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Libertine Beer Dinner: Revealed

The cold/icy/icky weather didn’t keep me at home last night either. I went to the Libertine bar for one of their monthly beer dinners (the one I told you about here). New Belgium was the brewery of the evening, and we settled in for a night of good food and a few beers I’ve never tried before.

This was my first beer dinner. Jerry from New Belgium came around and chatted with each table, but there was no formal presentation or anything like that. They gave us printed menus so we would know what to expect from each beer. First up: Black bean and avocado crostini (pictured) with 1554 Enlightened Black Ale. Jump for more pics and a review of the night.

Okay, the photo is so light. But you get the picture. The beer was dark in color, smooth, and malty. I liked it. The crostini was like a Southwestern bruschetta, with really mushy tomatoes. Bread could have used some time under the toaster. Also a little time with the salt shaker (but not as badly as other things we’ll get to later).

The next course was phrased as follows: “Smoke trout with apple horseradish cream and frizze salad with lemon vinaigrette.” This was paired with Blue Paddle Lager. Not sure if they were trying to get cute with the spellings, or what. The smoked trout was probably the highlight of this meal, and the greens with the vinaigrette were bright and fresh (no frisse greens though. Hm). I wish there had been some kind of bread with it, because I would have made a little smoked trout sammie. But anyway. Jerry told us a story about where the name “Blue Paddle” came from. Apparently, New Belgium had a naming contest, and the winner (who is now an employee of New Belgium) came up with Blue Paddle because his grandmother used to spank him with one such item. Violent! I liked this beer, it was light, crisp, and floral.

The next course was, well, forgettable. It was a tomato, stuffed with mint, crab and cucumber salad. The beer was Mothership Wit, our favorite. The first thing that happened was the BF found a piece of shell in his. Not a good start. The second thing that happened was that we both pushed the plates away. This was the dish that so badly needed salt. Crying out for it. It just wasn’t good. I’m looking on the website, and they suggest pairing Mothership Wit with jumbo lump crab cakes, Asian or Middle Eastern dishes, fresh goat cheese, and more. Any of these would have been better. But the beer was yummy. It’s an organic wheat beer, and it’s fruity, bubbly, and served with a lemon.

Next up was a grilled pork chop, with barbeque glaze over tri-colored marinated bell peppers with pine nuts and raisins. I was so hungry by this point that this tasted fantastic. I would describe the glaze as more “ketchup” than “barbeque,” but whatever. I really don’t think the peppers were marinated, but they were grilled, and I was happy to have them there. I really needed a starch. Some potatoes. Throw a fry this way. Anything. The beer was the Trippel Belgian Style Ale, similar in color to the first one, but way strong. Jerry told us it was his favorite for days like yesterday (and today, I’m guessing), because of the high alcohol content. It was smooth. I’m clearly not great at describing beers. But I’m trying.

Finally, it was time for dessert. I was so excited for the “Banana Fosters Tartlets,” even though I thought they might have Fosters beer in them, which would have still been interesting. They were paired with the Abbey Ale, another strong one (7.0% alcohol). It took a little while for the dessert, so I was imagining the chefs in the back, sauteing bananas in butter and sugar, flames rising over saute pans. Imagine my surprise when this aluminum cup showed up. There were bananas on top, and some sort of flavorless cream in the middle, with a graham cracker crust.

All the beers were great, and we had a good time. Jerry did a few drawings, and I even won a hat. The Libertine staff was friendly, and the dinner lasted about two and a half hours. I would say there were about 25 people participating. We were never thirsty, either. They refilled our beers quickly and generously. But the food wasn’t great. In the end, I really just wanted a sandwich, like one of the delicious looking ones people were noshing on around us. That’s what I’ll try next time I hit up the Libertine.

8 comments on “Libertine Beer Dinner: Revealed

  1. I’ve never done the tasting but have always wanted to. Their regular menu food is good (although I thought the Samon was a little over smoked). I think they have a great idea here with the beer tastings and the Chef should be given credit for starting a trend even if the end product was not spectacular. Its funny, we always wind up at the Libertine during inclement weather. Not a bad place to be stuck.

  2. hey thanks for the report Sarah, good info. Sounds like an interesting dinner if not a great one. Looking forward to more stuff like this.

  3. Were the Trippel and the Abbey Ale both New Belgium products? I’m familiar with the first 2 beers but not the last 2 (as NB products). Chimay Trippel is really excellent, though high alcohol and pricey.

  4. While I’ll agree that the weakest course was the crab and mint salad, (yes, it needed salt), I’ll disagree that the food wasn’t great. I enjoyed the food and beer pairings and thought that the menu was well thought out. The food flavors were very complimentary to their beer pairings and worked well together. Kudos to the Libertine for being ambitious enough to go beyond standard bar food.

  5. Sarah, it’s too bad you didn’t enjoy your beer dinner the other night. We really enjoyed it and thought they did a great job. The cool thing is that they always try something new and fun at these dinners. So what if there is not a bunch of angry chefs in the back with flaming saute pans? Who cares? We enjoy that fact that we have a true neighborhood pub that goes out of their way every month to do something creative, cool, and affordable. Maybe you should lighten up a little? Everyone in the bar seemed to be having a great evening. Aluminum cups and all!

  6. @CB: I did have fun. I liked the bar. My job is to report on the food. That’s what I did.