the tie-in. I’ve been following the Niners ever since the ’80s, back when my dad, brother and I would watch them play on TV. I think I’m close to getting over the Billy “White Shoes” Johnson play from the ’83 season, but I digress…
Giancarlo introduced Golden State Brewery representative Ryan Blake, pastry chef Amy Lee and executive chef Steve Gotham. Chef Steve recently joined Bourbon Steak and Bourbon Pub in June, following 6 years as the chef de cuisine at The Cosmopolitan of Las Vegas.
Ryan took his turn to welcome the guests and invited all of us to come out and visit the brewery, mentioning among other things Golden State Brewery’s close proximity to Levi’s Stadium and that the brewery is located at a former Memorex building. Ryan did a good job with engaging the guests when he introduced each beer and during multiple table visits throughout the dinner.
Before long, the first course had arrived.
- Golden Watermelon, Blistered Shishito Peppers, Yuzu Vinaigrette
- Pairing: Bay Area Blonde
The crisp and sweet watermelon provided the right amount of counterbalance for the spicy shishito peppers. The Bay Area Blonde – with its light melon notes – paired very well with the spicy yet refreshing dish.
The successful first course was an auspicious start to the dinner, and our table told chef Steve just that as he was making the rounds.
- Tenbrink Farms Tomato Salad, Red Curry, Thai Basil
- Pairing: Heritage Honey Ale
The tomatoes were farm fresh and bursting with flavor, matching well with the slightly spicy, lemongrass curry and Thai basil. The Heritage Honey Ale offered a harmonious pairing with the tomato salad.
- Crispy Shrimp Lettuce Cup, Sweet and Spicy Sauce, Lime
- Pairing: Poppy Pale Ale
The battered shrimp, sauce, lime and lettuce tasted fresh and paired perfectly with the light floral, well-balanced Poppy Pale Ale.
Giancarlo took a moment to preview the raffle prizes for the evening, which included an authenticated game-worn football pants that belonged to Justin Smith. I hope whoever won appreciated this prize given how great and valuable a player #94 was.
- Braised Pork Belly, Green Papaya Salad
- Pairing: Golden Gate Red Ale
The crunchy, fresh green papaya salad helped cut through the richness of the huge portion of braised pork belly. The peppery notes from the Golden Gate Red Ale nicely complemented the combination of the fresh papaya salad and the pork belly.
Though some at our table noted the hard crusts of their pork belly, mine was crisped to delicate perfection, reminding me of the pieces of delectable skin from the Schweinehaxe enjoyed in Germany earlier this summer.
- Ancho Chile Crusted Flank Steak, Guacamole, Crispy Tortilla
- Pairing: Cold Brew Coffee Stout
This course elicited plenty of oohs and ahs from folks around me. The Cold Brew Coffee Stout paired wonderfully with the creamy, slightly citrusy guacamole, coffee grounds and buttery steak.
For some, the Stout was an unexpected pairing for the main course, but the subtle coffee bitterness in the Stout handily balanced the heartiness of the steak and the richness of the guacamole.
- Citrus Tart, Crème Fraiche Sherbert, Grapefruit Foam
- Pairing: Eureka! IPA
The dessert course was also a winner, though some were surprised by the pairing of an IPA with dessert. Those who expressed surprise soon realized how well the grapefruit aroma and the hoppy, citrus flavors of the Eureka! IPA matched the citrus tart and grapefruit foam.
I had a great time meeting a number of folks at our table, including beer enthusiasts and those new to the world of beer and its versatility, especially when paired with stellar food.
The pairings were creative and well executed. The service was excellent, and the vibe was festive. And I’m so grateful to have enjoyed all this with Andrea.
Bourbon Pub’s next beer dinner is set to take place Thursday, October 13, and will feature San Jose’s Strike Brewing Company.
Below are additional pictures from the evening.